Monday, 29 November 2010

Overflow at the Queanbeyan Weir

The Queanbeyan weir was originally established to provide a water source for the town, but has since been adapted/adopted as a means of making the centre of town attractive (see entry for damming in this page).  I have commented elsewhere about the desirability of the area for platypuses.

So it was with great interest that I took this image of water flowing over the weir this afternoon.

This does, of course, mean it has been raining again.  Basically it has been precipitating for two days giving us 54mm by dark on 29 November (and an as yet unknown amount thereafter).  More is forecast over the rest of this week. The forecast was spot on.

For traditionalists, one must record that a horny handed son of toil was sitting in a truck, and reading a newspaper, looking down at the weir.  I did not ask if his name was Clancy, nor check to see if his thumbnail had been dipped in tar.

A couple of days later I decided the time had come to decide if the COG outing to Yanununbeyan was to go ahead.  Here are some images of the roads in the area.
 Not surprisingly the event was cancelled by me.  (As reinforcement Whiskers Creek was over our drive when we went out shopping a little later.  That is what happens when you get 87mm of rain in less than 4 days.)

The images below were collected on 3 December (ie the Friday of the week in which the above were taken).  The first shot is of the Queanbeyan River downstream from the weir (looking downstream from the Morriset St bridge). 
The clump of trees on the RHS of the image usually mark the LHS of the River.  I have never seen it this high before (but see below for a historical comment).  I suspect that part of the problem is that the Molonglo is so high water cannot escape from the Queanbeyan River.

The next image is looking down on the Weir. Usually there is a second wall about 30m downstream: that has been totally submerged.
Some of the local birdlife voted with their webbed feet.  Surprisingly they and the small dog totally ignored each other.
One of the historical comments about the early days in Canberra was the bodies being washed out of the Queanbeyan Cemetery and floating down the Molonglo into what is now Lake Burley Griffin.  We called in their to check how close the more recently departed were to getting a trip.  My guess is that the river - visible as brown sludge in the background - still had at least 5m vertical to get to the fence around the Cemetery.   (An historical sign did refer to the Cemetery getting flooded in the 1880s so the yarns are not entirely an Urban Myth.)
Heading back towards home we swung by to have a look at the Molonglo River at Briars-Sharrow Road.  An image of this from Wednesday is further up this post.  I don't think a Land Cruiser would have got across this unless it had a very good snorkel on both inlet and exhaust pipes (and the driver had extremely good faith in his memory of where the road went).  Compare the position of the water relative to the "One Lane" sign!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Matters horticultural and arthropodological

I apologise for the flood of posts to this blog recently, and especially 2 posts in a day today.  Of course it is all to do with the excellent rainfall, which has meant there is so much going on that I wish to record.  Whether I need to share it all with others is an interesting point of philosophy to which I shall return in my review of the year!

As I seem to have close to 20 images in this post I have cut the size down a bit.  I think they still get the idea across.

Anyway we will start off with a strawberry image.  This is not from the vegie garden (still cranking out 2 litres + per day - yummo!) but a hanging basket above the deck.  This is the first time we have tried this and to get fruit at once is great.
We will now have a few flowers, in ascending rank of "nativeness" and, after introducing insects in the natives, will get more exotic again,  A parabolic post!!

  About the least native flower I can think of is a rose.  They are pretty however.
Love in the mist isn't far behind as a non-native!  Interestingly, when I used that plant name for the file name the image was rejected by the server.  Some people must have deviant minds!
I am not sure if this is English or not.  It is putting on a great show this year: Cistus.
The next two images Penstemon and Salvia are of plants greatly enjoyed by Eastern Spinebills.  What more does a plant need to do to be welcome in a garden?

Now we move to natives with a couple of Callistemons.

In my blog about the friarbird I inferred that insects are fond of Callistemons.  So here are a couple of insects that look interesting but are completely unidentified by me.  Any suggestions for these, or the ones which follow, would be welcome.  Sorry the first one is such a poor image but I liked the red line across the back  and chestnut antennae.

The next three are more or less to illustrate the wide range of body styles being adopted by insects.  The first image is a Mayfly (but all reference material seems to be about the nymphs - possibly because the adults live such brief lives).

