Friday, 30 September 2016

Call this weather?

I will do the usual weather report a tad later in the week but thought that what has been going on for the last couple of days worth mentioning.

We haven't had anything like that experienced in South Australia but basically its just been raining steadily, apart from a brief spell of dry on the afternoon of 29 September.

It seemed to rain most of the night (but only a few millimetres.  Whiskers Creek is running hard, and has done since I took this photo yesterday afternoon.
The Molonglo went over Briars Sharrow Rd last evening and now has  about 0.5m of water over the road.

The current situation is shown in this radar image from 0705;
Our place is at the red X.  This situation has been effectively stationary since I got up about 0500 and is showing no signs of moving.  At 0900 it was still in the same place but the rainfall had greatly reduced.

In a Facebook conversation another local commented that "The sponge is full."  I think this is what he was referring to:
That was taken in our top paddock, flowing into a dam.  That is now overflowing, going into our smaller creek.
 We call it Canyon Creek after this rock feature.
 The Wurmbea dioica (Early Nancy) are now carpeting that paddock, and just about another grassy sections of the area.  For some reason the herbivores don't much this species.
Here are a couple of snaps from the Queanbeyan Riven this afternoon.  My guess is that the river is about 2m deeper than usual.

 This shows the rise to be only about 1m.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Mainly North Mulligans Flat

Before getting to the many delights of North Mulligans Flat here are a couple of updateish photographs from our block.

I finally managed to find a few flowers of Hardenbergia violacea.  Perhaps this wet year will get it back to its former lurid presence?
I have mentioned that the Glossodia major is beginning to flower.  Today, for the first time this season, I noticed a lot of buds appearing as well as an increase in the number of open flowers.
The rather phallic looking object is a bud - the camera focussed on the flower behind it.

So off we went to Mullies, where we had been told of many Diuris chryseopsis.  They will come in a few lines but first I will note the area was quite damp.  This dam seemed quite full.
So did this one until I noticed the tide line and realised it was still about 2.5m below full.  How much rain does it take to fill it?
Here is an impressionistic snap of a clump of the D. chyseopsis (aka Golden Moth orchid).
Here is a close up.
The only other orchid we found today was Caladenia (again) fuscatus (aka Petalochilus fuscatus).
This is included to show the variability of the colour of this species: the structure does I think show them to be the same species.
This little pink jobbie had us puzzled a little until I was able to see white petals with a purple ring.  That made it a relatively Late Nancy - which is still Wurmbea dioica.
There was a mass of heaths around.  Here is a mid-range snap of a bush of Leucopogon fletcheri.
This is a longer view of many bushes on a hillside.
Also a heath is Lissanthe strigosa (Peach Heath).
Traditionally Melichrus urceolatus (Urn Heath) is the first of the heaths to flower, after being in bud for most of Winter
As well as the yellow orchids there were lots of Craspedia variabilis (Billy Buttons)  some of which were decorated with beetles ....
and some of which were not yet ready for arthrodic invasion.  This does look like an interesting set of whorls there - does our friend the Fibonnaci Series come in to play again?
Ranunculus sp.
Hibbertia sp.
Compared to what is going on in Carwoola the beans were getting their act into gear.  This was the first Bossiaea buxifolia we found.
Probably Daviesia genistifolia.   Because the flowers are quite small, and dark, they are not spectacular when glanced at but become interesting when scrutinised.
Given the number of kangaroos around there was a surprising amount of Indigofera australis around.
As we were heading back to the car Frances noticed this large Bearded Dragon on the path.

In case you wondered why they are called 'Bearded' the next couple of images should assist your understanding!

Something to do with 'spiny' could be added to their name.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Insects start happening

Although Spring doesn't start for another few hours from the time of  starting typing some of the insects around Carwoola are already firing up. (They may have started firing but then went missing for quite some time: this draft has been hanging around for nearly four weeks.  So I thought I would add a sighting from today (26 September) and publish it.)

The first observation was in fact a few days ago when I saw an Australian Painted Lady butterfly taking advantage of a sunny day.  I'd suggest this was a contender for whatever Lepidoptera have as the equivalent of the Darwin Awards as the next night was -4oC.

The second was a tad strange as I had not noticed such an event before.  At about 2100hrs on 30 August Frances became aware of tapping on the windows.  It wasn't Greta Garbo but a bunch (at least 10 specimens) of insects!  I think they were Icheumenon wasps.  What they were doing out at night I have no idea.

Fortunately I asked Roger Farrow about their identity and he was able to advise that they are indeed an icheumenoid, Netelia sp.,  and on consulting his book "Insects of South-Eastern Australia" it indicates that what they were probably doing was migrating
According to Zborowski and Storey the presence of the vein marked with a red arrow indicates they are Icheumenons rather than Braconids.
While on the details of anatomy the presence of an ovipositor suggests these are females.
I finally got the lighting more or less right in terms of the colour of the insects.
(As an aside: it is part of the set of official family jokes, referenced in a blogpost from 2010 that Dudley Moore's window tapper was Raquel Welch.  The You-tube above makes it clear it was in fact Greta-bloody-Garbo.  I think I must have conflated the Pete'n' Dud sketch with Dud and Raquel appearing in Bedazzled.)

When I composed the above (31 August 2016) I expected it to herald a lot of interesting, photographable insect sightings.  This has not turned out to be the case, and it is not until the evening of 13 September that the next lot of tapping ensued.  That was a small moth:
The event that caused me to hit the 'publish' button was finding an Australian Admiral (Vanessa itea) zipping around the garden this morning (26 September) .  It was obviously well up on energy as it was moving very quickly and didn't pause for a photo.

Vets at Bruce Ridge

The Veterans Athletic Club held a monthly handicap at Bruce Ridge Nature Park (I'll come back to that later) on 25 September and I was duty photographer.   There was quite a bit of interesting stuff, both to do with the venue and the event.

While warming up (ie wandering around waiting for the event to start) I spotted quite a few attractive flowers.

Petalochilus fuscatus
 Acacia genistifolia
 Dillwynnia sp.
 Glycine clandestina
 I "ran" the short course and was surprised to find that the turn point was unattended.  (It emerged the marshal had gone a bit further up the track to deal with the Long Course turn.)
 It looked as though the wind had blown a few trees across the track.
 Then I looked at the stump.
Either there has been an outbreak of big-toothed beavers or Canberra Nature Park staff have been clearing away trees that offend lawyers.

The club has been sending around messages about no dogs on the course.  That appears to be flexible in application.  (I should point out that I have no problems with dogs on the course - there are usually non-competitors exercising pooches any way - but if one competitors dog is banned they all should be.)
 Here are a few more images from the event.  Here we have one of the back markers heading off, after several finishers frm the short course had already got home.  (The final starter on the long course was still several minutes from starting.)
This is the first finisher from the long course coming through the tunnel.  He did set out early, so that he could start entering data for the scoring.
 It was a bit soggy in places.
 Long course persons battling up one of the less pleasant hills.
There were quite a lot of mountain bikers around: it was rumoured that they were in an 'event' and this explained why some of the Vets course marking had been obliterated leading to a few people - including a course vetter, getting lost!
 Here are some MTB types maintaining their tracks.  Questions could be asked about why this is permitted in a Nature Park, but the answer is likely to be because the mountain bikers have got more political clout than the natural history enthusiasts!