Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Mainly Koala photos

The day started with a nice sunrise.  Not much cloud around but the silhouetted hills of Nadgee were attractive.
 A few bits and bobs of cloud were over Gabo Island.
 Looking back and up a Koala was sitting - IMHO precariously - in the gum tree.  The use of the hind leg for scratching rather than hanging on was not conducive to staying in the tree.
On the dog walk in to town we found two Azure Kingfishers in various bits of Coulls Inlet.
Our middle walk was the Casuarina Walk.  There seemed to be lots of twittery birds around, but mainly staying hidden in the foliage or the understorey.  Very few flowers, except Epacris, and those we did find didn't photograph at all well,  This meant we spent a fair bit of time looking at the impressively tall trees.

I can't get excited about photos of tall trees.  Somehow it never gets across the size and magnificence of them.  This tree decided to help by bringing itself a little lower.  Definitely a headache deliverer when it came down.
On the way home, after acquiring a pie at the excellent Bakery, we went to Captain Stevenson's Point to see if there were any interesting birds around.  In summary, no.  A couple of Pied Oystercatchers and 53 Silver Gulls were the highlights.

After getting home I took myself to the water plant where diversity wasn't that high, but there were good numbers of Australasian Shovelers (23); Australian Wood Duck (37, grazing in a horse paddock); Chestnut Teal (16) and Hardhead (23).  On the biggest lagoon there were at least 250 Eurasian Coots.  The weather was also notable for its badness: strong SW wind, 10/10ths cloud  and occasional spits of rain:  I didn't hang around for longer than essential.

Back at the house the Koala had got active scurrying about to start its afternoon meal.
The position is even more risky so it had three fett fully devoted to maintaining position.  The non-gathering front foot ....
 .. and both rears.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Mallycoota: the next two days

The title of this post, while boring, is accurate.  There wasn't much to photograph on the 28th so I didn't take many snaps and thus have't got a great deal to show you.  So this will combine that day and the 29th.

The clouds before sunrise were quite interesting, as was the development of their colour between 07:12 ...
 ... and 07:15.
After the long walk to town we did the coastal walk from Betka Beach.  We did it in reverse to our usual path as I particularly wanted to check on some fungi we saw last visit which looked very similar to some luminous items blogged by Carol Probets.  Alas, in the intervening several weeks they have vanished.  There were a few seabirds around including this group with 3 species of Cormorant in one shot.
The coast here is especially spiffy with moderately high cliffs and sandy beaches.
Unfortunately on this day enjoyment of the scenery was marred by the very loud crap music coming from this boat.  Initially I thought he was a lobster fisherman but on looking at the photo I noticedthe airline going out of the back of the boat.  Sure enough he's an abalone harvester.  There is very little wrong with Mallacoota, but everything that is - eg wasting a squillion bucks on a mini-breakwater- ends up being attributed to the abalone burglars.

Anything less Zen-like than the racket coming from this waste of resources is hard to imagine.

Although  the Ghost Fungi were aboutthere were a couple of others that were pleasant to look at.

This is clearly a different species of Acacia to that I photographed yesterday (bi-pinnate rather than linear leaves).  It was flowering well throughout the heath areas.
The final section of the route yesterday was along the Betka River.  With little wind the reflections were quite attractive.
So on to the 29th!  The weather forecast for this day was the best of the time we're visiting but the morning sky would have had a shepherd muttering unhappily.

 It was possible to see the lighthouse on Gabo Island (15km away) quite clearly.
 When I first viewed this image there appeared to be a huge flag hanging above the lighthouse, but it disappeared when I clipped image. Going back to the original image it reappeared!  Then I wiped some grot off the screen and it wasn't there any more.  (I suspect that this, combined with a low dosage of medication, is the sort of thing that leads to Trump supporters doubting the moon landing.)

The first walk today was very quiet.  Our longer walk was from Shipwreck Creek to Seal Creek in Croajingalong NP, apart 20km East of the town.  There was a fair bit to see there.  I'll start with Correa reflexa.
 There were a lot of fungi around.  I didn't knock this one off its stipe!
 This one was in the middle of the track - again I didn't knock it over.  My guess is that its Çortinarius archeri- there were some other fruiting bodies nearby which had gone manky, which is typical of the species.
 The gills are mauve inside the cortina (veil).
These are more of the luminous Ghost fungi, but I'm not driving down to Shipwreck Creek after dark to see them glowing.
 This is just gum from a eucalypt, but I thought the colour was worth a few electrons.
The final drop into Seal Creek is very steep and quite slippery!  We made it down and (obviously) back up!
 The main attraction was the heathland which was full of flowering Epacris impressa.  This image doesn't do justice to the colour of the flowers which were much redder in the field.
 Here is a patch of them.
The main attraction of the heath is that it is the haunt of a few species of bird that I don't see elsewhere.  This visit began well with 2 Southern Emu-wrens being seen right at the start of the heath.  Then the BIG excitement: a Ground Parrot flushed about 1m off the track and flew about 50 m above the veg before dropping back into cover.  Not only was it a lifer, but one I had been looking for for about 30 years!  I didn't manage a photograph.  Obviously Bird of the Day!

