Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Parabolic Tuesday

When I started this series I had in mind to make the titles ever-increasingly good.  That got a trifle difficult since unless you are Dr Pangloss (or work for something owned by Mr Jerry Hall) things don't always get better.  So I decided that a parabola model - first half increasing, second half declining - would be more normal.
I was taken by this bent tree with the inlet.  I think it is mainly because the murky light which graced the last two days made everything shine in tones of grey.
So we did the usual walk for our last morning: basically a lap of Karbeethong rather than the longer walk into town.  This was as always pleasant meeting a few folk (the tourists having nicked off and many of the locals having gone to their jobs) and seeing quite a few usual birds.

When we got back to the house a fat person was noticed up in a tree.  In subsequent conversation with Warwick the Painter he opined that this was probably a female as she was silent, rather than emitting the grunts typical of the males.  She seemed quite happy in her position, occasionally waking to munch some leaves.
A couple of Welcome Swallows perched outside the bedroom window and waited for me to put  down the vacuum cleaner and grab  my camera.
I ended up with 90 species seen around Mallacoota during the 6 days we were present.  Obviously the two days which included a visit to the poo pits got the highest scores of 63 and 66 species.
Bird of the Day didn't appear until we set off for home, with Bell Miner being recorded at Genoa.  The species is resident there so gets a low rating overall but is very rare around Canberra so saves another species for later.

We decided to drive via Cann River.  According to Google Maps, compared to the route using Imlay Road, it is about 9km longer and takes an extra 4 minutes (ie effectively the same) but it would make a change.  We stopped in Cann River to stretch and for me to have a pie from the Bakery (about 6.5, as it seemed to have more liquid than necessary).  I had a mistaken belief that it was on the coast but in fact it's about 25km inland so my hopes of Pacific Gull and Black-faced Cormorant were dashed.

Off up the highway.  Frances thought it was a more comfortable drive than Imlay Rd whereas I felt the traditional route was better.  Possibly I was influenced by having 4 folk in front of me who drove at unnecessarily erratic speeds relative to the limits and conditions.  There were showers and low cloud as we ascended to Bombala (temperature 13oC but Nimmitabel, the highest and usually coldest locale was a relatively balmy 16oC.

Basically a drive.  We got home and unpacked.  The overall rating of the trip was as usual, excellent.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

More on Monday

More than what I hear you ask?  A very good question, to which possible answers include:

  1. More than on Sunday; or
  2. More than there was before I started writing this;
  3. Additional birds added to the trip list.
Let me not be prescriptive but you choose.

One thing there was more of was cloud.  No sunrise was visible, and it was pretty gloomy all day.

As usual we started with a walk with the small dog.  We headed in to town and got a good collection of birds.  Frances scored Bird of the Day (although I did also see one) with Azure Kingfisher: I'd had a few dodgy sightings of a small bird travelling under vegetation at Warp factor 7, but this was a counter.  

Once into town a few denizens of the caravan park seemed to be packing up. Perhaps as a result there had been less folk around on the path.

Back at the house we met the painter who had dropped in to make arrangements for him re-starting work on Tuesday.  With that sorted I went for a prowl up the street to photograph plants in people's gardens.  The first few are various cultivated Grevilleas.

 This is a Eucalypt possibly a Yate.
 As I got back to the house I could hear the calls of a Grey Goshawk.  I got some very good looks at it but every  time I could see it clearly it moved on.  This was only photograph I got: please imagine the bill etc!
 Much the same applies to a male Eastern Whipbird.  At least this photo shows the bird a bit better than yesterday.
 Our first after-breakfast expedition was to Pebbly Beach.  Driving there we crossed with many trekkers walking along the road.  At the parking lot a large group of them appeared: I have no idea why they have traffic cones on their heads
 A picturesque bunch of winkles.  They obviously have a good strategy for surviving out of the water.
 We took a loop back through the bush, getting good looks at a Rufous Fantail and various other bush birds.  The walk seemed a lot longer than I had expected but went in the right direction.  Getting back to the road we encountered this scene of destruction.
 Presumably the airport - just beyond the felled timber - considers trees a hazard to safety (or more likely their bottom line).  A Council and an airport is a pretty deadly combination for social cooperation.

