Saturday, 29 March 2014

More orchids and a few other flowers

After yesterday's foray by me another member of the ACT orchid group put up a list of all the Corunastylis he was finding on his block about 30km away.  It sounded like similar country to ours so I went for a more intense look at our place.  Much less result: as he reckons they also have no soil and lots of 'roos I cannot think of a non-embarrassing explanation.

Here are a few more snaps, beginning with a couple of Eriochilus cucullatus.
 I know the vernacular name is Parson's Bands, but why do these always remind me of the Rev. Ian Paisley?
I did eventually find a single Little Dumpy (Diplodium truncatum).
The rain seems to have rekindled floral enthusiasm in a number of species.  This is definitely a Wahlenbergia, possibly W. gracilis.  A bit unusual to find them in flower at this time of year.
 Hibbertia seems to flower at all sorts of times, so not so surprising.
 Ditto Vittadinia.
However I normally expect to find Melychrus urceolatus in bud through Winter and flowering in early Spring!
Finally a female Common Brown butterfly was looking for love or, failing that, some nectar.
I suspect she will find neither perching on a dead log.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Rain brings out the Fungi, mould and some orchids

After the appalling dry of the last year March 2014 has brought measurable rain on 13 of the 28 days thus far.  Our total (still going up) is 65.2mm.  This has caused fungi to appear in fair profusion.  And a few other things.

To begin with the fungi.

These two rather adult-content-looking items were growing beside the Kambah Pool walk yesterday.  I wonder about Macrolepiota sp. but these were in a rather open area and from comments in Fuhrer that genus seems to favour forest.
I will take a punt that the next two images are Mycena sp. Top view ...
 .. and underside.
The next day (29/3/14) I snapped these at the start of Whiskers Creek Rd,
On the same date there were a couple of other species along the roadside:
This next is clearly a puffball, and I will take a punt on it being Pisolithus arhizus, the Horse Dung fungus.
This is clearly a bolete ...
 .. which rapidly stains blue when bruised.
I have included this revolting image of maggots as Fuhrer  says that Phlebotus is a favourite target of fungus flies being rapidly attacked.  This infestation occured 2 days after I first noticed the fungus
  I will pass completely on these next two specimens (3 images) .

When we took the dog for a walk at 7:30, still barely daylight, and humid but not yet raining, these white patches were very common along the upper creek.  However, my photo was garbage.
So I went back about 1500, when the light was better but it was raining.   I hardly found any of the organisms.  In the absence of any better ideas I will say they are some form of slime-mould!
I also found quite a few Eriochilus cucullatus: our first Autumn orchids!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Recent Rainy Rambling ...

... or Wecent Wet Walks.

On Monday I managed to fit in a good walk before the rain started.   Possibly the highlight was watching a Wombat head for its burrow.

Yesterday I returned to the Queanbeyan STW for a quick bird foray.  In 20 minutes I racked up 19 species including 8 Freckled Ducks.  As I left, I observed what would have to be the world's least necessary sign.
That ain't chocolate milk shakes behind the railing!

Today I headed off along the track from Kambah Pool to Red-Rocks Gorge.  The weather wasn't great (for walking - but as a positive, you could hear the grass growing as you passed).

The next image was taken from the lookout up the Gorge itself.  There is a substantial flow in the Murrumbidgee!
I had hoped that some of the Grevillea would be flowering, and bringing in the New Holland Honeyeaters but it wasn't to be.  (They are too clever to be out and about in weather like this.)  However the condensed moisture on the twigs was attractive.
 There are more water droplets on these Eucalypt flowers.
Now we get to official matters.  One wonders what level of intellect would put these two signs up next to each other.  It is good that they are spraying the weeds and one hopes they have checked that it won't get into peoples drinking water, but ....
The most annoying signs were on the walking track which is now part of the wonderful Centennial Trail.  This trail was a rather whoop-a-dee-doo-dah element of the totally unnecessary celebration of Canberra's Centenary.  I believe it was the Emperor Claudius who distracted citizens with bread and circuses.  To reflect this nonsense there are now nice signs at intersections along the trail (which has existed for at least the 30 years we have been in the Canberra area).
So someone was on a nice little earner (in fact probably very nice but not very little) to design the whizzo logo (top disc) and the well stylised arrows.  They probably even specified the shade of brown to use to signify something or another about the Guvmint connecting to the soil.  Unfortunately they also took away all the old sign posts which had the great benefit of telling you how far you had come.  This was very useful when we had to medivac a member from an ANPS walk.

