Showing posts from March, 2011

Kowen Aussie, Kowen

I apologise to anyone distressed, in the current parlous situation, by the obscure link to a cricket chant!

The ANPS group went to the Kowen Escarpment overlooking Sutton Road on 30 March.   In case anyone wonders what an escarpment means wikipedia deals with the definition rather well.  Steep and rocky as predicted.

Despite it being well into Autumn (Fall, for any North Americans reading this) there were a good range of flowers around.  Here are a Helichrysum, a Brachyscome (both very common) red Astroloma and a blue Derwentia (I only saw one cluster of flowers of each of these).

I should note that the Astroloma flower is about 5mm across!  (Drawing an analogy to orchids it is closer to Microtis than Cymbidium!)

We also found 2 nice colonies of Diplodium truncatum, the Little Dumpy.  Here are three images from various perspectives.

The only fungus I noted was this bracket fungus.  I haven't yet been able to identify it.
The invertebrates were interesting (as usual).  I have really …

NSW Elections The Aftermath II: Good news!!

I warned you in my last post this was going to be a series!

The election stuff started early this morning as I read the headlines in the SMH.  It is interesting how this article has changed: in the version I read about 7am someone - whether from Treasury or the ALP I cannot remember and the comment has now vanished - claimed the 4.5bn "black hole" was primarily due to including the 4th year of the cycle which is not formally part of the Budget.  Hmmm: doesn't look to me as though the Government has given this its full consideration.

But anyway it doesn't matter, because the Budget can be balanced easily.  Looking at the Electoral Commission website there are 50,062 voters on the roll.  Only 37,484 votes had been counted by mid-day Tuesday as I write this.  That leaves a "black hole' of 12,578 naughty non voters (or one heck of a lot of postal votes).  There are I think 92 electorates so fine all the twerps who didn't vote (and thus deserve the sort of Go…

NSW Elections: the aftermath (pt1)

This post follows from the pre-election one.

These days all horror movies (I did have the word 'good' in there but decided it was an oxymoron) become part of a franchised series.  Perhaps the worst example of this is Friday the 13th, now apparently up to VII.    I must watch one of these so that I can allocate roles in the movie to certain NSW Politicians.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) the forces of evil have secured 67 Assembly seats as against 17 for Labour, with 4 undecided.  The NSW Electoral Commission have given our local seat (Monaro) to the National Party so I expect to find a mining company coming up our drive any time from now.  A couple of comments on this seat are at the end of this post.

Here are the last three paragraphs in a story from the SMH on the Monday following the election (a few snappy comments follow):
"The former Liberal premier Nick Greiner said Mr O'Farrell had an unprecedented opportunity to consolidate a shift in the vote of…

Blowing my own trumpet!

I have competed in the ACT Veterans Athletics Club (ACTVAC) Run/Walk Handicap series since about 1985 with a long break from about 1992 until 2003.  However I had never won any awards until June 2007 when I managed my handicap so as to be both eligible and win the Mt Ainslie event.  I dedicated this to the memory of our friend Richard Morcom who collapsed and died on one of our training runs but had won the event twice.

Of course, that win destroyed my handicap (as it should have done, and put it back to where it had been 4 years earlier).  There then followed a period where I kept getting injuries which made running unpleasant and ineffective.  It did have the benefit of getting my handicap back down in an honest fashion: my best efforts were such that I was finishing well down the field. 

However by working at the exercises prescribed by my excellent physio I seemed to be getting better late last year.  The November handicap was run on a day of pouring rain on a grass course.  This…

The fungus season begins to get some steam up!

There are starting to be a good crop of fungi around the area generally.  On our morning walks I have noticed a good array of Rooting shanks (Oudmansiella radicata) and Fairy-ring Champignons (Marasmius oreades).  This morning we found a small crop of the ones imaged below, which I had not seen before but believe to be Amanita umbrinella.  This is based upon the description in Fuhrer's Field Guide to Australian Fungi, noting the striated annulus (see second image).

When I use the word 'crop' I was merely searching for a collective noun.  I am not about to start munching on something which I suspect to be an amanite!

On a trip to Tallaganda SF later in the day I noticed one large clump of Gymnopilus junonius growing beside the road,  I also found the following weird item growing in a moist gully.  As I haven't really been able to get close to identifying it I am now wondering if it is something other than a fungus (but have no idea what).  It was growing in soil as far a…

NSW Elections 2011

We are heading for a State Election on Saturday 26 March.  According to the media this is going to be a slaughter of a similar magnitude to the Canadian Election in 1993 in which the Government went from a majority of the House to 2 seats.  The linked article is informative but astonishing in that it manages to avoid blaming the defeat on Mulroney.  We lived in Canada in 1991 and I recall a crowd circling the building containing the Prime Minister's Office chanting "Hi,-hi, ho-ho.  Lyin' Brian's gotta go."