Finally some butterflies.
  • The first is unknown (I suspect Common Brown), 
  • the second species (2 images)  is the Caper White which is migrating through Carwoola as for Robertson; and
  • the final species the Australian Admiral.

This is the first time I have come across a good use for Kiss-me-quicks (the plant being fed upon).  I am glad I didn't try to call the images that!

Land-art revisited

Following Mary's comment on "White poles" I decided that I should go and take some current pictures of our activities shown in a much earlier post.  This will also document matters for visitors to the physical property who see some of this stuff and wonder what the heck is going on!

In essence we started off on our morning walks carrying lumps of quartz from around the house area up the hill to decorate ant mounds.  In the second half of the walk we'd find any old rock and use it to built an artistically meandering line beside the drive.  We largely stopped dong this after we acquired the small dog: trying to place rocks in a careful manner with 3.1Kg of patience-challenged pooch became a matter for bad language!

So here is the current situation.
This is the first mound.  Rather than continue the spiral effect we decided to try to completely cover it.  As can be seen the ants have been busy and have built their tunnel spoil up over the rock.
This mound was to be covered on one side only.  It is located in a much grassier part of the property and there has been very little attempt to cover the rocks.  I wonder if the ants have gone to a woodier environment?
The intention with this mound was to set up an "apron" around the base.  It soon became apparent that such neatness was not part of the local wildlife's plan for the area.  I am not sure quite who was responsible for this, but seeing that the mound hasn't been excavated I think we can absolve echidnas.  Kangaroos graze in the area but I cannot see why they would congregate in such a bare area.  This tends to leave reptiles, and I have spotted Bearded Dragons using ant mounds as look out points.

Of the original sites this leaves the line up the drive.  Other than getting to be about 40m long nothing much has happened with this.
We have added one more item, in the same paddock as the poles.  This is yet more quartz - in some cases soccer (note, not football) ball sized lumps.  The idea is that Frances could lie in bed in the morning and see the snake coming down the hill.  Following all the rain this year it has got a bit overgrown.  If I find the time and energy I will free it later!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Noisy Friarbirds are "honey"eaters

The Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) is one of the larger members of the Honeyeaters of Australia.  I have put quotes around "honey" in the title of this post since honey is a substance derived from nectar by bees.  In fact most of the honeyeaters also munch insects that have come to feed on the nectar.

The principal aim of nectar is to attract vectors, such as insects, to transfer pollen from the stamens (male organs) of one plant to the style (female organs) of another.  I hope certain NSW politicians, and Angry of Mayfair as represented by Kenny Everett, will forgive that explicitness.

Now the Noisy Friarbird is commonly known as a Leatherhead because of its bare skinned, black head.  Thus I wondered if my camera had gone spare when i took a picture of a friarbird and the head looked yellow (or at least un-black).  I then realised it was covered in pollen which it had acquired from guzzling nectar (or munching insects which were guzzling nectar) from our Callistemon bushes.
Here is the guzzling in progress.  Note that the odd colouration of the tail is in fact a couple of grass seed-heads that happened to get in the way!
The next shot (taken in rather poor light) shows that the birds don't always feed from the bush.  Whatever place is convenient seems to be their rule.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Australasian Grebes on the top dam

A few weeks ago when passing by our top dam I noticed an Australasian Grebe's nest in it.  This is quite a usual event at this time of year, with the only 'odd' thing being the position of the nest in more or less open water rather than under the brambles at the Northern end of the dam.  I have been slightly concerned that the adults appeared to spend quite a lot of time off the nest and the weather hadn't been particularly warm.

However all is extra-well.  Yesterday while dong some brush-cutting elsewhere in the paddock I heard the whistling calls of the young (obviously, not when the brush-cutter was running).  On looking down I could see both adults and 3 juveniles.  Whoo hoo!!

This morning I went back with my camera t see what could be snapped.  On my arrival the cupboard (or at least dam) was bare.  I then noticed some movement in the NW corner of the dam and on stealthily arriving there found an adult swimming towards a juvenile with a mouthful of something (possibly a small frog - they are not in short supply this year).   When the birds spotted me the young one dove, while the adult sprinted for deeper water.
Things then settled down a tad and I got the following series of images.

Eventually an Eastern Long-necked Tortoise poked its head out of the water (not for long enough for a photo) and reported "all's well" to the rest of the dam.  This permitted the other two chicks to appear at the far end of the dam.
This site is, of course, totally dedicated to the abolition of anthropomorphisms.

