Thursday, 28 April 2011

Nigromontana without ...

... Diuris, but a good crop of other orchids.

We spent the afternoon of 28 April with our friends Tony and Jean scouring the SW quadrant of Black (nigro) Mountain (montana) for orchids.  It not being Spring we, not surprisingly, didn't find the species of Diuris named after this area.  The first orchids we found in flower were Diplodium reflexum.

Some D. truncatum were found but had 'gone over' so were not that attractive as a snap.  Moving on, some Bunochilus umbrinus were located, but being perverse they were only at the bud stage and this seemed to send my camera into a tizz.  Again no snap.

The next goodies were Corysanthes hispida.  Many were found, but they were, by and large heading for home and a well earned (permanent) rest.  This one was kind enough to strut its stuff.
We then moved over to a rocky area where some Acianthus exertus were relocated by Jean and Tony.  I got a few images - regretting afterwards that Frances didn't get a picture of me coiled round a rock (this would have shown Denis that I also get down and dirty when required)!  However here is the whole plant and a closer shot of the flowers.

While orchids were the main business at hand (and I haven't listed the many rosettes, buds and seed-heads we noted in passing) other elements of the environment were interesting.  I always like Coronidium scorpiodes ..
and this arrangement of seed-heads was attractive
A little further off the ground this Golden Orb Spider showed its spinneret (the lump on top of its abdomen) rather well.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Blundell's Creek Road

Today the ANPS Wednesday Walk went to Blundell's Creek Rd in Namadgi NP.  This is quite a soft walk since it is 3.4 km (according to our friend Linda's odometer) and there is not a skerrick of uphill in it.

This area was obliterated in the January 2003 bushfires. It is very pleasing how it is regenerating (or has regenerated).  While many of the bigger trees have dead tops, there is a lot of epicormic growth and the understorey is developing very well.

As usual with ANPS stuff let me begin with flowers. 
This was a form of mint (Mentha diemenica) although the perfume wasn't too obvious to me.  But enough of that personal problem.
 This is a more than somewhat ordinary image of a Derwentia derwentiana flower. The foliage was quite common but these were the only flowers I found.

Doing a slight shift of kingdoms (to Fungi) I will start with those I am (more)confident of identifying.  To begin with here is Russula lenkunya.
The next fungus I will rate as being a member of the genus Coprinellus (or Coprinus, depending on which taxonomist you favour).  Looking at Bruce Fuhrer's images I am inclined towards C. disseminatus but the photo on the Sydney Fungal Studies Group site looks a bit paler.  Your call.
 The next three images are of bracket fungi, growing on fallen or burnt eucalypt trees in this moist gully.  The first image surely shows the moistness since the green is due  - I am pretty sure - to algal growth.  The fruiting body in this and the second image are about 7cm across while in the third image the individual bodies are at most about 1cm. across (but there were, obviously, lots of them)

WRT to animals I will start big and go smaller.  As we positioned our car at the bottom of the track to get folk out later we saw a Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) on the track.  Fortunately it cleared off into the bush, rather than challenging the car.

Birds were relatively few and far between.  14 species were recorded.  Highlights were several White-naped Honeyeaters calling in the canopy and Flame and Eastern Yellow Robins down by the track.  Slightly back up the evolutionary trail we noted a slew of small skinks ( life is too short to try to ID microlizards moving at warp factor 7).

A couple of insects were kind enough to allow themselves to be photographed.  I am not sure about the state of health of this Cabbage White butterfly but it did let itself be snapped..
So did this Paropsis aegrota beetle ( thanks Roger for the ID).
I found it very difficult to get this image: focusing on the whole beast was tricky and my hand was causing the twig to wave around like some thing very wavy!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Yet more insects in April

I thought that April would be a very quiet month for insects in particular.  However I found as noted elsewhere that there is still a lot of insect action at the end of the month.  This has coincided with me getting a bit of a grip on the capacity of my new Panasonic FZ40 camera.

Here is a Common Brown butterfly dining on a Buddleia (and I really don't care if that is a mis-spelling : it's what I have used for decades).
Our two tatty Buddleias are really delivering the goods as far as butterflies are concerned.   I also snapped a Cabbage White (possibly under the category of Know thy enemy) gobbling some nectar.
Moving across the plot the Helichrysum bracteatum is still proving attractive to insects (as well being very pleasing to our eyes).  This a hoverfly (family Syrphidae) paying a visit.
I presume the body part shaped like a riding boot is in fact the proboscis!

A similar - possibly the same  - plant hosted a wasp on 29 April.  It appeared to be dining on 'stuff' it was finding on the petals rather than seeking out nectar.  Judging by the end of the abdomen it is a female but has wings so it isn't a Flower Wasp.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Phountains, Pholiage and Phlying Phoxes

This is basically a series of images taken
while walking round the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on 24 April 2011; and then
where our drive crosses Whiskers Creek.

