Thursday, 5 March 2015

ANPS does Miniscule at Mongarlowe

Note that I would hate the form "Miniscule @ Mongarlowe" since that represents the hijacking of the '@' by disco fiends!

I am particularly keen on Miniscule's manifestation as an animated TV program about invertebrates,  It is also a good word to describe many of the plants we saw today!

As I understand it the catalyst for the outing was a trip by some members of the ACT Orchid group who reported many wonders from the  Mongarlowe Cemetery.  I have visited there before with some success and also fritzed out badly (due to ill-considered acts by the Mongarlowe bush fire people - with a possible assist by Tilly the goat and her strange owner).

Today would count as another success as the RFS hadn't mown the place for a while so hadn't destroyed the orchids,  - although the early weather was a bit dubious .
Tilly was not evident and her apparent domicile (capricile?) looked rather deserted.  (Bulldust was also absent, at least until I started this, so on with the plants, beginning with the orchids).

The first two are Eriochilus cucullatus - in conjunction with a later image these show the range of tones of the flowers.

 They were everywhere, as common as daisies in an English lawn.  In close-up, rather than a quiet parson's bands,  they really remind me of a choleric televangelist ranting!

If the orchidologists cannot identify plants to species I am not going to pronounce, so Speculantha sp. will do for these.
The specialists also seemed a trifle tentative about the genus Corunastylis: there were a lot of them around: mostly seeming to be on (or past) their use-by date.  Any corrections to the names offered below will be welcomed.  I start with C. apostasioides.
 There were only a couple of these, which were relatively tall flowers and which I have called C. nuda.
 I will take a punt on C. olignantha for the next lot.   Apart from them being very small the breeze was shifting them around and the sunlight very bright so I had major issues getting them in focus.  Looking at the images shown , imagine what the deleted ones were like (hint: pictures of grass with a fuzzy blob in the foreground!)


This specimen was from the 50kph sign stop.  I suspect it is C apostasioides again, but was much taller than those in the cemetery.
Monet, eat your heart out  The only justification for this blurry impression is to get Spiranthes australis on the list (see comment above about focus)!
 On the other hand Chilglottis reflexa was very cooperative.
We had been told that there were Diplodiums coming into flower halfway down the cemetery and a few metres in from the RHS.  So we searched from about 40% of the length to 60% of the length and found nothing.  Thoughts about Tilly circulated.  The a nice clump of Little Dumpies (D. truncatum) was found about 75% of the way down the block!  I guess its all a matter of standard deviations.
At the 50kph sign there were more Eriochilus and Corunastylis and one remnant of a Dipodium sp.
 Thats all the orchids- not a bad haul.   Moving up in the cotyledon count I start with Boronia nana var. hyssopifolia.
Comesperma ericinum
 Comesperma sphaerocarpum
 Patersonia sericea
 Cryptandra amara var. floribunda - I only noticed the open florets when I looked at the image on my 'pooter.
 Goodenia bellidifolia: a small and delicate plant on Half Moon Rd.
 Ros commented that no-one ever shows the leaves - by chance I had such a snap!
 This is a Cassytha sp. flower
 Mirbelia platylobioides: the only flowering bean of the day.
 Back to the realm of the miniscule - and even that is probably an exaggeration for these tiny flowers.   Amperea xiphoclada 
 Female flowers on Allocasuarina nana.
An overview of the Allocasuarina nana heath.
 This completes the colour range of Eriochilus cucllatus but is primarily included for the small insect.
 A dung beetle - identified by Roger.
 I am intrigued by the fringes on the integument which don't appear in any of the pictures I can find.  bearing in mind the first half of the name it shouldn't be surprising to find 'stuff' growing on the beetle!

Ants tending some scale insects (the insects under the scale are, according to Pete'n'Penny, "likely genus Glycaspis").  My memory is that the white scale is effectively sugar.
 A large grasshopper: Tinzeda sp. )also ID by Roger.
An aesthetic collection of letterboxes on the outskirts of Mongarlowe village.
As Ros commented there were lotsa roadworks.  At least they were working, under the direction of Marley's Ghost (Bob, rather than Jacob).




