Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Acacias, Acacias and more Acacias

The ANPS walk to day went to the Gale Precinct off the Old Cooma Road, immediately to the South of the current limit of  suburban development.  This area is managed by Queanbeyan Landcare in association with the Council.

Proving that even I can learn from past mistakes I will begin by commenting that there were a bunch of Acacia species brightening the area up more than somewhat today.  Let us begin with Acacia genistifolia: this is getting close to the prickliness of the African Acacias (which we now know are not 'really' Acacias at all but a different genus- yet to be named).
Next we have another spiky number Acacia ulicifolia.  Note that although prickly the spikes are much less unpleasant than those of the previous species.
With average luck this next one is Acacia rubida.  This seemed to be getting the good nectar seal of approval from various insects.  Unfortunately it was a tad draftyand I couldn't get a good shot of the various arthropods as they took a slurp.
Let no-one say this blog is unpatriotic.  Here is our national flower Acacia pycnantha: and very gorgeous it was (obviously celebrating the win over the All Blacks).
Returning from that great triumph we come to poverty in the form of Acacia Dawsonii.
Finally here is a twofer: A. genisitifolia in the foreground and A rubida in the background.
Oi vey!  Enough with the wattles already.

Let us move on to to white flowers.  A couple of these featured last week but it is useful to have the comparison.  First up is Leucopogon Fletcherii.  I am not sure I have ever noticed the pink stigmas before and am unsure what a Freudian analyst would make of them!
Next we have the basic, and much less flamboyant Cryptandra amara longiflora:
and conclude this section with Cryptandra propinqua (a target species for the day).
One of the plant highlights of the day was the number of Clematis microphylla plants seen around.  They were everywhere and some of the plants were very large, growing up into eucalypts.  We were unsure if this was a male or female plant: note the apparent stigma on the rightmost flower.
At the other end of the reproductive season many of the Stiphelia triflora plants had fruits on them  the deserve some reward for having pretty flowers late into Winter!
 The area seemed very dry so no fungi were evident.  As noted above there were a lot on insects around, but the only one I was able to photograph was this Cabbage White!  Perhaps the grey green colour of the lichen made it think it had found a feral cabbage?

August Updates

As the seasons seem to be advancing it is quite likely that a few of the nature posts (in particular) may get updated a bit.  Thus this post will be published at the end of the month to let people see those posts.
I have finally added tables of  plants identified on our property thus far to my ReVegetation and Vermin blog.  There are separate tables for Monocotyledonous and Dicotyledonous plants.  This blog also got some material about pigs and serrated tussock and updates on rabbit control. I felt the post about mattocking warrens had some redeeming humour.

I will also plug in here a couple of links to other items which don't really merit the overhead of a full post.  The first two come from(UK) Country Life:

    Sunday, 28 August 2011

    A report from Irene Central

    A friend who blogs from both Westchester and The Abacos (in the Bahamas) has just posted a report on Irene's visit to the Abacos and her imminent arrival in New York.  She has posted a few other reports with some interesting video including Willie Nelson singing a suitable song.  Call me a traditionalist, but if you aren't going for Leadbelly (as recorded by Alan Lomax) the Weavers must be the next choice.

    I am taking this opportunity to send wishes for good luck to all on the East Coast of the US and to second Denis's comment (see below) extending concerns to those in Canada.

    Here is a radar image for NYC and surrounds at 0353 EDT on 28 August.  The city is close to the middle of the image in the red box, meaning tornado warning.
    Here is a National Weather service warning screen for a few minutes later.
    To put this in context, the image below shows the evacuation zones for mid-town.  Our apartment in New York was at the blck X.  The yellow - Zone C - area towards the East River is the UN complex: I wouldn't like to be in a subsub basement there if the water rises any higher than expected.
    A tip of the hat to the New York Times for keeping their coverage of the hurricane in the free zone.  One memory from our time in New York is that the threat of a big flooding hurricane was one of the disaster scenarios that was talked about as a possibility.  I don't think they expected it so soon.

