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Showing posts from 2009

More Lily

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I posted in this page about our Asiatic lilies in the garden.  They are continuing to provide pleasure as the dahlias slowly get their act together.  In addition to the garden bed ones, Frances put some in a pot.  One of them flowered today: it is 8inches across the flower.  (OK, I'm old: for those with no Imperial background that is about 20cm!)


This is a nice bit of detail of the naughty bits of the flower.  And also some raindrops, as we got a small (1.5mm) shower!
 And here we have all three blooms out!

Plumed Whistling Ducks at Bungendore

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At about 11:30 on New Year's Eve I was rung by another birder to say that 15 Plumed Whistling Ducks were on a small dam just outside Bungendore.  I was there with my camera rather smartly.




The plumes are clearly visible on the sitting duck.  The second image shows the whole flock.























This one provides a context by showing the farmyard in the background. Plus note that the birds are not worried by the cow and thus unlikely to be escapes from an urban yard.






Finally an example of the hazards of rural photography: trying to get the snap before a cow upstages the ducks.

Wet bark

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We got a nice Christmas present in the form of 35mm of rain on the 25th.  Apart from the general 'goodness' of the event it makes the bark on some of our Eucalyptus mannifera show really nicely.  Enjoy the red and orange glows.


Climate change: another brick in the wall?

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For the first time ever we have got some ripe tomatoes before Christmas Day.  Clearly an effect of the hot air spouted by the Liberal Party!  (Thus proving sub-human intervention.)

It being Christmas we need some snow on the site.  In addition, I note the comment on this post referring to the Mad Monk (thanks Denis).  Combining the two, here is a You-Tube of Boney M in Moscow.

The spirit of Christmas?

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End of year report

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Much of what will follow has probably already been wittered about in one way or another, and when I think the boredom is likely to be too egregious I'll just bung in a link to the relevant page of the year's Proceedings.

In view of my interests it seemed a good idea to have a wildlife focus for the card.  The background is of Kunzea ericoides which blossoms at this time of year turning the Carwoola countryside white.    Going around the outside of the card and starting at the bottom left we have a Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium roseum, Blue Devil Eryngium rostratum, Golden Everlasting Xerochrysum viscosum,  and a stroppy Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata.  The middle image is of course our resident Tawny frogmouth Podargus strigoides family who again raised two chicks.

It is with some astonishment that I realise we have been living in Carwoola for very close to 3 years.  There are two aspects to this: on the one hand it seems like very little time has elapsed since we left New York, while…

Some thoughts on bushfires and Emergency Services

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By way of background, I rate myself as fairly risk tolerant with respect to bushfires.  I certainly loathe, with a passion:
the anal-retentive panic-merchants who seem to populate the Bush fire mob in Canberra, and the politicians who use bush fires to keep the population terrified and thus under control.It is interesting that the enquiry into the bushfires in Victoria earlier in 2009 have brought out a lot of issues about incompetence for the State Fire people.  I had thought that this was stuff being dug out by folk who wouldn't appreciate that things get done in an emergency in less than ideal ways.  However, I have been paying a bit of attention to fire warnings in our area (mainly because the weather is hot, dry and windy, and the area is covered with a lot of dry grass - as a result of good rain in September and October and very little in November).  I now wonder if an IQ above 90 disqualifies people from serving in bushfire administration.

My key resource is a map put out b…

Spider imitates Pardalote

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I consider this to be one of my better photographs, because I have got enough of it n focus to actually show the little appendages organising the web.  When I say 'little' this beast was about 5mm across the carapace!

A friend with much  more knowledge of Arthropods (than myself) has advised that "Its a spiny spider possibly in the genus Gasteracantha, family Araneidae.  They often occur in large colonies with the webs strung among shrubbery."

The reference to pardalote is to the Spotted Pardalote one of the small jewels of the Australian avifauna!

Another day in the life

Several months back I put up a post about how we filled in our days now that we are no longer wage slaves.  Here is another one of those.

We got up at 6am and had a cup of coffee:
me sitting at my 'pooter checking emails and what has gone on in the world; Frances sitting up in bed reading an art book; andsmall dog (without a cup of coffee) sitting with Frances.About 7am it is time to go for a patrol of the premises.  This also gives all of us a small amount of exercise.  Especially the small dog who has to rush about a fair bit keeping the local 'roo population on their toes.

Back to the house (close to 8am) and my immediate task is to give the small dog her food for the day.  Frances has meanwhile started her daily foray into weeding the periwinkle from the garden bed on the Eastern end of the house.  This gives my second job of emptying the barrow full of periwinkle from yesterday onto my bonfire heap.  (For those not familiar with periwinkle, count your blessings: it is an i…

Consider ye the lilies of the .....

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.. garden.  It only feels like a field (or in Australia 'paddock') when digging this stuff, or removing the Periwinkle and Hypericum that previous owners were careful enough to plant.

Enough with the negative vibrations.  The Asiatic Lilies in what we term the sunroom bed ('cos it is outside our sunniest room) are flowering - magnificently.

I have always had a soft spot for these since doing a Frank Muir impersonation in telling the tale of the real meaning of the biblical phrase alluded to in the title of this post.  It involved Dennis Lillee not selling oil.  Even by my standards it got obscure!