However another attribute of the new! improved!!!  trail must be leading to prosperity in the fabricated metal products industry around Canberra (or Beijing or Gujarat).  That is the number of nice shiny new gates that have appeared.
Yes folks, the ACT is heading for a gate-led economic boom.

Incidentally, the vehicle tracks service a water pipeline leading from the River to a golf course further up the hill.  You can't ride a bike, or walk a dog on the track as it s in a Nature Reserve, but taking water to irrigate a golf course is fine!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Did it rain or what?

We seem to have entered a spell when the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecasts precipitation a few days out and then gradually reduces the forecast intensity and/or likelihood as the time gets closer.  Even whe it stays as "Possible showers", they don't seem to occur here.

On 20 March the forecast was as show below:
Basically some form of rain for the next 7 days.  The thrust of this post will be to reflect on what happens.

On the evening of the 20th there were a few thunderstorms around on the radar including this impressive cloud, somewhere near Bungendore.
Getting a slightly different perspective on it the convection column was breaking up, so presumably even underneath it was getting zip (matching exactly that which we received..
On the morning of the 21st the impending humid weather caused a good array of spider webs to be visible.

 In this image the spider's home - a rolled leaf - is visible in the top of the image.
So lets get on to reviews of what happened:

  • 21 March: forecast was "Shower or two".  In the evening there were showers everywhere on radar, except in the ACT.  However, a heavy squall dropped 2.4mm on us at 0120 on 22 March which may be counted as 21 March if the Bureau measures rainfall to 9am..  PASS!
  • 22 March: forecast was "Chance shower or storm." See preceding item for early in the day.  PASS (just).  That was however all that came.  As a result of the overnight rain things were rather misty early in the morning.
By the morning of 23 March the forecast for the 23rd and 24th had changed to "partly cloudy".  I see a Fail coming up!
  • Yep a big fat FAIL for 23 March
  • The original forecast for the 24th was showers.  They vanished on the 22nd but have mysteriously re-emerged on the 23rd. When I got up (0500) there was a big blob of blue on the radar.  However I ignored that and went out birding at 0830 with a friend.  It only started to rain at 1215, as we had pretty much finished.  However by 1425 we had 6.6mm in the gauge and more coming. This would be a Dist. if not for the confusion.  Give them a Credit
  • Early on the 25th it seemed that there was a mass of rain moving up from the coast, but skirting to the North of us. So it was: we scored 0.2mm so a  PASS (just).
  • The weather got in early for the 26th with 3.4mm before 0630. At least a  Credit.  The weather is coming up from the coast as indicated by the arrow - the X is our location - in the following image.  I think we might get a bit more!  We ended up with 15mm!

  • The 27th started as the 26th finished with 6mm by 0630.  That day ended up with 8mm so rates another Credit. .
  • Although beyond the forecast I am reviewing they aloso suggested some dampness on the 28th, when we scored 14mm.  Well done that Bureau!
As a result of all the precipitation the Plain was well fogged on the morning of the 29th.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Qu: Why does Telstra exist?

Ans: to make QANTAS look good.

I do not use Telstra as an ISP or voice provider because I don't wish to pay their inflated prices.  However as they have a monopoly on the wires in the ground my ISP (iinet, who also provide my voice service) have to use Telstra as the carrier.  Today both voice and broadband service crapped out at about 8:30.