    In the event - or even non-event - there does not seem to have been  a greta problem.  Here are some words closing an NYT article from 29 August (Carwoola time):
    "But elsewhere, the storm barely left a trace — or at least nothing that matched the nearly apocalyptic buildup to the storm, which spurred New Yorkers to raid grocery stores for bottled water and D batteries, and prompted city officials to reassure residents that they had learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina.
    "In Midtown Manhattan, a small army of construction workers boarded up Bloomingdale’s on Saturday, and Times Square was virtually deserted by late Saturday night. But 12 hours later, the sun had begun to poke through the clouds. Tourists returned to the theater district, some not even carrying umbrellas, though they had few places to go since most stores, restaurants and movie theaters were closed. A large video screen on the Port Authority Bus Terminal that carried an ominous warning about the storm switched back to flashing advertisements for Tropicana orange juice and Fidelity retirement planning."
    It seems to depend where you were.  My Westchester correspondent has included a link to the folk from Roosevelt Island's website (Roosevelt Island is the orange strip in the middle of the East River in the map above).  From memory the Lighthouse Park shown under water on that site is normally at least a metre abover high water mark.  Also a friend who lives in Hoboken (just across the Hudson in New Jersey) has commented
    "Hoboken is a flood zone and has issues with any heavy rain. The mayor first asked for voluntary evacuation (we really had nowhere to go but a hotel) and then enforced mandatory evacuation for all ground floor apartments. Since we are on the 1st floor on top of the garage, we stayed. I don't think there were evenvery strong winds in our area but the was certainly a lot of flooding, incl. the garage. We had parked both of our cars in a private parking garage on Friday (so the storm cost us $180 for car parking ;-)"

    Saturday, 27 August 2011

    Horticultural Archaeology and other rural activities

    During the monsoon of last Summer part of our vegetable garden got seriously flooded.  In part this was due to a drain pipe running across the garden bed having been punctured by injudicious forking about.  So I decided to try to fix this situation.

    Two options presented themselves:
    The original position of the pipe is marked as a blue dashed line, with X marking the spot of the puncture.
    One option was to simply cut out the punctured bit and replace it.  The second option was to put in a new pipe where the red dotted line ran.  I decided that the effort involved in the second option was likely to be huge, especially given the number of roots likely to be encountered going under the fruit  trees so plan 1 was the go.

    The ? indicates that I couldn't work out where it went after that without a large amount of effort.  Possibly under this!
     Oh poop!

    After a little bit of ferreting around (where the mob from Time team when you need them?) I was able to expose pretty much the whole of the pipe.
    By this stage I was beginning to wonder if option 2 would not have been little more work!  So I measured the diameter of the pipe (10cm) and checked the length (3m) that needed to be replaced and took myself to Bunnings/  To my surprise they seemed to have 2 sizes of pipe close to 10cm: 100mm and 90mm.  Of course I hadn't been anally retentive when measuring the diameter because
    1. I didn't expect them to have 2 sizes so close together, and 
    2. it is difficult to measure a diameter when the rotten thing is still in the ground.
    With a small amount of swearing I was able to fit the 3m length in the car and headed for home.  On disinterring the old pipe I found this situation:
    So I cut a small length off the old pipe - discovering a marking for 90mm in so doing - fitted the 3m length back into the car and took myself back to the store.  A little later I was back and transformed this
    into this.
    It was then just a matter of filling in the trenches again.  Surprisingly one never sees that stage of Time Team digs!

