Showing posts from April, 2010


This is course a reference to looking at the moon.  After my poor photos in yesterday's blog I read Denis Wilson's blog with his photos of our nearest planetlet   (it follows the very good stuff about Australian Admirals). I had to lift my game considerably!!

I don't think I did, in terms of photojournalism, to begin with.

The first image gets a nice Turnersque (or possibly Spielbergian end of the world) effect. The second reminds me of candlelit parlour games and possibly the Hefner family enterprise.

Learning all the time I realise that one should wait for it to get well up the sky and to exclude any leaves which confuse the camera.  Try this one, taken a little later....

Various Rendezvous

On 28 April we toddled off for an ANPS walk at Rendezvous Creek, in Namadgi NP.  As usual I went along mainly to spot birds, but without a great deal of hope as this is primarily a frost hollow and thus mainly boring grassland.

The first rendezvous was between a resident of the area and a kangaroo.  We didn't see what condition the side of the car was in but the poor 'roo had broken its leg.  As we didn't (then: we do now) have the number of Wildcare in my mobile phone we stopped when picking up our friend Ros to call for assistance for the 'roo.  (This was likely to involve a "bang".)

Once at the Creek the next rendezvous was with a Copperhead, basking on a peat-spring mound outside its burrow.  I would have guessed its length at very close to 1m.  It posed nicely for a photo by one of the group and then bolted back into its hole.

The grassland seemed to be almost completely devoid of birds.  A small amount of excitement was generated by a Stubble Quail, and…

Serious rain

This morning I was browsing the NZ Herald to see what the wapiti hunters are up to, and found the answer to be "their necks in rain".  I was struck by the entry on the second page "Rainfall measuring 793mm had doused the Fiordland National Park and Southland district since Saturday night."  This seemed like a pretty serious lot of rain.

I recalled Denis Wilson blogging about the heavy rain.  He has since emailed to say "Back in February, we had, cumulative total, over 5 days of 267mm (or 10.5 inches - in the old money)".

I couldn't believe that NZ would whup us that easily so checked the climate extremes page of the Bureau of Meteorology.  I have to say that 12.5 metres of rain in a year seemed a tad excessive!   Then I googled the world record (and was surprised to be referred back to the BoM site.   I will let you check the details, but 1861 definitely seems to have been a bad time to take a holiday in Cherripunji!  (I found the double log scale …

Autumn events on ANZAC Day

I slept in too late (ie past 4:30) to go into the ANZAC Day dawn service this morning but have reflected a bit on matters ANZAC at various times during the day.  One (I suspect little known) fact about the ANZAC/Gallipoli memorials in Canberra is the positioning of the Ataturk memorial at the head of ANZAC Parade, directly opposite the War Memorial.  The inscription on this memorial (vide the linked document) is very moving.

It is considered that ANZAC Day usually marks the start of Winter in Canberra (and it runs through to Remembrance Day - this duration explaining why Frances is keen to get outtahere for a spell during the period).  So we have nice Autumn leaves on our Pistachio tree and the Chrysanthemums are blooming nicely.

It also meant we got into various 'preparing for Winter' things such as pruning some of our shrubs;starting to pick apples and putting away the netting from the pear trees which have been clean picked.

The last-mentioned of those turned out to be quite …

Six legs good, 8 legs better!

As we set out on our dog walk this morning (23 April) I was struck by the very colourful spider enwebbed between some Crocosmia leaves.  So I thought I would add it to complement the damselflies.


While out on a birding expedition a few days ago I spotted what I believe to be a flight of damselflies on the margins of a dam.  I've seen them (or something like them) before on the dams on our property but this time  had my camera with me.  It is possible these are Common Flatwing, but confirmation is to follow (thanks David Cook).

I had no idea what was going on here.  Is it an after effect of copulation?  End of a battle?  Carrying around a moulted skin?
The animal seemed able to fly reasonably well with the extra burden.  From the description of mating behaviour in damselflies it seems highly likely that this is some part of that process.

Some Butterflies

Although Autumn is well advanced we are scoring a bit of an Indian Summer with maxima above 20 degrees (and no rain).  There are quite a few flowers around and the butterflies are taking advantage of this. I have used Butterflies of Australia by Michael Braby as my reference (but of course he isn't to be blamed if I have got things wrong).

This is a Common Grass Blue.  (Thanks Roger for the ID).

On the basis of "know thy enemy" here is a Cabbage White - for once not destroying our Brassica!

An Australian Painted Lady.

Finally a Meadow Argus.

A tale of 2 sheds

I commented in the previous post about moving all the pot plants into Frances potting shed for winter.  Here is a picture of them all in position.  We noticed that some seedlings already in there had been munched, leading to thoughts of rodents.  A couple of traps were installed one of which ent off veryquickly (but unsuccesfully).

This made me feel embarrassed about the state of my shed.

So I spent an afternoon cleaning it up.  There were a few traces of small rodents in there so I engaged the small dog as an operative.  She greatly enjoyed the work, but didn't find anything.

