Monday, 23 January 2017

Filling in a few hours

I put the Jetta in for a service at Langes in Queanbeyan today.  I had 4 hours to fill in so decided to go and hike up through Cuumbeun Nature Reserve to check for Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens.  My guess was this was about an 8km round trip. Checking on Google Earth it works out to 8.6kms (plus a few deviations)
Running the cursor along the route the low point was 570m AMSL and the high point 770ms so a fairly honest stroll.  Adding to the effort was the therms - about 18C at the start but closer to 30C by the time I finished.  About 1.5l of water was drunk as I went.

This is what is laughingly called the Old Sydney Road.  I think it is supposed to be a main fire trail up into the Reserve: that is one of the less eroded bits - I certainly wouldn't like to take a laden fire tanker up there.
 There was very little left in flower.  The everlasting daisies (Xerochrysum viscosum) sort of add a bit of very dry colour, and at one point I noticed some Eucalypt blossom.  The Bursaria spinosa which is still flowering well at home was all well and truly finished.
 Cassinia longifolia was really the only species still in flower
 ... apart from one patch of about 30 specimens of this strange blue-flowered plant.
 It produces a flower straight out of the ground with no leaves that I can see.
 I really have no idea what it might be.  With 4 petals it shouldn't be a lily or orchid.  My guess is that it is an escapee that has set up a colony, although I think its about 2km from the nearest house.

This photo, from about the high point, looks across Queanbeyan to Mount Jerrabomberra with the Brindabellas just visible through the heat haze.
On the few occasions that I ventured off track I was unsure where to look.  My heart said look in the tree tops for birds.  My head said look on the ground for reptiles (didn't see one). Of course, what one really had to look out for was Jewel spider webs about 1.5m off the ground.
 I count 21 strands in this web: no wonder they stick when you unwisely walk through them.

The main haunt of the Heathwrens is close to this dam, but they weren't there today.  Or at least not where I went (see reference above to reptiles - and think about walking through tussocks of grass).
 Despite the absence of Heathwrens I wrote down 35 species of birds which wasn't too bad.  Contenders for Bird of the Day were

  • Spotted Dove (boooo - but it was right at the bottom of the hill);
  • Brown-headed Honeyeater  - good bird, but they do turn up at home and are easy to pick up as very vocal; and
  • Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo - the winner:probably not uncommon but difficult to spot when not vocalising.   This one flew into a tree just above my head and scoffed a caterpillar.
We often come across sights which make us wonder what is the story behind this?  Here we have a pram chassis, which someone has transported a kilometer horizontally and 100m vertically and then abandoned it in the bush.  

Presumably it had wheels when transported but why abandon it?  Was there a baby in it at the time?  If only I could write novels!

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