Sunday, 11 November 2018

On going natural history of Carwoola

I will start by admitting that I am possibly stretching the definitions of both 'natural' and 'Carwoola', but its my blog!

The starting point is to repeat a photo from my Facebook page, under the spiffy image rule.  This shows 3/4 of the Tawny Frogmouth family.  Mum rarely visits the nest in daylight and I couldn't find her at all today.
Having a little time to spare I went to visit the community land at Molonglo River Park  It was good to see that someone has been planting new shrubs there.  On getting to the billabong it was good to see an Australasian Grebe in full breeding plumage, and a nice reflection.
 A male Australian Wood Duck (and snakey friend)
A female Australian Wood Duck (and snakey friend)
 The Wood Ducks get their act together.
 Refraction got in the way somewhat in this image, but hopefully you'll be able to see a rather large - at least 60cm long - European Carp swimming by.  Judging by the splashing sounds they are breeding there!
Another introduced pest is the Hawthorn.  They do have pretty flowers and the birds like the fruit in Winter but it is a pest
 Over the early afternoon there were many calls of Woodswallows over the house.  Many of them were too high to ID to species level but of those I could see they were all Masked or Dusky - no White-browed.  So we decided to go and see if we could find a big flock on the Plain.  On the way out we saw a 1.5m Eastern Brown Snake crossing Whiskers Creek Rd but didn't get a photo.  We did stop to admire the water lilies on a dam in Widgiewa Rd, and then noticed the bank of Dutch Irises behind them.
On the Plain the story was much the same.  Calls of Woodswallows all over, but most were quite high and/or fast moving so no ID to species  We called in at the Fairy Martin culvert but no birds were seen or heard.   At another spot I did hear my first Rufous Songlark of the season.

Just as we got home a Gippsland Water Dragon paused beside the Creek to display his largeness- probably about 60cm.
Later in the day an Eastern Spinebill came to sample the flowers on a succulent on the deck.

Friday, 9 November 2018

How did they come up with that name?

From time to time I wonder how the august people on Scientific Committees etc come up withe the names they do. 

A classic example is the duck Aythya australis with the common name 'Hardhead'.  This used to be known as the White-eyed Duck but apparently the appropriate Committee found people were abbreviating this to White-eye and thus causing confusion with the genus Zosterops, which are small, finch-sized bush birds.  Go figure!  So they adopted the shooters name which apparently arose because the birds were hard to hit due to speed of flight and small frontal area.  Rather than admit they were lousy shots the lack of corpses was blamed on the species hard heads!

That is a long lead-in to a post mainly about  a macropod.  I call - and will continue to do so until the day after Hell freezes over - this animal a Swamp Wallaby, or if pressed for time a Swampie.  Apparently It has an alternate name of Black-tailed Wallaby (because they are sometime found away from swamps. 
 They do have a point: here it is on a lawn, showing a pretty dark tail.

Its a bit unusual in the local 'roo population as it is usually a browser rather than a grazer.  On this occasion is was going for ground level stuff rather than our shrubs.
Where the issue with names really gets gluey is that its scientific name is Wallabia bicolor.  I have no trouble with the Wallabia element: its a relatively small kangaroo so the wallaby fits.  However where do they get the bicolor bit from?  (I'm overlooking the poor spelling!)

Look at the following images and try to count the number of colours represented in the fur!

 The first few photos were taken through the kitchen window to make sure I got some photos.  However it didn't panic when I went outside and got these from a tad closer.

Personally I'd give this the name Wallabia bellusissimus: the cutest wallaby!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

It's turtle season everywhere

I missed sunrise this morning (too busy writing up the previous blog) but did catch the sunlight forming a line in the Inlet!
No photos from the dog walk, which was mainly notable for the good list of birds - 31 species - seen. 
So it was packing up and nicking off, which we did about 10:37.  We stopped briefly at Gypsy Point Cemetery (in between showers) to check for orchids.  The temperature was 12oC which explains why none of the Thelymitra, of which I spotted quite a few buds,were open.  I did spot a clump of Microtis but am aesthetically opposed to peering at them.