The range of colours in this image appealed particularly.   Even in the deciduous forests of the North it seems that one usually gets a consistent mass of colour not a great mixture like this.

The next three images are all of the water jet in the middle of the basin.  After the upcoming budget I doubt if anyone will be able to afford the power bill for squirting water that high!

The fountain in the next image is based around a globe with the route of James Cook's voyages marked on it.  There are interesting markers, each related to a significant moment in the voyages.  It is the first time I have actually seen water playing in it (but we have only lived in Canberra for 30 years).
 These fruit bats are a recent addition to Canberra's fauna: in the space of about 5 years they have gone from 30 - 40 to some 3,000.  They seem to not be disturbed by fireworks displays or Floriade!
 Here is some more foliage, because it is pretty.

Willows in Our Drive

Yes they are invasive, but yes, they do look nice!

National Folk Festival (NFF) 2011

I have thought a fair bit about putting this post up, as it is going to sound rather like a great big fat whinge.  (I hate people remarking on my English birth!)  However I then concluded that if these thoughts lead to change (in the sense of reversion) in the management of the NFF it would have served a good purpose. Thus, here goes (with little real hope that anything will be achieved).

Our first dealings with the NFF (note this is not a reference to the National Farmers Federation) go back to the days when it was a travelling show.  We encountered it in Burra, South Australia and a damn fine event it was.  When it moved to Canberra we went along and had a great time,experiencing such people as Roy Bailey, the late Alistair Hulett, and the Fagan and Carthy families.  I also bought my first CD of African Music there (Baaba Mall and Mansour Seck - I still rate this as one of my top 10 CDs of any genre).

Since that time the NFF has become more professional.   As will be apparent from what follows, I struggle to find a way in which this has been an improvement other than from the view of:
  • the horde of folk who now have jobs in the administration thereof; and
  • those in charge of tourism in the ACT who have got more notches on their tomahawk.
I'll start off by noticing that there seemed to be a lot more space around this year, both inside the venues and (possibly more significantly) the car park.  The first of these observations could reflect the fact that there are more venues and thus the mob is spread out more.  The second however would seem to indicate that there are less punters (we did pass a few walking down Northbourne Avenue and the bike park was well supported but not enough to make up for the missing cars).  Frances commented that this reflected rising ticket prices (also rising petrol prices for the interstate market).  As a slightly bewildering take on the low crowds the Canberra Times report (I picked up a free copy at the NGA) blamed it on a clash with Easter (the NFF is always at Easter!!)

The car parking experience was reasonable this year, unlike in the past where one had to drive around the entire facility to get to the entrance.  There was a sign mentioning 'performers and disabled entrance' but I ignored that.  On looking at the programme I was a Naughty Boy for doing so.

Once we had trekked through the dog show people we found that one desirable reversion had appeared, in that the waste recycling area that had blocked the main access route had been taken away!  Frances and I then split up as she had a couple of acts she wanted to see and I wished to check out the remaining element of the poets breakfast.  If the opportunity presented itself I was going to recite my poem "When Didak got the ball" (an AFL-oriented rewrite of "Casey at the bat").  However the opportunity didn't present as the event seemed to be a competition in which the main aim was to recite doggerel for less than a minute.  Several folk got punted for exceeding the time limit!

The breakfast was held in the Troubador wine bar.  This has been a good venue in the past. It had been enhanced this year by a wooden fence around it.
This was apparently required as a condition of their liquor license so that there was a defined boundary beyond which Naughty People couldn't take their bottles of wine.  There was also something in the Conditions of entry to the event about about not taking in your own alcohol.  Who needs the wowsers  of the Fred Nile party when the ACT bureaucracy is available to impose stupid rules?

As I walked off to sample some acts I noticed a new addition.  As well as having various bins for recycling, composting and general garbage each set of bins now had buckets in front of them with two attendant volunteers to assist people to work out what is to  go where.
Note that I pixcellated the image to preserve anonymity: the volunteers have not contracted a severe disease as a result of the lack of a "medical waste" category bin!    Presumably this is because people from Gungahlin are permitted to attend and require assistance in such complex matters.  (More likely is that the recyclers have required chemical purity in what they require.  It is a source of wonder to me that folk can make a profit extracting minerals from rock, or cellulose from trees, but a speck of biological contamination makes a truckload of recycled material unacceptable.  I have various conspiracy theories to explain that!)

