Wednesday, 26 April 2017

An outing for two purposes

The first purpose, in the sense of the one I thought of first, is actually the second one covered in this post.  That because it suited me to go to Yerrabi Pond at Gungahlinand then come back to Lyons for a run, rather than vice versa.

The reason for going to Yerrabi was to tick the Great Crested Grebe which has been hanging out there for several days (if not weeks by now).  Fortunately the viewing point - Soroptimist Point - was well defined.  There were quite a few waterbirds around but initially no sign of the Grebe. So I scanned the Pond through my telescope and soon spotted the required bird.
I'm sorry that is such a crappy photo, but the light was very poor and the bird was on the far side of the Pond.  I had forgotten to take my scope/phone adapter!  The red arrow indicates the Grebe in this un-zoomed image
The grebe seemed to coexist peacefully with the various other fowl around the place.  Perhaps it took the hint after getting a stern talking to by a Dusky Moorhen the day before?

In that image note the greyness of the sky.  It was actually a lot darker than it appears, and as I drove down to Woden the skies opened and a fair serve of rain came down.  It was still coming down when I started the race.
 In the official report on the event mention was made of a participant starting carrying an umbrella.  Here is the proof.
 The track was a tad damp and slippery.
 A pair of participants were striding manfully along.  I joined them as I have a sore back from gardening and a jog/walk outing was just what I needed.  Again the going was, what the horse racing fraternity would describe as, heavy: on that scale I'd rate it as level 9.
 Someone's Mum won't be happy about the washing.
 Due to the weather adminstration had moved to the tunnel under Melrose Drive.  I suspect this shifted both the start and the finsh so the distance was constant.  I was inclined to label this image as "Gimme She;lter".
 The usual suspect  - actually quite a few less than usual - assembled t hear the results.
Presumably if the rain had still been coming down we'd all had snuggled in the underpass.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Some assembly required.....

This extract from a Bloom County cartoon gives the background to the title.
 Such instruction is of course meat and potatoes to Ikea shoppers.  I recall spending a morning in New York building furniture from flatpacks until the person in the apartment below objected - quite reasonably - to the constant tapping of the hammer.  The item covered by this post was from Aldi rather than Ikea, and came in a cuboid rather than flatpack.
 Here is the list of parts!
Here they are out of the pack and ready for assembly.  It was a bit of a surprise to find them to be plastic rather than metal but it seems to work OK
 Halfway there!
 Given that I have 5 (~85%) of the 6 surfaces complete an inexperienced assembler might wonder about the use of the word 'half'.  Building the doors was a major task, not least because each of the 4 panels had two hinges with two screws.  Because the basic material is plastic the instructions prohibit use of drills to drive them - I ended with a nice blister from the handle of the screwdriver!
Here is the finished article: building the first one took close to 2 hours, and the second about 1 hour largely because I knew how to follow the instructions.
 I had planned to use a junior assistant but she was busy decorating the empty carton of cupboard 1.
 A bit later she converted the second carton to a car - or possibly chariot, with herself channeling Charlton Heston and wombats positioned to provide the horse-power.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dawn of 21-4-2017

For readers in North America: we haven't invented a 21st month. it's still April.

From looking out my study window and spotting the colour of the sky to everthing washingout was no more that 5 minutes.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

COG Gigerline 2017

The COG Wednesday Walk for April 2017 was to Gigerline Nature Reserve at Williamsdale.  30 members and guests gathered on a brilliant Autumn day. Pleasantly warm, no wind and bright sunshine. 

We started from the highway, recently a site of sadness as a competitor in a bike race from Perth to Sydney died near our meeting point.  The circumstances around the death are still subject to investigation, but it was notable that a few days later the Australian commentators on the Tour of Flanders were advocating for rules to ensure people in such events got at least some sleep.  There is a small roadside memorial.

We meet at the site of a former service station (a 'servo' in Strine) where a solar farm has been constructed in the 2 years since we were last there.
 We moved about 1km up the highway and queued politely to cross a fence or two.  I have done a little obfuscation to prevent face recognition (although I don't think anyone present was wagging work).
Throughout the walk flocks of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters with a few White-naped Honeyeaters mixed in were overflying us, heading more or less for the Tinderries. It would be impossible to get a precise count but the group agreed that estimates of 2,000 Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and 50 White-naped Honeyeaters were conservative.

A side trip to a small dam produced a single Grey Teal  Somewhat easier to photograph than a flock of migrating Honeyeaters.
 As we descended to the Murrumbidgee a group of 5 Red Wattlebirds appeared to be joining in the rush. One White-eared Honeyeater seen early in proceedings also appeared to be caught up in the excitement, while a couple more were calling during the walk. When we arrived at the River ...
.. a single Yellow-tufted Honeyeater was seen briefly browsing in the canopy. It dived lower and was not relocated.
A mixed flock including Buff-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, 2 Scarlet Robins and a Grey Shrike hinted at the shape of things to come as the weather cools down. In much the same area a flock of 12 Varied Sittellas were feeding in the canopy.
Overhead, three young Wedge-tailed Eagles were seen at one time soaring over the woodland and another much darker bird was seen shortly afterwards soaring towards the River. They were the only raptors seen on the outing.
I hope no-one was really expecting the Yellow-plumed Honeyeater I burbled about on the website!  The total species count for the day was 38. A full species list is in this eBird checklist. This is well down on our Summer counts of over 50 species but the decrease was almost entirely due to the absence of migratory species.

