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Showing posts from December, 2010

Annual Report to the Bored

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I thought it would be good, albeit somewhat narcissistic, to summarise what has happened this year to our household. The household still comprises two large people and one small dog. All three of us are doing pretty well. We have acquired some snake repellers to assist the small dog to remain well, around the house at least.

There was not a great deal of travel in 2010. One visit to the UK and one to Adelaide to finalise matters there, were our only real trips away. A short duration trip to Melbourne in May (AFL oriented) was also very pleasant
WEATHER
After about 8 dry years (2007 wasn't too bad) the monsoon arrived this year. At El Rancho I have recorded 1005mm for the year: more than double last years total and a 63% increase on the three year average.  Nearly every month has been well over our previous experience for that period.
One of the negatives of this is that the Creek has been over the road 12 times this year, compared with the usual 2 – 3 times. I guess that is …

Naturalish observations while exercising.

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This morning I set off with Frances for her run along Whiskers Creek Road to the high point in Widgiewa Road.  My attention was suddenly caught by a flower of Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis).  If something this colourful and intricate had a flashier name - "Red-hot bird of paradise grass" might do the trick - I am sure garden centres would sell the stuff for $5.00 a plant.
A little later in the day I had an hour or so to fill in while Pats Tyres and More did a few things to parts of my car.  So I went for a run from Queanbeyan East to Oaks Estate and back down the riverside bike path.

A first thing to catch my eye was where the Molonglo tide-mark was showing relative to the Oaks Estate Crossing.  Although the valley is much wider here here than at the Queanbeyan Cemetery the water must have been at least 4m deep during the flood.

As I got back to the Cemetery I found that it was being used as a tree cemetery as well as it's more traditional function.
Some headstones are…

Sir James Hacker on Ti-trees

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Few people realise that in addition to a successful career as a parliamentarian Jim, as an amateur botanist, also made a close study of the Ti-trees of Australia.  His particular expertise was in distinguishing the various species covered by this appellation.

In the case in point, when we first visited Carwoola I thought a fair proportion of our block was covered with Leptospermum.  It was pointed out to us a little later that this was actually Kunzea ericoides, which is now recognised as belonging to a different genus.  This is the shrub Burgan that covers the countryside in white blossom at Christmas.(In NZ it is called Kanuka and can be much larger. I didn't believe that a shrub here could grow to 30m in NZ, but this has been confirmed by a NZ friend.)
There is however a small patch of Letospermum juniperinum on Widgiewa Road which was also flowering now.  Here follow images of the Leptospermum (first) and the Kunzea.

Clearly the flowers are 'broadly similar being quite sm…

A few notes concerning birds

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After 4 years we have finally got a good array of flowers on our Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia uvaria).  They are proving very attractive to Noisy Friarbirds.
From consulting the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) it seems most likely that the birds are feeding on the nectar rather than insects that are lurking within the flower spike.

This afternoon I decided to try to get some snaps of Dusky Woodswallows.  They rarely visit our garden, but lurk along the ridge line of Whiskers Creek Road swooping off dead branches and powerlines to harvest insects.  Presumably the lower grass in the paddocks up there attracts more of the appropriate insects than our property.  I managed to get a couple of reasonable snaps.

On the way up to the photo site a Wedgetailed Eagle was soaring overhead and being uncooperative in two ways:
It wasn't down on the ground improving the rabbit population; andWasn't staying directly overhead so that a photo could be taken.Initially i…

A Christmas eclection

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This post will have a range of images and thoughts about Christmas in various places and times.  I will start off with a really beautiful image.
This is (obviously)   not Carwoola  but was the image on a beautiful card sent to us from Ingleby Manor where we stayed in June 2010.  These deer were photographed in January 2010 and the owner of the Manor has told that the snow is currently feet deep and that they haven't been able to go horse riding for about 6 weeks!  My idea of heaven!

We decided to have our family Christmas meal on Christmas Eve,  As a nod to the the English tradition of Christmas our daughter bought along a Christmas pud.  The idea was to flame it: I knew from experience that the secret to this was to make sure one used enough alcohol.  So I put on a finger of OP Don Lorenzo rum, noting that it was 151 proof. 

