Friday, 31 October 2008

Yet more flowers already

I have given the image immediately following pride of place as it is the first sun-orchid we have found on the property. It has been identified as Thelymitra pauciflora by Jean Egan, a co-author of "A Field Guide to the Orchids of the Australian Capital Territory" which everyone should own! The image isn't great, but it was difficult to get anything as the flower whipped back and forth in the gale blowing on 31 October!

The following lot are an Orchid (Stegastylis sp); flowering sundew (Drosera sp); a Chocolate lily and a small native Bluebell (Wahlenbergia communis).

Sunday, 26 October 2008

More Bird stuff

The following are a Peregrine Falcon chick while being banded by an expert (with the required licence); and one of the parents expressing a view about the expert's presence. The excellent photos were take by Michael Maconachie from ACT Parks and Conservation!

Spring flowers and other growths in our gardens

After the overview of a nice part of the garden above, these show:
  • the Jitterbug Irises;
  • two un-named Irises;
  • a Paeony poppy;
  • Wisteria;
  • the spuds;
  • Onions and garlic; and
  • strawberries (hopefully you will be able to see the fruit, and in the near future we will be able to taste them).

Spring flowers - native

The following images are of some of the flowers around our block and others seen on a trip led by Ian Fraser to parts of the Shoalhaven Valley. They are, in the order they appear to me,
  • Pattersonia (blue) with some legume in front of it;
  • a Monga Waratah - a great desktop image at full size; mail me if you'd like a 2Mb copy;
  • a sundew (Drosera sp) having lunch;
  • A Grevillea;
  • One of the Wahlenbergias - also known as Australian Bluebells. One of the species is the 'State' flower of the ACT. The photo is a bit blurry as the flower was waving arund in gale force winds.
  • Diuris sulphurea - a donkey orchid, of which we now have a lot of clumps around the property; and
  • a greenhood orchid (Hymenochilus sp).

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Rodent wars

This is a tale of two wars.

The first and simplest was Tammy the Rocket-propelled Rodent against the slower members of that order. The initial tangible battle in this occurred while I was in Vanuatu and Frances found her emerging from under the shed with a rabbit in her mouth. Good dog!

When I returned and got into gardening, on 3 occasions we found her wandering around the vege garden with a dead rabbit - in 2 cases very dead and fly blown - in her mouth. I wondered why the rabbits were dying in the garden and had suspicions that they were getting some help in "passing over" from a reptile. Advancing a little in time, we come to the second war, which was rocket-propelled rodent versus the hypothesised reptile.

I was feeling a bit tired on 10 October so had a nap in the middle of the day, but was woken by furious barking from the vege patch. Frances was not game to enter to find out what was happening so I went in and called Tammy out of the bean patch where there was obviously a battle going on. She emerged, looked at me, and headed back in to finish the job off. However I grabbed her, put her on the lead, passing this to Frances, and got my brush cutter to lower the level of the bean manure crop. I ask Frances to stand outside the fence and watch which way the snake went.

I glanced round to see Tammy writhing on the ground and then yelping. Obviously she had been bitten. I stopped brush cutting and rang a vet who said to get her to them asap. With Frances nursing Tammy in the back of the car we headed for the vets (about 25km away) at a rather illegal speed and made it with no accidents apart from the poor dog throwing up a bunch of froth in the back seat. As Frances has later said, basically Tammy was dying at this point.

However the vet pumped some anti-venene into her and followed this with oxygen since her lungs were full of gooze by this time. He gave her an 80% chance of surviving at this stage.

When we rang 3 hours later that had dropped to 50:50. He thought she wasn't in pain as she was essentially paralysed and unconscious.

The next morning, after a pretty sleep-free night, I rang the vet and was told she'd made it and seemed not too bad, apart from looking very beaten up around the face, which is where the snake had copped her. So we bought her home and kept her quiet, giving her lots of milk and water as her kidneys could have taken some damage. After 3 days she was pretty much back to normal. Astonishing.

Since then a couple of people have said that it is unusual for a snake to get a Fox Terrier, since the dogs are usually too fast. I think the density of the vegetation must have blocked her dodging: but we have now dog-proofed (we hope) the eating beans so that if the snake has shifted there Tammy can't get in there after it.

We'll be wearing wellies in the vege garden for the next few months.

I do not want to accuse anything unfairly, but about 10 days later we were looking over the dam which is about 30m from the vege garden. I noticed a head swimming across the water, with a considerable amount of body behind it. Here is (most of) what emerged from the dam.

Frances and I talked about this and agreed that the snake was at least 2m long. I would suspect closer to 2.5m We didn't go and measure it and the time, but after a few hours I went back - making much noise, wearing gumboots and carryng a panga, and measured the larger rock below its body as about 210 mm which brings it in about the 2m mark.

A few days later the dog was loose in the vegetable garden (the broad beans havng been dug in) with Frances when she started barking again. So she was brought indoors. Later I went out with her on the lead and again the barking happened. This time I saw a 60cm version of the black snake:
  • emerge from under the stable;
  • see me coming; and
  • head back under the stable before I could think to throw the 1.3kg hammer I was carrying at it.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Pollywogmouths on the horizon?

This post was originally titled "Tadpolemouthson the horizon" but I then remembered the Adelaide name for juvenile amphibians and decided that was more romantic.

One afternoon in early October I became aware that a Pied Currawong was disturbed by something in the tree which the 'wong had established a nest. It turned out to be a Tawny Frogmouth. A couple of days later I looked, from my study, at the position in which the Frogmouth had been sitting and realised it was on a nest!!! Thus the photos.

To my surprise the bird did not get at all fussed about me mowing the lawn right underneath it.'s possie. Also it seems to have achieved a detente cordiale with the 'wong. Watch this blog for updates.

In fact the first update came a little sooner than expected. The day after I discovered the nest my attention was drawn to a smaller tree nearby in which there was much twittering of Striated Thornbills. The cause of ther excitement was a second Tawny Frogmouth: for once sitting in a perfect position for photography. And to prove it ...

If a tree falls in the forest ...

... and just misses sundry members of the Australia Native Plants Society is it a message from God?

... and if so what does it mean? Was He hoping to get a trail bike rider and realised at the last moment His infallibility was slipping a bit? Did he think Sarah Palin was in the group and suddenly realised we were all 20- 30 years older than her (and have about an extra 60 points on our IQ rating)?

On the Wednesday walk on 8 October this 10m high tree - I think Acacia decurrens (I just go along to ID the birds and talk to some very pleasant and interesting people) - fell between two parts of the walking group. Had it actually hit someone it would have been interesting as we were about 3km from the cars and about 15km of crappy roads from a medical service.