Showing posts from January, 2018

Woodman, woodsman spare that ...

.. Thistle!

For the title of this post I have adapted a phrase which I have known of for years, apparently from a poem by George Pope Morris, to cover a bit of work around the block.  The rationale for this will become apparent below.

This Spring-Summer has been notable for an astonishing growth of thistles of various species around the area.  I noticed one clump as we started on our dog walk.  I took the kwanja (bent panga) in hand and went down to deal with them.  When face to thorn near them ...
...  I wondered if it would not have been better to take my chainsaw.  They were BIG!!  (I was reminded of the genus Lobelia, which I know of as a prostrate bedding plant used in hanging baskets, but also includes the Giant Lobelias - up to 3m high - on the mountains of East Africa.)  Hence the title.

However the kwanja was up to the job, and despite not wearing full body armour I was not damaged.

As well as these monsters a few Saffron Thistles were also spotted, and received similar treat…

Learning from the census

I was reviewing the topics I have covered in articles for the Gazette and found that I hadn't done anything about Education and Qualifications per se.  So here goes.

The first person to learn something through this was the author who had to find out what was involved in the various Certificates etc mentioned in the Census Qualification descriptors.  The authority on this seems to be the Australian Qualifications Framework.  They become important when looking at the Highest Educational Attainment which will come a little further down this post.

I will however start with the topic of attendance at an educational establishment.
This chart shows that the information is very much in line with expectations. (So not much learning there, but it gives some confidence in the process that this is so!) A few points of interest arise:
The not-stated rate is relatively high but: will include all the imputed records (~7% of person records in the Gazette area);If people aren't attending educat…

A stroll in Queanbeyan

Having a few minutes to spare in Queanbeyan yesterday I went for a birding walk around the loop around the Weir.

What I thought was the usual flock of Pacific Black Ducks (PBDs - green ticks below)  were mucking around in QE2 Park.  However on looking more closely about half  (yellow lines in the image below) of them were "something else".
They were definitely hybrids of some sort but I'm not sure what.   They didn't have the curly tail feathers of  Mallard hybrids so my guess is that Muscovy Duck is involved, but I don't know if they can hybridise with PBDs.  Whatever: I think it would be good if they soon got cosy with some Orange Sauce.

Moving along a bit towards the suspension bridge I came across a flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos dining on the ground.  Some of them flew up into a tree where I snapped this one.  I have a long-standing quest to get a photo of one with the crest erect but I have failed again.
 Less pleasantly one of them had a bad case of be…

Random aspects of late January weather

I seem to have been blogging a lot recently about the weather.  Probably because it has been too unpleasant to go outside and find some birds/insects/flowers to post about.

I will start by noting that yesterday (24 January) had a maximum of 25oC so that ended the Heat Wave.  We also got 3.8mm of rain which was nice.

The overnight low so far today has been 17oC, which suggests some cloud is around.  indeed the radar supports this view (its still too dark - perhaps because of cloud cover ? - to see).
To explain the symbols.  The system is moving SE as indicated by the arrow.  We are at 1 - roughly.  I am surprised the band of stuff at 2 missed us (but see next image).  3 may hold out better prospects for some rain.

At low levels of precipitation the BoM palette probably explains what has gone on.
The band of precipitation at 2 is very doubtful about getting to the ground.  In many cases - including this one - I suspect this is some form of verga.  10 minutes later and the blue in the Bo…

Doin's in the rain

I set off today with Great Expectations of checking out a few birds at Kelly's Swamp and then giving thew BBQ Stakes a bit of action. 

On getting to Kelly's, as soon as I got into Ardea Hide I saw a Royal Spoonbill.
 Here is a close-up showing the plumes well, and the patch of yellow skin above the eye.
 A little later I found a second bird of this species visible from Cygnus hide.  I was hoping to use this as Bird of the Day - which is still going despite the death of the Coordinator and Webmeister late last year.  However I'd already used the species!!  Fortunately there were 3 other good species on hand in Red-kneed Dotterel; Black-fronted Dotterel  and Freckled Duck.  The last named got the award.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty murky and raining so I couldn't get a decent photo of any of them at 125m range.  Unfortunately I heft my digiscoping adapter, which would have done the business, at home.

