When you visit a lovely place, repeat the visit the next day, especially if there are ID puzzles still to be solved, and if your name starts with J. If your name starts with M you’re more than happy to tag along, letting him do all the scrutinising while you amble and photograph.
Beginning with the pink bark of a southern mahogany (Eucalyptus botryoides), aka bastard mahogany. The tree is heavy with buds.
The bladey grass catches the sun turning from nondescript green and grey to a dazzle of orange and red. Rounded green bushes cover the hillside where a herd of kangaroos graze.
A flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos erupts from the trees and flies overhead in a loose formation, one trailing a bit of twig from its beak. As we emerge from the knobbly banksias, J holds up a silencing hand. There is the sound of crunching and ripping. The flock has settled and they are feasting.
We dally on the sandy flat where wattle buds and flowers, wild grapes, gumnuts and lillipilli berries proliferate; a correa buds and flowers; and the berries of the geebung blush beside its yellow flowers. A creamy eucalyptus flower remains nameless for now: the threat of a dreaded plant key hangs over us.
We walk up the dune (the Eemian shore, traces of the last interglacial about 120000 years ago?) to the tall trees, unnamed, where we walked on Saturday and settle on a log for today’s picnic. A couple emerge from the bush near us and step over a collapsed fence. They pause to tell us they have just seen a very handsome echidna crossing the path.
The trees towering above us wear a sock of tightly-fissured bark, and high up on the light grey branches where the sock doesn’t reach, we notice the scribbles that intrigued us yesterday. Back home the eucalyptus books come out, and J finally nails the identity. It’s a blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis). The books don’t mention scribbles, but a couple of reputable websites do.