Friday, 26 July 2013

Hopefully back on air

Google appeared to kill this blog as a result of detecting some suspicious activity.  Hopefully I am now back on track although will not be posting much more for the next few days.

The owner of Tammie!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Some more natural history

I think this little insect crawling on my study window is a weevil.  The top view interested me with the detail of the legs.
 Being on a window I was able to also get a shot of its underside!
 My attention was then drawn to the cacophony of a flock of about a dozen Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos feeding down by the Creek.  A large, loosely held flock has been around for several days.  (When the components all coalesced last weeks I think there were about 120 birds in total.)  This one was being raucous in a red box.
These were feeding on the cones of a nearby Pinus radiata: notice the ripped off cone held by the upper bird.
 This species is one of the few thought to have benefited from the vast pine plantations strewn around SE Australia in the recent past.

Politics and religious beliefs

While I have commented occasionally on political matters on this blog I have not, until now, given religion any blogtime (one doesn't need to, they have enough nuns, monks, priests, vicars, bishops and talk-back radio hosts to look after that).

Of course some politicians do make a point of their faith, even ones who admit to telling porkies to win their case.  The politician covered in that link is widely known to be a staunch Catholic.  While that is not a description that has ever been attached to me (I'm a lapsed Anglican at the strongest) I see that as his business and probably reckon it is good that he's out of the closet on that one at least!

So we now find the same politician objecting to Emissions Trading as a ''so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one''.

Lets have a slightly re-ordered  look at the components of that statement:
  • "a so called market": a market is simply a system for trading.  Very few people would, in 2013, expect it to be a physical location, but perhaps this politician's ideas are a little (in geological scales) behind the times.
  • "non-delivery": don't focus on the negative Tony! It is about the delivery of  of clean air - preventing the bad stuff is simply a mechanism.
  • "to no-one".  even by his standards this is bullshit for emphasis.
  • "an invisible substance": I will admit that you can't see clean air or oxygen or carbon dioxide.  You can see carbon particles however - they go under the general description of "smoke".  However my main point is that religion is also involved with something invisible.  When I used to attend Sunday School a favourite hymn began with the words "Immortal invisible ....".
Even by this politician's standards a statement with 4 elements, every one of which is either daft or against his previous views is a very low achievement.  One lives in hope that this is the giant clanger for which we have been waiting since 1 December 2009.  Bring back Malcolm Turnbull !

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A rural miscellany

I was expecting to do a post about a visit to the National Arboretum but unfortunately the weather was not propitious.  When we took Tammie for her exercise it was still pretty foggy when we returned so I thought we'd wait until that lifted, and hopefully get in a stroll before the promised rain arrived.

Here is the 128km radar image at about 10:30 our time (I was stirred to look at it by a few 'tings' on the roof  which sounded rather like raindrops).
The recent radar seminar didn't mention one innovation I have discovered, which is the 64km screen: perhaps it has been there all along?  We are right on the edge of the straight N-S line.
The doppler screen suggests the is a fairly brisk NW wind driving the system towards us.
So the walk was cancelled.

Before that I had had to deal with a small issue with some of Frances' camelias.  They were getting munched
but we weren't sure which phylum was responsible (the principle suspects being Arthropda or Chordata).  She then reported that one of the pots had been knocked over, so either we had got some Really Big Aphids or it was Chordata.  I decided the most likely species was a Brush-tailed Possum which we have recorded in the past.  Thus the humane trap was baited with apple and set.

Next morning and we had no victim.
Then we had a visitor.
Thus the possum accusation was unfounded and the trap was unlikely to be effective.  (If by chance a swampie did get stuck in the trap I would not look forward to the bloodbath - and I suspect the blood would mainly be mine - which would ensue in trying to extract it.)   So the trap will be closed and the camellias shifted to a 'roo-proof area.  This episode did cause me to recall, for the second time this week, that swampies are unusual for kangaroos in that they browse bushes rather than graze grass,

My next task was to relocate some yellow flag irises - which do not seem to be on the marsupial diet sheet -from a small overgrown former fishpond
to our new wetland created (deliberately) during our recent driveway upgrade.
The red arrow marks some 'roo tracks .  Note also the way the embankment is holding some water as hoped!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Dux of the Dam

Being at the Bungendore cultural centre (aka the tip) this morning I diverted past the Big Dam on Lake Rd on the way home.

There is still a fair surface area of water, although a lot less than a year ago.  The same applies to waterbird numbers.  I tested out the new camera in what was rather trying circumstances on a small flotilla of Freckled Ducks and Pink-eared Ducks.
This was at least 50m range in overcast conditions with reflective water as a backdrop so I reckon the image passes.
What makes it particularly interesting, and should be visible if you click to enlarge the second image, is that the pink ear is visible: it isn't big but it is visible.  I still reckon they should be called Zebra ducks!

I saw at least 5 Freckled Duck and estimated 30+ Pink ears.  Also obvious were a pair of Australian Shelducks, and the usual Australian Wood Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks and Grey Teal.

Definitely not a duck, but when this Eastern Spinebill posed nicely outside my study window I could neither resist the moment to take a photograph nor be fussed to make a new post to share it with you.
A couple of days later a spinebill re-appeared and was re-photographed.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Somethings coming ...

