Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Steg comes to Carwoola in top gear

Now any rev-heads who have ended up here while looking for he of the white Nomex will realise that  theyhave followed a typo and  there is an 'e" in the abbreviation for Stegostyla ustulata.  

The catalyst for this post was finding the first plant of this species for 2014 this morning.

If you don't agree that that flower is some top gear,, I have great sympathy for you!

Nearby I found some flowering Drosera peltata, in a surprisingly dry site for that species.
In a sheltered spot this Viola betonicifolia was flowering prettily.
My reason for being in this part of the block was doing my daily count of the flowers of  Glossodia major in a study site.  The count today was 158 flowers in an area of about 33 square metres: a special post about this study will come later.  Here is one patch of the flowers amidst the (boo, hiss)  Kunzea ericoides.

Monday, 29 September 2014

A trip to the top paddock

This was not to check if there were any Kangaroos loose up there.  I can find them down here .  It was to collect some rock from a creek bed and incidentally to photograph some lilies.

I will begin with the lilies.  The first is a carpet of Early Nancies (which must be getting close to being Late Nancies as they have been out in swathes for about a month).  That must come close to defining a carpet of flowers.
Still emerging are the Bulbine Lilies (Bulbine bulbosa).  If not yet a carpet they must rate as at least a doormat!
Here is a close up of a head of buds.
 And one which has opened!
So why do I need rock?  The answer is for a bit of maintenance on a drain which is doing an excellent job of leading water away from our vegetable garden..  When the rain is heavy it is tending to erode the walls and floor of the drain and I am hoping that a bit of rock in the bottom will solve that problem.
Here is the source of the rock.
 Here it is in situ novo.
All we need now is some rain to test it!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A brief visit to the Southern Riverina

As we haven't fired up the camper for a few weeks we decided that a visit to the Murray River would be good, before it gets too hot.  Here is approximately the area we visited.
Indeed, heat was not a problem.  It was surprisingly cold, possibly mainly due to the quite strong wind.  As we set off it was a tad showery, but nothing dramatic.  (We found out at Berrigan on the second day that they had scored 23.5 mm out of this front which was very welcome to the cockies.)  This did mean water was lying about all over the place and some of the dirt tracks seemed very sticky when walked on - and would have been 'interesting' to drive on!

On the subject of cockies the paddocks were often yellow with canola flowers, as has become common at this time of year/
 We passed through Lockhart where a bit of art was photographed !  The cut-out farm animals made of corrugated iron are quite a common sight decorating front yards, but this was a very large accumulation of them.
After Urana the roadside had quite a good collection of flowers.  Unfortunately the wind made photography rather difficult but here are a lily ...
 .... some daisies
 and what looked like a form of Lotus.
Finley had not - until now- been included on the Register of War Memorials in NSW, which is somewhat surprising as the Newell Highway, connecting Melbourne and Brisbane, runs through the town and this memorial is right on the highway!
The memorial was unique in that one of the plaques included, in the list of conflicts, the NZ Maori Wars.  I have never seen them mentioned before on a memorial and wonder why the folk of Finley headed off there.

They have an archetypal School of Arts, painted with NSW Public Building Standard colour.
By the time we had got to Finley the sky had cleared and we set up camp at the showground.  This appears to have been set up to enable the town to be declared "RV friendly" and thus attract the wallets of grey nomads off the highway and into the local businesses.
The truck is on the highway - far enough away to be not too noisy.  At night they were quite pretty, especially when a convoy of B-doubles came through!

The showground also has stables which made it an attractive place for passing horse-persons to camp.  I had been told that many of these were going to an Australian Schools Championship being held at Werribee..
 After a good nights sleep we headed off to Berrigan to see if they had a Memorial.  Indeed they did.  According to a sign this Soldiers Memorial Hall includes an Honour Roll with 115 names on it, but I couldn't get in to photograph them.
The town had some well maintained old (by Australian standards) buildings of which the Federal Hotel was my chosen example.
It was a pleasant town, and seemed quite prosperous but I still wonder what - or where - it is "better" than.  Perhaps you are a Galah if you believe this?
On the matter of cockatoos when we got to Tocumwal we found that Long-billed Corellas were not welcome.
The sign seems to be in two minds whether they are native birds or not (they are) and doesn't mention what I suspect to be the real reason the birds are seen by the Council as a menace  - their depredation on gain and fruit crops.