After lunch I took Frances for a visit to the water treatment ponds so that she could see the waterfowl.  They were in lower numbers than on Saturday, but still OK.  A treat was a couple of Wedge-tailed Eagles and a young White-bellied Sea-eagle.  These were attracting attention from small birds, and at one point a Magpie-lark landed on the back of a perched Wedgie, pecking at its neck!

Here are two of the ponds.
 This is the biggest - perhaps 100m wide and 400m long.
 It isn't necessary to have a "Do not swim" sign.  The colour of the liquid - I hesitate to call it water - does that.
After the poo pits we went to the end of the road looking for Beautiful Firetails.  None were there, but among other interesting birds Frances got a good view of a male Rose Robin.  So Bird of the Day from Friday has now been seen as well as heard.

On Friday we found what I thought to be kelp fruit.  It was getting very smelly so we wondered if it was animal not vegetable.  Looking closely it seems to emanate from some sponges (1) and have feathery structures, rather like gills (2).  Suggestions welcome!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

A chocolatey Sunday

I'll leave it to the readership to decide how that newly minted adjective fits on a scale from "rather pleasant" to "Super".  The word arrived as I have been munching on an Easter Egg I won in a raffle a few days ago (thanks Queanbeyan View Club!)!

Apart from The Egg the day also pretty good in the bird area.  We started by scoring 35 species on our morning walk around Western Karbeethong.  This included Bird of the Day which was a Cattle Egret grazing with some cattle in the pastures at the end of the settlement,

When I commented in the past about the difficulty of getting my camera to focus on that which I wished, rather than the background (or occasionally a small twig in the foreground)a helpful colleague asked about "manual focus".  Today I tried it out with a crepuscular Wonga Pigeon.  It is a bit tricky as the finger has to move from the manual focus button to the shutter button without losing the composition, but I think this is OK.  Certainly it is better than the automated offering!
That got me a bit cocky so I tried taking a shot of an Eastern Whipbird.
I don't think focus was the problem here: the red outline might help spot the birdie!
I was initially hopeful that the middle Oystercatcher might have been a tad more exciting but apparently a dark tip to the bill and drab legs just mean a young bird of the Australian Pied species.
We spent a fair bit of the morning in wooded or heath areas.  There really was very little in flower,  A small Leucopogon sp.
Possibly Pimelea sp.?
No idea, beyond dicotyledon!
A bean - perhaps a Bossiaea?
Acacia sp.
Correa reflexa.
Epacris impressa.  I have mainly included this shot as I usually get very poor images of this colour form: for this one I used the flash to try to improve things and it seems to have worked.
An orchid!
An orchid!!
An Orchid!!!

Ok so it is Eriochilus cucullatus but it was the only orchid we have seen to far!
In the afternoon we went to Bastion Point which was pretty well covered with family funsters from the caravan park.
This snap shows the bar at the mouth of the Inlet.  I reckon you'd need a fair incentive to take a boat out through that.
Some surfers were getting rides, but I didn't wish to hang around for them to get up.
Let me (nearly) finish today's effort, on what is after all a Christian religious holyday, with an adaptation of a quote about God's desires, from John Milton: "They also surf who only sit and wait."
I've stretched it out a bit with a photo from our final stroll of the day of a boat coming into the jetty just on dusk.
Shortly after this we were at the bottom of the street and a couple of bats were in the air so I stayed to see what would happen.  Within 2 or 3 minutes (at 1932)  there were 10s in the air circling over the roost.  5 minutes after that, 100s were in the air and a steady stream were heading out across the Inlet towards the flowering  Angophora pictured on Thursday's post.

A well beyond average Saturday

We are finding that the passage of the seasons means we are often up well before daybreak.  So are some of the fisherfolk as exemplified by this one heading out towards the bar,  (For the benefit of non-Australians, that is a term given to sandbanks that build up across the mouths of estuaries.  I can't imagine that a fisherperson would be heading to the pub at 0615: they'd know it doesn't open until 1000.)
Eventually the sun arose.
A large butterfly caught our attention as we set off on our dog walk.  It looked a trifle odd, but on checking this photo against my field guide it was an Orchard Butterfly: the oddness was due to the hind-wings being tucked away,
In the lagoon a Little Egret (note black bill and legs) ...
... was feeding with a couple each of White-faced Herons and Royal Spoonbills.
Having got the exercise walk out of the way later in the day we went for a stroll to Quarry Beach.  Unlike the exercise walk this was devoid of birds (but well endowed with kelp).
On the subject of birds, the early morning was really excellent.  Bird of the Day appeared early, in the form of a Grey Goshawk.  This was calling from a large eucalypt on the far side of the road and thus attracting attention  from several Australian Magpies.  Alert and concerned readers need not be worried that I have completely slacked off: I did get some good looks at it and didn't rely on a 'heard' record.

