Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Glimpses of natural history in Northern Palerang

That is probably a very pretentious title for a post about a couple of forays to look at natural things in the area around our home.

The first expedition was to wander around our block on Sunday afternoon to see if there was any evidence of unseasonal flowering as found on Mt Taylor a few days ago.   The short answer  is "Yes".  The long answer includes some photographs.

We have a lot of Hibbertia obtusifolia on the property and most of the plants have got prominent buds with attractive chestnut bracts.  A reasonable proportion of them have open flowers.  This is not that uncommon in this time of year.
 I was very surprised to come across quite a lot of flowering Brachyscome rigidula.  It was mainly in a sheltered gully so possibly was reacting to the relatively warm weather of the past few days.  (The next week of forecast solid overnight frosts may let it know it made a mistake!)
 This 'bean' is Dillwynnia sericea and is a long way out of season.  However it was just one plant out of many of this species.  Presumably if it is lucky and sets seed it will gain an advantage over its more traditional confreres (if plants have brothers).  Add a condition of the attribute being passed on genetically, wait a few millenia and one will have Dillwynnia praecox!
 This heath is sticking more or less to schedule, with many small buds and no open flowers.
It seemed that the burst of flowering of eucalypts had been completed.  No blossom was found.  However one enterprising fungus (of unknown species) was on a living trunk.
I have stressed the word 'living' since most descriptions of fungi seem to suggest they attack dead timber rather than live trees.

Back at ground level I turned over a few rocks to see what was sheltering under them.  A number of high speed beetles were not able to be photographed but this scorpion (Cercophonius squama) - quite large - did pose.
Another rock had what could be interpreted - if one wished to apply human standards to amphibians - as a family group of frogs.
Meanwhile back at the ranch Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos were varying their diet by adding eucalypt 'nuts' to their more commonly munched pine cones.
This leads into the second foray of doing a little more green (ie no use of petrol) birding.  (The "more" follows from a ride a week earlier to an area near home.) I had tallied up the birds seen on the toddle round the block and found that I had scored 21 species which could form the basis for a good 24 hour list if I extended the prowl on the Monday.  I decided that a bike ride to some ponds/dams near Bungendore might be interesting and give a good total.

The sky was completely clear and the temperature modest - about 10C - when I set off.  I found that I was spinning along rather well, but not troubled by hordes of bird species to write down.   In fact there were relatively few birds around at all:  A few ducks and other waterbirds on the various soggy bits I visited got me up to 44 species for the day (giving a 2 trip total of 56 species) and that was about it.  Why was this so?

One answer emerged when I decided to head for  home.  Out of the shelter of our home a rather immoderate wind had arisen, blowing from the South or South West.  Unfortunately most of my riding had been to the North or North East so I had 30km of headwind to look forward to.  Also a net gain of 100m in elevation.  With about 5km to go I crossed paths with some friend who stopped their car for a chat.  They reckoned I looked "A bit weary." !


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
Have you checked your Frog IDs?
Looks to me like Burrowing Frogs, and if so, they might just be rare.
I have never seen them, but they are one of the things which get put onto "EA lists" for people to search for.

Flabmeister said...



I will check with a guru, but the last time I found a similar frog in the same situation) it was identified as a Smooth Toadlet (Uperoleia laevigata). Your comment is a timely reminder that there is a new edition of the frog and reptile book for the ACT!