Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

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.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The mystery of the Acacia longifolia in my yard continues

I have written something about this plant, previously, although it is not apparent from the title.
My Bad!
This year it is flowering even more early in the season.

Flowers starting to open yesterday 8 July 2014
Flowers of Acacia longifolia
Thing is, this plant occurs below Robertson, on the Sandstone Plateau. But it does not occur naturally up here on the basalt soil. I know I did not plant this plant here. In fact, I was tempted to remove it, but decided to leave it to grow, when I first recognised that it was not a Blackwood Wattle (which is completely normal here). I decided to let it grow, to see what species it is. Now that I know, do I let it grow on?
Flowers of Acacia longifolia.
This is one of the Acacias with flowers on "rods"
not in a ball-like structure.
It is now taller than the adjacent Blackwood self-planted seedling. It will probably grow quickly, and then die off. I hope so. Whereas Blackwoods are huge trees, and they live a long time. Landscape trees.
But I do not want two huge trees growing side by side, directly in front of my house. They will cut off the natural light in the house.

"Leaf " (phyllode) of Acacia longifolia
Note veins and short stem (pulvinus)
and location of the "gland"
close to the stem. (top right)

Pulvinus (stem) of the "phyllode"
(swollen stem which acts as a leaf)
Note the gland on lower edge of phyllode
and the slight change in angle of the edge of the phyllode.
Most of the Wattles with phyllodes have these glands.
The theory is that they are there to attract ants
which in turn would protect the Wattle from insects.
Possibly a remnant (archaic) structure.

Two main veins running more or less parallel,
Several minor veins also apparent.

In this photo, the two dominant veins are clearly evident.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Camellia williamsii hybrid Jamie

I bought my plant from Camellia Grove Nursery when they were in Mona Vale, or on Mona Vale Road, somewhere in northern Sydney. I fear the continuity of that fine nursery has been lost.

However, I still an happily growing this beautiful hybrid.
It was a chance seedling, raised by Professor E.G. Waterhouse, at his garden in Gordon. He named it after a grandson, I believe, from memory of what I was told on one of the Open Days at "Eryldene".

Here is a link to one from a New Zealand Nursery

Unusually for one of the many "williamsii hybrids" bred by Prof. Waterhouse, it is a brilliant scarlet red colour. Most of the other Waterhouse X williamsii hybrids are "fuchsine pink"

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Soft sunset over Robertson

Soft Sunset reflected in Bird Bath

Looking west, first shot

Looking south to general glowing sky.

Light changes, and as it does, one adjusts the camera

Sunsets are beautiful, but transient.
My last shot of sunset tonight.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Some photos from Robertson - the Cemetery, and my garden

This is a link to an open album. You do not have to be a member of Facebook to see the images, and read the notes beside each image.

I forgot to compress those images, but Facebook does  seem to compress images automatically.

Images are of Pittosporum multiflorum (formerly Citriobatus multiflorus)
and mauve colours developing on the Camellia Dona Herzilia de Freitas Magalhaes 
This colour will only develop in Acid soil. It starts a deep dusty pink, then changes over about a week.
Photo of a Lepiota fungus, not the much larger Macrolepiota.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Fuchsine Pink is my favourite colour in Camellias

Fuchsine Pink is my favourite colour in Camellias.

"In France, Francois-Emmanuel Verguin, the director of the chemical factory of Louis Rafard near Lyon, tried many different formulae before finally in late 1858 or early 1859, mixing aniline with carbon tetrachloride, producing a reddish-purple dye which he called "fuchsine", after the color of the flower of the fuchsia plant. He quit the Rafard factory and took his color to a firm of paint manufacturers, Francisque and Joseph Renard, who began to manufacture the dye in 1859." Wikipedia

The story of this colour continues: "
In the same year, two British chemists, Chambers Nicolson and Georges Maule, working at the laboratory of the paint manufacturer George Simpson, located in Walworth, south of London, made another aniline dye with a similar red-purple color, which they began to manufacture in 1860 under the name "roseine". In 1860 they changed the name of the color to "magenta", in honor of the battle fought between the French and Austrians at Magenta, Italy the year before. Before printer's magenta was invented in the 1890s for CMYK printing, and electric magenta was invented in the 1980s for computer displays, these two artificially engineered colors were preceded by the color displayed (below), which is the color originally called "fuchsine" made from coal tar dyes in the year 1859. The name of the color was soon changed to "magenta", being named after the Battle of Magenta fought at Magenta, Lombardy-Venetia.

So there you go: Industrial espionage (or theft) and Imperial politics combined in search of a colour.

A freshly opened Camellia Drama Girl

Friday, June 06, 2014

A Carrion Beetle comes to my front light, and more moths

I have never had this species of Beetle at my front porch light before. I have only ever seen them on carcasses of Wombats and Kangaroos, as road kill. They are called the "Carrion Beetle". Unpleasant habit, but they are interesting for they demonstrate that just about all "ecological niche" can have a specific insect to "do its job".
Here is a link to my post about these Beetles feeding on the legs of a dead Kangaroo, Not pretty, but, it is an important task (in nature).

Carrion Beetle on my screen door.

Carrion Beetle on my screen door.
 The other things which came to my front light tonight were small and medium sized moths.
One looks to me like a Bogong Moth. 

Bogong Moth
This one might also be Bogong Moth
It is clearly a male, with very fine antennae.
Whatever it is, it is very definitely severely worn in the wings. 
Possibly another Bogong Moth
Wings are damaged.
Very good set of antennae - presumably a male

EDIT: My friend Dave Britton from the Australian Museum has come to my rescue. He advised: "
This one is a different Agrotis, Agrotis porphyricollis (it has much bigger pectinations in the antenna." Dave.
See Wikipedia entry:

a medium-sized long thin Moth,
with few distinguishing features.

a medium-sized long thin Moth,
with few distinguishing features.

An unusual medium moth with very stiff wings.
it has a fine pattern on its wings.