Some things never change: vide this queue for a coffee stall.  All the coffee stalls seem to have queues like this all the time.  It must be something to do with the Tuggeranong cappuchino fetish.
 I think the first act I saw was a group called the Badja River Quartet.  They were quite good in a low key bush-band way.  Possibly they need to emphasise numeracy in their rehearsals (even though the guy second from the left has an Official Volunteer name-tag and is thus not a member of the band).
At this point I decided to wander and see a few turns.  I began with a lady called Martha Tilson in the main Budawang venue.  She was an English singer in the style which favours very melodic, wistful songs,  What I might term the 'Rapunzel' school of warbling.  This is not to my taste: I am more inclined to the Witch from Into the Woods.  (Putting a Greek classical touch -see next turn - to it I am more into the Sirens than Andromeda!).  Pass - throughout this post I will use this word in the sense of "chucking in my hand", rather than gaining a non-failing grade.

I next went to a smaller venue where one non-classical Greek, George Papavgeris, was playing.  In fact, he was not playing stuff from his country of birth but a very amusing ditty about his Dad taking him to a fun fair in the UK.  That turned out to be his final song: I wish I'd heard more.
He was followed by a Bulgarian group.  I quite like music from Eastern Europe but have decided that the entertainment gene must have skipped Bulgaria.   The male member of trio was playing bagpipes covered with wool (or possibly he was wrestling a small sheep - you had to be there and play close attention to work out which).  I decided he was going to beat the sheep on submissions and left!

Back to the Budawang, primarily to see if I could spot Frances.  I failed in that endeavour but did hear part of the turn which was happening there.  This was the Song Company together with a large indigenous gentleman by the name of William Barton.  The Song Company are generally a 'serious' group and very highly regarded in such circles.  I felt that regardless of what they were singing it turned out sounding like madrigals.  Mr Barton was a highly skilled digeridoo player, but unfortunately felt the need to demonstrate how hip-hop had informed his muse.  Pass.

I then wandered a bit before returning to the Budawang to hear a couple under the name of 'Dark Horses'.  The lady of this couple was warbling at this time and I decided that she was somewhat like the first act I heard in this venue on the day, but not so strong on the melodious element.  Pass.  Frances subsequently pointed out that the bloke involved was Keith Donelly, who -in the past - we had both thought one of the funniest and most quick-witted performers we had heard.  Obviously love - or whatever - has wiped his brain.

My next call was a quartet of American artists.  According to the program they all seemed to be pretty venerable players of various forms of bluegrass.  On walking in there were only two of them on stage giving considerable action to a white spiritual: it then emerged that one of them was Mike Compton  - a magical mandolin player.  This was excellent but unfortunately after one tune I had to leave having sent a SMS to Frances to meet elsewhere at that time.

As a result of technology failing we didn't actually meet for an hour so I hung outside a tent listening to the work of Dave O'Neill (musical director of the NFF) and a mate doing some songs and tunes.  This was a bit variable but overall reinforced Dave's considerable abilities.  Frances and I eventually met up and I got my lunch and took a break.

I next cast my ears at a band called Bluegrass Parkway.  We had heard them before and knew that most of them have "day jobs" with the WA Symphony Orchestra.  They were excellent, but unfortunately the drum sellers had been allocated a booth outside the venue and were running a workshop.  Thus hearing the music in the venue was an issue.  (I have nothing against percussive music: indeed Steve Reich is one of my favourite composers or performers.   However if he was performing and blotting out a performance of Aida I would hate him.  Equally, on thinking about it, if I wanted to listen to Mr R then I would loathe Aida blotting him out.  As with most of my grizzles about the event it is the incompetent arrangement of things by the paid help that is the problem. Shifting the drum workshop to a more appropriate venue - eg the Kariakoo markets in Dar es Salaam- would be a Good Thing.)

My final act of the Festival was a seminar led by Keith McKenry on the legend of the Kellys.  Of course this was about the Kelly Gang and when I arrived featured Keith going through various events at Jerilderie and Glenrowan.  Some of his mates chimed in with appropriate poems and songs.  This was all extremely good - IMHO what the Festival should be about -and I regretted leaving before the end.

One final bit of stupid organisation is the way the organisers have prevented right turns when leaving the road out of the car park.  Presumably some OHAS harrumpher or the ACT Police (equal excrescences on the backside of society) has decided it is too dangerous.  Thus everyone has to do an extra km to a roundabout (and if you want to go to the CBD come back again - we headed up the road and used a separate, longer but faster route).  The thud you just heard was a heavier carbon footprint coming down.

One outcome of all of this was thinking a bit about what is folk music?  In terms of the NFF it seems to be whatever Dave O'Neil thinks it is (and he is probably better qualified than me to make such a decision).  I am not going to say it should all be the Anglo-Celtic stuff and certainly not all bush bands.  However I think having at least 4 major acts playing bluegrass on one day is getting a bit too much on Tamworth's turf.  Perhaps change the name of the event to the National Independent Music Festival?   (If too many garage bands apply to come explain to them - slowly 'cos their brains will be cabbage, and in writing 'cos their hearing will be shot - the importance of the word 'music' in that name.)

