Friday, 28 September 2012

Black Mountain orchids and others

I was contacted by Denis to say he was coming to Canberra in the hope of finding a few orchids on Black Mountain and wondered if I would like to join him. Of course the answer was "Yes".  So after a bit of excellent advice from Jean about where to go and what was flowering, we met on Belconnen Way and off we set to see what was around.  We had a great time: 2 pairs of eyes are a lot better than 1, especially when one of the pairs are attached to Denis!

What follows are my images of the flowers we saw. Denis will post some images on the Nature of Robbo when he returns home.

I'll begin with a general habitat shot.  Some of the areas we visited were not quite so badly burnt.  At least they didn't fire the place up in peak flowering season and seem, unusually, to have kept it out of the crowns.
 In a creek line we found, as suggested, Myrmochila trapeziformis. Interestingly in the Australian Plant Name Index this has reverted to Chiloglottis trapeziformis.  To paraphrase the Bard  "There are more things in a taxonomist's {Doctor of} Philosophy, Horatio, than are dreamt of in heaven and earth.".

 Petalochilus fuscatus earns another photograph by being everywhere, in profusion.
 We found several colonies of Stegastyla ustulata.

 This Cyanicula caerulea earns a snap with its unusually deep blue colour.
 Diusris nigromontana pardina (those more expert than me are still debating the species ID) was common in the most Northern part of our foray
 I think these leaves are of Chiloglottis sp.
 Pterostylis nutans was common around the Little Black Mountain trail.
 So, once we got our eye in (and kept our lenses out of the labellum), was Bunochilus umbrinus.

I didn't take an image of Glossodia major as I have done them twice this week, and other than being very attractive, there was nothing exceptional about them!

There were of course a lot of other species around    I will begin with a prostrate Leptospermum sp.
 Comespermum ericinum.
 Pomaderris intermedia (ID confirmed from Ian Fraser's blog.)

 Phyllanthus hirtellus
We also visited the 6 Mile TSR near (OK, 6 miles from) Bungendore, where I hoped to find a heap of Diuris pardina.   In fact we only found two miserable specimens of that species, but a very good display of Craspedia (?)variabilis
Two flies possibly creating more flies, and with transparent wing patches.  I had never noticed this 'wing effect' before and have now seen it two days in a row.
The first crop of sawfly larvae seen this spring.  These were on Black Mountain rather than  6 Mile, but I wanted to put the insect images at the end.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

ANPS follows COG on to McQuoids Hill

The COG Wednesday Walkers toured the base of McQuoids Hill some 5 weeks ago, but I did not blog this event.  Today the ANPS group ascended the heights of the Hill (gaining about 90 vertical metres to 732m AMSL).

According to the ACT Place Names website "This feature is named after Thomas McQuoid, Sheriff of New South Wales, who was given the grant over "Tuggeranong" in 1837. (Ref: Frederick Robinson (1927), "Canberra's First Hundred Years and After".)"

It was a somewhat quiet day botanically (no orchids of any description!) but a few interesting things were seen.  For a change I will start with birds.

These two cockatoos have set up  a nest inside a spout on a large eucalypt.  At one point they were both inside but then emerged to be chased by an Australian Raven, also with a nest in the area.
 Somewhat later I came across this specimen of Cacatua galerita inconcinnus ....
 ... which soon returned to Mr Smooth.
 Talking of smooth, this Nankeen Kestrel (1 of 2) was looking very silky.
Here is my entry for naff-photo of the year, but it does show a Striated Pardalote about to dive into its nest hollow.  As well as providing a site for the family to be, the hollow also formed an echo chamber , causing the tiny bird's voice to boom around the bush.
 Finally, you say, he gets to some plants.  Clematis microphylla (or C. leptophylla - the taxonomists have been weaving their magic).
 There was a lot of clematis around!  Also Hardenbergia, but see below.
 Acacia melanoxylon
 Acacia rubida
(with some Hardenbergia - see below - in the background.
After some debate it was considered this next plant was Styphelia triflora.  Note the red seeds: the other contender was Melichrus but that was all in peak flowering form.
 A valley full of Hardenbergia violacea.
 Stackhousia monogyna
 Vittadinnia cuneata
 Bulbine bulbosa plus fly.
 Pomaderris pallida (possibly the most profuse endangered plant in the ACT)
 Here is a close up of the fly on the Bulbine.  I am pretty sure the yellow pattern on the wings is some transparent panels allowing the colour of the plant to show through!
There was a lot of rock around on the hill.  Surprisingly none of it was augmented by reptiles.  Perhaps they have been driven from the vicinity by the eruption of St John's Wort?  These erect stones were interesting.
 The view to the South  ...
 ... and to the North,
Fortunately, even though we were quite close to Red Rocks Gorge, no members of the group were in this device.  I was surprised, when looking at the image en ordinateur, how close he was to the tree ( and the ground)
The amount of weed around was a worry.  I suspect the ACT will again go yellow when the St John's Wort hits its straps later in the year.  In addition to all the other bad stuff, we noted a prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) which was dug up with a stick and left to dry.

Gardening happens

The climate of Carwoola is such that there is not a great deal of gardening action from May until September.  It isn't quite as bad as Ottawa, where the ground is frozen for 6 months and then waterlogged for 2 months, but over Winter here very little grows and it is not pleasant being outdoors.  However we are now into the kick-off period.

One of the bright spots over Winter has been a display of 'standard' Hellbores.  Spring has been greeted by this less common species appearing in the sunroom bed.

 A grevillea has also thrust forth some flowers, much to the delight of the Eastern Spinebills and other honeyeaters.
At the other end of the life cycle, the salvias and penstemons are looking a bit the worse for wear so got a prune.  Here are before and after.

 Of course one also has to get the fertiliser happening.  We tend to use a lot of compost which is greatly assisted by having animal poop added.  We are lucky enough to be able to get the stuff by the trailer-load from a local riding school.  (In fact we scored two loads last Saturday and have pretty much used one of them already.)
This is my attempt at imitating a road worker.
 To get full marks for this impression I should be:
  1. sitting on the edge of the trailer; and
  2. puffing on a fag.
We also use the poop as a mulch to try to control the encroaching cooch grass.
 There is also some growth happening in the garden.  For the next few weeks asparagus will be a good part of our diet.
Finally I include a couple of images of large weeds, planted by the previous owners.  The drive has a reasonable number of pine trees, much to the delight of the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.  I have not really looked at the intricate design of the emerging cones before.  It is rather impressive but I wish they'd stayed in California (and of course many areas - including California - wish that eucalypts had staed in Australia).
 The willow trees are covered in catkins which means that the buzz of the bees is deafening.