Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, January 30, 2015

Wonga Pigeon survived crash into a window

A Wonga Pigeon survived a crash into my front window. I was working inside the house and I heard a bang, followed by a scrabbling sound, as if a piece of furniture, or a stick leaning against my house had been dislodged by the wind.
In response to the noise, I checked and the first thing I saw was Lulu looking spooked (she normally sleeps on a blanket on front verandah). Then I saw grey feathers, so I knew to look for a Wonga Pigeon.

I found it where it had bounced to, amongst ground-cover plants below the front deck.
The bird appeared to be in shock, but it was not bleeding from the beak (a common result of head injuries for birds).

So I decided to pick it up and take it inside for closer inspection (and for photographing details which otherwise one seldom gets to see). See for example, the photos of the feet. One friend has commented that the feet made him think of dinosaurs. I can see what he means.

Wonga Pigeon standing on my settee.
Note the way the feet splay out flat.
They are "Walking Feet" not "Gripping Feet"
At one stage the bird escaped my grasp (their wings are very powerful, and it managed to force its wings out of my hands). When It escaped it flew into a wall in the lounge-room, and fell back down and landed on a settee.

It was not hurt further in this escape and the subsequent recapture.

I threw a jumper over it, and decided it needed to be calmed down so I wrapped it up and covered its head.

A little while later, my friend Matt Doyle and his son Zac came along to have a look at the bird. I had rung Matt to see if he wanted to see the Wonga Pigeon up-close. Then I released it from my back deck. The bird flew strongly, straight down a "laneway" between some large shrubs in the back yard, and turned a corner at the far end of the gap and disappeared. A good result, I reckon.

Laneway where the Wonga flew after it had recovered.
There is a Facebook photo album which is open to the public and you do not need to sign up for anything to view it. If you read the notes on each page, it will make full sense to you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tom Uren has died.

Tom Uren has died today.
He demonstrated a great sense of timing to the last.
He was a favourite of the Hard Left in ALP politics, and is well regarded to this day.

He did a terrific job under Whitlam as Minister for Urban and Regional Development (the Department was known as DURD). He bought back a large amount of the suburb of Glebe, in Sydney, from the Anglican Church, and turned it into a public housing estate.
"At its south-eastern end is the Glebe Estate, an area of Housing Commission properties purchased by the government of Gough Whitlam as a massive urban renewal project to provide public housing for the needy. This area has the third highest Aboriginal population in Sydney" (Wikipedia)This was probably his greatest achievement in office.

He was Minister for Territories when I ran a campaign to get Glebe Park in Canberra declared a permanent (and formal) Park.

I made such a bad impression on him that he called me a "Revisionist".
I had to look it up (after our meeting). But I knew I was striking a nerve with him, because I knew it was a classic insult much favoured by the old Left. Anyway, I kept on pressing him. I figured any damage to my cause was well and truly done by then, if he was reaching into his post-Cold War bag of insults.

We out-flanked him and got his Department Head on side, and eventually the Minister was persuaded to declare Glebe Park a Public Park. The previous old bastard Minister for the Capital Territory, (Michael Hodgman) had wanted to turn the whole area into a Casino and Hotel complex. That defeat of Michael Hodgman's plan is my fondest memory from those days.

Glebe Park was formally declared as a Park in 1983.
"A community campaign to save the trees resulted in a park being proclaimed in 1983 and heritage listing by the National Trust of Australia (ACT) and the Australian Heritage Commission."

It is nice to know the work of the "Save Glebe Park Committee" is recognised by Wikipedia.

There are some nice photos on the Glebe Park, Canberra site in Wikipedia.
"An open area in Glebe Park"
by Cfitzart - Own work. 
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hindmarsh history re-lived

Yesterday, my friend Gordon accepted a suggestion from me to help Dr Michael Hindmarsh, from Gerringong. go to the bottom of Belmore Falls. I had met Michael at the Kiama Community Recognition Awards ceremony on 12 December 2014. He happened to mention that he wanted to find a particular tree below Belmore Falls and I said that I could recommend an excellent Bushwalking guide. I had Gordon in mind, and I put them in contact with eachother.

Naturally enough, their starting-off point was Hindmarsh Lookout. So already you can see there is a lot of history involved.
Gordon at Hindmarsh Lookout
As best I can remember, Michael is a 5th generation descendant of the Hindmarsh family who were amongst the first settler in Robertson. These people walked up from the Gerringong area, via Hoddle's Track, up past Saddleback Mtn and up onto the Barrengrounds Plateau, and on towards the basalt capped hills of Robertson. 

The basalt soil was what these pioneer settlers were seeking to claim under the Robertson Land Act of 1861. More history involved. It was Land Reform, pure and simple. The Squatters hated John Robertson for this breaking of their monopoly on land ownership.
In 1861, the powerful Premier of New South Wales, John Robertson, was determined to break the long-established monopoly of the squatter-pastoralists in land-holding in the colony. He forced two Acts through the Parliament, opening up free selection of Crown land by permitting any person to select up to 320 acres, on the condition of paying a deposit of one-quarter of the purchase price after survey, and of living on the land for three years.

Robertson intended to give poorer purchasers access to land and to increase farming and agricultural development in New South Wales. Great conflicts between the squatters and the selectors ensued, and corruption and scheming in acquiring land became rife."
Crown Lands Acts 1861 (NSW) 

Anyway, after their bushwalk to the Barrengarry Creek, below Belmore Falls, Michael and Gordon came back to Gordon's place, where I was awaiting their arrival. 

