Monday, 12 October 2015

Summer = reptiles

I will start with a former reptile, having transferred the image from another post.   This poor animal (Eastern Brown Snake) had vertebrae but not well functioning ones after I failed to miss it with the car.  At close to 2m long spread across a 5m wide road it was difficult to dodge.
The next example was almost as stationary.  As a small terrier had just passed by that seems to have been a good strategy.
As the eye is clearly visible and shiny, the beastie is alive but just adopting a low profile.  I interpret the dirt on top of its head as suggesting that some ants have had a bad start to the day.
I spotted my first Bearded Dragon of the season on 10 October but had no optical capture device with me, so there is no image (yet).

On 13 October the first Common Blue-tounged Lizard of the year appeared on the drive.  Again it stayed still and the small dog passed by.
 In this shot you can see the tip of the blue tongue!

There will be further posts to this before the end of the month!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Hunt for Red (in) October

It is October and I was after a bird with 'red' in its name so I thought it OK to subvert the title of one of the least interesting movies I have ever seen.

A number of local birders had reported seeing a Red-backed Kingfisher near Verran Piace in Curtin.  There is something about this area that attracts rare birds as it is the only spot in the ACT where an Australasian Figbird has been seen.   (Actually the fact is probably not simply that the rare birds come here, but that a local resident is an excellent birder who does a lot of work to ensure he thoroughly examines the birds, and gets rewarded for his efforts.)

The basic environment is harshly mown grass and exotic trees along a storm drain.  As an observer has commented
"Not visible on the Google Earth image forwarded by {A N Other} are two items that allow immediate classification of Yarralumla Creek as '2' on the little known STI* - an abiotic urban water quality scale, a surrogate for aquatic biota health. CSIRO have not adopted this measure despite ease of calculation by citizen scientists.*STI - shopping trolley index.""
 While confirming that these were in fact shopping trolleys, and not misplaced yabby traps, My attention was caught by movement in the drain.  Not a Kingfisher hunting reptiles but the reptile itself: a Gippsland Water Dragon.
 After several minutes searching and listening for the calls of the Kingfisher (with no success) I heard other calls from the air.  They didn't sound like Kingfishers and so they weren't.  I suspect this is a tandem jump - or else an octopus has learnt a new lifestyle.  They landed in a nearish paddock.
 After about 36 minutes of trudging up and down, and having places to go and things to do, I was heading back to my car when I noticed a dot on a powerline.
Bingo: that is not just a dot, it is the Red-backed Kingfisher!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Some Carwoola flowers and invertebrates of October

This is a bit of a mixed bag of things that have interested me in the past few days.  They are all more or less signs of Spring - or possibly, given the warm temperatures "Sprummer".

The beans (ie members of the Fabaceae) are well out.   Here is Pultenaea procumbens in close up ...
 .. and a wider view.
 Next I came across one of our patches of Kunzea parvifolia getting its act together.
Brachyloma daphnoides had some blossom instead of the buds it seems to carry for about 10 months.
Back to the beans.  I fond this Daviesia genistifolia hard to get a photo of - and not just because of the spiky leaves.
 Daviesia mimosoides - the archetypal "egg and bacon" shrub - was a bit easier!
Now we move off our block to a patch of asters (aka daisies) on Widgiewa Rd.  Despite this being called Leucochrysum albicans albicans and thus having 3 'white' references  some were pretty yellow.
 Others were white rays and a yellow disc.
 At times the two colour forms seemed to come in a single plant.
 Some had a bonus blowie  ...
 .. while others seemed to be providing material for case moth larvae.
That has got us into invertebrates!    This Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) was on an old post on our house.
Some butterflies were finally evident.  The first is a Common Grass-Blue feeding on Ajuga sp.
 A migrant from the inland: Caper White (2 views)

A Hoverfly was flashing its proboscis in the general direction of our pistachio tree.
That tree is just into bud burst for both leaves and flowers so was very attractive to hoverflies and native and European bees.

Sticking with invertebrates, I found these yabby claws up by our dam.  I presume the owner was taking a walk and got nailed by a passing predator.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

September 2015 weather

The main point of interest in the weather this month was the dryness.  So for that reason alone we'll start with the Precipitation.


I was surprised to find we had received as much as 10.6mm as most of it (6mm) fell on a day early in the month.  It was the least we had recorded for any September and the 6th lowest recording over the 105 months for which I have been keeping records.  It is likely to be the shape of the next several months, as indicated by this graph from the Elders website
The Bureau of Meteorology state that an El Nino event is well under way "Most international climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology indicate El Niño is likely to peak towards the end of 2015. Typically, El Niño is strongest during the late austral spring or early summer, and weakens during late summer to autumn."  That accords with the name of the phenomenon referencing the birth of a boy child in Bethlehem around 2015 years ago on December 25 (although of course it wasn't called December then).