Cutting to the chase it emerged that this was (99.99r%  certainty) due to some meat brains from Telstra installing - 3 months after it had been requested - a new broadband connection to a property between our house and the exchange.  This has happened at least once before.

Why can't these {reference to disciples of Onan deleted} let people know that work is about to be done? It would take them 20 minutes to drop a note off to everyone the day before!

And if anyone thinks the coming of the National Broadband  Network (NBN) will fix the problem, think again.  Whether one looks at either the Turnbull or Rudd versions of NBN our area - some 30km in a straight line line from the centre of the National Capital - doesn't feature in the NBN connection program for the next decade!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Mayfly visits

I couldn't come up with a funny title suggesting that a May fly shouldn't come in March!  In fact as the name comes from the Northern hemisphere, May is equivalent to a Carwoola November, so it is 5 months late rather than 2 months early!

We went up to our nearest dam yesterday and this interesting insect landed on Frances.

I am reasonably sure it is a Mayfly (family Ephemeroptera) but I can't get closer than that.  Brisbane insects has very few images and comments that the family is rather uncommon.  Having found it close to water seems to fit the family habitat.

The family seems to be a favourite of trout fishermen - no doubt due to them breeding in profusion and thus engendering a frenzy among the trout.  However there are no trout in our dam!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Bird bath time

When we first set up our red bird bath, outside the kitchen window,  it seemed to take about a year to get any clientele despite having a nice perch close to hand and some Grevillea from which to launch a dive.  However it is now quite popular, especially with smaller birds.  (It's also a good indicator of evaporation, but that is another story.)  Here are some of the visitors from 20 March.

This soggy bird is a Brown Thornbill, judging by the colour of the rump.  (I rarely find eye colour a help: they all look dark to me!)
In this case the diagnostic feature - because it isn't wet - is the relatively plain crown.  I was also fascinated by the position of the feet, twisted round to keep balance.
This is a very crappy image, apart from showing the white-streaked crown, a field mark for Striated Thornbill.  I often distinguish this species and the previous one by level in the canopy (Bro-Low, Stri-High is the mnemonic) but there isn't much liquid high in the canopy!
As well as a perching twig next to the bath I have alsoput a perching rock in the middle.  Here it is being used by a fierce looking Scrubby (aka White-browed Scrubwren, Sericornis frontalis).
Once this bath started getting customers we also acquired a blue bath and positioned it on the other side of the house.  This was instantly popular especially with Crimson Rosellas.  However in this dry year it has been used frequently by macropods, both Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Swamp Wallabies.  I am thus blaming a panicked Swampie for the bath getting knocked over.
The bath, unlike the adjacent pot survived the experience!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

A frog called Evita?

While watching TV tonight we were startled by a strange noise outside against the window.  When the Frogmouths come to dine on moths they don't usually make much, if any, noise.  Frances turned round and spotted a moderated sized frog  which occasionally jumped up the window to massacre an invertebrate.

Taking close-up photographs  through a window isn't great, but I didn't want to miss completely.  Of course if I had used flash all I'd have got was a white reflection.
It had moved off a little by the time I got outside but this flash shot gives an idea of size - perhaps 50mm nose to 'tail'.
 I got a bit closer with the flash.
 Obviously I wouldn't want to use a flash very close to the frogs eyes so turned it off and got this.  Definitely tree frog toes.
 Getting really up close there was definitely a cross shaped pupil so it is Peron's Tree Frog (Littoria peronii)
The species is known generally for a maniacal cackling call in the breeding season.

It seems that the species was first described by Francois Peron (1775 - 1810) in 1807. He gave it another Latin name, but another scientists gave it a species name, and a vernacular name in his honour!  The poor bloke died of TB at a very early age.

As far as I can determine he never visited Argentina - Baudin's voyage on which he visited Australia didn't cross the Pacific - let alone have Lloyd-Weber and Rice do a show about him.