Monday, 31 October 2011

October updates

The usual list of recently updated posts.  The frogmouth  and October garden posts have been updated several times
  1. I have looked at the sea-eagle cam a few times.  The chick first flew on 27 October and the linked post contains this on-link to the You-tube video of the event.
  2. More waterbird images have been added  
  3. The fungus at Cavan has been identified. 
  4. A beetle has been correctly identified.

Burra Open Gardens

Each year the local Lions Club arranges for a set of gardens in the Burra Valley (more or less) to open to the public.  This year we visited 5 of the 7, and found 3 of them particularly interesting, both for gardens and art.

Our first stop was the Tijara Iris Garden.  We go there with the ntention of purchasing bearded irises for our own garden.  I'm sure that we will never get our garden to look like this.
or this (especially the view).
After a very pleasant visit and opening my wallet a little (at $9 per pot, which often contains 3 large plants, this place is the greatest bargain in the gardening world) we moved across the valley to Felix.
As might be gathered from the entrance there is a resident artist here.  A feature of the garden is the appearance of red-poles in a similar role to Japanese torii throughout.
Much of the external fabric of the house has also been painted.
In addition to the art the place sold jams and preserves (which we didn't acquire not being jam persons).  A very interesting feature of this aspect was the raising of vegetables in old bath tubs.  Apparently this prevents the roots from surrounding trees invading the growing area.
Our final stop was described rather mildly in the brochure as it is a new garden and still being constructed.  The main feature of the garden as such  is a series of ponds with landscaping.  (The owners have used a garden designer but from the array of backhoe attachments visible in part of the garden they do a fair bit of the earthmoving themselves.)
The other aspect that was enjoyable was the number of sculptures of animals scattered around the place.  A group of abstract metal flamingos were a tad weird but most others reflected the area:

Friday, 28 October 2011

The first Echidnas

 When we first moved to Canberra we took a trip to the Snowy Mountain Scheme reservoirs and our daughter (then about 6 years of age) ran across a car park exclaiming about a porcupine (we had recently lived in Denver).  This was the first echidna we had ever seen but we have seen a few since then.

Since moving to Carwoola they have been a regular and enjoyable element of our lives.  So it was pleasing tonight when the small dog went into "spot and bark" mode as an echidna walked across the lawn.

I rushed out with the camera as it buried itself in some foliage.  Despite the canine cacophony emanating from the house it soon poked its nose out again.
Realising that it was not alone it moved briskly to a nearby tree and tried to imitate a root.
After a few more minutes it seemed to realise that it wasn't really rooted and gave me a wistful look.
It was last seen heading for the nutritional delights of the many meat-ant nests in the adjoining paddock.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

ANPS does Nerriga/Endrick

After Monday's great trip to Robertson I wondered if anything could match it.  I think the ANPS trip to the pagodas on the Eastern side of the Endrick River, just past Nerriga did achieve that.  Repeating my warning from Monday, this post has 32 images in it so I have tried to keep the text to a minimum.

The key to flora (and fauna) is the landscape/geology so I will start with some summarising shots.  Here is a view from the first stop showing the sandstone.
Part of the soil had been taken up into large ant-mounds.
The overall impression was of great diversity and a wonderful display of flowers.
Here follow my photos of the dicotyledonous flowers with such names as I have been able to remember (from those provided by members on the day) or to link from the walk summary put out by Ros Cornish.  I will try to improve on these over the next short while, but thought it better to get the images out asap!  (Since first posting this, Ros has provided some specific advice on a few plants with which I had 'issues': thank s as always to her!)
Banksia spinulosa
 Boronia algida
 The next two images are of Eucalyptus sieberi - the Silvertop Ash.  As we drove along, and as we looked out the silver tops of the trees were clearly visible (and beautiful).
At one point I was able to get a close up of the flowers (without going into details this did involve holding my camera strap in my teeth)!

 Epacris microphylla - the heathiest heath!
 A Flannel flower (with luck Actinotus helianthi) was a great enhancement to a cutting for the new road.
 A very attractive Grevillea baueri ssp. asperula. ....
and a somewhat sparser G. patulifolia.
The next two images are Hakea dactyloides.  The second is of some 'nuts': well enhanced with lichen.

 Hybanthus monopetalus
 Isopogon anethifolius
 Kennedia prostrata - the so called running postman.  These days the postie won't get off his motorbike or out of his car let alone run!
 This is a large Leptospermum rotundifolium: first a spray, then a close up of this beautiful flower.

 A yellow pea Phyllota phylicoides.
 An extra-ordinary Pimelia linifolia!
 Philotheca scabra ssp. latifolia
 A sward of Tetratheca bauerifolia: quite astonishing in its profusion.
Now let us get into the Orchids!

The first were seen right alongside some of the parked cars at the first stop.  These were Calochilus platychilus.  At the second stop some multiflowered tall versions of this species were found.

Within 5 metres of the tall orchids we found a cluster of another 'beardie' C. campestris.