Beside the Murray is a Big Murray Cod.
Apparently this was installed in 1967 after 3 local ladies raised £3,000 to cover the cost.  It was claimed to be the 2nd "Big Thing" to be erected in Australia.  According to Wikipedia the first was a Big Scotsman in Medindie SA (and they at least one other before 1967!

Close by this is an information centre, with a Small Glider.  This commemorates the first (of 4) World Gliding Championships won by a local instructor, Ingo Renner.
 A mural by the Murray River reflects history.
 This is the old bridge which is now closed to road traffic (but the rails look as though a train crosses from time to time).  Personally the grid felt a tad fragile so we didn't go far: Tammy stuck to the plating under the rails.
 Our final town in NSW for this trip was Mulwala where an unrecorded Memorial was found.
I didn't like this place as it seemed to be a very artificial 'holiday town'.  It also sold the nastiest (about 30% gravy) pepper steak pie I have tried to eat in a long while.

We crossed over to Yarrawonga in Victoria and got directions to some bush camping locations.  We found quite a pleasant site on the River Murray but it seemed to have quite a lot of large family groups there.  My mind went back to our stay at Hosanna Bogan Reserve near Murwillumbah and I suggested that we opt for plan B.

Also, as the hoped for 'bush' seemed to be mainly rank grass and thistles, my plans for a lot of flower hunting seemed hopeless.  We did find Rainbow Bee-eaters which were a positive.
Frances acquired a few litres of Olive Oil at a nearby producer, and we headed for the wineries of Rutherglen.

The first we came to was Warrabilla.  The winemaker was around chatting to punters and was quite happy for Tammy to come in.  The wine was really nice albeit it a tad expensive (apart from the cleanskin Durif at about $10 a bottle).  We joined their club and drove away with some interesting samples for 'ron (as in Late-ron).

Chambers then got a visit and more good-value weight was added to the camper.  We knew Tammy was OK in there.  I noticed as we drove away that their opening hours on Sunday start at "10ish": truth in advertising!

We rumbles round to the campground and set up on the banks of Lake King (originally the town water supply).
A building across the fence appeared to be attracting a crowd which turned out to be the public tasting for the Rutherglen Wine Show.  They went until 10pm after which there was a bit of talking as people left and then a few crashes as the empties were put in a skip.
Obviously a popular event: we did notice a couple of cars were left on site in the morning.

Rumble on down the road towards home.  We were diverted off the highway as it had been closed since 7:30pm on Friday following a truck crash, including a fatality.  The road was still officially closed when we got home at 2pm on the Saturday, but trucks had been coming up the highway when we rejoined: presumably they had been North of the diversion via Culcairn when the road was shut.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

ANPS Takes 5 at Cuumbeun

This post seems to have got a bit long - so many interesting things and they're in flower.  Good riddance to Winter - with apologies to any skiers.

Before getting to the pretties I might have a bit of a rant.  Scroll down a screen if you wish to skip that.  After several goes the NSW Parks Service found a gate that has defeated the efforts of trail-biking bogans to break it.
Unfortunately a gate that isn't locked just doesn't work very well and the chains and padlocks on this one were, in the words of an old Rugby song ".. hanging low, swinging free ...".  Possibly as a result of this, the fire trails showed many signs of having been carved up by said asocial twits.
I have reported the open-ness to the Ranger responsible for the area.  Hopefully she is nearby and will fix it pdq, as well as administering a good serve of her Blundstones (or Doc Martens - the action is more important than the brand) to whoever left it unlocked.

