Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The impact of record rainfall: 3 Orchids

This is part 3 of a series about things related to the soggy Summer.

While wandering about photographing the plethora of fungi I suddenly noticed about 20 greenhood flowers waving in the grass.
 Here is a close up of the labellum (more or less to prove I don't always trigger them).
 As there were no rosettes visible I concluded that this was a Diplodium sp rather than Pterostylis sp.  That being the case green labellum suggests D. reflexum.  This has since been confirmed by a couple of experts.

Note from the future (2 March): I discovered another of these plants about 300m away, in a very similar habitat.

Even further in the future!  On 3 March I found yet another colony on Whiskers Creek Road - about 1km in a straight line form the initial lot.  Here are a couple of images.

The initial colony had completely 'gone over' by 7 March.

In case anyone is interested here is a plot of the position of the three colonies (if the single plant at site 2 can be considered a colony) courtesy of Google Earth).   It shows colony 3 is 750m due almost east of colony 1.

While I was showing colony 1 to Frances she pointed down, more or less between my feet, and said "What about the Parsons Bands?"  What indeed.  These were the first Eriochilus cuculatus I have found on the property this year.  Of course once found they were everywhere!

I particularly like this shot.  It so reminds me of one of the hell-fire and brimstone merchants with his mouth wide open waving his arms around! 

We did find a very pink flower but my image washed out rather badly: we think it was still this species however.  On 2 March I revisited the site and got a couple of reasonable images of the pink jobbie (technical term usually applied to the Glasgow form E. c. bigyinensis).

On 7 March there were many many more Eriochilus in the area.  I took one photograph since it combined the front and rear views.

The impact of record rainfall: 1 flood

This follows on from my post announcing that we had scored record rainfall this month.  I could have appended this and the next two posts to that one, but it would have made a very slow loading item.  To my surprise the rain did not put Whiskers Creek over our drive last night, but I did wonder how the Molonglo River was going at the low level crossing on Briars-Sharrow Rd.

So I fired up my bike and went for a ride.  The answer is that the River was well over  the road.  A ute (diesel 4x4) trying to get to Rossi had a pause ..
 and decided that as the water was only halfway up the marker poles they would be OK.
 And they were.  They had a brief conversation with a hatchback approaching from the other side who decided that whatsit was the better part of thingummyjig and did a u-turn.
A nice high truck with trailer also had a bit of a think and went for it.  Hope there was nothing soluble in the bottom of the trailer.
I went a bit further towards Captains Flat to see what was occurring at a spot on that road which often floods but it was clear.  When I got back to Briars-Sharrow Rd I was a bright yellow Plod-mobile turn down there.  He also wimped out: unfortunately I didn't get a snap of that, since I am sure the citizens of NSW would love to see one of the representatives of Highway Laura Norder being sensible.  (They'd probably rather see an image of one wading across the river leaving the Plod-mobile drowned in the middle.)

The next day was a bit damp around the house, earning itself its own post, and I thought I would insert this image (from 2 March) of the new Cotter Dam overtopping.
According to the Canberra Times the new dam is 11m higher than the old dam, which is completely submerged behind this wall.  The new is currently half its intended height.  The dam cam will be worth keeping an eye on!  Yes indeedy: here is a night time snap.

The impact of record rainfall: 2 Fungi

This is the second post about the side effects of the recent rain.  In the case of fungi, I suspect that the relevant indicator is that we have received some rain (and I really only record ~1+mm) on 17 of the 29 days of February.  Cutting to the chase as we looked around the property today there were more fungal fruiting bodies - in both numbers and diversity than we have ever seen before.  It was like a rain forest without the trees!

I am putting the images up now, in the hope that I can update IDs etc later.

What really kicked this post off was Frances noticing a lot of brown lumps in the top paddock while we were walking the small dog this morning.  These turned out to be a heap of fungi.
On getting closer they were clearly agarics of some form.
Then we started to see large white fungi (lots of them) with 'drippy bits' - a partial veil.  As Denis has commented below, this is Macrolepiota dolichaula- which I have included before but didn't have the name in whatever drives my fingers over the keyboard.

I think this next image is a very young version of this species.
One of the commonest fungi around the place is Omphalina chromacea.  This next image shows well the algae with which it associates.  (This is a zoomed image - they are not huge!)
Also common is Marasmius oreades - the Fairy-ring champignon.  The first image shows a clump of them, while the second shows the spore print after sacrificing one of them in the cause of science (they are not exactly endangered).

A long-dead eucalypt was graced with a Gymnophilus junonius art the base (sorry about the mini-brambles).
 We now show a couple of images of a bolete.  They started off looking like this..
 .. but as they age degenerate to this.
Other boletes, possibly Boletus barragensis, were found a couple of days later.  The third image shows the bluish stain resulting from my bruising part of the cap.



Dodging about a bit, we - specifically Frances - found these two Earthstars (Geastrum sp).  A couple of days later there were 10s of these in the same spot.
Earthstars are closely related to puffballs, and on later visits to the top paddock I found a lot of small yellow puffballs growing.  I have no idea of the specific identity of these!   Note the visiting ant!


Now to a few complete unknowns.

The main point of the last image is that the gills look very like a Field mushroom.  We have a lot of them and eat them with great enjoyment.  The top does not look like a field mushroom, so it isn't getting eaten.  The idea of spending 4 days dying of liver failure does not appeal.

