Excursion 8: McLoughlins Beach

SEANA Spring 2023 Camp

Excursion 8A McLoughlins BeachSaturday afternoon
Leader Mitch SmithFacilitator Joelle Champert

We travelled by car 25 km east of Yarram and met the rest of our group at the McLoughlins Beach boat ramp and footbridge. The day was overcast ,with a gentle to fresh breeze. We could hear the roar of the waves beyond. It was ideal for our short walk.

At the boat ramp & footbridge we were greeted with wading and shorebirds on the inland water with mangroves dotted along the edges. A Great Egret(1),Black Swans (5),Royal Spoonbill(1) Little Pied Cormorants(9) and the resident Sandpiper of the boat ramp.

We walked on the footbridge over to the isthmus, purple flowering pigface was growing on the edges of the gravel path. Either side of the path was covered with grasses and sedges. Mitch explained that a fire went through this part about 15 years ago. We had a request to look for the ‘peacock jumping spider’, unfortunately we didn’t find one despite looking in its favourite places.

After a short walk we then arrived at the sand dunes and the woodlands of Ti tree, Banksia and eucalypts. Native clematis was draped over the branches of the trees. Mitch explained that orchids are like the ‘frogs of the forest’. This year has been a poor year for the orchids and this part of the woodland has not had a fire through it for many, many years. Some orchids love fires and others hate fires. However, here they are pollinating and growing side by side. Mitch believes that ‘biodiversity is best when there is no disturbance of fire or logging/clearing of trees.’ Banksias are regenerating here without fire. There was considerable discussion about the ‘natural occurring fires’ and the ‘controlled burns’.

Even the ‘cool burns’ can destroy the leaf litter ,where the little insects live that pollinate the orchids. This can interfere with the cycle of the pollinating of the plants. Wattles are a great example of plants that can grow despite major soil disturbance. Sometimes the ‘cool burn’, can create more fuel to burn. There are multiple stimuli for regenerating in the bush.

We were very fortunate to find four orchids along the pathway through the dunes and woodland. First seen was the Diuris(Donkey),then the Microtis Unifolia ( Onion), the Caladenia Tentaculata( Mantis) and lastly the Caladenia Catenata (White Fingers).

We saw Welcome Swallows(1), Red Wattles Birds(4) ,Superb Fairy Wren(P), Brown Thornbill(P), Grey Fantail(P) and Silver Gulls (15). On our way back , just to top off the day, we saw an earthstar fungi.

Many Thanks to Mitch and Joelle for their guidance and assistance, and making the afternoon enjoyable strolling through the waterways, dunes and woodlands.

Excursion 8b: McLoughlins Beach No 2Sunday morning
Leader: Mitch SmithFacilitators: Wendy & Norbert Fuessel

Some participants met at the allocated Lawler St point at 8.45am and departed at 9am.The rest met at the McLoughins Beach car park to make a full list of 20 plus. Mitch gave a brief description of the agenda for the morning and what we may expect to see as this area had not been affected by bushfire, the walk taking us through to the Ninety Mile Beach. He also mentioned that we may see a Common Sandpiper near the jetty. However this did not eventuate perhaps the inclement weather had something to do with it!

We then set off in the gale force winds across the footbridge over the estuary that links the carpark to the inlet. On the other side of the footbridge we walked through tussock grasses swaying in the wind into the sheltered coastal woodland with twisted and gnarled Banksia, Swamp Paperbark and Coastal Teatree with an understory of sword grasses and wildflowers. Participants eagerly listening to and trying to identify the birdlife and identify plants along the way. There was plenty of evidence of burrowing animals. Along the way Mitch pointed out an area where Indigenous middens were located and their importance.

We stopped halfway along at a picnic table and Mitch talked about the affect of fire on the environment, we then continued on past orchids and through dunes to the open Ninety Mile Beach. We then did a return walk to the carpark consolidating our observations.

Bird list: Yellow robin, Fairy wren, Silver gull, Royal Spoonbill, Pacific gull, White eared honeyeater, Fantail cuckoo, Grey strike thrush, White throated treecreeper ,Magpie, Crested tern, Starling, Spotted pardolote, Red wattlebird, Grey fantail, Little wattlebird, White faced heron and Little pied cormorant.

Plant List:
Trees: Coastal banksia, Coastal wattle, Acacia sopheray, Acacia longifolia, Coastal teatree, Casuarina, Manna gum.

Understory : Small leaf clematis, Round moonflower, Vetch, Spear grass, Coastal beard heath, Senica biserratus, Senica, Twining glycine ,Mat brush, Bracken, Monotoca, Lomandra longefolia, Comosperma volubile, Clematis microphyllia, Clematis aristara, Pomaderus asbara.

Orchids : Spider orchid, Donkey orchid, Leopard orchid, Onion orchid, Gnat orchid and Sun orchid.

The weather holding out for us to enjoy our coastal environment excursion. Thanks to Mitch for sharing his knowledge.

Wendy Fuessel