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2012 Annual Report on Family Matters

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I decided that rather than send round an annual report just before Christmas I would wait until the year was finished and cover the whole year.  (Those of a questioning frame of mind might like to consider why we of  Christian origins have the solstice, Christmas and New Year so close together but not all on the same day.  Watch for a blog post on this topic!)

I should warn that this is most likely to be mainly a report on matters  Martin, but I am writing the post so that is fair dos.

The biggest event of this year is a forecast of a bigger event next year, in that we are expected to become grandparents about 21 January.  The current planning is that Ingrid and Alex will become the subjects of a daughter on that date.    Our efforts at parenting have worked out very well, so now we go for the grandparenting award!
Generally our lives move on in the same pleasant way as they have in the past.  In addition to our work around the block Frances does her guiding at the National Gallery, I…

Trip to Tumut and Tumbarumba plus

This blog has been a little quiet recently, partly due to:
a storm just before Christmas causing some internet difficulties (this is coming via an Optus dongle as ADSL is still not available);and our subsequent town collecting trip to the Western Slopes area. The latter trip had a specific objective of seeing how the small dog enjoyed a camping trip.  She'd never experienced this before and it would seem to optionate us somewhat for other trips.  In fact it was a great success and it written up in 2 posts on my 'Travels with a Tick Magnet' blog.

The first post covers Tumut and the campground on the banks of the mighty Goobarragandra River.  The second deals with Tumbarumba (and Macropeus cruentus); Batlow; Adelong and Tumblong.

Note that there is relatively little natural history in this, more travelogue and settlement history with a liberal dollop of War Memorials.

Sunday not too far away

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I hope people will forgive the wordplay about a great movie.  We got a bit away from home today, but definitely not too far.  Before getting to that here are a couple of snaps from home.

As it was early in the morning a White-eared Honeyeater was looking a tad bedraggled after its bath,
 On the other side of the house some 'roos were reacting to the heat in the maner of the small dog.  Totally sacked out.
They probably felt safe because the neighbours were keeping an eye on things (without getting too carried away in the activity department).
 Anyhow, about noon we had decided to go for a trip, following up on a report in the Canberra Times about an interesting sounding Gallery near Braidwood.  I had rung the owner of the Millpond Farm, Anthony Davies to check it was open, and he had given easy to follow directions to the place.

We combined the outing with a visit to the Bungendore cultural centre.  Obviously a popular venue but the bulldozer has obviously been on other duties!
S…

A spectacular set of storm clouds

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While watching TV tonight I became aware of the sound of thunder.  On quickly checking the local weather radar I found that that there was a huge thunderstorm (considerable red in the radar image) just to the East of Bungendore.  I took a couple of quick photographs from the deck....

 .. and returned to watch the rest of the TV show.  (An excellent documentary about NASA - this episode covering the Gemini missions.)  Once that was done I walked up our drive to the end of Whiskers Creek Rd taking photos as I went.
 The moon got into the act.
 I recall a flight into Johannesburg where the pilot said that Summer thunderheads there go up to 60,000 feet (say 20km).  This one might be of that order.
 At my level the sunset had vanished behind the Taliesin Hills but it was still hitting the high clouds.  This is my favourite shot.
 A couple of detail shots for the Cloud Appreciation Society if they happen to swing by!

We got no rain at all, and there wasn't a severe thunderstorm warning…

Weather watching continues

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After my previous post I concluded that the position in which I had placed the new station was slightly under-recording rain and was also rather sheltered from Northerly winds.  Thus a move was needed.

In deciding where to move it, I was a tad restricted (I thought) by the advertised range of the station: 50m.  However on contemplating what was involved I decided it should be quite easy to shift the whole device about 10m to the location of the old rain gauge and see if communication continued.  It did!

There has only been one rain shower thus far which seemed to record a little over 0.5mm (ie 3/7 of 5/8 of sod-all) in the old rain guage and 0.6mm in the new one.  Close enough I think.  [On 23 December we had a heavy thnderstorm in the afternoon which recorded a bit over 15mm in the old gauge and 15.3mm in the new one.  Confirms reliability.]

There has also been quite a bit more recording of Northerly wind (matching the basic weather technique of "looking out the window") s…

Christmas in Canberra

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Today 19 December I was in central Canberra acquiring a Christmas present or so.  The first thing I noticed was that there were heaps of folk around in various watering holes, often clutching small, Secret Santa type, objets (sic).

Outside the Canberra Centre there was a nice bit of public art (the young lady doesn't have severe hepatitis but merely a good serve of privacy inducing Photoshop obfuscation).
On going in to the place (at about 2pm) there were hordes of folk present.  I needed to find and do a transaction in the Apple Store.  It was hopping:
In terms of lively spots I would rate it right up there with B&H Photovideo on 9 Avenue in Hells Kitchen.  Some points to note from the image are that the punters in red shirts are not activists for a Thai Political party but the help for the store.  They all seemed to be busy helping other folk but before I became annoyed a voice said over my shoulder "You look as though you need help!".  This turned out to be a bla…

COG goes to the Australian Institute of Superb Parrots

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30 members and guests came to the AIS and after a little trial and error all gathered at the intended place.  The day was warming up but by the time those with stamina adjourned to the coffee shop we had recorded a rather good 45 species of which 8 generated breeding records.  Thanks to Sandra for suggesting and leading this outing.

The signature bird of the AIS recently has been Superb Parrot and they were present in large and noisy numbers.  

 As a conservative estimate there were 30 birds present including several dependent young.
 The lower bird in the last image was begging loudly and we concluded that this meant the upper bird was an adult, since another juvenile would be a poor target for indolent behaviour.


One bird (not photographed) was observed to have a very short tail, suggesting it might have have come from a nest in the near vicinity.  While most of the birds seemed to be shifting from tree to tree in the car parks some appeared to fly off into Bruce Ridge.  It would seem v…

Insects past and present

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This year seems to be building up into a year with many insects around, specifically the annoying little bush flies.  Care is taken to avoid dark clothes on our morning walks to minimise their presence.  Presumably this is because dung beetles have been slack on the job (all drowned last Autumn and CSIRO hasn't redistributed them?)

There are also beginning to be a few other, more interesting insects around.

This first one was present, but certainly past its use-by date.  It has probably met a parasitic wasp.
The next candidate is certainly a member of the Diptera (fly) Order and I believe a Tachinid (ie Family Tachinidae).  The subfamily is variously called Dexiinae (Brisbane Insects) or Proseninae in some other classifications (the taxonomic tree in ANIC appeared to be based on different concepts and I couldn't line them up at all).  It appears to be Senostoma sp, which according to my Field Guide are often found on flowers.
 These two are beetles (Coleoptera) possibly Phyllo…