There are a few aspects of the NSW event, at the local level, that are interesting.

One small point is that in what follows I spell Labour including a 'u'.  The 5 character version of the name is abhorrent to me!

A first point is that for the first time in quite a while I have no active role in this election.This is not because I am not interested but because despite my offering late last year to assist the sitting member (Steve Whan, Country Labour) he…

Enlightened Canberra

I decided that the organisers of this Festival had done such a good pun I wouldn't try to top them!  Instead here is an image.
The background to the tale is that those responsible for tourism in Canberra decided that there needed to be an Autumn equivalent to the hugely successful Floriade.  This event was the outcome, which  combines much of the old Canberra Festival but has as its key point the illumination of a number of the National landmark buildings.  The organisers quote a number of past hits, of which we had only seen, in the lumens, the NGA 25th birthday event.  That had been good enough to get us along to check out this one!

In essence images are displayed on the fa├žade of the buildings.  This time they had 'lit up' four buildings.

The first we went to was Old Parliament House.  This is now the Museum of Australian Democracy but was, when we first arrived the Parliament.  The images tend to speak for themselves, but for the benefit of overseas readers, the photos …

Migration of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters

The catalyst for this post was a message to the COG email discussion group reporting a small flock of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus chrysops) heading North on 13 March and wondering if this was early (for the start of the migration).

This species is notoriously difficult to handle in the COG Garden Bird Survey (GBS) as a result of a range of procedures being used at various times by observers (and deemed acceptable by the various Coordinators of the Survey).  Most of the difficulty comes about by some observers - mainly in the early years of the GBS - accumulating the number of migrating honeyeaters seen throughout a week rather than reporting the largest single flock.  To mitigate these problems I decided to create an indicator by counting the number of reported observations of flocks of 5 or more birds of this species by GBS week around the "migration period".  (Outside the migration period the species is typically reported as single birds or flocks of 2 or 3.)


Second invertebrate post for March

The first post started with spot the spider.  This one begins with a slightly extended game of "spot the grasshopper".  That should be enough of a warning for acridophobes to avoid the page.  (I was astonished to find that googling for 'fear of grasshoppers' got 6740 results!  Some people must get very alarmed driving through a locust swarm!)

These were all spotted while in the vegetable garden on 14 March.  Some of them were quite camouflaged, others less so.  I will present them in order of challenge:
 If you are brown and want to hide, a trombacini leaf is not a good idea.
A bit of green and a bit of brown on old grass stalks isn't bad ....
... but all green on fresh grass is very difficult to spot.  Until the beast jumps when it becomes quite easy to spot.  Since this isn't an interactive site I suggest click to enlarge and then peer closely!

Moving back to bugs I scored an image of a 4th instar nymph (how convoluted is that?) of the Gum Tree Shield Bug (The…

Vertebrates of March

It has been a bit tricky to get bird photos this month.  However while out by Whiskers Creek I became aware of a large avian ruckus by the Captains Flat Rd (about 1.5km away).  The usual rule when hearing magpies and lapwings getting excited is to look for an eagle.   Sure enough one duly soared into view taking an up-draft along the line of the Creek.

I think it took about 5 minutes to get to me, but as it performed about 4 circles as it came it must have covered at least 5 kilometres rather than the straight line.  This suggests the wind was really shifting it along since I couldn't see its wings move.  It was noticeable that its soaring flight was as fast as the magpies' attempts -in flapping flight - to swoop it
That image shows the wedge-tail rather well and gives an impression of the angle of the wings..  Since I couldn't pick up any brown on the bird I think it was a full adult.  It is I suspect moulting at the moment or had been getting a real battering from the mag…

How does your garden grow?

I thought this would be a simple allusion to a nursery rhyme with which I grew up.  Alas, it seems full of controversy.  Moving on from such matters my response has nothing about cockleshells or nuns, but answers the question with "finally, not too badly". 

This has without a doubt been the worst cropping year, for many fruit and veg since we moved to Carwoola.  Our potatoes basically vanished in the deluges of early Summer.  Our grapes have done nothing: one variety has got some fruit but that seems to be falling off the vine before it is ripe.

The star performer at the moment is a pear tree.  All the fruit has come off it (mainly self propelled) so we are munching pears, are drying pears and have given some away.  Here is the crop:
Strawberries have done pretty well.  They have had the odd pause in production but this is what I pcked this morning.
In the vegetable department we are achieving diversity, with various forms of zucchini getting some volume.  Here is what I pick…