Thursday, 29 May 2014

ANPS does Tinderry NR

I'll start by echoing Ros's thanks to Roger and Christine for the garden tour, coffee and cakes after the walk.  Good wishes to them for their Northern expedition.

We were indeed lucky with the weather.  Before leaving home it seemed cold and windy, but I, like most people, shed a layer during the day.  While it did look a tad ominous towards the end ...
 ... no precipitation occurred.

Getting on to the plants seen, I will begin with the orchids, or evidence thereof, seen.  This was a surprisingly good haul, although the designation "sp." is very appropriate.  The first plant spotted was Corunastylis sp. I didn't keep count of the number of colonies, let alone plants, seen but they were widely distributed throughout the area.

 A clear specimen of Speculantha sp. was found in a 'gone over ' condition.  The timing of flowering given in The Book suggests that S. rubescens is the more likely of the two local species, but given the weirdness of this season that is insufficient evidence to become specific.
Noting the rosette at the base of the stem, we were fairly confident that another much larger colony of rosettes had been seen a little earlier.
On the subject of weird seasons, neither of the local species of Bunochilus should be flowering until at least September.  Perhaps this one is planning to stay in bud for the next 4 months?  Again, quite a few colonies were found after the first puzzling specimen.  (It was also very hard to photograph - if you think this image is naff you should see the others I took.)
We also saw quite a few Thelymitra leaves suggesting this could be a useful venue for an orchid hunt in Spring-Summer.

 A very few flowering beans were encountered.  This was identified pro tem as Dillwynnia retorta ssp phylicoides, but further research suggest that a split should be recognised so it is simply D. phylicoides
Acacia genistifolia (also a member of the Fabaceae and thus technically a bean, although it doesn't look like one) was strutting its stuff as the first member of the genus to flower.  In places a magnificent display was evident.
The only heath found flowering was Melicrus urceolatus. This one was inhabited by an ant, which was apparently a former ant.
A few Hibbertia obtusifolia was flowering.
Quite a few plants of Comesperma ericinum were spotted, but this was th e only one I noticed that was really close to flowering.
Another bean!  Bossiaea buxifolia.
This very tall Callitris endlicheri was indeed a surprise.  I normally think of these as being in the 3 -5m height range rather than about 10m achieved by this one.
The furrowed bark was heavily laden with this waxy deposit.
Back at ground level a Drosera sp. suggested the gully in which we had lunch was basically damp.
There was quite a lot of fungus around and more work is needed to attach names to them.

Quite a few of the Eucalyptus rossii were heavily scribbled.
T(his spider ant (Leptomyrmex erythrocephalus) was busy replenishing its larder with a honey bee.
A bug on a Choretrum pauciflorum.
Finally a view from the patio at Tilembeya.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Rain brings moths

Over the 7 completed years we have been here, the month of May has been the the driest.  So it has not surprised me that we have had a 3-week spell without significant rain.  That all changed yesterday afternoon and evening as shown by BoM 128km radar.

This is the picture at 1516 (or, for those who like 12 hour clocks, 3:16pm) local time.  The UTC (again for traditionalists, Greenwich Mean Time) time is shown in the bottom of the image.
By 1550 the band of rain had got bigger.
 By 1655 the worst had passed us, having deposited 7mm in my gauge.
 A second wave appeared on the 2020 image and dropped a further 3.2mm in about 30 minutes.
That was accompanied by very strong winds, noticeable when I took the small dog outside shortly afterwards.  They are shown in this doppler image.
The small dog had had an active evening snuffling from time to time at the pile of moths along the bottom of the window.  There were many more moths than in previous evenings: as expected.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A initially puzzling fungus

A small cluster of fungi have appeared just outside our garden.
Having just acquired a new fungus book which includes a key to genera of gilled fungi I thought I would try using it.  The key begins with the colour of the sporeprint.
This looked rusty-brown so quickly directed me to Key 3 "Spore print some shade of brown or black".   I then look at the image from my mirror shot:
This shows pretty clearly that the gills are not separate from the stipe (aka stem) but are what I consider to be at least adnate and possibly decurrent (run down the stipe) .

At this point enthusiasm replaced sense as I noticed that the genus Cortinarius had rusty brown spore print and this influenced my answer to the points in the guide so that I ended up with Cortinarius.  However I overlooked the presence of an annulus (a ring around the stipe showing that a veil had disintegrated).  Applying that correctly directed me to Gymnopilus sp which can have a bright rusty brown spore print.

While the colony is not, as usual, against a tree trunk, it is very likely that there is wood for it to grown on under the ground.  I'll thus conclude it is G. junonius, which is common in this area.

My confusion is probably a generalisation ot Trewin's law (which states that "an interesting statistic is probably a processing error").  I'l call the outcome Marto's Maxim: "An interesting outcome is probably an  error in procedure."

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Some things in the air

This is pretty much a gathering of images I have taken over the past couple of days, with a common theme (after a bit of a stretch) of things being in the air.