Superb Superb Parrots

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I was every surprised (very pleasantly so) to get a phone call from a resident of Hoskinstown to say that he had seen Superb Parrots (Polytelis swainsonii) on his patch.

As shown by the red spot in this image, appended to a map produced from the Birds Australia Birdata  database this represents a reasonable extension to the range of the species.
I visited the site a couple of times before spotting the birds.  Two males and a female (distinguished from juvenile males by the blue 'wash' on the face were present.  They seemed very happy munching on Acacia dealbata!  I didn't manage to get a snap of the female so here are some of the males.




The story of O (-ring) and flowers

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The Bureau of Meteorology have been forecasting a lot of showers and storm recently.  In honour of this, and noticing that the pump ha been a bit grumpy recently, I decided to clean the filter on the line up to our tank.  When I reassembled the device and found that water was going most everywhere except up towards our new tank.  It emerged that the seal between the filter cover and rest of the assembly was more like a walrus - long in the tooth and a bit hairy.

So it was off to find a new O-ring.
First stop was Bunnings (for those overseas this is more or less Australia's answer to Wal Mart).  They didn't have any and reckoned it would be difficult to find one without knowing the brand of pump.Second stop was Southern Plumbing, on the grounds that pumps are an essential bit of plumbing kit.  Yes they sold pumps but not O-rings.  However they were able to say that CBC (this is the Consolidated Bearing Company, not Columbia Broadcasting Company) in Fyshwick had every sort of O-r…

At the swamp

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The swamp in question is Kellys Swamp at the Western edge of Fyshwick (or the South-eastern end of Lake Burley Griffin).   On getting there this morning the first birds of note were the gang of 7 Black-tailed Native Hens which seem to have taken up residence there this summer.  Here are some of them, plus a Eurasian Coot for comparison.

My main reason for visiting the swamp was to check on progress of this year's Royal Spoonbill nesting event.  It appears that there are two nests active, very close together and very low in the same tree as last year.  An Australian White Ibis was also in the tree and as can be seen in the following image (if you expand it) it was gathering branches as well.



Apparently it was a bit to close to the nests and was soon chased off.  This image below shows the nest site (under the upper spoonbill).

Of course when you have breeding plumage like a spoonbill, you add new emphasis to the phrase "bad hair day"

Lilies and other natives

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Exploring a part of our block which we don't often visit (a steep bit across a creek) we were pleased to find a very good crop of Common Fringe-lilies (Thysanotus tuberosus).


The two images following show a close up of the lilies and some surrounding Chrysocephalum apiculatum and a wider shot giving an idea of the density of the plants in an area totalling about 20m x 10m).  There were also isolated plants elsewhere.






Nearby was a nice collection of bluebells (Wahlenbergia sp); Hibbertia obtusifolia and Chrysocephalum semipapposum.


Finally I found a Pale Vanilla lily (Arthropodium milleflorum)

Banding in Monga

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A friend, Anthony, who is now a fully paid up bird bander has started a project in Monga National Park about 90km East of our place (by road - only about 55km in a straight line).  He has put the official stuff about his project in his blog.
Here are some photos of my visit to his site today.  Some really good birds and very pleasant company!


Although the site is in a National park and on a closed road the first requirement was to put up a notice explaining what was going on.  The second requirement was to ensure the track was barricaded to lowlife on tral bikes from trashing everything.




Here is a bird (an Olive Whistler) getting the business.  Needless to say as a licensed bander Anthony is primarily concerned with the welfare of th birs.  This is both at a macro-level - the aim of the project is to understand about bird behaviour and movements - and a micro-level - the safety and well being of the individual birds is paramount.  The pliers are to ensure accurate fitting of the bands,…

Friarbirds and Wattlebirds

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We currently have a very good array of Callistemons flowering outside the kitchen window.  They are very popular with the largest honeyeaters: Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds.  I'll try to get some images over the next few days.  Here is a starter showing the contortions a Noisy Friarbird can get into!

Shortly after this image was taken a couple of Red Wattlebirds came to slurp on some nectar.  This didn't last long, as the friarbird chased them away.  The FB then got back down to some serious munching/slurping.

The Red Wattlebirds have proved rather more difficult to get a snap of than the friarbirds.  Whether this is because they are getting hammered by the leatherheads all the time, or if they are naturally skittish I dunno. At any rate one eventually posed in a good manner.  It even shows the red wattle!

The rest of the images below show the friarbirds in various poses.










Une Fleur de Frogmouth

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After a few days post-fledging absence the Tawny Frogmouth family have turned up in the vicinity again.  My guess is that they are taking the young folk for a tour of the domain.  My attention was first drawn to them by the twittering of a small flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills who were objecting to their presence.

Notice the distance between the female (up against the trunk) and the rest of the family.  This is exactly how they arranged themselves last year.  They also used this branch (in a live Acacia dealbata) as a perch.

At one point an aggressive Pied Currawong flew in - I suspect attacking me not the Froggies - and the Gang of 3 all assumed the thin camouflage pose well before it arrived.   Too me it looked like a rather daggy Fleur de lys.  (If that analogy upsets anyone in Quebec: manque de pot!)