On to Imlay Road and found a timber jinker gaining on me from behind.  He wasn't tailgating but clearly wanted to go a bit faster than I wished to go, bearing in mind the potential presence of chunderpooch.  So I pulled off and let it by - a second one was close behind.  As we got towards the end of the twisty bit (about 40km in) a third one appeared but I was able to keep in front of that, without the back seat getting decorated.  It is quite unusual to find so many "empties" heading in: I assume they couldn't work in the rain of the previous day so were trying to fit in an extra load.

As we hadn't been to Black Lake (near Bibbenluke) for some time I diverted to there to see what was around.  Still a good bit of water, but obviously well down on full.
Coots were the most numerous species (at least 250) with a few Pied Stilts as expected.  These birds are far from common in Canberra or the South Coast but regularly seen here.  I wonder why?
A few Blacks were gliding around.
It was good to see a few Whiskered Terns hunting over the water and 19 Sharp-tailed  Sandpipers probing along the shoreline.

The small dog was allowed out for a comfort stop behind the elegant sign.  It always surprises me when I see such infrastructure in an out of the way place like this.  I have never seen anyone using the boat ramp and there have only been 27 bird lists submitted since 2007!
As we left we spotted the Monster from the Black Lagoon Lake crossing the road.
Zooming in on its feet ..
.. shows a fine set of claws.  Another reason to be careful when picking one up.

On, on down the road getting home at 1525.  A good bit slower than the truip down, but we did stop a few  times.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Not so quiet but pretty damp

The morning was quite cool but not raining as we set off on our early(ish) dog walk around Coulls Inlet.
I cannot remember what these flowers are and I'll try to check books a little later.  I hadn't noticed them earlier in the trip but the blossom was all along the walk today.
The White-faced Heron was in breeding plumage  and seemed quite committed to the lagoon area.  Perhaps a nest is being built somewhere nearby?
The highlight of the walk was seeing a Buff-banded Rail on the grass just before the turn around spot.  Its the first of this species I have seen in the Mallacoota area.  The Cattle Egret seen earlier in the week was also visible out on one of the islands.
By 0930 the Weatherzone radar was looking quite ominous for the South of NSW (and the Carwoola area).  It might go just North of Mallacoota.
The imminence of rain got us out and doing a couple of walks near Bastion Point.  The first was along the Pittosporum Walk where a member of the Mallacoota Birds FB group had seen some Topknot Pigeons.  They weren't around this morning (but a small flock were seen at the Narrows at about the time we were out).

We then moved on to Tip Beach to see what was there.  Not too much in the way of birds but this barnacle-encrusted Cuttlefish bone was interesting.
At the point this Pigface plant, growing on bare rock exposed to the elements was photographed as some sort of encouragement award!
A view of the rocks.
By 1200 the radar was looking a bit threatening for Mallacoota.
However I met with Janine, the administrator of the Mallacoota Birds Facebook Group, and, after peering at the waders on sandbars in Devlins Inlet and a nice lunch, we took ourselves off to the Water Treatment Plant to see what was there.
As soon as we got through the gate Janine heard a Koala growling in the eucalypt plantation but we didn't at the stage spot it.   Once at the pits (after a bird-quiet walk though the caravan parking lot) it was nice to see a Long-necked Tortoise out for a walk.
The birds on the ponds were quite good with most of the usual suspects seen.  To my surprise, on reviewing the checklist I didn't record either Chestnut Teal or Australasian Shoveler.  I don't remember seeing them either so its not just a matter of forgetting to press the button!  Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were in evidence, both on the lower banks of the ponds and over in the small pond by the hide.

