Thursday, 10 May 2018

Interesting weather

There has been much excitement on a Weather Forum of which I am part bout a series of cold fronts and lows that will be affecting SE Australia over the next two or three days.  Thus I have started this post to record the event.

Our overnight minimum by 1015 on 10 may was 4.9o
C which is quite mild.
At present it doesn't appear that we are going to get much rain out of it, the BoM forecast having 5-10mm over the 4 days 10-13 May.  It also seems very unlikely we'll get any snow, although its already falling at Perisher.
Here is the Weatherzone Victoria radar at 0945 on 10 May.  The red arrows show the approximate direction of movement on the current radar.
The discussion of models on the Forum suggests the more productive element of the second front may go further North and whup the Central Tablelands rather than the Southern Tablelands.

The first front delivered 1mm of rain to Carwoola.  Possibly better than nothing!  The temperature plummeted as it passed over between noon and 1300 hrs.
Just after 1600 hrs a weird little storm cell appeared heading right for us at the X.
That dropped another 0.8mm on us.

Somewhat surprisingly at 1930 another serve appears to be heading in our direction.  As the current outside temperature is +4.4o
C it's going to be rain not snow.
By 0600 on 11 May we had scored 4mm of precipitation and the thermometer was 1.3o
C.  As the steps on to the deck were icy I suspect we had some sleet or such like earlier in the morning.  At present our skies are clear but there is some serious  precipitation happening in Victoria and possibly heading our way.
The days maximum appears to have been 8.2o
C.  We've had no more precipitation and thus far the radar has shown the huge cell breaking up as soon as it gets to the Murray.  Here is the image from Weatherzone at 1410.



Leaf it alone

It being mid Autumn its surprising we still have leaves on most of the exotic trees.  Some of them do have nice colours at the moment.

Pistachio



 Willows by the Creek.


 A small Maple (regrowing after the fire).



Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The quick and the dipped

In 1997 we were touring Europe and checked into a campground near Bled, Slovenia.  The Julian Alps were glorious behind the site but I didn't take a photo as they'd be better in the morning.  The morning was overcast and the mountains socked in.  They remained so for the rest of our stay.  So in our household the "Julian Alps Rule" means don't wait for something better but do it now!

That was very much the case with this morning's sunrise.  Frances mentioned it looked pretty good so I went out and got a couple of quick pix.

 As is so often the case the trees got in the way of the scenery  so I fired up the Pajero to drive up to the road to get a clearer shot.  By the time I got there - perhaps 3 minutes later most of the colour had gone.
By the time I got back to house (another 3 minutes) grey was the only colour avaailable in the clouds!

Monday, 7 May 2018

A new park in Acton

For the last eternity members of the building trade have stuffed up the shore line to the NW of Commonwealth Avenue bridge.  This was creating a new park.  This is the third go that various Governments have had at this area:

  • Kate Carnell: Futsal slab (used once according to my memory);
  • Katy Gallagher: pop-up nightclub thingy (not sure of usage but looked atrocious)
  • Andrew Barr: New park
The park finally opened last weekend.  Which I find interesting as it didn't get any coverage in the on'line edition of the Canberra Times.  Given the activities of the navvies has stuffed up a significant area for quite a long time I'd have thought the culmination of their efforts would have been worth a few electrons at least. 

As we were in town we went for a stroll there with daughter and the SPs.  The first comment is that it seemed to be getting quite a bit of use from the citizens, which is a major advance on the two previous efforts.  Herewith some snaps.

A Darter seemed to have made itself comfortable near the start.
This is the first time I have really noticed a Darter's foot.  It looks really huge, especially contrasted with the basically microcephalic design on the bird.
 One of the jetties was enabling some hypoactive youth to add to their nap routine.
For some reason - currently not known to me -I didn't take any photos of the exercise frames that have been installed in the body of the park.  Here is a view of the other jetty at the South end of the area.
The swans came ashore ....
 .. and were peered at by a spotted dog (a Damatian, not one with measles).  There was some discussion of who would win between the swans and the dog with a consensus that the swans were short priced.  This was confirmed by a comment from the dog's owner (who kept it leashed and controlled) to the pooch that "That swan would kick your butt."

A tourist snap under the bridge showing the colourful foliage on the Manchurian pears..
 A nice brass (surprisingly not the rusted iron tat used by NCA in other areas) inlay on the end of the jetty marks the alignment of Burley Griffin's water axis.  This looks North to Black Mountain.
This looks South, possibly pointing to Mount Molonglo, one of the peaks in the Taliesin Hills behind our house.
Overall, and much as I hate to praise anything dome by the ACT Government and/or the National Capital Authority, I reckon this is a very good outcome.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Of pots and frogs

With forecast overnight lows approaching zero, yesterday was the day to shift our more delicate container pots into the potting shed.

For a fair proportion of the Fuchsias Frances had a strategy of putting their daggy plastic pots into good looking ceramic items. That way we don't have to schlep the heavy ceramic items around. In two cases when I lifted the plastic pot out I found a Perons Tree Frog in the bottom of the ceramic pot.

The interesting question is, how did the frog get in there? For the smaller frog - perhaps 50mm long - the plastic pot fitted so tightly I had to grip the rim of the pot with pliers to get it out. There is a hole in the base of the ceramic pot, perhaps 10mm diameter which is a lot smaller than the amphibian.

