Thursday, 26 November 2009

The story of O (-ring) and flowers

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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-ring known to mankind.
  3. this proved to be accurate advice - and it only cost $3!
All we need now is some rain for the pump to shuffle around!

The rain will also be good for our garden which has not enjoyed the several days well above 30 degrees with strong winds.   The irises have basically taken their batand ball and gone home.  However Frances grew some snapdragons this year and they are rather magnificent - right in front of our studies windows.

I'm hopeful that these will keep a nice burst of colour happening until our Asiatic lilies take up the running.  They in turn will be followed by Dahlias and then Chrysanthemums.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

At the swamp

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"

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Lilies and other natives

 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)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Banding in Monga

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, not to discipline the birds.  The birds show no concern for the welfare of the banders and pecked away with gay abandon. 

The full olive whistler!  It isn't hard to see why this group of birds are called 'thickheads".  (Unlike trail bike riders!)

One of my favourite birds: the Rufous Fantail.  For once the name is very accurate as shown here.

On the left we have a Lewin's Honeyeater and on the right a close up of its head with the diagnostic yellow patch.

There were also a few flowers, including this violet.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Friarbirds and Wattlebirds

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

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!)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Der Erdebeereberg

Last year Frances found that our original strawberry patch was getting a bit 'runnery' so split it up into two additional patches.  The first of these did nothing last year while the second was too late to fruit last year. 

This year, 2009-10, the original patch continues to produce, albeit a bit slowly but the new patches have gone gang-busters.  The image is of one days picking in front and the residue from the previous day in the back.

The next day (ie today, 17 November) I picked even more.  We have made some ice cream with them, and Frances is heading off with a 2 litre container to an NGA Guides meeting!  I think it is going to be compulsory for our friends, acquaintances and passing strangers to help us solve this problem.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The link to Peru

I suspect most readers of this stuff will have got a link to my Peru blog through one means or another.  For the unfortunate few who haven't, try this.

Some birdy stuff

The first bird is far from exciting in appearance.  It is a Horsfield's Bushlark (which used to be called a Singing Bushlark before some gooses decided it was too simple to call a bushlark which sings a descriptive name).  It looks somewhat like a female House Sparrow but doesn't fly at all like one and the differences in appearance are quite obvious in the flesh.  It was exciting to me as it was an addition to my life list!

The second birds were not an addition to any of my lists, and have even featured on this blog before.  However, you can never have too many images of rainbow bee-eaters, so here are a couple more.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The 09 Pollywogmouths

I am expecting the young frogmouths to take to the wing any day now.  Thus it was really good this evening to find both youngsters (and dad) in highly photographable positions.  Click on the images and you should get a larger image.

This shows dad and the chick I have decided is a male, since it is a lot larger than the other chick.

... and here is the female chick.

A good thing about trying to photograph birds of a curious nature is that they will become interested in what you're up to and thus cooperate.  Here are the pair of chicks looking at the photographer.  Dad is cool about the process, not looking directly, but not into 'thin' full on camouflage pose.

...and just to keep the gender balance somewhat under control - always one of my driving imperatives - here is a picture of Mum chilling out in the twisted hazel next door!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Aphid control at work

We have a honeysuckle bush outside our kitchen window.  This is a martyr to aphids, to the extent that last year not a single flower opened.  This year I have already given it a burst of white oil which slowed the bugs up somewhat.  However I think the activities of a flock of silvereyes did more to control them.  Unusually for such an active species of bird they stayed around long enough for a couple of snaps.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

irises 2009

We are becoming aficionados of Irises.  Here are some photos of those blooming in the garden on 4 November.  A day later and I'd say they are a cracker show (but perhaps that is only intelligible by those of English descent).