Saturday, 30 June 2012

June updates (and sunsets)

This blog.
  • A comment about blowflies added to the unseasonal sightings.
  • In addition to the screen capture processes described in a post and comments thereon I have discovered (in "Windows 7 for Seniors for Dummies") that there is an accessory program called Snipping Tool which lets you capture part of a screen as either a rectangle or - really usefully - a free-form area such as 

Other blogs:
  • Another snake tale at Kithulgala has been added.
  • As several folk have had trouble finding their way through the Sri Lanka blog I have added a 'read on' link at the end of each chronological post.
As a reward for reading this post you get to see the spiffy sunset clouds from 20 June!

Also this nice cloudscape from 22 June.

Nature in Carwoola at the end of June

Late this afternoon I went for a wander round the block to see what is happening on the day before carbon gets priced.   Quite a bit of interesting stuff was evident.

Frances had expressed a desire to draw a Goodenia flower if such could be located.  She had abandoned her own search as the weather was as cold as  ...  something very cold.  I didn't find any of that genus (a slight surprise as I was sure I had seen in the recent past) but I did find this Acacia gunnii glowing in the afternoon sun.  That is pretty much on schedule as A. gunnii and A, genistifolia (the latter is not on our block) are the early species in this area.
 It was a major surprise to find this Leucopogon fletcheri in flower.  However out of the several thousand specimens on the block only this single plant was blooming.  I guess that is competitive advantage being tested: this plant either gets a small jump  on the others for having seed ready earlier or the next heavy frost kills its flowers and it does do as well as its many neighbours!
 It is very pretty however!
I turned over a small rock to find a fat skink had voted that the best way to deal with Winter was to turn down the metabolism and snooze for a few weeks.
 At that point the peace of the area was completely gone as a flock of 30 Yellow-tailed black-Cockatoos arrived and got to serious chat mode.  Rather like a bogan on a mobile phone (although the cockies generally have more sense).  This image is interesting in that it does show how strong light can cause the yellow in the tail to appear almost white.  Fortunately the nearest White-tailed black-Cockatoos are some thousands of kilometres to the West!
 Here is one contemplating whether to scone me with a green pine cone.  The pine cones took a lot of punishment during this visit.
 A couple of group photos.

I didn't catch any of the birds in flagrante delicto (and I find that 'delicto' translates as offence or crime so is quite appropriate) with respect to taking a dump. There did seem to be more of the circular scats around after their visit than before so I take this as circumstantial evidence of their culpability in that matter.

The next morning, July 1, just before sunrise the entire flock of 30 turned up to make a noise in eucalypts around the house.
At least the calls were harmonious in comparison the Mad Monk babbling about his imaginary side-effects of the carbon tax.

Here is a close-up of a single bird
 ... while this pair were passing stuff back and forth just before I took the shot.  I don't know if this was courtship or feeding an indolent young bird.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Daylight dawns

I have in the past included some images of sunsets at our place.  This morning I happened to glance up and noticed the sun rising  so decided to stop being timeist and cover the front end of the day as well.

In these first two shots the sun is still behind the ridge and the light is just hitting the higher clouds.

A few minutes later and Mr Sol begins to emerge.
The next three images show it rising through the mist.

To complete a very pleasing 5 minutes an Eastern Yellow Robin then appeared and posed nicely for a misty impressionist portrait!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

One for the scatologists

Walking up our drive today I noticed a lot of white objects under a Pinus radiata.
 Peering more closely I discovered that they were scats, all of a similar size and nearly all topped with a layer of white.
I placed one on a sheet of paper to get a better look at it and the structure appeared to be a thin coil with the white layer deposited on top.   This sample which was about average size (and they were pretty consistent) was 18mm across the whole disc.   This probably makes the individual coils about 3mm thick.
 It appeared that they were coming down from the tree above them.  This idea was supported by finding a bunch of the discs about 1.5m above the ground trapped in some needles.
I scrutinised the trees in the vicinity quite thoroughly but couldn't see any wildlife that might have done this dirty deed.  Any suggestions as to what it might be will be most welcome.

My initial thoughts were along the following lines:

  • Birds tend to splat more than this;
  • Mammals don't tend to have white deposits on their scats;
  • Fish and amphibians don't tend to live up trees;
  • If this is an invertebrate, I don't want to meet something that does an 18mm diameter scat; which leaves us with
  • a reptile (and I recall in Dar es Salaam the geckos used to leave white tips of uric acid on their scat.  This enabled them to be distinguished from rat scat.)

This tree is quite close to Whiskers Creek where Water Dragons of fair size are spotted in Summer, but I have never seen them up pine trees.

Advice from Steve and Ian (expert naturalist friends) suggests largish birds.  Reptile's piles are more cylindrical and the consistency of bird guano is determined by diet.  Thus Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos (YTBC) munching pine cones are a strong suspect.  I followed up with a parrot expert but he wasn't familiar with scats: he thought YTBC were a possibility, but they'd have to be caught in the act!

This afternoon (30 June) our small set of Pinus radiata was visited, and somewhat trashed, by about 30 YTBC.  Although I didn't catch any of them in flagrante delicto (translates as "in blazing offence") WRT taking a dump it did seem there were more circular scats under the trees afterwards than before.  Thus I reckon circumstantial evidence is enough to convict! 