.. something good.  Rather than Natalie Wood, or the Lincoln Centre (which replaced San Juan Hill, the setting for West Side Story) the 'something good' heading our way is Spring!!!!

There are a few buds around the block and in some cases suggest it is going to be a colourful season.

Acacia dealbata.
 Acacia buxifolia
 Acacia rubida
This second image of A. rubida shows the density of buds on the shrub. This is one of thecommon plants to have grown from the direct seeding by Greening Australia in 2007.
Acacia pravissima: this species - a 'foreigner' to the area - is also covered in buds and will make the customary yellow approach to our drive in a month or so.
Also a foreigner, bud (a typo deliberately left) not so colourful, is Eucalyptus viminalis.  The most noticeable characteristic of this forest tree is the ribbons of bark, but when looked at closely the buds are most attractive.
The locally native eucaylpts are also getting hot to trot.  This is E. mannifera ..
.. while this demonstrates the derivation of the scientific name of E. macrorhynca
I often talk about scientific names as being 'the Latin' which in this case would be WRONG, as it - or at least the specific element - is Greek.  In this case meaning big nose - well shown by the shape of the operculum.

Possibly the take-away message of the walk in which I took these images was that the photography encourages one to look at the detail of what one is photographing.  These buds of Acacia decurrens are pleasant ..
.. but the markings on the stem/trunk are very interesting.  I have no idea what has caused this.
Dropping down to the shrub layer Leucopogon fletcheri is beginning to get the usual rows of hang-down buds (although this is one species which has not done well in the relatively dry spell we have been/are going through)
on the 12th I took the camera on our dog walk and added a couple of heath plants to the collection.  Note that I am not saying they are 'heaths' which would imply the family Epacridaceae, because the first, Cryptandra amara, is a member of the Rhamanceae
Lissanthe strigosa on the other hand, is an epacrid.
Of course, Melichrys urceolatus is in front of the game and is already in flower.
As a reminder that Spring is coming, but not yet here the spider webs were well endowed with dew ..
.. and fog covered the Taliesin paddock behind the 'roos which were showing their customary terror at the micro-wolf which accompanied us.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

ANPS Reserves no Brooks, but quite a Hill

So today we met at Brooks Hill Reserve near Bungendore.  According to my records our database entries for this reserve start with a walk on 20 November 1996, but a founding member of the group said that they used to walk here earlier than that, but the plant lists were not kept in the same way.

As the official report notes there wasn't a huge amount of flowering around today but the Acacia genistifolia made a nice show in places.
Incidentally that photo was taken on my new camera: pretty good recommendation by Roger!  Had I believed them when they said "battery requires charging" all photos would have been taken on that, but Frances smaller version (used by me) did a pretty good job as pinch hitter.

These flowers of Eucalyptus rossii were waving around above head height so difficult to snap, but there was so little in flower I thought a 'record shot ' was all that was needed.
 Chrysocephalum apiculatum was lower and more cooperative.  I suspect these are hanging on from the previous season rather than being early for the next.
Acacia decurrens on the other hand was getting ready for next month.
 I took this Amyema miqueli to show the 'stalks' on all flowers.  Thus they hang down more so are not pendulous.
 Einadia nutans fruit.
The fruit of Exocarpos cupressiformis.  The terminal orb is the fruit (ie a outside seed - which the classicists call an exo carpos) while the green swollen bit is an engorged pedicel.  The latter  is what turns red causing those with a strong, or pharmaceutically enhanced, imagination to see a resemblance to a cherry.
Ros has noted the browse line on the Exocarpos.  My reading of mammal stuff said that Swamp wallabies were more or less unique in the marsupial end of evolution in browing trees and shrubs rather than grazing, as do other wallabies and 'roos.

This is evidence that the mystery Olearia had a good flowering season.
The next two images were originally rotated , but have now been fixed to show a good crop of scribbles on  E. rossii.  First  a mass photo.
The main reason for the images was this shot which shows the track of a single larva of the moth.  The moth larva starts off at the bottom left (in this orientation) eats  its way up to the loop and then follows the fat track back down.  Where the track gets thin is where it emerged - presumably after a pause for pupation.
I suspect this is a mite of some description (and Roger Farrow has confirmed - by email from Cape Trib - that it is a velvet mite -Trombidium sp).  It was not keen on pausing to have its portrait taken.
 We will now have a brief foray into non flowering plants.  This image records the bright yellow-green colouring we could see on a number of tree trunks.  Just as a punt I will call this an algae.
 Here we have some moss and lichen growing on a bank.
 More lichen growing on a discarded stubby.
 I'll finish with 3 fungal shots: I have tried to put some Latin to the photos!  I will take a punt on Mycena sp.  for this cluster.
Laccocephalum mylittae
Again blogger initially rotated the following image.  I then got advice from the Blogger Help forum about it being to do a setting in my camera and EXIF settings (in my software) and by changing all of them have fixed the problem.

I am pretty sure that this is Cortinarius sp. (see Fuhrer p 52, species 60)