Tuesday, 3 March 2015

February Weather Report

That is not really a click-bait title but at least it does indicate what the post is about.  Having had a month's experience I shall try to mix in the comparative material with the current month commentary.  I have also added in more information from old records so any multi-year averages are likely to be rather different to the examples I published last month.

Rain

A pretty dry month, especially for February which is usually one of the wetter months.
The total of 38.6 mm  represents 4 days with >5mm of which only 1 got over 10mm.  This reflects few thunderstorms getting through to this area (although one of them was kind enough to nuke our friends modem {and set fire to a tree across the road from them}).

Temperature

The main presenter on ABC TV News burbled about not having had a Summer as it had been mild.  We didn't have any days >35oC but exceeded 30oC on 4 occasions so I reckon that is OK as a Summer goes.
My average includes 2 years for some months, 1 for others and 3 for the two months of 2015, so isn't really representative but I think gives a starting point for thought.  The graph does show that February was a touch cooler than January, and this year somewhat below the 3 year average (so Ms Hausegger's burbles are not completely off the planet).
For minimum temperatures February was little different to January.  As average minima for both months were higher than the 3 year average this supports my feeling that the month was in fact reasonably warm: my view of warmth in Summer is largely driven by how little it cools overnight!

Humidity

It has been suggested that in Summer 40% is a reasonable value for Relative Humidity at 1500hrs (or 3pm for readers in old-fashioned countries).  That being the case, the word "Muggy" might summarise February 2015.
Both January and February were more humid than the average of the 3 previous years (although only marginally so for February)
This February was much more humid than 2014.  There are only 7 days (25%) in which 2014 was more humid than 2015.

Wind

I had no recollection of strong winds for most of February.  Indeed after dark it seemed very still, adding to the mugginess.  That seems to be supported by the data for the month.
The average situation is, always seems to be the case with matters relating to wind, a little complicated.   It appears that the readings from my older (non-Davis) weather station are not comparable with the Davis readings.  Since the Davis readings are themselves only indicative (as a result of where I have placed the station, not the equipment) I have not included the readings for early 2013.  This graph shows the current state of play, which does seem to show February 2015 as a relatively still month.
In that case I have taken the simplest approach of the average gust in each 30 minute period through the day.  An alternate approach would be to extract the maximum gust each day and then average them.
Again as always seems to be the case with aeolian matters, while the absolute numbers are a bit different there is really no difference in pattern between the two approaches.  It is sensible therefore to take the simple monthly average since it involves less work (which apart from anything else reduces the chance of a subsequent cock-up).

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Wrath of Grapes and the Slight Grumpiness of Invertebrates

This is sort of a composite post covering snaps on two topics taken recently.

I had hoped to have a link to the Battle Hymn of the Republic but all the good versions (eg Joan Baez) are pay per play and the freebies are either over-orchestrated saccharine (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) or basically embarrassing (The King as part of American Trilogy).

So here are some grapes.  You'd be wrathful if picked and stuck in a bowl (or a bowel).  The green/white ones are the Niagara variety with a foxy smell.
These are some Muscats we were given by our friend Ros.  Still on the vine.
Not the jungles of Burma or Sri Lanka but the scene under our bird netting.
Some black grapes still ripening.
Ditto a few whites.
OK on to the grumpy inverebrates.  I always find Huntsman spiders grumpy: I suspect they have a terrier gene somewhere that means they never back off!  This was a monster on our bedroom flyscreen.
Talking of monsters, check out the ovipositor on this icheumenon wasp!
Some weeks back I covered the willow aphids down by the Creek.  They are still there in vast proportions.
Not only does their honeydew attract bees and ladybirds ..
... but it is so evident on our drive that it makes stones stick to our tyres as we drive in and out!