    Earlier in the day I had taken advantage of a relatively high level of humidity, a very low level of wind; and the imminent start of the fire permit season to send up my second pile for the year.  I was initially concerned the stuff was too green to ignite but fortunately the oily broom prunings fixed that.  40 minutes after ignition this is all that remained form a pile 1.8m high and about 5m long!
    I will finish with a comment on linguistics.  A few weeks ago I referred to Archaeopteryx (the avian fossil).  I was subsequently advised that  "Of course Archaeopteryx is ancient wing and not an English word."  So Archaeology - study of old - as used in the title of this post is not an English word?  How about Boomerang? Didgieridoo? Schlep?  Mesa? Flamenco?  Alkali?  All can be found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary.  I am reasonably sure bull**it is an English word!

    Friday, 26 August 2011

    Sea-eagles pt 3

    Earlier snaps are here and there.  These birds are too photogenic.  As a birding friend said, it is astonishing how much time one could spend looking at them!  Here are some shots from 26 August (10 days after hatching.)

    I think I spent most of the time from 0645 to 0815 getting these, hoping to see a parent deliver fish.  Alas that happened while we were taking Tammie for a walk and when we came back Mum, doing the feeding, completely shaded S2.

    Here is Dad feeding S2 on 29 August.
    I didn't access the cam much for a couple of days, but the first day of Spring was celebrated with an extended bout of feeding.  At one point the thought did occur to me that, having killed S1 by dropping a dead pigeon on it, the parents were trying to repeat the trick on S2 with a large eel.

    By 5 September S2 is getting quite large and also elastic in the neck department.
    Judging by the pose, and the way it is stretched out, I suspect someone has spliced a little Meerkat DNA into the wee bird!

    After a further 10 days the chick is getting rather large (use the post in the background to scale up), and also getting some pin feathers.  This image from 15 September.
    I have not been visiting the site much recently.  However the change in S2 by 8 October (23 days from previous image)  is dramatic,
    By 21 October (a further 13 days on, 9 weeks from hatching) S2 looks to be close to the size of the adults.
    I would point out that it is the position of the camera, rather than my poor cropping skills, which have decapitated the bird.  Of course as soon as I had posted that shot S2 sat down and posed nicely.
    Then an adult came and gave a good (OK reasonable) comparative shot.
    According to HANZAB the fledging period is 65-70 days so the big event could occur within 2 days and almost certainly within a week.

    S2 was still in the nest on 22 October.  However it was getting "serious air" on some of its hops around the bowl.
     Then it posed nicely to show the plumage pattern.
    The chick first flew (officially known as 'branched") on 27 October.  Here is the You-tube of the event.  It was interesting that on the morning of the 29th it was back in the nest.

    Wednesday, 24 August 2011

    ANPS does Wanniassa Hill

    On this day of brilliant weather - it definitely felt like Spring - we had a lovely walk around Wanniassa Hill, returning via the lower slopes of Farrer Ridge.  Here is a panorama from about the lunch spot (click to see the bigger image).
    The start of the walk was a rhapsody in white.  The first flowers were swathes of Leucopogon attenuatus.
    A little later this was joined by Cryptandra amata.
    Although both look white in the single images, when swathes are seen together the latter species is 'creamier'.
    Somewhat later in the walk a single flower of Leucopogon virgatus was encountered.  The third Leucopogon (L. fletcheri) was resolutely in bud.
    Moving towards the blue end of the spectrum we had much Hovea linearis and occasional samples of the mass of Stypandra glauca were in flower.  Hardenbergia was everywhere but not photographed.


    Various species of Acacia were very evident.  The one below is A. genistifolia.
    I rather liked this poor old Eucalyptus rossii, struggling on despite a large part of the trunk having died.

    As the weather is warming the insects were busying themselves.  As far as I could work out the bees were focussing on the L. attenuatus and more or less ignoring the Cryptandra.
    A little later I saw my first Common Brown butterfly for the season: it even posed for a piccie (again on L. attenuatus)!
    In the bird department the Wedge-tailed Eagles overhead were getting plenty of attention from some Australian Ravens.  On one occasion at least the eagle dropped its talons to show the Raven what it was going to get if it came any closer!
    A more peaceful sight was two Eastern Rosellas examining the real estate in a Eucalypt.