As I have written this I was musing on scat being a nice polite word and my alternative - turd - being somehow impolite.  I wonder why?  Just asking!

The drama unfolds: images of the helicopter evacuation

This post is a follow-up to my post about our walk yesterday that got a little exciting at the end.  I have decided that it is useful to have a record of the event, but being concerned to protect privacy I have obfuscated people's faces in the following set of pictures.

When I initially contacted 000 (on my mobile phone) there was some confusion about where we were: their first match with "Red Rocks Gorge" was Jindabyne - about 135km SW of our location - and then Shoalhaven - about 150km NE.  Once we had that sorted they put me on to the ACT people and we soon had things happening.  After some discussion about exactly where we were and how to get an ambulance in I got another call from Craig, a pilot with Southcare.  He seemed quite familiar with where we were and asked if we had distinctive clothing.  I said no, generally drab!

Then I realised I was wearing a red skivvy under my jacket so rang him back to tell him to look for that.  He suggested I wave when they came and said that he might do a bit of circling to work out a strategy so not to worry if they seemed to fly away again! This stage is summarised in the next two images.

The selected landing site was just over a hill, so aerial forestry was not as prevalent as this image suggests!
 The medical staff get out while the blades are still turning.  Presumably the motors need to wind down slowly.
The staff soon got to work on "Dorothy".  (I stress that I have obfuscated the faces for privacy reasons: this is not a reunion of the Marcel Marceau or Heath Ledger fan clubs!)  The green item is an inhaler filled with analgesic: we hadn't taken "Dorothy"'s boot off (correct procedure) and when the crew did it became very painful, so the green whistle was just the ticket.
A small hurdle to overcome was the step-through in the gate.
A couple of us took on the sherpa role.  I found I could handle a backpack with 15kgs of pharmaceuticals quite easily (although I climbed over the gate rather than going through the gap).  In some places we have been such experience could open up job opportunities!
Nearly there!

The crew even helped remove my load.  It turns out to have been a bit heavier than needed, as my wetbag (being waved in the first image) had been left lying around and been tidied away.
Off goes the chopper.  (As the crew said it took longer to get ready for the flight than the flight was going to take.) The downdraft is very evident in this image if the grass is looked at.  I'd estimate we were 50m away and it was a good strong breeze - we'd been advised not to stand under any trees with dead branches since they can get blown off.
The post finishes with a HUGE bouquet to the team from Southcare.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

ANPS revisits Kambah: Buds, flowers seedpods (and a helicopter)

Today the ANPS Wednesday Walkers revisited Kambah Pool, but headed South to Red Rocks.  I took a lot of photos, so this might be slow to load!

There were few flowers around so I started taking photos of buds.

A view has been expressed that Brachyloma buds are actually more attractive than the flowers! 
 Acacia rubida was very evident.
When we got down close to the Red Rocks Gorge A. doratoxylon was quite evident.  This is the only ACT member of the genus with rod shaped flowers.
 This is of course the season for Cryptandra buds..
 .. while Eucalyptus dives was up in the air.
 Cassinia longifolia was looking unusually attractive for a species sometimes known as cauliflower bush
 and Pomaderris augustifolia looked like a Pomaderris (nudge nudge, 'nuff said, know what I mean?)
There was a lot of Grevillea juniperina along the track, most still in bud.  This was the biggest sample I saw in this condition.
Roger has advised that is is probably a gall - ie insect damage. Imagine what it could look like if the "florets" all came out like this - seen closer to the river! 
Here are a few more flowers, beginning with Leucoshrysum attenuatus
 Chrysocephalum semipapposum
 A rather interior snap of Melichrus
A few plants still had their seed pods, such as Bossiaea buxifolia
 Cassinia quinquiferia
 Allocasurina verticillata
 and, right down by the river, Callitris endlicheri
 There were few photogenic fungi around today,
 and this Scarlet Robin was the only bird photographed.
 A few happy snaps of the Gorge.  Firstly from above

 and then these from River level.

As we got back out of the gorge we became aware that one of those who didn't descend was yodelling down to the effect that they needed some help.  It emerged that one of the group - hereafter known as 'Dorothy': thanks for the pseudonym Michelle - had taken a tumble and injured herself.   She couldn't walk and the group couldn't carry her back 3.5km without assistance. So I got on the mobile to 000.

After a bit of back and forth I spoke with Craig from Southcare who was coming to help us.  Here he is checking out the situation from his workplace. 
Here he is putting the workplace in the right place.
Here are he and his colleagues putting "Dorothy" in the right place (ie within the workplace), with a bit of help from a couple of ANPS members (the ones not wearing flight suits).
Note the amount of strapping on the foot in the stretcher.  

As far as we are aware "Dorothy" was safely in Canberra Hospital some good time before we got back to  the cars.  Certainly the professionalism of the Southcare crew and their medical staff was excellent. Many thanks guys.

The late news is that "Dorothy" has a break on one side of her ankle and ligament damage on the other. She has spoken to a member of the group since and is in as good a shape as could be expected.  Probably lucky she flew in a chopper rather than a tornado.