Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prunus glandulosa 'Sinensis' - Double-flowered Dwarf Almond

Prunus glandulosa 'Sinensis' - Double-flowered Dwarf Almond
Double-flowered Dwarf Almond
Prunus glandulosa 'Sinensis'
Bush seen from 2 metres.
Close-up of Dwarf Flowering Almond
Prunus glandulosa "Sinensis"

A dwarf Double-flowered Prunus. Some authorities say it is an Almond. I know it has tiny red "plum-like fruit". It is very pretty in flower. It suckers like crazy though, which is a disadvantage in a "neat" garden. Not a problem in my garden.
There is a white-flowered variety as well. My friend George grows that.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Petalochilus mentiens - a delightful Spring surprise

I have been away from Robertson for several weeks and more specifically I have not been out Orchid hunting in the local area for about a month. 
In that month it has rained and rained and rained. I have had 560mm since 17 August. 

So I was delighted to find that the tiny, (minuscule one might say) Petalochilus mentiens has just started to flower. It is a Caladenia, of course. These plants are all less than 2 inches high (in the old money) or 50mm if you prefer. 


Petalochilus mentiens.
Note the erect dorsal sepal,
the tightly hugging labellum wings and the protruding labellum tip
and the prominent v shaped tip of the labellum.
One of them was a delightful pale pink. The others were all white or cream
Pink specimen of Petalochilus mentiens

In each case,the dorsal sepal was held erect, and the labellum wings are tightly curved around the column, but the labellum tip is prominent, and very tightly v shaped (but not re-curved).
In one area there were about 8 plants within several metres, One shot shows 4 plants - a restriction of my macro lens and my inability to walk back to the car to change lenses.

a nice group of 4 flowers together.
This plant is not exactly rare, but it does not flower here every year, so I am making a bit of a fuss about it now, seeing as I found it today.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Is Pru Goward capable of being an Environmental Hero?

This morning, there was a gathering of Environmental campaigners outside Pru Goward's office in Bowral.
Cranky Koala, with an endangered Gang-gang Cockatoo
and Batwoman
all characters, of course.
(thanks to Lindy Boyko, Alex Walker and Mark Selmes)
The idea was  to invite Pru Goward to be a Climate Change Hero and use her powers as NSW Minister for Planning, to block the huge Whitehaven Coal mine which threatens to destroy Leard State Forest, in north-west NSW. 


This mine will greatly increase Global Warming when the coal (which is currently safe in the ground) is dug out and burnt for electricity in Australia, or sold off to India or China. Either way, it still adds to global pollution, leading to Climate Change, and of course, acidification of the Oceans.

Who would think that the humble Local Member for Goulburn has such power?
More to the point, why does she do nothing with it?

Send her a letter at office@goward.minister.nsw.gov.au


http://www.southernhighlandnews.com.au/story/2539322/coal-mine-protest-in-bowral/?cs=262


Mark Selmes in character as Cranky Koala
He is in fact "conducting" the Choristers of Ecopella

The members of Ecopella, spell out their message.

Two more Super Heroes for the Environment,
Spidergirl and the Incredible Hulk
both asking the question what does Pru Goward
think is more important?

Cranky Koala and his young off-sider, Pesky Possum.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wonga Pigeon RIP

As should be evident from the title of this post, it contains images of a freshly deceased bird.
There is no better opportunity to study details of birds which one can not normally see.
If this is likely to offend you, please come back to this blog on another occasion.
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One of my local Wonga Pigeons flew into a window on my back deck. It died almost instantly - it fell just 2 metres from the window, but off to the side. So clearly it was flying across the back deck and I stood where it had apparently come from, and clearly it was confused by the reflection of some flowering wattle trees below the house. In other words, it did not see the window, and instead thought it was flying towards those trees. Bang. Dead. Stone dead.