As we walked along I also saw a Rufous Fantail and the Little Egret both of which are unusualish.

Later in the day we went to the back of the airport where bush-clearing appears to be happening: presumably the RFS have noticed there are trees there and their reflexes have cut in (as have their chainsaws).   There were few birds around with the least common being Jacky Winters.  They really are unexciting looking birds, as suggested by their alternate vernacular name of Brown Flycatcher.
My final outing for the day was to the poo pits and I spotted another 5 Jacky Winters on the fences as I walked in to the pits..  As usual there was a wide range of ducks in fairly large numbers on the water.  The least common duck was a couple of Musk Ducks.    As I walked out a male Scarlet Robin appeared making my 4th Australo-Papuan Robin for the day.
In the morning I had taken the lawn mower for a stroll.  I think it hadn't been mowed since we were last here in January but it wasn't too bad, scoring 14 catcher-fulls (my record is 28, after not being mowed from 3 wet months).  It looked better afterwards,
The candlestick Bansias were looking good .
As was a pink eucalypt.
We take a final stroll just before having our evening meal.  This evening we found a flock of Pelicans taking their meal adjacent to the Karbeethong ramp where a fisherperson was throwing them scraps as he cleaned his catch.
As I went to bed I noticed that the moon had risen: I was still a little later than I wanted (my hope was to get it right on the horizon) but it's quite pretty.

Friday, 25 March 2016

A Good Friday indeed

I am using the adjective in the sense of an enjoyable day rather than the etymology suggested by Wikipedia.  The only potential blot was being unable to acquire any Hot Cross Buns at the bakery as they only do them to order.  So I ordered some for tomorrow knowing that Graham Chapman won't mind me being a day late.

The weather was overcast all day, but gave it a bit of a go at dawn.
 This is a shot of the nicely painted front of the house without any scaffolding in the way.
  We went for our usual walk into town this morning and then to the heath-land around Davis Creek.  The most interesting flowers were this Billardiera  (with bonus ant) ...
 .. and a good collection of Banksia marginata.
As we walked along the beach we were impressed with the range of colours available.  I think this is a fruiting body (not sure if that is a correct term for algae)cof kelp.
A kelp attachment iorgan well covered with sponges that have adopted a red tone.

This sponge looked quite mauve in reality: here it looks faintly off-brown.  (I am reminded of a very weak SA politician whose name was Dean Brown: he was such a wimp it was suggested he change his name to Dean Beige.)
There was a lot of kelp on the beach!
This image was intended to show the difference between adult and immature plumage on Crested Terns.  It also helps resolve any problems you might have in telling Terns from Gulls!
A young Red-capped Plover.
They have been absent for a while, and it was good when (later in the day) I was able to count them in the Inlet about 300m away.  I do like my new telescope.

I didn't need the scope for this lot of assorted waterbirds.
Bird of the day was none of these, but a Rose Robin I heard calling at the house.

Earlier in the day while in the heath I noticed this jewel spider (the one with yellow markings).  Suddenly another spider rushed onto the web and appeared to grapple with it.  Was this making love or war?  Advice welcome!
Through a foot of water dimly.  There is an octopus in there somewhere.  A bunch of young fisherpersons had jagged it, but it dropped off before I could get a better shot.
When I walked back past them they said they had a dead Flathead and a crab and asked if I wanted to photograph them.  I said thanks but pass, at which they said they were thinking of flathead and crab soup for tea: the 'pus was let go!

Here's some images of bait pumping out in the Innlet.
I reckon it is cheating to use a cattle dog to suss out the worms!
Fishing happens at the mouth of the Inlet.  A lot of people had walked there.
Others went by boat.
I also reckon it is cheating to use a Border Collie to suss out the fish.

Generally we were astonished at the number of folk around today.  And for some reason they seemed to be a lot younger than on our recent visits.

As evening approached I went to check the bats.  They were a lot quieter than they had been during the day, at least until I walked along the track, at which time the noise got incredible.  They still seemed to be just hanging out however.
The moon rose, but due to the cloud it was up high before I could get a shot at it.