Wednesday, 28 January 2015

ANPS looks down on NSW from Mt Aggie

After 3 weeks of trying the walk finally went ahead.  The weather was quite satisfactory, although I was wearing a fleece the whole time.

We went via the Cotter Dam and Frances scored this photo as we came home.  In most places they'd have made a viewing area to look at this quite imposing site: being the ACT Government the road is a no-stopping area.  (I suspect their OHAS lawyer has gone feral about getting sued if the dam collapses.)
 Once past the bitumen the gravel road was in very poor condition.  .  Here is the explanation:
For some reason the cash-strapped ACT Government is shifting many truckloads of gravel along the Mt Franklin Rd.  This was happening when ANPS visited Mt Franklin on 10 December and I would have heard at least 12 trucks go past today. Given the narrowness of the road in parts it is very dangerous - we had to wait because another truck was coming.  If they spent the money on controlling St John's Wort, blackberries  and Scotch thistles it would be a much better idea.

Anyhow.  That was the only blot on a very good day.  Here is a view of the summit of Mt Aggie.
 And this is one of the may panoramic views from the summit, looking basically South-West.
This is looking basically east.  The bands of tone offered by the epicormic growth: burnt out stags; distant hillside and the clouds were most appealing.
 This is a close-up of a dead tree trunk with an interesting banding effect where the fire has created a cavity.  I suspect it was the second fire that got the tree.
On to plants.  The dominant (in terms of interest) family for the day was definitely the Asteraceae - which some refer to as daisies.  None refer to it as Compositae because that is Old Thinking and frowned upon by the Gods of Taxonomy.  So I will begin with that group (daisies, not the Gods of Taxonomy).

Brachyscome aculeata was very common near the start of the walk.
A few mauve Brachycomes, possibly B spathulata, were seen off the track.
Just below the summit was a small clump of B. diversifolia which required seeds to be peered at for identification.
Yellow was also available with  Xerochrysum subundulatum and ....
.. Microseris sp. 'Snowfields' as it currently appear in the ACT Plant Census  This was a very large flower on a stalk about 1m long.  Only one plant was found by me while I was exploring off the track, but a couple mores were found by others, closer to the track.
 The open area around the peak was a sea of Rhodanthe anthemoides.
A few samples of Leucochrysum alpinum were mixed in.  This is an arty-farty snap of an opening bud against the white foliage.
 Moving on to other families.  There were still a lot of Stylidium in flower, and I think this was S. armeria.
 Bossiaea foliosa
Oxylobium ellipticum
Persoonia chamaepeuce.  Another member of the genus was also seen by some, but not photographed by me.
 I am intrigued that there were not a mass of Currawongs around feeding on the berries of  Acrothamnus hookeri.  Presumably the pest birds find it easier to scarf dog-food and Cotoneaster berries in the city.
 A mixed development of Dianella tasmanica berries.
 I think this is the ACT floral emblem Wahlenbergia gloriosa.  As usual there was much debate about specification of the various 'bluebells' encountered on the walk.
 Several Vanilla Lilies Arthropodium milleflorum were encountered
 Euphrasia collina was not surprisingly growing on a hill!
Quite a number of colonies of Pterostylis falcata Diplodium decurvum or D. aestivum were encountered throughout the forested section of the walk.  The definitive expert conclusion is that this first one is D aestivum but "they are hard to tell apart". and the rationale for the names determined is in a comment on the post.
This is more like D  decurvum.
And this is pretty definitely D. decurvum
A single 'gone over' example of Dipodium sp.
This struggler is, was, or will be Eriochilus cuccullatus.  This was outside the forest on the shale slopes.
Right at the summit was our only example of Thelymitra sp.
 Only one fungus was noted.
 Having dealt with "evidence of orchids" here is evidence of insects in the shape of a gall.
 Thus far I have not identified this well at all.  I suspect it is a beetle.
Roger identified this as a Hanging Fly - which according to Zborowski and Story is most likely to be Harpobittacus sp.
Roger also wondered if it had a nuptial gift, and my answer was no.  However he spotted that a wedding present was present and inded it can be found in the image.
 Although the gift wasn't accepted by the female it didn't seem to delay adult entertainment!
 A weevil!
 A hoverfly!
 A caterpillar!
 Some of the 'roos at Bulls Head.
Many skinks were seen throughout the day.  The cooler weather seemed to make them less inclined to snooze in the sun,but this one did oblige.
A flock of Flame Robins were on the grass at Bulls Head ...
 .. and one of them came and perched nicely for a photo.
On the way home we went for a brief visit to Warks Rd to look for ferns and the Rose Robin seen on last week's COG walk.  We failed completely on the last, but this was more than made up for by two Wonga pigeons on Blundell's Creek Rd.  They have been rather uncommon since the 2003 fires.