    Saturday, 23 April 2011

    Updates from April

    This page lists the sites where I have added stuff after initial publication.  The vertebrates page and invertebrates page have been updated frequently as and when stuff is noticed.  There are some nice recent images in the vertebrates page and in particular I draw people's attention to the image of an Imperial Jezabel added to the invertebrates page!
    • Some images of our apple crop and the drying chilis (and various other things vegetative) were added to the gardening page;
    • Additional commentary added to the NSW elections page including a link to the SMH page announcing Ms Hanson FAILED - yay!!; 
    • There have been a few revisions to Tallaganda by day
    • Extra images were added to my wasp page.
    • Extra mooning occurred! 
    • Some images of willow trees added to my Pholiage page
    As a total aside, I noticed that one recent visitor to this blog  appeared to be located in Dhakar, Bangladesh.  I wonder if it is is one of the Australian Cricket team (or some Bangladeshi reading this blog to try to get an understanding of why Australian cricket is the way it is).  In a similar vein, later in the month I found that I had my first visit logged from Alaska (giving me 44 States of the Union).  Could it have been Sarah the Moose-Molester?

    On 22 April we went for a stroll along Lake Rd, Bungendore.  This gives great views across Lake George  to the windmills on the hills to the east.  We couldn't hear a sound!
    In the image above note the water in the lake bed.  This is not likely to be around for long as there has been very little rain since early March and little is forecast for the next 4 weeks.

      Tuesday, 19 April 2011

      An interesting insect

      While wandering up the block today (in a failed search for orchids) I noticed a small construction hanging off a Kunzea ericoides (aka Burgan) bush.  The leaves of the Burgan give an indication of scale.
      An alert observer will note an insect on the bottom of the construction.  When we first arrived there were several such insects around but most disappeared before I could tether small dog and get the camera out and set up.

      Cropping the image to show the insect reveals this complex beast.  It also gives a close-up of the construction.
      My interpretation of this was a wasp of some sort on the outside of its nest.  On seeking advice from Roger Farrow he commented that in fact "it is a species of Podagrion (Monodontomerini:Torymidae: Chalcidoidea: HYMENOPTERA).  All species are parasitoids of mantis egg cases, which is what your "nest" is: the female wasp is recognised by the enlarged dentate femora.  Very few mantis egg cases escape some level of parasitism.. Emerging mantis nymphs tear their way out and do not make holes."

      The key to identifying this was to recognise that the construction is a mantis egg case rather than, as I had thought, a wasp nest.  Then check the parasites of the egg cases!  Many thanks Roger. 

      I returned to the area a couple of days later and took a few more pictures.  The first image below shows at least three wasps on the egg case(although the lowest one didn't move, so I suspect it was not at all well).
      In the second image I cannot pick out an ovipositor or dentate femur on the lower wasp so suspect it might be a male.

      Monday, 18 April 2011

      Scenes terrestrial and celestial - pt II

      I have previously put up a post with some shots of the land and sky around Carwoola.  (The use of the word 'celestial' relates to the Salle Celeste we saw in the HQ of an international organisation in Geneva.)  On 18 April I took a few more snaps on this topic which I felt deserved their own post.

      Pre-eminent amongst these was this shot, taken from our sunroom, of a rising moon.
      I shall return to the evening at the end. Let us go to the start of the day.

      We have established a sort of pattern for our dog walks that on
      • 4 days a week we go to a high-point on Widgiewa Rd Rd, which overlooks the Hoskinstown Plain; 
      • two days a week we do a circuit of the property; and 
      • the remaining day we do something quick as we need to be in town early.
      I have reflected that on misty mornings when we go the Widgiewa route I should try to take a photo of the view over the Plain towards Mt Palerang.  On 18 April we did the property walk and I realised there was an opportunity for a scenic shot, so on finishing the walk leapt on the treadlie and headed for Widgiewa.  I scored this shot:
      On getting back to our gate I realised that I hadn't taken a snap of the Taliesin Hills behind our place in the morning.  (An evening shot is in the street party post).  The omission has been remedied.
      It is interesting to note the many and various colours of the eucalypt leaves in the foreground!

      Here is the promised wider view of moonrise (this probably needs to be clicked on to get the full beauty).

      Later in the week when greeting some friends they commented that the moon was an odd shape. Indeed it was - a little after full but positioned on its back!   It did illuminate the clouds nicely however!

      Here are a couple more images across the Plain on another foggy morning.