Saturday, 31 January 2015

Fruit and veg

Summer is the season for harvesting more stuff.  Some of it grows by itself - too damn successfully unfortunately - towards the top of the block.

Having noticed the blackberries were ripe before we hosted a lunch last weekend we picked a couple of litres then, and went back for a more determined effort yesterday.  I think I picked about 4 litres more and some friends another 8l.
 There are still plenty left.
 Amongst those left, and not because they are unripe, are the whiter ones in this image.
I went up again this morning (to spray some of the regrowth brambles in the rest of the block) and noticed about 30 starlings fly out of the main patch.  The main species evident while we were picking were Superb Fairy-Wrens and Noisy Friarbirds.

Back at the vegie garden the plums are still delivering.  I think we must have picked about 30 kilos some of which have been eaten, a lot frozen and and about 10kgs given away.  The strawberries are doing nicely again.
Our tomatoes are just starting to hit their straps.  Once the pink pears begin to deliver their huge fruit the business of freezing sauce for pasta through the year will begin.
 Frances thought one of the potato plants was about done so did a little bit of bandicooting.  This is what she got from one of about 20 plants.
We are not going to be short of spuds for the next few months.  I am here to say that one of these was converted int most excellent fritters for tea last night.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

ANPS looks down on NSW from Mt Aggie

After 3 weeks of trying the walk finally went ahead.  The weather was quite satisfactory, although I was wearing a fleece the whole time.

We went via the Cotter Dam and Frances scored this photo as we came home.  In most places they'd have made a viewing area to look at this quite imposing site: being the ACT Government the road is a no-stopping area.  (I suspect their OHAS lawyer has gone feral about getting sued if the dam collapses.)
 Once past the bitumen the gravel road was in very poor condition.  .  Here is the explanation:
For some reason the cash-strapped ACT Government is shifting many truckloads of gravel along the Mt Franklin Rd.  This was happening when ANPS visited Mt Franklin on 10 December and I would have heard at least 12 trucks go past today. Given the narrowness of the road in parts it is very dangerous - we had to wait because another truck was coming.  If they spent the money on controlling St John's Wort, blackberries  and Scotch thistles it would be a much better idea.

Anyhow.  That was the only blot on a very good day.  Here is a view of the summit of Mt Aggie.
 And this is one of the may panoramic views from the summit, looking basically South-West.
This is looking basically east.  The bands of tone offered by the epicormic growth: burnt out stags; distant hillside and the clouds were most appealing.
 This is a close-up of a dead tree trunk with an interesting banding effect where the fire has created a cavity.  I suspect it was the second fire that got the tree.
On to plants.  The dominant (in terms of interest) family for the day was definitely the Asteraceae - which some refer to as daisies.  None refer to it as Compositae because that is Old Thinking and frowned upon by the Gods of Taxonomy.  So I will begin with that group (daisies, not the Gods of Taxonomy).

Brachyscome aculeata was very common near the start of the walk.
A few mauve Brachycomes, possibly B spathulata, were seen off the track.
Just below the summit was a small clump of B. diversifolia which required seeds to be peered at for identification.
Yellow was also available with  Xerochrysum subundulatum and ....
.. Microseris sp. 'Snowfields' as it currently appear in the ACT Plant Census  This was a very large flower on a stalk about 1m long.  Only one plant was found by me while I was exploring off the track, but a couple mores were found by others, closer to the track.
 The open area around the peak was a sea of Rhodanthe anthemoides.
A few samples of Leucochrysum alpinum were mixed in.  This is an arty-farty snap of an opening bud against the white foliage.
 Moving on to other families.  There were still a lot of Stylidium in flower, and I think this was S. armeria.
 Bossiaea foliosa
Oxylobium ellipticum
Persoonia chamaepeuce.  Another member of the genus was also seen by some, but not photographed by me.
 I am intrigued that there were not a mass of Currawongs around feeding on the berries of  Acrothamnus hookeri.  Presumably the pest birds find it easier to scarf dog-food and Cotoneaster berries in the city.
 A mixed development of Dianella tasmanica berries.
 I think this is the ACT floral emblem Wahlenbergia gloriosa.  As usual there was much debate about specification of the various 'bluebells' encountered on the walk.
 Several Vanilla Lilies Arthropodium milleflorum were encountered
 Euphrasia collina was not surprisingly growing on a hill!
Quite a number of colonies of Pterostylis falcata Diplodium decurvum or D. aestivum were encountered throughout the forested section of the walk.  The definitive expert conclusion is that this first one is D aestivum but "they are hard to tell apart". and the rationale for the names determined is in a comment on the post.
This is more like D  decurvum.
And this is pretty definitely D. decurvum
A single 'gone over' example of Dipodium sp.
This struggler is, was, or will be Eriochilus cuccullatus.  This was outside the forest on the shale slopes.
Right at the summit was our only example of Thelymitra sp.
 Only one fungus was noted.
 Having dealt with "evidence of orchids" here is evidence of insects in the shape of a gall.
 Thus far I have not identified this well at all.  I suspect it is a beetle.
Roger identified this as a Hanging Fly - which according to Zborowski and Story is most likely to be Harpobittacus sp.
Roger also wondered if it had a nuptial gift, and my answer was no.  However he spotted that a wedding present was present and inded it can be found in the image.
 Although the gift wasn't accepted by the female it didn't seem to delay adult entertainment!
 A weevil!
 A hoverfly!
 A caterpillar!
 Some of the 'roos at Bulls Head.
Many skinks were seen throughout the day.  The cooler weather seemed to make them less inclined to snooze in the sun,but this one did oblige.
A flock of Flame Robins were on the grass at Bulls Head ...
 .. and one of them came and perched nicely for a photo.
On the way home we went for a brief visit to Warks Rd to look for ferns and the Rose Robin seen on last week's COG walk.  We failed completely on the last, but this was more than made up for by two Wonga pigeons on Blundell's Creek Rd.  They have been rather uncommon since the 2003 fires.

A foxy interlude

Apologies to those hanging out for the post about ANPS going to Mount Aggie but I have about 90 images to go through and that will take sme time to organise.  In the meantime here is some excitement from this morning.

I looked out my study window and saw a canid exploring a pile of topsoil.

After a while it cleared off.  Then I looked again and there were at least three reynards - from the look of things an adult and two cubs.

I had to take small dog out for a comfort stop and all foxes headed for the hills.  Tammy got their scent and was most interested.  Some stern barking was administered - and I don't think she'd have backed off even if she had realised that each of this pack was about 4 times her size.

I suspect they had originally been attracted by the corpse of a kangaroo elsewhere in the paddock.