Friday, 4 September 2015

Spring sounds and sights

Spring is sprung
The Frogmouth Ooms.
Small blue orchids
poke up blooms

One night recently we were briefly woken by squeaks and squeals coming from somewhere nearby.  I concluded it was probably a rabbit being improved by a fox.  Two evenings later - about 8pm - blood-curdling screams were evident.  I was very hopeful that this was a Barking Owl which performs a "screaming woman" (click on the "scream" entry - personally I don't think that woman is really screaming) call as well as the terrier imitation.  I thank Graham Chapman for putting me on to the scream recording.

The situation was resolved exactly as indicated by Graham.  On going outside with my headlight I worked out where the calls were coming from and on turning on the light immediately got eye-shine from close to ground level.  It was a fox - or rather foxes.  I strongly suspect they had been fornicating! To hear the sound - that woman is really exercising her lungs - go to sample 249-99 on Graham's page: (Interestingly that also includes a sound very like the squeaks and squeals referred to above!)

Our local female Swamp Wallabies are carrying loads in their pouches.  When in that condition they have to keep eating, an unfortunately the have a taste for our bushes.  Here is one disturbed while giving a Buddleia some attention.
This is also the approximate time that the Blue Finger orchids (Cyanicula caerulens) emerge.  I have been checking the main patch more or less daily and they first appeared on 3 September.
The fuzzy edges are not (entirely) due to my shaky hands, but to water droplets.
I then found another in our top paddock.  The main patch was a few days later than last year and the top paddock a few days earlier than I found them (which was probably after they first emerged) last year.  On balance, all is normal.

In case anyone thinks they are easy to monitor here is a typical shot.
Accept no substitutes!
They are not orchids but the mauve bean Hovea heterophylla.

A short distance from the top paddock orchids I found some Wurmbea dioica (Right on Time Nancies, a lily) doing their thing.
The next image is a bad news good news story.
The bad news is that it was a 1m long Eastern Brown Snake.  The good news (for us, not the snake) is that it was dead.  No idea what killed it, but the head looked seriously damaged.

There was also some evidence of a fairly recent lightning strike.
This is the top of the tree, showing where the discharge has blown small branches off.
I found this interesting as I wasn't aware of any thunderstorms in the recent past, and that one was less than 500m from our house.

Lightning isn't all that is bad for vegetation.  This trunk on an Acacia dealbata is about 8cm in diameter.
 A much thinner branch was also taking some punishment.
I didn't actually catch them in the act, but these Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos were on the premises at the time.



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