Very close to this area - in which there was very, very little soil on a sandstone ledge a wonderful array of sun orchids (including some Thelymitra carnea)
 were found waiting for a little more heat to burst forth.  There were probaly 10 plants of this species in about 3 square metres!  Even more Thelymitra sp were found nearby, also waiting patiently.

On our way back to the cars we stopped to check some bird orchids found earlier.  Following our field reference to Orchid Species of the Shoalhaven these have subsequently been confirmed as Simpliglottis chlorantha.  As the plants are very localised, and these appear to be growing at a higher than previously recorded elevation the information has been passed on to the experts!

As might be expected from this profusion of flowers there were a lot of interesting insects around.  Thanks to Roger Farrow for identifying these (and pointing out the weevil to me).  Unfortunately I will need further advice on the ID of the first one, since I couldn't read my writing for the name Roger gave me!  It is definitely a Psednura - I wrote the spelling down very carefully this time - and the distribution of Psednura pedestris makes it look the better bet.

 This is a horse fly.  It is also very small, so I am quite proud of the image!
 A green and yellow spider!
 This is a weevil - possibly Rhonitia sp - mimicking a lycid beetle
So what of the birds?  With all this floral action I am afraid I didn't give them much attention.  I had one target species - the Rock warbler (Origma solitaria) which is restricted to these sandstone cliffs.  Within 5 minutes of getting out of the car one basically flew to 5m from me and vanished before I could photograph it.  Great addition to my year list!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

An excellent expedition to Robertson!

I will begin by thanking Denis, of Nature of Robertson, for his great hospitality to us when we visited Robbo today.  I should warn folk there are 25 images in this post so it might be a bit slow to load.  (Denis noted in a recent post he takes up to 250 images in a day in the bush.  I estimate I pushed the button over100 times in about 3 hours: of these about 40% were binned immediately.  Another 20% bit the dust when seen on my computer, leaving about 40% 'reasonable' snaps.)  On the good side there is less text!

After a refreshing cup of coffee, some pastry and a good chat in the (Le?) CafĂ© Pirouette in the village we headed to the den of Peonies.  There was an astonishing array of plants in flower: it is amazing the difference good soil and rainfall make.

Two images of peonies, which pretty much demonstrate one reason why people like to grow them.

 A native hibiscus was particularly interesting.
The first of the plant/insect photos was taken when a red-tailed bee investigated a rose (as may be gathered from the apparent size of the stamens this is a rather zoomed image).
Also in Denis' garden was a fine example of the Carrington Falls Grevillea Grevillea rivularis
This provides a nice link to a few of the dicotyledons we saw in the bush of Kangaloon.  The first of these is the woody pear Xylomelum pyriforme.  Here is the flower (not fully out) followed by the fruit - enhanced by a patina of lichen.

One cannot go to this area, at this time of year, without a photograph of a Waratah Telopea speciosissima.  Well I suppose 'one' could, but this one couldn't.
Moving into monocotyledons at our last stop the ground was liberally scattered with small vanilla rush-lilies (Sowerbaea juncea).
Finally we get to the orchid business.  In addition to those shown below we saw Petalochilus fuscatus (many images elsewhere in this blog), Thelymitra carnea (not fully out) and Cryptostylis leptochila (only the leaf, which looked like a eucalypt leaf that had speared into the ground and not very photogenic).

Close to Robertson we saw a wonderful collection of Sarcochilus falcatus growing on a huge eucalypt and - surprisingly - on an adjacent and equally huge pine tree.

The rest of these images were taken along the verges of Kirkland and Tourist Roads, Kangaloon.  It was good to see the signs prohibiting access to the area to preserve the catchment.  It also preserves the habitat!

The pink not-Caladenia (Petalochilus carneus) was present in fair numbers, but Denis reported that numbers had dropped a lot compared to the recent past, possibly as a result of the hot weather.
The upside of the hot weather was that sun orchids (Thelymitra ixioides) were very easy to find (note the few dark blue spots).
Its beardie time! We found two species of Calochilus in large numbers (especially around the trunks of eucalypts where the mowers can't get them). The first two images are C. platychilus

and the next is C. paludosus.
There were quite a few Flying Duck orchids (Caleana major) which I always find tricky to capture adequately.  Perhaps they are unusually aerodynamic as they always seem to bob about in the breeze!
We then found some white not-caldenias Stegastyla sps.  The first is S. moscata ( which has a musky scent)
The second is as yet unidentified.

and some Diuris  sp.  First D. chryseopsis
and then D. sulphurea.
The final orchid see was an as yet undescribed Leek orchid which can apparently be referred to as Prasophyllum sp aff fuscum.  It was notable for being rather difficult to spot until one's eye was in.  We both walked right past them until one plant was spotted and them realised at least 10 were all around us.  (Situation normal for me and orchids.)
We now move on to more insect plant interactions.

The first image shows a flying ant (thanks Roger Farrow for the ID) which has been incautious in landing on the back of a Thelymitra where a spider had laid a trap.   The spider had done an exit-stage-right so is not in the image.
Another spider was not so camera shy and after some adjustment of my camera posed nicely on a Calochilus.
We finally get to the works of man.  This old bridge under Tourist Rd is far more attractive than the grotty concrete pipe as would be used these days!