When I say rain, I mean rain.
I decided that I'd pass on th…

Some season oriented weather material

In a weather discussion group in which I participate there is some discussion of seasonal comparisons, at present mainly on whether Summer 2017-18 is theHottest OF ALL TIME.  The jury will have to stay out on that for a few more weeks but it has prompted me to have a look at the seasons of 2016-17 as I define them.  To remind readers of those definitions.  For the reasons explained here :

Summer is November (year x)  to February (year x+1);Autumn is March - June;Winter is July and August; and Spring is September and October.
I don't really have enough data on Humidity or Wind to say much so have restricted myself to commenting on Rainfall and Temperatures.  The period being looked here is from November 2016 to October 2017.

I have tried to make this post self-contained so I might repeat material from earlier posts.  Sorry if that is annoying but I felt it better than whacking in a lot of links.
Rainfall In a word - very low.
 Every season is well below the average although none are…

Birdbath activity

It has been hot and dry recently so we have been keeping up the supply of water to our bird baths.  They do get used quite a lot and just as the birds travel in mixed feeding flocks in Winter, in Summer they seem to travel in Mixed Bathing flocks.  One such arrived at the bath today: the chaos had calmed down a bit by the time I got my camera.
A Yellow-faced Honeyeater.
Ibid, with an accompanying Silvereye.
 As usual this was not that obvious which species it was but I decided Brown Thornbill.
When I first glanced at this bird I became excited about the amount of rufous feathers.  But then I calmed down and realised it was a very young Grey Fantail.
If it had been a Rufous Fantail this view would have shown the black on the upper breast and brown tail (with a very bright rufous base to the tail).
 This Superb Fairywren didn't make it to the bath, butyou can't have too many images of this gorgeous species.

Ranging around the matter of temperatures

In my weather reports I usually comment on maximum and minimum temperatures and less frequently mean temperatures.  I can't recall saying much about the range of temperatures.  As a result of some comments on a weather discussion group I decided to look into this aspect of our climate a little more.  The first lot of commentary refers to the period from 2014 using my Davis Weather Station, so the collection mechanism is constant.

I classified the daily ranges to arbitrary groups.
That looks pretty close to a normal distribution to me.

The total range of temperatures I have recorded is from -6.8oC to 40.7oC or 47.5oC.   So that basically sets a limit on daily ranges!

The greatest daily range I have recorded since starting up my weather station here in 2014 has been 29.2oC.  That occurred on 17 January 2014 and was a range from a minimum of  9.7oC to a maximum of 38.9oC.

The lowest range was 1.5oC, on 1 September 2016 from 4.2oC to 5.7oC.

When looking at these extreme ranges it seem…

Looking at heatwaves in January

This January is being disgusting for heat.  However, is it being more disgusting than usual?  Theer are many ways of looking at this and I have tried to set out some of them blow.

I'll begin with a chart plotting days with a maximum over 30oC for the last 4 years.  I have chosen that period as it comes from my Weather Station so change of site isn't an issue.
Last year was very hot (or bad, if you prefer). The spell of 12 days then was not as bad as the 17 consecutive days over 30oC recorded by Lynton in January - February 2011!

I have compiled a profile of maxima for January 2018 using my data to the 17th and the rest of the month from various forecast.  The next chart compares the result of that with the actual data for 2017.
I think that shows that last year was worse!

In terms of heat wave days (ie number of days in periods of 3 days or more of >30oC and minima >10oC), it looks as though this January will rack up 19 days (if the forecasts are correct).  Last year was…

Glendale WW

I thought I'd start with a spiffy view from about the mid-point of the walk.
22 Members (I don't think there were any guests) arrived at Glendale Depot after car pooling at the Namadgi Visitors Centre.  It was fortunate that some of those present had recently visited Glendale and were aware that the gate is often closed: a change in policy.  It was open when we arrived but closed when we left (although it may not have been locked. Our route was essentially a figure 8 starting by walking towards the Mighty Gudgenby River and then up towards the Depot itself.   This image of the route is from eBird, where Peter had the track function turned on.
An early Good Bird was the pair of resident Sacred Kingfishers.  They were soon followed by 3 Southern Whiteface which obligingly perched on various fences, wires andVerbascumstalks allowing most of us good looks.   One was very cooperative in perching next to a Dusky Woodswallow (of which there were many) so that we could be sure we weren…