As we came out of the area Janine spotted a portly person dozing up a tree.
The rain amounted to 6mm for the day at 'coota and followed on 4mm the previous day.  That should get the lawn growing!  (Carwoola seems to have got 14-18mm which is good.)

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

A quietish day in Mallacoota

The day dawned quite colourfully.
The sun is fully above the horizon here: I am quite surprised at how well my camera has dealt with this!
The day was forecast to be showery and indeed that was how the radar looked at 0700.
Despite this we headed out on our dog walk.  On the way down the hill we noticed Bilhemina and progeny jammed into a large fork.  They seem to move around a lot: possibly the dry  conditions mean that there is limited suitable food on each tree.
By 1020 it seemed we might be in a small gap in the showers so headed out for a walk on the Casuarina trail.
The reason for going there was a faint hope that there might be some orchids in flower.  In the whole 4km we only found 1 miserable little Petalochilus.  The bush generally seemed very dry.  Of the few flowers around this daisy (Brachyscome sp or Calotis sp) was worth getting the camera out for.
In the part of the track nearest to Genoa Rd there were quite a few of these white lilies.
In both cases above note the raindrops on the petals. 

After a pause for lunch and a snooze we took ourselves to Quarry Beach.  The tide seemed to be way out: rock outcrops that are usually surrounded by water were several metres from the waters edge.  The sea was also as flat as I have ever seen  it - I hope that lasts for the pelagic outing scheduled from Merimbula to off this coast next Sunday!!
The land-art person had left a work near the quarry!
There were few birds around apart from this group of Cormorants on the rocks at the Western end of the beach
Clearly in a few millenia the economy of Mallacoota will be driven by guano mining!

Monday, 5 November 2018

Its Koala season in Karbeethong

Yesterday's post included a few images of Koalas around Mallacoota.  Always nice to see - and generally an attitude shared by residents of an area in which they are found.  (And loathed by property developers whose main aim in life - other than kicking widows and puppies - is to chop down the trees the Koalas live in so as to build slums.)

There had been some concern that renovation of the house next door might scare away the Koalas which we see regularly.  I think that was solved today.  I think this lady travels around this area as one with a very young joey was seen across the road a few months back.  The photos are presented in the order I took them between about 0630 and 1300.

 I have never seen a Koala adopt this position before.  Blinky Billhemia rules: all she needs is a can of VB and would be in the running for Miss Melbourne Cup watcher!
The next three images are part of a set I sent to our friends to show how their garden grows.

On the dog walk we were fascinated by what appeared to be brown discs floating in the water.  On poking with a stick they turned out to be funnels, coming out of holes in the mud.  I have no idea what created them.
Our second walk was the Betka River  and clifftops.  Here is the Betka River element.
We didn't see any greenhood orchids this time but there were quite a few Petalochilus fuscatus.  The next two images illustrate the range of shades on pink in their flowers.

This is the clifftops element.  From the start we go South to Fisherman's Point and then come back to Betka Beach.
An unusual vine with a ball of flkorets
A contorted black and white cormorant!
When it straightened up it was a Black-faced Cormorant.
Two yellow members of the family Asteraceae with very different shaped leaves.

The next several photos all come from a small patch of heath close to our turn-round point. Comesperma volubile.
Leptospermum sp.
When I looked at the image above I noticed the ant in the middle of the flower.  So I looked more closely at the next image and it was covered with ants!
Scaeveola sp.
Pimelea sp,
Kennedia rubicunda.
On a previous visit we were impressed that someone had done some land-art (perhaps after Richard Long) by lining the path with beach pebbles.  This time they (possibly the same person) has channelled their inner Andy Goldsworthy with this nest made from fallen Melaleuca branches.
In the late  afternoon I went to Captain Stephensons Point and found that most of the sand bars in the Inlet are under water.  I added a few species to  the trip list (Eastern Curlew; Caspian Tern (6) and Little Egret) but they were all too far away to photograph with my camera (and I didn't have the telescope adapter with me).