The larger frog - at least 75mm long - was in a less tight fitting pot but I'd still have thought it would have trouble fitting through the gap.

Presumably they feed off insects and such like that decide to shelter in the pots.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Big Day Birding

Each year eBird declares a Saturday as the Worldwide Big Day in which their members try to record as many species as possible.  I suspect the date is selected to be as close as possible to peak migration season in the USA, from where most eBird reports emanate.  However the most species on the day typically come from a country in South America (which isn't surprising as those countries typically have the greatest diversity).

In the past two years I have managed to get a couple of "world's biggest flocks".  In one year it was 150 Australian Magpies and the other a similar number of Little Ravens.  So I will be heading for the Plain later in the day.

By 6am AET there were 50 species reported with NZ leading the way with 21 species (again not surprising as it has been daylight there for about 2 hours, while still early evening of Friday in the Eastern US).  India, which can only just have got into the 5th, has 14 species, of which 7 are Owls or Nightjars.   Australia has 5 species - all nightbirds or species which make a ruckus at night such as Bush Stone Curlew.

I began my efforts with three checklists on our morning dog walk.  Between them they amounted to 17species (all pretty common).  When I checked the Big Day site at 0815 the sighting of 4 Yellow-rumped Thornbills was the first sighting of that species!  (That didn't last someone else submitted a sheet for an earlier time.)  However as at 14:25 my report of 36 Little Ravens was still holding up: that may not last as I have seen several flocks of over 100 in the past. (Still the record at 0547 on 6 May.)

Here is the track along Whiskers Creek Rd which we did once in each direction.  The reason for the little hook at the start is because I start at the edge of my Garden Bird Survey site.
Here is a view of Whiskers Creek Rd.  You may be able to pick out 2 'roos at the bottom of the slope!
 I recorded 10 species (best bird a Scarlet Robin) on the way out and 10 species on the way back, with as expected, a fair bit of overlap.  Best bird coming back was Grey Butcherbird.

This is the Widgiewa out and back.  Both directions on one list which was surprisingly short at 6 species.
It is always good to look down from the high point across the Plain  to the hills of Yanununbeyan to the South and the Great Dividing Range to the East.  Surprisingly the two 'roos here didn't get a verbal serve from Tammy.
After some more food and a couple of chores I took myself off to the Plain.  My first list was for a bit of Briars-Sharrow Rd and then the start of Plains Rd. 8 species along here with 39 Magpies and 36 Little Ravens.  However bird of the list was Eurasian Skylark, with 3 birds calling from various paddocks.
 A group of Crested Pigeons were obliging (both in posing and showing the bronze iridescence) ....
 .. as was this Laughing Kookaburra.
10 species were logged on the second half of Plains Rd.
 The most surprising bird was a White-faced Heron feeding in a pasture.  It wasn't so surprising to see Masked Lapwings in a similar position.
I then headed off to look down into Foxlow Lagoon.  Before I got there I noticed a Brown Falcon perched in a tree.  I thought the image looking into the sun was OK, and obviously the bird thought so too because it took off before I could get a more detailed view from the other direction.
 Further on down the road a flock of 25 Red Wattlebirds flew over, heading towards Tallaganda and the Coast,  On first looking at the Lagoon there didn't seem to be much around so I amused myself looking at the sheep chasing a trailer load of food around.

 This White-bellied Sea-Eagle wasn't too impressed with the 4x4 etc and took off.  A naff image but it proves the sighting!
 I have seen this species here several times and am faintly curious where they come from.  Possibly they are flying between Lake George and Googong Dam and see the Lagoon as the biggest water body between them?

Here is the state of the Lagoon.  Given the miserable amount of rain we have had in the last 5 months I am surprised there is still any water in it.
Looking closely you might see a cluster of waders beyond the mud bank.  This is a flock of 17 Red-necked Avocets which have been resident here for about 2 months.  Until this event I had only seen one Avocet in the Carwoola area.  Again naff image, taken on phone through telescope at 500m range.
 There were also 5 Black-winged Stilts which are more common in the area.  Good numbers (43 counted) of Pink-eared ducks which I presume were feeding on midge larvae, as reported a few months ago from the drying up dam on Lake Rd.  A Red-kneed Dotterel was just identifiable on the closest shore of the Lagoon.

Flame Robins were all over this site.  They were very mobile so difficult to count, but at one point I had 9 in one tree.  Here is a male ...
 .. and this a brown bird which could be a female or possibly an immature male.
 Back through Hoskinstown and head North on the road to Bungendore.
 Another Flame Robin was the highlight among the 6 species recorded. I was surprised that there was no activity in the Hawthorns although here they seemed to have shed their berries. I usually find a few species of duck on this dam, but not on the mini-desert  today.
The second half of this stretch goes past the Mills Cross radio telescope - see arrows to two arms of the array.
 6 more Flame Robins and the only Willie Wagtail of the day  among 6 species.

The final list was 10 species recorded along Briars-Sharrow Road with a small clan of 4 White-winged Choughs seen at the Briars.
 Along here there were still lots of haws on the bushes but no Gang-gangs (nor even Starlings) feeding on them.
In total I recorded 48 species.