The third special species is Tawny-crowned Honeyeater.  They turn up quite often at the paddock between the airfield and the Gun Club but had't on this trip.  Possibly they were all down at Shipwreck Creek as I recorded at least 8 (visible/audible at once).
While that photo is technically appalling it does the job in showing the key features of the bird: bill shape; tawny crown, dark streak and overall colouring.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Mayllacoota

So we had a busy Friday in Queanbeyan and headed off down the road.  As we passed Michelago the Tinderry range looked excellent: to my mind they have still not fully recovered from the fires that hit them in 2009 (7 years ago).
 The drive down was uneventful.  I don't recall a single example of pelicanish driving!  After a rumble along Imlay Rd and a touch of the Princes Highway we crossed into Victoria and were immediately greeted by a Superb Lyrebird scurrying up a roadside bank.  Getting close to our destination and another Lyrebird was scratching in the dirt at the side of Karbeethong Rd!

Keeping in touch with Australian icons a Koala was in residence in the gum tree next door.
On our last visit a large frog was in the bog.   As a complete change this time a former Feathertail Glider was dead on the carpet in the study.  Poor little blighter.
 This is why they are called feathertails.

The next morning, as is so often the case at Mallacoota, the sun rose!

 As we were about to head off for our first walk (as usual the 8km in to the town centre) Frances noticed that the Koala was very active.  It shinned up a smaller tree and started eating the leaves.  It seemed to be lying almost upside down to do this.
At an early stage in the walk a small white moth landed on my leg.  I don't have my moth book with me so can't identify it with certainty but Tipanaea patulella looks promising.  On Facebook Ranger Meg has suggested Omnivorous Tussock-moth (Acyphas semiochrea).  I googled that and on getting to a page of the Lepidoptera House reckon that she's right on the money.
 I have no idea what the little brush is - not even if it is part of the moth.  From the page linked above I find that it is likely a tuft on the tail, indicating its a female moth.
 A Great Egret posed for an artistic scratch .
There is not a great deal of floriferousness around so this gum blossom above the drive is particularly welcome.
 After being absent for the early part of Summer the Grey-headed Fruit Bats are hanging on down by the creek.  I have no idea what they are finding to feed on.  They did seem much more nervous than usual.
 Mr K had changed position and stopped eating.  The branch forming his backrest looked quite thin to bear his weight: I suspect that right hand is in something resembling the Vulcan Death Grip.  As we didn't hear a large thud I guess it worked.
Our second walk was the Heathland element of the Mallacoota Coastal Walk.  This spider web shows how dewy it was in the morning.
 Much acacia (not sure of the species) was evident in the heath area (very little was blooming in the woodland area.
I will be bold and call this a white flower. As it was polite enough to flower it should be recognised for its efforts.
 At Betka beach I couldn't find any Hooded Plovers but there were a few Red-capped Plovers and this little chap, which I have decided is an immature Double-banded Plover: I think the only Winter arrival in this area (from New Zealand).

This was a very helpful Bird of the Day.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

A variety of natural history snaps

That is a pretty bland title, but it is truth in advertising!  These are a few photos taken recently which appeal to me or seem interesting.

I think this first is a slime mould not evidence of a very large bird having an extreme case of the trots.  The cracked appearance suggests the mould is not well.
The next snaps are of cobwebs in the fog.  The first lot are on our neighbour's fancy gate and was taken with my phone while on the morning dog walk.
Having got that one, I went out with my camera about 40 minutes later. While the fog had lifted somewhat, reducing the intensity of the webs, the better optics let me get a few pleasant shots.



I am still 'live'with Bird-a-Day but in the "Not waving, drowning"stage.  So went for a drive round the Plain to see what I could find.  Nothing of great assistance to that project but a juvenile Brown Falcon surveying the paddocks from a hawthorn bush was good to see.
As were a pair of Gang-gangs munching on the berries.