The next day (1 March) I found several of these fungi growing near our house dam.  I am sure I will be able to find a name soon.
The rain has continued and on 4 March we found this nice fungus possibly Ramariopsis crocea growing on the ground in a Joycea/Eucalyptus area.  The images gradually close in.
Here is a spore print from this coral fungus:
Nearby, on the bark of a Eucalypt I found a bracket fungus.  Due to the wonders of computing I have combined both the over and under sides in a single image.
From a subsequent scouring of Fuhrer I suspect this is Hexagonia sp.- possibly H. tenuis.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Rainfall record

I shall add to this as the next few days unfold, but we have just gone past the highest monthly rainfall I have recorded in the 5 years we have been living here.  That is 162.5mm in the first 28 days of February 2012: the previous record was 158.3mm in February 2010.

Here is the radar immediately after the record fell:
Clearly there is more on the way, in the short term, and by the time I went to bed (10pm) another 10mm had fallen.

In the medium term the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is forecasting - through a computer model with no forecaster intervention - another 25 - 50mm on Wednesday.  That is, tomorrow.

The day after Wednesday is Thursday.  Here is what they have in mind - or rather in computer - for that day.
That blue blob represents 100mm -150mm.  That is roughly between 25 and 33% of the total rainfall of 2009 in one day!

So we made it through the Tuesday night, scoring another 10mm of steady light rain through the night.   That has got us up to 186mm for the month, and with it being a Leap Year  we still have a day to go.  I have just looked at the BoM 4 day cumulative rainfall forecast.  I suggest click on the image to get a bigger version.
Canberra is in the Deep Purple blob, so the BoM computer is expecting 200-300mm of rain over the next 4 days: basically it isn't going to stop.  The Flood Watch announcement from BoM said the worst rain was going to be in the catchment around Goulburn (the light purple blob suggesting >300mm).  As recently as 2 years ago Goulburn had effectively run out of water and the prospect of trucking in all water to the town was being floated (sorry about that).   I suspect that if the forecast falls happen the problem will become one of getting trucks into the town - although I can't see the Hume Highway getting cut by floods between Goulburn and Sydney.

By the end of the month (for this purpose that was 10pm Wednesday)  we had received 198mm and it was raining steadily.

So March has started.  It rained more or less through the night: when daylight (or what looks likely to pass for daylight) arrives I will go and check the gauge, expecting to find at least 30mm in there.  Here is the 128km radar image for 6am.
A little later I went down to the Creek crossing to see what was there.  Lotsa water was there.

Fortunately the 512km image is a tad more optimistic as we are close to the Northern edge of the band and it is moving in the usual NW-> SE direction.
Then I checked the 28 day long range forecast on the Elders site.
 I cannot remember ever seeing every day in a month coloured green.  Certainly I have never seen 21/28 days forecast as high chance of rainfall.

Kangaroo family life and Eucalypt blossom

Kangaroo family life
Yesterday afternoon I was looking out of a window and noticed a medium sized Eastern Grey Kangaroo with a large joey beside.  The joey appeared to cuddle the adult and then proceeded to stick its head back in the pouch for an extended guzzle.  (Sorry about the chook wire intervening in the image - see below.)
The adult didn't seem to mind this at all and settled down to do a bit of joey-grooming.
I decided to try to get some images of the happy duo from the other side of the fence so invaded our neighbours property,   Unfortunately, despite my full array of skulking skills being deployed mum spotted me so stopped her activities to fix me with a steely gaze.  The resultant image does give a clearer idea of the relative sizes of the two animals.
Personally, I reckon junior is big enough to get a smack round the ear and be told to get his own grub, especially since Mum would almost certainly have another joey in the pouch slurping from a different nipple.

I have attempted to find out for how long the joeys take milk and an ABC article suggests peak lactation is around nine months joey-age when they completely leave the pouch.  My guess would be this joey is a fair bit older that 9 months and must be getting close to a less convivial bit of treatment.   Further research of this on the net has been made impossible by wretched US breast-feeding enthusiasts stealing our animal's name for an approach to care of premature human babies and thus obliterating any information useful for my purpose.  Good luck to the mums (note: not 'moms') and the babies, but why couldn't they call it "raccoon care" or "grizzly care" and muck up their own researchers?

Eucalypt blossom
We have had an excellent season of blossom for our Eucalyptus meliodora (Yellow Box) trees, but they have now got to the end of their season (exactly on schedule).

Driving into Queanbeyan yesterday I noticed that some of the E. mannifera (Brittle Gum)  trees on the top of the escarpment behind the town were beginning to get a good crop of flowers.  This morning I noticed that a neighbour's tree across our road was quite well endowed.
 Consulting our copy of "A guide to Eucalypts in the ACT" (note for the downloader: the linked document is a resource-pig .pdf document so is 1.8 Mb) this species flowers in February-March so is spot on time.

On our own property an E. macrorhyncha (Red Stringybark) was hitting its straps.
 Isn't that pretty?

The same source cites a flowering season as November-January so one might conclude this is a bit late, possibly due to the very cool Summer we have experienced.

On 9 March we noticed that a Eucalyptus bridgesiana (Apple Box) was flowering in the top paddock.  The tree is easily identified by its 'alligator skin' bark.
 Again the flowers are beautiful as are the swollen buds.
Flowering time for this species is given as January to March so, as we are a little later than the flat country, I would rate this as bang on time.