Brett Writes!

My name is Brett Coulstock. I’m a writer and designer from Western Australia

Little Grove to Sandpatch Loop

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Brett and a fungusStaying at home during severe weather and enjoying hot chocolate while relaxing in front of a heater would be the sensible thing to do, so we decided to venture out and revisit the Little Grove to Sandpatch walk we did in June of last year (the write up is yet another victim of the Server Crash of ‘09).

The walk takes us round from Little Grove (on the harbour) across the Torndirrup Peninsula to Sandpatch (the location of the Albany wind farm), and around in a loop. Most of it is comprised of the Bibbulumun track, which is well signposted and maintained. We started the walk at 10:00 and finished about 14:30; and it’s about 20 km all told.

There’s all sorts of interesting things to see on the walk. Early on, we encountered the remains of a small marsupial. Sue deduced that it was a young animal, noting that the dentition featured cusps that were hardly worn. The teeth seem to indicate it ate insects. Sue thinks it was a Dibbler or some kind of Antechinus. Of particular note was an unusual spider walking brazenly down the path Sue spotted at about 11:30. We took photographs — quite a feat to get one clear one as it was continually on the move. Its cherry-red fangs were quite striking and when we returned home we were interested in identifying it. Eventually we found an excellent site documenting the fauna of Esperance, and found the entry for the Actinopodidae – Missulena species – Mouse Spider. We sent the below photograph to the author to add to his fantastically detailed blog.

The highlight of the walk for me was the diverse variety of fungi, and I was kept rather busy photographing them!

It’s interesting to know that mushrooms/toadstools/puffballs/truffles etc are actually the fruiting bodies of fungi, and not the fungi themselves: it would not be dissimilar from mistaking an apple for an apple tree. Although the fruiting parts of fungi are visible and conspicuous, most of a (multicellular) fungus’ actual “body” is usually a threadlike network of mycelium and/or mycorrhizal structures (symbiotic associations with plant roots) beneath the surface.

I think it’s extraordinary that I can get such images from this humble little camera. And if I find it frustrating that I can’t get photographs I want because the camera is not capable, I’m satisfied that I have developed enough of an “eye” to take full advantage of a good camera when we finally get one.

Sue, with her eagle eye, spotted a magnificent array of shelf-fungi beside the road back, and I had to be torn away from it. :-)

As noted, the weather was quite cold and blowy. When we got to Sandpatch, we could almost be supported by the wind, and it was difficult to look out across the ocean for ice particles stinging your face. The double thermal pants from Mountain Designs, and the great waterproof jackets and brilliant combination cap-scarfs from the Trowunna Wildlife Sancturary in Tasmania kept us nice and toasty all the way. All that gear does make you look quite baggy and pudgy, but it beats being cold, wet and miserable.

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June 26th, 2009 at 11:50 am