On 15 January 2011 I was in the area again and noticed what appeared to be some new chicks. (Click to enlarge image and see all 3 young)
I enquired on the COG Chatline about the likely fate of the first bunch of chicks and got a very comprehensive answer from one of the expert members of the group.  In summary, the dates fit for this being a second brood and the first brood would have been independent by now.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Plant list

I have finally got off my botty and compiled a list of plants we (and others) have seen and identified around the place. They are at this post in my Reveg blog.

A Fringe Lily and dealing with brambles

It was nicely warm today and also still.  This is ideal weather for dealing with brambles, as shown in this post on my revegetation blog

On the way back to the house I wandered past one of the patches of orchids to see if any of the sun orchids had decided to reveal themselves.  They hadn't, and probably won't now, but I did get this rather nice snap of some Fringe Lilies (Thysanotus tuberosus).

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Orchids: a couple more from the East

I have added an image of a Flying Duck orchid at the end of this.

Having dipped on the ANPS trip last Wednesday (but having a great walk with COG at the Hall TSR) Frances and I and the small dog took ourselves to Back Creek TSR (SW of Braidwood) to check out the purple Diuris orchids found there.

Although the name 'Back Creek' could be taken to suggest some dampness was likely this year I was surprised just how much liquid there was around.  I don't know if the small dog was surprised but she certainly appreciated it rolling around in the first bog and taking a full-on swim in the second.   The bogs were well endowed with a very tall yellow flower that appeared to be growing from a plant with spatulate leaves.  Very pretty, but not identified by us.

There were masses of Chrysocephalum apiculatum (and various other daisies).  There was also a mass of chocolate lilies Arthropodium fimbriatum - in much greater numbers than 4 days earlier. I have no idea why I didn't take an overall picture of this.  After some threshing around we found one of the patches of Diuris punctata lurking in some Kunzea parvifolia.  Note: this area was very well supplied with purple/mauve plants.  (Also very well supplied with Microtis sp - onion orchids.)

Here follow a couple of images.  First up a side on shot of mine (hint - it is a crop-out as I couldn't persuade my camera to focus on the main flowers).
Next is a nice front on shot by Frances from Wednesday.
We headed back towards Captains Flat and stopped off briefly at a small church to let Frances nail a photo of a lily which had not cooperated on Wednesday.  The mauve-ness here was Patersonia fragilis - which I always mis-identify as an irchid (a typo, but I like it) when first I see it.

On, on to Captains Flat cemetery to inspect Gastrodia seasamoides,  Common Potato Orchid (or for those of a poetic disposition , Cinnamon Bells).  There were a large number of plants in this colony.  The images start with a habitat shot, close in on part of the colony and close with an in-your-labellum shot (but not as much so, nor as knowledgeable as this post.).

On the following Wednesday (24 November) the ANPS walk was to the NE section of Nadgigomar National Park to the NE of Tarago.  The most interesting orchid seen there was Caleana major, the Flying Duck orchid.

White Poles

aOne of Frances' sisters recently visited the ranch.  As a small project she and Frances painted a couple of whites poles that were laying around the place.  Here is the production process.  Note that it is a little more 'plein aire' than the place where Blue Poles was created.
It took a while to complete the second pole and then we had to wait for dry weather to install them.  So here is (a zoomed and cropped) view from my study window.
 We finish with two versions of a close up of the poles.  The second includes the model for the stencils, caught somewhat in flagrante, but it was the only time she was stationary!

On the morning of 24 November I looked up to see a couple of 'roos engaged in robust discussion close to the poles.  Although the following image is not good quality it is a fair impression of the event, which could probably only happen in Australia!
Early in 2011 another pair of roos turned up in view and in a more studious manner:
I tried to get an image of them also inspecting the canine silhouettes but they saw me coming and shot through.

In answer to Mary's comment below, the short is answer is "no function other than the process of creation and looking good".  It is a continuation of the idea started in an earlier post which I must update to show how things developed (and/or degraded) over time.  The decision as to where to put them was driven by several factors:
  1. they needed to be visible from the house;
  2. they had to stand out from the white Eucalyptus mannifera trees in the background; and
  3. there had to be enough soil (as opposed to shale) to allow me to dig the holes.