Sunday, 19 October 2014

Three excitements and a Brazilian orchids

I shall explain the lusophone reference shortly.  But here follow the three excitements in the order of their observation.  This is possibly in ascending order of excitement, but that is your call.  All 3 occurred in a walk along the Casuarina Trail in Mallacoota.

Excitement 1
Some distance along the track we heard a strange chiming call coming from a bird on the ground.  It turned out to be a Superb Lyrebird, scratching for food on the forest floor.  We stood and watched it for at least 5 minutes, from 5-10m away.  (Frances was holding Tammy to prevent agitation.)
 This image is a tad RS apart from showing the claw.  No wonder they can scratch the ground so well.
 Possibly my best shot.
 Excitement 2
Coming back we were in the bottom of a gully when a pair of Pied Currawongs went completely postal.  On getting the bins on them it was apparent they were mobbing a fair sized Lace Monitor
.  As Frances commented, they worked out it was a worse egg-thief than them!
The photo was taken from about 40m range and the Currawong was pretty active but you can see the whole goanna and know that it has a pink lining to its mouth.  After the 'wongs chased it around - including about 5m up a tree - it got on to the ground and scared another Superb Lyrebird up into the air.
Excitement 3
 We were nearly back at the car when a couple of thumps came out of the bush, which both of us thought was a Swamp Wallaby taking off.  However there was then some thrashing about and we could see feathers.  On going closer it was a Laughing Kookaburra which seemed to be trapped by some vines.
On looking closer it seemed that the bird was in fact free.  It had caught a skink which had bitten, or grasped, some Cassytha vines and wouldn't let go.
 Eventually the Kookaburra wrenched the skink free and took off for a meal.  Nearly parting my hair en passant.
The Brazilian issue.
Some years ago a fair-haired colleague told me a tale.  "
It seems a blond heard a news item about 3 Brazilian men being killed in a plane crash.  Theystarted screaming about "all those poor people, all those poor people".  When asked why they used the word "áll" the response was "I know a million is lots, and a billion is more, so how many is a Brazillion?"
In the case of the orchids we found today the answer to their question was somewhere between a squillion and a gazillion.  In this first image I have ringed each sun orchid visible in an area about 10m square
My count is 27, and that density was about average for an area at least 200m x 10m.  Most of them, as far as I could see were Thelymitra ixoides, identifying mainly on them being spotted
 Some of the spots were pretty large.
 Frances then found a lovely  T. carnea
 This one seemed to have both a pink tinge and blue spots ..
 .. while this seemed to reflect the known ability of T carnea and T ixoides to hybridise.

 OK.  So we left this area under power lines and moved into some forest.  Frances quickly picked up an onion orchid which seemed to be.Microtis oblonga
 There were many Glossodia major (not photographed) and various forms of Petalochilus.  Tghis one was particularly pinbk and I thought P carneus was appropriate.
This is definitely a Diuris sp, but I have no idea what.  It is close to its use-by date which doesn't help.  Fortunately, Alan Stephenson has identified it as D. corymbosa. {I had originally rejected this as a reference only listed it in WA: the Atlas of Living Australia shows it right along the South of the country.}
 Finally Frances found a Pterostylis pedunculata.
Other stuff
Our book says that Patersonia need sunshine to come forth.  These P sericea had obviously read rthe book.
 Bossiaea buxifolia.
 Schelhammera undulata
 We have no idea what this is, but are intrigued by the fringiness inside the keel.  A garden escapee seems like a good explanation.
 Getting into other Kingdoms these welcome Swallows are nesting in the car port!
A Sacred Kingfisher was snacking on what looks like a mud-daubing wasp.
This Tabanid fly (probably some form of Horse fly) was trying to dine on moi!  It learnt (briefly) the error of its ways.
 In the morning Frances noticed Tammy was peering off the deck with focussed attention.  Fortunately a large skink was the object of her attention
It was almost an excitement when a possum wandered across the deck at 2030 hrs.  I was told that a photographer made more noise, but reckon these results were worth it.
It took very little notice of me (or my flash going off) but eventually bolted for the high ground.
You want cute - you got it!
However, check those claws and work out how it got the traction to climb a smooth metal flagpole!  Also, cute was not the word that sprang to mind when it romped on the deck at 0130 or snored loudly at 0330! 

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