Showing posts from January, 2009

Coast Trip of '09

As a friend was taking herself off to NZ for three weeks her house at the Coast was in need of visits to water the the garden. As always we were happy to take on this duty.

The trip down was made interesting by a large bushfire burning in Morton National park just to the North of the Highway. The front of the fire was well off the road but smoke was drifting across the road for quite a few kilometres. I don't know if it was:
smell of the smoke;the twisty road; the breakfast she had just before we left; ora combination of the abovebut the rat became renamed as the Puke Monster shortly before Bateman's Bay. Fortunately we had put a blanket down in the car. A bit of rapid scraping, and a period of driving with the windows down, saw us get to 2km from our destination without further incident. At which point - after more scraping - I decided to walk Puke Monster for the last stretch.

After settling our belongings into the house we took ourselves off to Congo Point for some bird…

Recent bird stuff

This post is basically a chance to flaunt the photograph to the left, of a Rainbow Bee-eater taken in a paddock on the W edge of Canberra. Although it isn't professional standard I am quite proud of getting a hand-held shot at full zoom which focused tightly enough to show the tail streamers!

This one just places the single bird in context with a couple of its mates (in the sense of 'pals' not making any calls about living arrangements).

The following day I spotted this Gang-gang - the avifaunal emblem of the ACT - munching away in a hawthorn tree. Although a bit shady, the image doesn't do a bad job of catching the look and feel of the bird.

Yellow Box flowering

Last summer a few of the Yellow Box (Eucalyptus meliodora) trees on our property flowered, to our delight, and that of the local insect population. This year it seems that all those which didn't flower last year are having a go.

The images that follow go from distant views of a whole tree -perhaps 15m high - to a close-up of some flowers on the ground.

Carwoola Birds

2 Years of Birding in the Carwoola area

This report is about birds so I will start with a couple of images of the birds of the area. Gang-gang Cockatoo to the left and Grey fantail to the right! Both are commonly seen in the area.

This is an informal report on the birds I have recorded in the Stoney Creek Gazette (hereafter ‘the Gazette’) since moving to the area in late January 2007. Since (for reasons that are not clear to me) I omitted to issue records for April 2007 the report is based upon observations for 22 months.

For most of 2007 the records are a function of where I happened to go in the area, which gives a bias towards our home block. For 2008 (and I hope into the future) the records have been augmented by regular observations from Julienne Kamprad of Quailrise in Hoskinstown, and other observations in the area by the residents of that property. In addition I have received, and included, ad-hoc observations of interesting species from other readers of the Gazette.
Area of St…

Pumping iron?

One of the things we inherited with the place was a small firefighting pump. After about a year I managed to get it sort of running but not very succesfully.

When John and Julienne came round I knew John was a good mechanic (and very knowledgeable about matters to do with firefighting) and asked him for his opinion about the pump. He was able to diagnose quite quickly that the pump had issues.

An obvious one was the amount of rust (IRON oxide) in the fuel filter and the interesting orange colour of the liquid going into the carburettor. After a lot of investigating in my messy shed - and application of Teflon tape in a number of locations on the carbie - we had a functioning pump.

Now we are just hoping we never have to use it!

Too many spoonbills are never enough

This post is primarily intended for people interested in the breeding of Royal Spoonbills in the Jerrabombera Wetlands, specifically Kelly's Swamp, in Fyshwick, ACT. It is an initial sequel (or possibly a presequel) to an article I wrote for Canberra Bird Notes (CBN - published by the Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG)) which covered the first few weeks of this event.

I expect that a more thorough discussion of the later stages of the event will be published in the June 2009 edition of CBN, but thought it would be useful to summarise matters a bit closer to the event. While I have used my own images, such as they are, here I have also included some - several orders of magnitude better -very kindly offered by Geoffrey Dabb where noted below. He has also offered to give me some others for the published paper.

For the benefit of those who don't have access to CBN the image to the left shows which nest is which in my terminology.

The entire event began to be observed (I susp…

Gridiron tipping contest 2009 as at 090203

Last year the New York Times got a mob called Predictify to run an NFL finals series tipping contest. Despite my last foray into such things (the 1991 StatCan March Madness Pool) being a disaster - I didn't get one of the 1st round games right - I decided to have a go. To my surprise I came 22nd out of 'several thousand' entrants (Predictify wouldn't say how many punters went for this)

So in 2009 the Times ran its own comp and I had to go for it. The next bit was written when the first set of 4 games had just been completed and I got one right (and exactly the margin). Despite this miserable performance they had me rated as coming 701st out of 10,976! This seemed a little surprising and my guess is that the result doesn't acknowledge the outcomes of the 2 later games. By the next day my ranking had slipped a tad, to 8,088, which is more reasonable.

The maximum points available were 82 and the leaders (2 of them) had 68 [83% of the possible], so had obviously…

Vegetables a-gogo

We picked (and ate) our first tomato on 2 January. The first zucchini was picked on 3 January.

The weather on ABC TV here is given by Mark Carmody, who also runs a gardening show. One of his catch phrases was that garlic should be planted on the shortest day and picked on the longest day. We were a few days late in the picking, but estimate we have got enough to last us through 2009: wha makes this particularly fine is that one planting of this lot was using cloves from our harvest in 2007!

We also dug up a lot of brown onions (left) and shallots (right).

Tadpolemouth update

After 3 weeks without a trace of the frogmouths (adult or young) I found the 2 young ones today. They were perched on a fence being harassed by a bunch of thornbills. (And a photographer!)

The next day (4 January 2009) I was bringing in the washing in the evening and heard a noise a bit like a bleating sheep (not unusual out here, but not usually from this direction). On looking in the direction of the sound I found all 4 frogmouths sitting in a wattle. Welcome back guys!

The photo of all 4 is rather naff, but is included to show the isolation of one of the youngsters.

Happy New Year! (and garden flowers)


The following are a few more images of what is currently in flower in our garden. Most of these are visible ffom my study window as I type! The white daisies are now quite dominant in the colour scheme, and the dahlias are just beginning to hit their straps.

The lavender will be "improved quite a bit I suspect as we recently visited a friends's place, just over the hill. She grows and sells lavender and had a magnificent array of bushes which has quite inspired Frances to do something about our lot!

This next lot down are mainly the gladioli which we inherited with the place. They pop up in the most unexpected places but as is obvious from the pictures are very nice to have around. Certainly too good for the nice Mr Humphries to chuck around the place!