The bottom line is that from my view the Parks Service should devote more attention to conserving the Reserves and less to worrying about the Lesser Flammulated Whatsit on which an Important Person wrote their PhD 20 years ago!  Here endeth the rant.

The 5 referred to in the title of this post are species of orchids which we found today.  First off the rank were Glossodia major, which seem to have emerged right across the Carwoola landscape n the past few days.
 Here is a close-up of the wax lip and the pretty pattern at the base of the tepals.
Many specimens - in at least a couple of cases colonies of >10 plants were found - of Petalochilus fuscata.

 This detail shot shows the edges of the labellum curving in, thus showing that despite its very pink colouring this is not P. carneus.
The hooded dorsal sepal shouts out Stegostyla sp.  As the teeth on the labellum were a tad subtle we considered this to be S. cucullata, which is usually a bit later than the very toothy S, ustulata.

Completing the rainbow of not-Caladenias we found a couple of Cyanicula caerulea, which are getting close to the end of their 3 weeks of glory.
Being bold enough to walk off-piste (all reptiles seen today had >0 legs) I stumbled across a Pterostylis nutans.  It really didn't need to nod that much!
Then I noticed several more!
As other members came to view this colony they started spotting flowers and many rosettes some distance away.  My guess is that the colony is of the order of 15m x 5m and basically a carpet of greenhood rosettes.  Taking a big punt on numbers I would say at least 100 flowers and ~500 plants.

OK.  Moving on to dicotyledons.  Microseris lanceolata was very evident.  This one had a bonus hoverfly puting moves on it.
The beans have come!  Daviesia genistifolia was very attractive in a low-to-the-ground and darkish sort of way.
Dillwynnia sieberi always brighens the drive along Captains Flat Rd at this time of year.
My choice of purple bean was Indigofera australis, of which we found an astonishingly large clump on the way back from the cliff.
Nearby was a Pultenaea procumbens in a very spritely form of growth (and possibly a tad early for this elevation).
 A lot of Grevillea lanigera was in flower in the early part of the patrol.
The damper areas (and most of the stony ridges seemed very dry and crunchy) were well endowed with Ranunculus lappaceus.
There were more advanced (and larger)  specimens of Stackhousia monogyna but I thought this juxtaposition of one open floret and the tower of buds was attractive.
I normally refrain from photographing buds - plants should try harder to flower - but IMHO Lissanthe strigosa looks more attractive (and more deserving of the vernacular 'Peach Heath') when in bud than when the flowers are fully open.
 A lovely sample of Drosera peltata (possibly small insects may view that as an oxymoron).
Some members of the Rhamnaceae sometimes get a bad press in this blog.  However this Pomaderris eriocephala had some rather interesting flowers amongst the ,ass of buds.
For some reason I find the miniscule flowers of the family Santalaceae amusing and interesting.  Here is what I think is Omphacomeria acerba with flowers and the astonishingly - in relative terms  - large fruit.
Obviously it puts its energy into a fruit atractive to dispersing predators rather than a lurid flower to attract pollinators

There were a number of wattles in flower today and I have chosen to use Acacia dawsonii (struggling under the vernacular name of Poverty Wattle) as the representative.  They were evrywhere through the Reserve..
 Craspedia variablis.
Brachyscome spathulata - in astonishingly good shape.
On one of our dog walks at home Frances and I had speculated how many Wurmbea dioica (Early Nancy) there were on our property.  I slightly changed this question to the following formulation:
What is the density, in plants per square metre, to fit a million Nancies in 100 Hectares?
A hectare is 10,000 square metres so 100 hectares is 1,000,000 square metres and thus the required density is 1 plant per square metre.
In the above image the edge of my size 10 (~0.30m in length ) is provided for scale.  We have 0.32 square metres with  ~14 plants which equals 155 plants per square metre. This gives 1 million plants in 0.65 Ha!!  Allowing a fair amount of rubber in the calculations one still ends up with about a million plants per Hectare!

There was a reasonably good crop of birds around today.  This Scarlet Robin was the only one which posed for a snap!