Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Leave it to .....Beaver?

We will get to Theodore Cleaver after a few words and images about our top paddock and why I was up there.

The weather recently has been clear of rain and wind, but also pleasantly warm.  (A neighbour commented yesterday that whether it was pleasant or not depended on what you were doing.  An implication was that if you were, like him, up to your armpits in sheep, it was a tad close to hot.)

This means that the blackberries are in vigorous growth and thus an excellent time to improve them, with a cocktail of  Woody (Triclopyr + Picloram) and Glyphosate.  I am of course not speciesist and if any Sweet Briar, Hawthorn or Serrated Tussock came into view that got a serve also.

I didn't, as far as possible spray the swathes of Xerochrysum viscosum.  I have known people get all emotive about a 1m square patch of this: I suspect our top paddock has about a hectare of which this is one sample..
Of course if it was daft enough to grow up through a clump of brambles there was a small amount of collateral damage.  That is what happens when you keep bad company!

Under the Xerochrysum were some small members of the Asteraceae (aka for some bizarre reason as 'daisies').  This is Vittadinnia muelleri.
In the open space between the Xerochrysum was a mass of Wahlenbergia (known to the Eurocentric as 'bluebells ' - OK they are blue and vaguely bell shaped but nothing to do with wild Hyacinths).  These are W. stricta ...
... based on the hairiness and long sepals.
 Another go at Asteraceae, in this case Chrysocephalum semipapossum complete with bonus beetle.
Back to Xerochrysum viscosum with a visitor.  I have decided this is some form of fly rather than a bee.
Finally we get to the possible (probability rather low, certainly approaching zero, if it hasn't quite got there) evidence of the genus Castor.  A sapling of Eucalyptus bridgesiana (aka Apple Box) had adopted a horizontal position.  At the base of the stump was a pile of wood chips about 3-5cm long and 1cm wide.
 Here is the stump as a whole ...
  ... and in close up showing the munch-marks
The last time I saw something like this was along the Ottawa River where it was definitely Mr Beaver (or possibly Ms Beaver).  The final image includes my size 10 - very close an Imperial foot long - for scale.
In seriousness, I really can't imagine that a beaver has escaped from the Canberra Zoo, swum 30km up the Molonglo River (surely someone would have noticed it in Lake Burley Griffin?)  then up Whiskers Creek and into this tributary thereof?

I also can't imagine a wombat or feral pig doing this and the damage marks look the wrong shape for a crazed Cockatoo going after moth larvae.  Perhaps a feral goat?  Any other suggestions welcome.


Mary Chamie said...

It certainly looks like the work of a beaver. No one likes wood the way s/he does. Please post if you ever figure out that it is something other than that. If it is an insect, then good luck!

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Mary: if an insect can do that I really dont want to know anything about it. Could only be from one of those 1950s mutant sci=fi movies!