Acacias get in on the act

I have banged on a bit about the epicormic growth on the Eucalypts in our area since the fire.
However this afternoon I noticed what seems to be epicormic growth on some Acacias which surprises me more than somewhat. It doesn't seem to be as high a proportion of trees/shrubs as with the eucs but (assuming I have understood what is going on correctly) it is evident in at least 4 species.

I am now even less confident that this is epicormic growth.  On looking closely at an Acacia dealbata it appeared that all the sprouts were coming out of axils (ie where twigs join branches) rather than free-standing buds as is the case with epicormic growth,  It is currently raining, but when it stops I will revisit the sprouts.

The images are:
 A. dealbata; 

A. pravissima  

A. falicformis.  

and A. rubida 
Not all Acacias are sprouting.  A row of Acacia pravissima beside our drive took the full brunt of the fire and were incinerated.  No epicormic growth there!
 However, on looking down, under the trees ...
As our neighbour Michaela says "Nature finds a way".

I was in this part of the block (which we used to refer to as the Bald Hill, because it had been grazed to bedrock) planting some more of our trees.  To give them some protection I put a fence  around them.
I have put red dots on the top of the fence posts.  Looking at the full sized picture, it is obvious that as a fencing contractor, I'd make a pretty fair bird-watcher.

Monday, 17 April 2017

The work continues

Part of my efforts yesterday concluded with a large pile of brush beside the drive.  It was to say the least unsightly and inconvenient so job #1 today was to remove it.  Here is the first load ready to roll.
 Rather than go to the tip at Bungendore  I decided to go a somewhat shorter distance to an erosion gully in the top of the block.  The trailer is empty, the gully less so.
 After 3 loads the gully is rather more full.  This will hopefully reduce erosion and provide some nice habitat for resting reptiles and possibly little birds (to the extent that they compatible).
A Pajero is useful for things other than towing a trailer.  Some of the Photinia look very unlikely to rejuvenate and would be a bugger to dig out.  A length of rope and steady acceleration do a better job.  (For subsequent efforts 4WD prevented the wheelspin!)
 This also gave a nice hole ...
 .. into which a Callistemon (I think) fitted nicely.
Other holes were created down the drive and filled with Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum)  or E. stellulata (Black Sallee).
 The brickie's hammer in action digging the small hole.
 As an aside I needed to use my drill to reattach the number plate to the trailer.  Look what I found sitting on top of the drill bag!  It was completely torpid but moved a little when I took it out intothe sunshine.

Another Progress Report

I have given up numbering the progress reports as I can't remember what number (or symbol) I am up to!  So this is just another brick in the wall.

I'll begin with three images from a stroll around the top of the block on 15 April.  The first is the epicormic growth on (I think) a Eucalyptus meliodora (Yellow Box) with scorched trees in the background.
We were intrigued that a termite nest had been burnt out below ground level.  A well known naturalist has commented that there is plenty of organic matter in a termite nest.
Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia is appearing.  This has an "official" vernacular name of Rock Fern but I prefer Resurrection Fern, reflecting its regrowth after fires.
On the subject of Resurrection - appropriate for Easter weekend - the sun got into the act on the 16th!
Our main business for the day was collecting some plants to kick start the fixing up the garden.  This was arranged through a garden aid group set up by the Coordinator of the local Landcare Group.  The plants have all  been donated by various people and businesses, so thank you to them and to Megan for arranging it.  Here are the big trees ...
.. and here the smaller ones.
After a very slow drive back, so as not to damage the 3m high trees, they were offloaded into the garden bed outside our sunroom.  These are all exotics: maples of bvarious species,; a couple of Japanese Elms and a Crepe Myrtle.
Before planting these the chainsaw got a bit of work removing some of the (formerly) existing shrubs that had given up the ghost.  If they are going to sprout again it will be from stumps.
Tomorrows job #1 will be carting this lot up the block to an erosion gully -  Í've got fed up with driving over to the Bungendore tip.

This is a Japanese Maple, but the object of the photo is to show the size of the hole that has been dug.
This is a former maple.  It will be heading for the erosion gully in the near future.
Here is my collection of tools.  As was the case with our block in South Bruce the crowbar is essential for any manual excavation!
In case you wonder why, here are the rocks - mainly some form of shale - removed from one of the holes.  The biggest rock, in the foreground, was about 25cm long.
Coming back to resurrection, these Acanthus are going great guns.  It seemed to take about 5 years for them to get to flowering size but they have obliged each year since and are looking very good for next spring.