A foxy interlude

Apologies to those hanging out for the post about ANPS going to Mount Aggie but I have about 90 images to go through and that will take sme time to organise.  In the meantime here is some excitement from this morning.

I looked out my study window and saw a canid exploring a pile of topsoil.

After a while it cleared off.  Then I looked again and there were at least three reynards - from the look of things an adult and two cubs.

I had to take small dog out for a comfort stop and all foxes headed for the hills.  Tammy got their scent and was most interested.  Some stern barking was administered - and I don't think she'd have backed off even if she had realised that each of this pack was about 4 times her size.

I suspect they had originally been attracted by the corpse of a kangaroo elsewhere in the paddock.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Arise Sir Phillip!

Readers in other countries may not be aware that our beloved Prime Minister (who would be known as Dear Leader if that rank wasn't already taken)  has decided to award the Duke of Edinburgh a Knighthood of the Order of Australia.  Most readers in Australia will probably be aware of this, but not really believe it.

Its the sort of symbolic act that would be performed by a loony dictator from the armed forces of a developing country (say, the satire of Idi Amin that appeared in Punch).  It is also, as one would expect from this Government, cheap: Philip's father in law made him a Duke, and his wife made him a Prince!  He has in fact already got a truck load of titles, spelt out by the ABC:
His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, KG (Knight of the Garter), KT (Knight of the Thistle), OM (Order of Merit), GBE (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire), AK (Knight of the Order of Australia), QSO (Companion of The Queen's Service Order), PC (Privy Counsellor).
In Strine this is shortened a bit to "Phil DaGreek", and his good lady wife is affectionately known as Betty DaGreek..

I have commented in an email to various folk that I thought this award was the great stupidity that I had been expecting from Abbott for the last 5 years or so.  One response commented 
"My prediction is that this unbelievably ridiculous decision by {accurate expletive deleted}will be seen eventually as the one that brings him down, either by his colleagues replacing him before the end of the year or the electorate throwing him out next year.
The mood of the media certainly seems to be to ridicule the idea.  A couple of cartoons from the Fairfax Press:

There seems to be little difficulty in getting members of the Liberal Party to line up to criticise the decision.  While this could reflect the Fairfax hatred of the Mad Monk, the following are from the Murdoch owned Sydney Daily Telegraph
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott’s judgment is being questioned by furious Liberal MPs who say his bizarre decision to bestow a knighthood on Prince Philip — taken on his own without consulting Cabinet — is a serious mistake.
Liberals who spent yesterday at Australia Day events were met with derision and surprise from voters, who questioned the decision to give Australia’s highest ­honour to a decorated 93-year-old British royal.
Proving that Wikipedia is up to speed, their page about Prince Philip includes on 27 January the following
In 2015 he was appointed a Knight in the Order of Australia. The appointment was criticized by Opposition leader Bill Shorten of the Australian Labor Party who said: "It's a time warp where we're giving knighthoods to English royalty. Some people (have) wondered whether it was an Australia Day hoax." Adam GilesNorthern Territory chief minister and Country Liberal Party leader, said: "I woke up this morning and read the wires and was confused between Australia Day and April Fool's Day," adding "It makes us a bit of a joke. It's Australia Day, we're not a bunch of tossers."
The views of readers of Fairfax express their views in a poll.