The strongly marked belly and under-tail coverts
(feathers of the underneath side of the bird)
apparently act to camouflage the bird when it is nesting,
as Wonga Pigeons raise their tails when nesting,
and when they land on a branch.
(HJ Frith "Pigeons and Doves of Australia" P.285)
Wonga Pigeons walk just about everywhere. So it is hardly surprising that its feet are well adapted to that lifestyle. The toes are spread wide, and they have nails which are strong, but not grasping claws. These are "walking feet",

As such the structure of the Wonga's feet is quite unlike "perching birds" (passerines) and very different from the grasping toes and talons of Owls or Hawks. This Pigeon's toes are strong, individual toes, in a 3 forward: 1 hind toe arrangement which is a classic bird arrangement (think of a Chook's feet).
Toe structure of a Wonga Pigeon.
In that sense, they differ from Parrots. "Parrots have two forward pointing toes (which are relatively long), and two thicker, stronger, backward pointing toes ("zygodactyly"). When the foot is closed, the forward pointing toes nestle in between the two rear toes. The claws on the rear toes are very powerful." See this image by way of contrast.


Here is a close-up of the head of the Wonga Pigeon.
The beak is that of a seed eater. The soft tissues around the nostrils and the eyes are a delicate pink flesh. as are the legs.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wet week in August 2014 in Robertson

Here is a video taken at Carrington Falls by Benjamin Hansen.
Click on the word "post" - it is a hot link and will open the video of Carrington Falls in full flood on 18 August 2014.
Post by Benjamin Hansen.

Fitzroy Falls in full flood.
19 August 2014
Photo by Beth Boughton
The reason there is so much water is because of the rainfall we got: 54mm, 162mm, and then 108mm. It has been raining a bit since then, but not nearly as much.

Here is another link to a video from Fitzroy Falls also posted by Beth Boughton on 19 August 2014.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202778073954475&set=vb.1279100579&type=2&theater



Monday, July 28, 2014

Great sunset colours this evening Monday 28 July 2014

While working on my computer, this afternoon,
I noticed an eerie pinkish glow in the western sky.
Of course, it was sunset.
But such rich colours, with a distinct purplish tinge.

Looking to the far-south-west.
Main patch of colour around to the right (west).

The tall conical tree is the Sassafras I regularly photograph.
The light changes, the range of visibility changes,
depending on conditions.

Similar angle, slight change in light as sun set changes colour.

Taken from the western side of my house.
Looking through deciduous trees.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bassian Thrush near Carrington Falls

Yesterday I went to visit my friend Jim Foran, who lives at the end of Cloonty Road, which runs out beyond Carrington Falls.

As I drove there, I saw a Bassian Thrush beside the road. just past the Kangaroo River crossing (the main bridge) on the Carrington Falls road. It was between the Bridge and the turn in to the main parking area leading down to the main lookouts. This is across the River, not the popular swimming hole used by the locals, which is accessed by veering right, before the River crossing.

The Bassian Thrush is a fairly secretive bird, a little smaller than a female Bowerbird (which looks somewhat similar). Bowerbirds hop with both legs simultaneously (they "bounce") whereas the thrush runs low to the ground and moves quickly, once it decides to go. When I flies it has a faint light stripe along the wing. It has a mottled chest, and a dark olive/brown back. It has a large dark eye, with a pale ring of feathers around the eye.

Bassian Thrush
Formerly known as "Ground Thrush"
I seldom see these birds around Robertson and never seem to get a decent photo of them. They seem to like dense thickets of vegetation, not necessarily rainforest. But I have seen them at the Robertson Cemetery where there is a dense patch of remnant rainforest.

However, I have more frequently seen them in wet sclerophyll forests around the bottom of Fountaindale Road (which is taller forest than at Carrington Falls, but not far away, "as the Thrush flies". I have also heard them and occasionally seen them beside the road to Belmore Falls, in what I refer to as sandstone scrub below Eucalypt forest, with many Banksias present in the vegetation mix. I know it is a very imprecise description, but it does not fit the classic definition of "wet sclerophyll forest" (as described by NSW Office of Environment - well certainly not the "grassy sub-formation") This is typical wet forest on sandstone around the southern Nepean River catchment and the northern end of the Shoalhaven River. 


I drove on to Jim's place, where there has been a lot of clearing, and saw another Bassian Thrush beside the road beside a stand of remnant (maybe regrowth) forest on black soil, over shallow sandstone.

Then as I drove back several hours later, I saw another Bassian Thrush, not far past the entrance to the Carrington Falls picnic area. Possibly the same bird as previously sighted.

From notes i have been receiving from the Canberra Ornithologists group, it seems Bassian thrushes are starting to breed in and around Canberra, so this seasonal factor might explain their apparent more obvious feeding beside roadways around the local sandstone forests.