Roll on March!


In terms of temperature it was a very pleasant month, with maxima just getting into the 20s on 5 occasions and cool overnight (9 readings below zero and a further 9 in the range 2oC to 0oC).
As would be expected the 00:30 and 23:30 readings are clustered around the low end of the daily ranges.

Looking at the graphs for maximum and minimum temperatures shows September to have been a little cooler than the recorded average but essentially on the normal track.


Again right on track.  The average 15:00 reading was a little lower than last year, and as expected, a lot lower than the August 2015 reading.  
I was struck by the failure of the humidity to rise above 80% in this month.  That is not unprecedented but is a bit unusual.  However I don't have enough data to pursue that thought any further!


Somewhat of a curates egg of a month, with a few very windy days and quiet spells between them.
 Overall this comes out to being a below average month for windiness.

The nice people of Greenwell Point and East Nowra

As we settles down last evening we were a tad concerned about the level of ambient noise in the houses of Greenwell Point.  I think this was an outcome of it being rather warm so people were either relaxing outdoors or having all windows open so they might as well have been outdoors. We thought there might have been a particular issue with a group up the street featuring several females who seemed to be trying out for roles on the laugh track of a Benny Hill Show!  However everything went quite by about 9pm - quite acceptable - and we had a good nights sleep.

On arising the dulcet tones of a Spotted Dove filled the air.
The area did seem to have a fair supply of rats with wings including - as well as the above -  Common Myna, Starling and House Sparrow.

In terms of calls, of a non-rodent nature, the most raucous was (as might be expected) Pacific Koel of which there seemed to be several around giving both 'koel' and 'wirra wirra' calls.

There was evidence of successful fishing being done the previous day.  This skeleton was about 1m long: there is an interesting array of very large mounted fish in the bistro at the pub.
Compared to the previous day the area was deserted.  No doubt some of this was due to the locals being at work or school, but I realised that being only a few hours South of Sydney people could stay at their weekenders until 6pm and still be back in Sydney by 9pm.

The Illawarra Flametrees (Brachychiton acerifolius) were beginning to come into flower.  In another month the area will be very red. Quite possibly all the foregoing is true.  Thanks to the alertness of my friend Alison I have now become aware that this  image is of a Coral Tree (Erythrina x sykesii), which is thought to be a hybrid developed in New Zealand.  I have wrongly called them Flames Trees for at least 30 years!
While walking yesterday a pair of Masked Lapwings got rather agitated.  We looked out for, but didn't find eggs.  Today this little chap was with a parent.
Art is where you find it.  This fibreglass dolphin was in the back of a ute.
The church was founded in 1890 and apart from looking nice was interesting in that it was a Union Church with a Presbyterian service 1 Sunday a month, Uniting 1 Sunday and the rest Anglican.
Some Great Cormorants just can't take the hint!
At the Jetty were a bunch of people in uniform tee-shirts etc marked up with "Fishcare Volunteers".  Frances had a chat and it emerged that they took people from aged care facilities (or schoolkids) out fishing.  On this day they had two busloads of old folk coming down.

As it was getting hot we packed up and  headed for the hills.  This was made easier by the guy from the next camper helping tug the camper on to the tow bar.

At least this time there was a sign to Braidwood!  Just outside town we were hoping to buy some King Proteas from a stall we had noticed on the way down.  The stall wasn't there so I went up to the house.  The lady in charge said she wasn't going to cut any more until Thursday, but had some (by her standard) wilted ones which she was going to throw away so she gave them to me. By our standards they are still beautiful.
Once past HMAS Albatross - without entertaining helicopters this time - we started to come across flowers in the heath.  The following images are some from a random roadside stop (to get the Isopogon) and at the junction with Touga Road a few kms further up the road.

The first few are members of the Fabaceae.  (A small controversy arose on Oallen Ford Road where a very red prostate member of the family was seen but we didn't stop to photograph it as we should get it on Willow Glen Rd.  Of course there was none there!)

We have decided this is Calytrix tetragona.  It was very pretty in close up and ...
.. in swathes at Touga Rd.
Isopogon anenthifolius
We were excited to find a Drosera with orange flowers.  From Googling and Plantnet I have decided that it is most likely D. glanduligera.
Drosera peltata
Grevillea baueri asperula.
Boronia algida
Finally we found an orchid: Petalochilus fuscatus.
We decided to come back along Willow Glen Road to see what the Pomaderris looked like.  It was quite good although the heavy traffic from the 4WD campout had covered much of it with dust.Here is a close-up  ..
.. and a wider shot.
No more excitements and we got back to a surprisingly cool house.

As a result of the trip we decided we liked Greenwell Point (apart from the people in DJs Fish and Chip shop) and that it was equally feasible for a coast-fix as around Batemans Bay etc.  Plus the drive is better in terms of scenery.