The first 'thing' is a Carwoola sunrise.  This is more or less to show that the high country can do dawn as well as the Victorian coast.
 This next  image meets the criterion of 'in the air" as it is a snap of a TV program 'aired' on SBS.  This was "War Horse" about the role of equines in the First World War.  I thought the picture was very evocative.
 This large raptor was definitely in the air.  Despite the 'pinked' shape of the tail it was clearly a Wedge-tailed Eagle (one of two soaring over our place on 23 May).
 Now that is a wedge shaped tail!  Looking at the images in "Birds of Prey of Australia" by Stephen Debus suggests it is an adult male bird.
 The last couple of evenings we have been visited by a few Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa).   These normally turn up in early Autumn but I assume the recent warm days have stirred them out and about.
 A close up of the head.
What has not been in the air recently has been any rain.  Hopefully we'll get a drop next Tuesday.

A couple of evenings later we were visited by one of the big red moths (Oxycanus dirempta).

Friday, 23 May 2014

A profile of some aspects of Mallacoota

This post came about from looking up Mallacoota on Wikipedia.  The entry is generally pretty accurate but I was struck by the sentence "The town's largest employer, the abalone co-operative, was formed in 1967."

I know the abalone fishermen are an important lobby group around town (hence the extremely controversial breakwater at Bastion Point) but I was surprised to see that they are town's largest employer.  So I decided to explore the Census data to see what the picture is.  Obviously the data isn't going to be precise (and neither should it be).

There are two possible aspects of abalone fishing that could contribute to employment.  The first is the divers etc who go to harvest the abalone and the second is the workers in a factory or warehouse who process or pack the harvested product.  According to the 2011 Census there were 24 people in the "Other fishing" industry - which is where the divers would appear - and 13 in the seafood processing industry.  So with 37 of 393 employed people the industry is quite important to the town.

However the Agriculture etc and Manufacturing Industries are not the biggest employing industries.
The Accommodation etc Industry is going to comprise the several motels, guest houses and caravan parks in the area and thus not have a single large employer.  However the Education and Training industry includes 38 people employed in school education and thus the Victorian Department of Education is the largest employer!

In terms of economic base I suggest that tourism is more important than the abalone fishery.  This will directly drive the Accommodation industry (56 employed people) and account for a fair proportion of Retail Trade (37 employed people).  Of course defining 'tourism' is a vexed proposition: in the context of Mallacoota it is tempting to include "retirees" in the sense that they are attracted to the area's natural beauty in the same way as shorter term holiday makers.

How important are retirees to the Mallacoota community?  This is illustrated by comparing the age profiles of Mallacoota and Victoria as a whole.
Visually-challenged Frederick could see that there is a great over-representation of the older sections of the community in Mallacoota.  

So, my conclusion is that what is important for the economy of Mallacoota is drawing tourists and retires to the area.  I doubt strongly that building the breakwater will enhance that (eg by making it easier for recreational fisher-people to get out to sea) but if it interferes with the surf break or swimming conditions at Bastion Point - which are claims by opponents of the breakwater - it has a fair risk of dis-improving the tourism situation.  

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mallacoota in May:trip down

We have travelled again to Mallacoota in the East Gippsland region of Victoria. It is still in Victoria, but so close to the NSW border that they actually show Rugby League on the TV!

We started the trip down by pausing to look at a large array of solar panels. Well done that company! 

Pity about the low-IQ nerk who has written the sign that really makes the place look gross. Surely they could have used a thumbnail dipped in tar?

A quick stop in Michelago got a photo of the school, where there are Memorial Honour Boards but I wasn't game to invade the place in school hours to see them These days one would get one's name in the paper in the non-positive pages very quickly for that!
The corporate coloured railway station is looking very spruce these days.  It's good that the 'ladies' have a room but in my observations what most females who visit this locale are interested in is the khazi across the road.
We also found a Memorial Hall, but as yet don't know what it is commemorating.
On down the road. I sat on the speed limit to save fuel (we achieved 8.9l per 100km overall, as is common when we're on a downhill leg) and avoid Mr Plod. It took us just over 4 hours with no dramas.

On arrival the garden seemed to be in very good order.  
This image of the flowers on a gum tree shows the opercula in various stages of falling off.
The first thing we noticed was a \larger than usual number of boats around the Inlet. Some of these seemed to be seriously fast and noisy, with what looked like harpoons on the bow. I eventually got to speak to one of the drivers of these and it turns out there is a large bream fishing comp on. The “harpoon” is actually a small electric motor which is used when stalking the finny ones to avoid scaring the fish.  

A walk along the foreshore of the Inlet was most productive in the matter of birds, but for some reason less so in getting worthwhile images of same. I was particularly annoyed that the ones I took of a flock of 11 Royal spoonbills were hopeless. Here are some less bad efforts from the day.

A very twisted up Crimson Rosella.
An Eastern Whipbird.  This is actually about as good a view as one gets of this most skulking species.  I estimate that about 99% of observations are made on the duetting whipcrack call.
Part of a flock of Chestnut Teal.  I'm not at all clear why the Chestnut are common at the coast while the Grey Teal are the common species up the hill.
A Whistling Kite.
You want lurid?  Here is a Rainbow Lorikeet munching on the gum flowers.