My own gut feeling is that the loyal members of the Liberal Party will be awaiting with interest the results of at least the Queensland State election next Saturday before doing anything.  A bad result there (for the Liberal/National Party, which would be a good result for Queensland, Australia and the world generally) could be a tipping point, even though the Monk hasn't been allowed North of the Tweed for the last 6 weeks.  If that is followed by an interesting result in NSW in mid-March then the house of cards will crumble.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Some invertebrates of January

The use of the word "invertebrates" rather than insects may suggest to arachnophobes that they should be wary in reading this post.

I have tried to order the images according to Order, beginning with Coleoptera.

A draft title for this post was "A Plague on all your Soldier Beetles" as they (Chaulignathus lugibris) turned up in numbers for the first time this year.  They are accompanied by a Flower Scarab (Polystigma punctata)
 This is clearly in the family Mordellidae (Pintail Beetles) and looks to be a good match to Tomoxioda aterrima as shown on Brisbane insects.  The Atlas of Living Australia shows them only recorded in Queensland so I have added an observation (with status = uncertain).
No doubt about this one Eupoecila australasiae the Fiddle Beetle.
Nor this Anoplognathus rugosus a Christmas Beetle.  It did seem a very large specimen.
I will go so far as to call this next one a Weevil.  As there are about 8000 species in Australia attempting to go further without keying is a huge risk but it has a short snout and was on a wattle (Acacia rubida I think) so I will take a punt on Leptopius quadridens (the Wattle pig, as described in Hangay and Zborowski.
One of the easiest IDs going: Chrysolopus spectabilis Botany Bay Diamond Weevil.

They are not in short supply now and, if this behaviour is what it looks like, that situation is going to continue.

We now shift into the Order Hemiptera containing inter alia bugs and aphids.

This is I think Spilostethus hospes named by Brisbane insects as the Darth Maul bug.  I hope the link lets Lucasfilms live long and prosper so they don't go me for copyright violation.
A pretty good match to Nezara viridula.
Into the murky world, or at least Order of Diptera: essentially flies and mozzies.

This first sample is I suspect a greenbottle, from the family Calliphoridae.
The ducks seem to form a row for this to be a Grey Snipe Fly Chrysopilus tonnoiri

Other than a member of the Diptera I am far from sure what this is.  I found it on some rushes while looking for the swarming midges, but I don't think its a midge.
Now the Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants).

I thought this one would be easy with all black abdomen and the yellow band on the "shoulders".  Not so, and I will list is as wasp.
On the other hand this is I am sure a Blue Hairy Flower Wasp (Scolia soror).
Lepidoptera - moths and butterflies. I must confess this image is more about the venation of the leaf, rather than the moth itself.
A day-flying moth, possibly of the genus Nyctemera.
This image is more to show the flowers of the Buddleia (also known as Butterfly Bush.
I saw an unusual butterfly in the garden on 27 January and took a photo
I had not tried to ID it when a post to the COG chatline talked about a tropical species "Yellow Albatross which sometimes irrupts this far South.  Bingo!  It is a female.  I have put a record in to ALA which was the first for this area.

Although there are many members of the order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damsellflies) they are mainly too quick for me to photograph.  This - which I had thought was a dead spider has been identified by Harvey as "the exuvia (final nymphal skin) of a dragonfly."
We are not leg-ist on this blog so its spider time!!!  This is a Daddy Longlegs (family Pholciae) which was doing its thing in our bedroom. It does in fact only have 8 legs - the extras are all shadows from the flash.
Here it has climbed down to a prey item cocooned on the very twisted silk.