Lulu was with me, of course, and she really likes Gordon. But she took a shine to Michael too.
In particular, what was really fascinating her was the bloody leech bites on Michael's legs.

She set about cleaning Michael's legs for him.

 This scene reminded me of something I had learnt in Bible Studies, namely Lazarus (the leper, not the one who was raised from the dead) who was licked by stray dogs, which cleaned his wounds.
(Luke 16:19-31)
Dogs showed compassion
toward Lazarus the beggar,
even when people did not.  
Public domain
The dogs would have promoted healing by licking Lazarus’ wounds, since dog saliva contains the antibacterial enzyme lysozyme. Lysozyme is a natural form of protection from gram-positive pathogens like Bacillus and Streptococcus. Being a Veterinarian by profession, Michael would have understood this healing process far better than I did from my rusty old Bible Studies.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Birds and Butterflies on a clear sunny morning

My photos from this morning are visible on a Facebook Album. This album is completely accessible to the public. You do not need to be a member, or to join anything to view it. There is also a short video with lousy photos, but nice calls of the Grey Shrike-Thrush.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Last Year, and New Year - on the cusp.

Firstly, just a few photos of a small party on New Year's Eve, at Vicki and Owen's place and a few photo of a beautiful rose flowering outside my bedroom window.

As usual these are found at a Facebook Album which is accessible to everyone freely.
No need to sign up for anything.

It behoves me to publish an annual figures for rainfall at my house for 2014.

Monthly totals - January through December, and Total for 2014.
I can confirm that my record is very close to the official Bureau of Meteorology figure for Robertson village, despite notable variations on a month by month basis. They got an annual total for 2014 = 1728.3 mm.
Lousy photo through glass
just to show it is a real Blue Wren

Going Up
Male Superb Blue Wren chasing his own reflection
Adult Crimson Rosella looking for yesterday's
left over Watermelon

A lovely photo of a lovely rose.
Just Joey as it was on New Year's Day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Dobsonfly - Archichauliodes species.

I always find Dobsonflies to be slightly strange insects.
They are as big as Dragonflies, but they fly with a weak, fluttering motion which immediately sets them apart from Dragonflies. They are partially aquatic. Eggs are laid on land (on rocks or vegetation). Then Larvae crawl to fresh water and become completely aquatic, until such time as they are ready to pupate.

Megaloptera: dobsonflies and alderflies
CharacteristicsThis is a very small order of Australian insects commonly known as alderflies and dobsonflies. They are medium to large sized insects with a wingspan ranging from 20 to 100 millimetres. Alderflies and dobsonflies can be recognised by the following features:
Archichauliodes species
Archichauliodes species (CORYDALIDAE)
  • Long, soft, flexible bodies, usually dark coloured
  • 2 pairs of membranous wings of similar size, often bearing dark patches.
  • At rest the wings are held roof-like over the body
  • Mandibulate mouthparts
  • Long filiform antennae which taper towards the end
CORYDALIDAE is a widespread family of dobsonflies and well represented in Australia.
Archichauliodes species are inhabitants of cold-water streams and can be found from southern Australia to north Queensland. Adults of this species can usually be recognised as they have 4 or 5 large spots on their hind wings in addition to many smaller spots towards the edges of the wing.
The larvae of alderflies and dobsonflies are aquatic, appear caterpillar-like and possess gills along the sides of their abdomens.
Archichauliodes species
Archichauliodes species (CORYDALIDAE)
DJW Notes:
They are not completely Aquatic in larval stage of their life-cycle (again, unlike Dragonflies).

Back to CSIRO site:

"All species have aquatic larvae and mating occurs on the vegetation close to freshwater streams. Female alderflies and dobsonflies may lay up to 3000 eggs on rocks or debris close to the stream but not in the water. When the larvae hatch they enter the water and live a permanently aquatic life until they are ready to pupate. At this stage the larvae move out of the water into the adjacent leaf litter or soil where they pupate for several weeks. The complete life cycle may take only one year in warmer areas or up to 5 in colder climates."

Here was my first ever photo of a Dobsonfly.
It took me ages to get a proper ID on it, because, apart from specialist Entomologist site, there is not much readily available on them. At first I thought this was a Stonefly, but it is not. Nor is it a Giant Lacewing (with which it might be confused).
Dobsonfly on Tea Tree.
Wingecarribee Swamp, Nov 2007
This was found on the edge of the Wingecarribee Swamp, in late November 2007. On a flowering Tea Tree (Leptospermum sp.) But that fits with its aquatic larval lifecycle. My insect, from yesterday, was also attracted to the flowers of relative of the Tea Tree (Astartea fascicularis).

Archichauliodes species (CORYDALIDAE)
  • Great photo of a Dobsonfly
    originally sourced from CSIRO "What Bug is That?"
    Unfortunately that site appears to be
    no longer being maintained.

    Thanks Mr Abbott.
    Dobsonfly on my front porch - attracted to the light
    4 December 2013
    Seems they like to fly at this time of year.
Here is another page from CSIRO, to show some of the differences between Dobsonflies and Ant Lions and Lacewings.

Since publication, I have been contacted and provided with a working link to the "What Bug Is That?" site.
It is
Thanks to the ever alert members of the scientific community.
You know who you are :)