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Showing posts from August, 2016

Blue-billed Duck at Kelly's Swamp

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I had a few minutes to spare in the ACT so took myself to Kelly's Swamp, hoping that a Buff-banded Rail would brave the rather average weather and put in an appearance.

On arrival at Cygnus, my hide (blind, for anyone in the US) of choice, the first thing I found was a pair of reading spectacles.  Rather try to describe them I took a phone-photo of them and posted a message with the photo to the COG chatline.  Within minutes I had a reply complaining commenting that I had not submitted any observations.  I explained that I was delaying as at least one birder would currently be unable to read the post.  (The glasses have now been reunited with their owner.)

The following should assuage any residual concerns.

Members of the Rallidae were well evident.  Unfortunately they were restricted to what a well known local naturalist has in the past referred to as "the eternal 3: Dusky Moorhen; Eurasian Coot and what is known currently as Australasian Swamphen.

Now growing up in England…

Cyanicula caerulens starts to happen

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This marks the third year I have monitored colonies of Cyanicula caerulens, the small orchid which some folk call "Blue Fingers", on our block.  Last years action is covered in this post.

This first sighting is 4 days earlier than last year, but they are easy to overlook when in small numbers, and I may have missed the first emergence last year.  However, it is safe to say they aren't late, which is to be expected after what I expect will come out as a relatively warm, wet Winter.

Does it always rain on Wednesdays?

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The weather for Wednesday 31 August 2016 is again looking rather damp.  In the last few weeks it has appeared that it always rains on Wednesdays.  Or at least it is always forecast to rain on Wednesdays!  Is this true?

Fortunately I have a database that can address this in terms of what actually happened (especially since I have discovered an ACCESS function that delivers the day of the week from a date!)  I can't do anything about the forecasts x day of the week since BoM doesn't release to the public their historic series of forecasts.
Cutting to the chase, the answer is that as far as I can tell rain doesn't occur more frequently on Wednesdays than other days of the week. Nor is the rain on Wednesdays heavier than for other days (on average).  Another conspiracy theory bites the dust.  However: check the Update towards the end of this post.

I began by looking at records for our house from 12 November 2013 up to July 31 2016.  That is a period of 995 days.  Determining …

More sights and sounds of (nearly) Spring

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According to my definitions of the seasons (contained in this post) Spring in Carwoola is September and October: not too many frosts (so can't complain about the cold) and not too many days over 30oC (so can't complain about the heat).  It isn't quite here yet but one can almost smell it.

I went for yet another walk to check on the blue orchid situation but the answer was still nil.  However a few of the native(ish) plants in our garden are beginning to flower.  Foremost amongst these are some commercial varieties of Grevillea.


 Although expert advice says don't rely on them to attract a diverse range of birds they do do a good job of bringing in honeyeaters, with Eastern Spinebills being favourites at the moment.

A couple of days later we did a dog walk around the block and found some goodies.

The first is the Just-in-time Nancies (Wurmbea dioica).  Nothing at all to do with current debate in the madhouse at Barton.
 Then Frances noticed a raft of Drosera sp.  They …

Pyromania Day 2016

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As the weather has been pretty damp recently, but looked to be fine with light winds on the 27th I decided that would be a good day to ignite my pile.  I should note that before moving out here I was unfamiliar with the term pile: its UK equivalent would be 'bonfire'.

However we get a quite a few prunings over a year that are too big to go through the chipper but too small to saw up for firewood.  On the pile.  There are also quite a few weeds that I don't want to put in the compost since I suspect that will survive the experience (like cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust..  On the pile.  Finally I collect bags of nasties such as serrated tusssock and St John's Wart (sic) up the block.  On the pile!

Outside the fire season the rules say that one should advise the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and your neighbours at least 24 hours before ignition.  I range them on Thursday and all was good.  The guy on the line asked what I was planning the send up and I summarised the abo…

Spring things - mainly

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I have been a bit busy on things other than blogging the last few days so here are a few bits and pieces from today.  The starting point was probably going  outside to check on the Cyanicula caerulens situation which resolved in the negative (it is still a few days early).

On the way to discover this, I caught up with a few flowers around the garden I missed earlier in the week.  Beginning with some Hellebores growing beside the deck.
 Then a mixed bunch of snowdrops and jonquils.
 Some white jonquils.
Frances picked a bunch of these for in the house but their perfume was so strong they got exported outside again!

Heading up the block I noticed quite a large bush of Acacia gunnii.  This is an understated wattle in comparison with most of the others around here.
Of the mauve beans around the block I have had trouble finding much Hardenbergia for the last few years.  No idea what has happened to it.  The common one today was Glycine australis. - oops, no, Hovea heterophylla.
 Back at th…

A tour of the West (part 2)

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This continues our travels in the Summer of 1981.  The first, Southern, leg is here.

Our stay in Denver between the trips turned out to be a bit traumatic as the toilets stopped flushing.  Well, sort of: the water went into the pan but didn't flow out.  We got a plumber in and it emerged that the main line to the sewer system had been blocked for ages and basically the pipe had eroded so that the soil against which the basement emptied was liquified.  Fortunately a friend of the people we'd exchanged with offered to supervise getting this fixed while we went off on our second trip, in a Northerly direction.

This began with a trip up the Valley Highway (aka I-25) to I-60 where we went West.  I think we stopped somewhere near Rawlins WY at a KOA which was very desolate.  But then the whole area is desolate: like a giant sized version of the road from Cooma to Nimmitabel.  The next day we headed North through forest to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons.
Now that is what I call a …

A tour of the West (part 1)

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A friend from my time in the UN sent me some photos of her family trip along Route 66.  They did this is a large camperwagon rather than a Chevy Corvette (apparently the kids jacked up about being offered a trip in the trunk).  It seems to have been a very good trip for them and most interesting to see their photos.  It was also educational for me, as I found out the German for rocking chair (schaukelstuhl, since you ask).

They did 7200 miles in 30 days - a pretty serious bit of distance.

This made me think of the trips we did in 1981 when living in Denver.  Frances initiated that idea by getting a book about the National Parks of the West  and marking interesting places.  I then worked out a route on a Rand-McNally Road Atlas (GPS was unknown then  - as were iPhones, personal computers and the internet).  From memory, taking nearly the whole Summer school holidays we covered about 10,000 miles in 70 days.  Here, approximately,  are our routes:
That map comes from Google Maps (GM) and…