Autumn Gardening

The BoM forecast minimum temperatures for the next few nights look suspiciously as though Summer has ended: 2 degrees C  on Tuesday and 3C for Wednesday.  As, being 200m higher, we are usually a couple of degrees colder than the Airport, for which the temperatures are given, it could be a reasonable frost out here.  Thus it was time to shift into cool season gardening mode.

There were two parts to this: cleaning up the remaining crops in the vegetable garden; and shifting the pot plants from the deck and nearby areas into Frances potting shed.

Part 1: Why Pumpkins are different to birds While I was picking the pumpkins a flock of migrating honeyeaters passed overhead.  This was very pleasing as there were 3 species in the flock: the usual Yellow-faced (YFHE) were accompanied by White-naped and Fuscous.

This led me to think of the ways in which the pumpkins were different from the birds.
The birds are a lot lighter than the pumpkins.They weigh about 15 grammes while the smallest pumpkins …

Frogmouths do cute

The pair (possibly a pair, but I reckon they are the same ones) have turned up again in the same haunts as last year.  They adopted a new position very close to our gate where I took this snap.

Wapiti hunting as it is done.

This story about NZ wapiti hunters finding a body fascinates me.  I can imagine Mitre Peak is not exactly suburban but you'd suspect they would have attached a little more priority to their find!

I can just imagine the Monty Python sketch:

"Oh look there's a body here Bruce." 
"So there is. It's a dead person Jim"
"Look a Wapiti: go get it Eric"  

FX Bang, bang. 

Holds up card marked 'Two weeks later. '

"Shit Eric, we're out of beer."
"So we are.  You'd better get some more.  Oh, report that body to the cops could you?  The police station's next door to the Pub." 
"By the way, there's another Wapiti"

FX Bang bang!
FX Fade to (all) black

I have got a couple of email comments on the story from friends of a Kiwi persuasion.  They are reproduced anonymously here:
(1) Very remote area--wapiti hunters are abo…

More rain = more Fungi

Although we haven't had a downpour for a while we are getting small dollops of rain now and again.  This morning as we were walking back down Canyon Creek I spotted what I think is an Earthstar.  It doesn't seem to be either of the Earthstars in Fungi Down Under so we will await my more comprehensive book before getting too ambitious with the ID!  See Gaye's comment below " more likely to be Scleroderma cepa, a tough-skinned puffball."

This shot is included to show the second fruiting body about 50cm from the main one.  My guess is that the larger one is about 8cm across the rays.

While looking at Fungi Down Under to (fail to) ID a fairly basic puffball I happened to notice some stalked puffballs called Prettymouths and suddenly realised they were what I had seen the previous week in Tallaganda NP.  In fact they are a Fungimap target species "Common Prettymouth" Colostoma fuscum.  The distunguishing feature is the warty cap which can be seen between the …

Various sports, passive and active

I have in the past posted about my results in the NY Times gridiron tipping competition.  I do at least follow gridiron and have some idea of which teams know not to hold the ball sideways when punting.  With baseball I know very little more than the vital fact that any team from Massachussets sucks.

However I make no claims to such expertise in baskeball.  I do however recognise that the real deal with basketball, now that Michael Jordan has retired, is not the NBL but the NCAA finals series.  So, as the Times was running a bracket on this year's comp I had to have a go at it.  For the first couple of days I wasn't going too badly with my psychic tips although having the team I'd tipped to win it all (UTEP - see below for an exlanation) whupped in the first round wasn't too good.  By the end of the second round I was about 39,000th out of ???.  However I had tipped Duke to get to the Final (which they won) but to lose to UTEP and as a result after the final Fo…

Directions for April Wednesday Walk

The plan is to visit 3 reserves around Bungendore and perhaps a couple of other spots along the way.  A primary aim could be to see what, if anything, the honeyeaters are up to in the various areas.  Of course, people will be able to withdraw at points along the way, although the likelihood of that happening should be borne in mind when carpooling.

The three spots are shown with red numerals in the first image.  (Click on the images to get larger versions if needed).

Spot 1 is Turallo Nature Reserve, 2 is Reedy Creek TSR, and 3 is Sweeneys TSR (suggest lunch here).  The first ? is the Trucking Yard Lane dams which may be worth checking for waterfowl - Shelducks are a distinct possibility here.  The second ? is the roadside along the Mt Fairy Rd.  No idea what is there but it has looked interesting each time I have been along it.

Of course if the whole trip is quiet and boring we could add in Lake road along Lake George.  It all depends.

My suggestion for  final car pool is the car park…


This one has got a bit long: sorry about that!
As a change from the last few years I have not volunteered for the Folk Festival this year.  The principal reason for this is that I found last year's efforts to be rather pointless. I was a driver for performer transport and the first few years I did this had great fun as you got to meet and chat to the artists.  More recently it has seemed that I spent a lot of time driving out to the airport to find that people had changed flights etc and not told the organisation.  To which the response tends to be "Oh, they're musicians, what do you expect?"

For a blast from the recent past see this and the two posts which follow it.

GOOD FRIDAY  We got to the venue (Exhibition  Park In Canberra  - EPIC) bright and early to hear an act starting at 10am.  We were about the only people in the venue when we arrived, although quite a few more had arrived by the time the band started up.  They were surprised not to be playing to an empty t…