I believe NASA would describe this as ignition:
The New York City Fire Department would call this a 3 alarm blaze.
Surprisingly that didn't set off our smo…

Darters on the Molonglo

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Having some time to spare in Canberra this morning I went for a bike ride along the North Shore of the Molonglo and into Lake Burley Griffin.  This area has become a popular breeding territory for Darters (Anhinga melanogaster).  They didn't seem to be too evident in their old territory (opposite the canoe club) but were in good numbers about 500m further towards the Lake. 

Just before I started coming across the Darters my attention was drawn to the state of the bike path.
In effect the recent floods have caused the bank of the River to slip about 70cm downwards.  It is possible to get a bike through, but one either has to jump a 10cm mini-cliff or fitr though a level bit 25cm wide.   While it is a tad dodgy, there is no really obvious alternative way of getting by bike from the City to the airport (other than a 5km extra detour to the South Bank or riding on a major, bike-unfriendly highway).  I presume when some tourist high-sides themselves into the river the path will be close…

A red grasshopper

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While out picking berries this morning I was astonished (I astonish easily these days) to come across a red grasshopper. As it was around some raspberry canes I wondered if this was some form of adaptive colouration?
On googling 'red grasshopper Australia' I came up with a reference of sorts to the Common Macrotona but very few images thereof.  It appeared that the diagnostic aspect of the family to which it belongs is having a spur on the throat.  So I went and took a few more images (a couple of which show it hopping, and on grass).


At least they give some nice detail and in a couple of cases show the detail of the very long antennae.  However even in digital zoom mode I can't pick out anything I'd call a spur.  But this shot of the head and upper thorax is attractive.

Following on from Denis Wilson's comment I went to check the Chew family's page.  It is a brilliant effort and the juvenile Common Garden Katydid Caedicia simplex certainly looks very like the be…

Apres le deluge, moi

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It seemed about time for a classical allusion. As it hasn't rained for 2 days we have actually been able to get on with a few things around the place.  Needless to say a lot of these things have involved removing weeds and mowing grass.

I have previously referred to my ride-on mower needing a new tyre.  After one mow between floods the other rear tyre also collapsed.  I decided that this was largely due to the machine spending the last 3 months standing in mud or water so have constructed a small stage for it to live on.
As the vegetable garden is drying out a few things are growing again.  However the spuds are basically gone and few of the tomatoes look happy with their situation.  On the principle of 'plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest' (and them heading for seed) Frances dug up the garlic yesterday.  It looks OK although I doubt if it will be a full year of supplies.
I spent some time working further up the block.  A major thrust for this was a need to cut…

Spinebills and rainfall make achievements.

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Late this afternoon I achieved breakthroughs with both spinebill photography and rainfall recording.  (A couple of later images are at the end of this post.)

I actually managed to get a half-reasonable shot of a spinebill.  Given that it was taken through a window and some 8m from the bird I reckon this is not too disgusting (others may disagree).
It was just about the 1:30 ratio of fair:garbage photos referred to by Denis Wilson when commenting on an earlier post accessible through this one.  I did aso manage to get the bill in focus in this "hover-shot".
That is quite enough about Eastern Spinebills.  At least for this year.  The flowers are penstemons and salvias.
The reference to rainfall in the title of this post is to flag that having recorded about 7mm so far today, we have gone over 1000mm this year.  I think that is the first time that has happened since we moved to this region in 1983 (although I didn't really start recording rain until about 2000 and haven't …

A bunch of animals

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This post has very little to do with events on Friday night.  There is an obscure link as will be revealed below (as it appears in this blog, possibly the word 'obscure' is redundant).

The first three topics are various attractive insects.  I am putting the images in ascending order of vitality rather than attempting anything taxonomic.

The first specimen was decidedly cooperative in staying still.  In fact it is unlikely to move of its own volition ever again.  It is (or rather was) a wasp that is noticed lying on a sheet of cardboard used to collect the guano from treecreepers that roost under our eaves. 

I found the pattern of veins very attractive as are the red bands on the abdomen.  When clicked to appear larger, the shaping of the claws and other leg parts is remarkably fine (in a threatening sort of way).

The next specimen was equally cooperative but still alive.  It is a moth - presumably a nocturnal species - that had decided to roost on one of our verandah purlings.