Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Magnetic Potatoes?

Celeste and Pip, and Ian and Patty and I spent the morning laying grouting around the potatoes in the front path at the CTC.

Celeste has devised a way of using PET drink bottles as "piping tubes", much as one would use to do fancy icing on a cake. She adapted the lids of drink bottles, to hold those pointy nozzles normally used for tubes of glue, and silicone etc. (You know, the tubes which are much regarded by plumbers and builders, and home handy-persons.) Well Celeste managed to adapt those nozzles to fit the tops of the PET bottles. That means the bottles could be used as refillable dispensers for the grouting material.

Celeste "piping the grouting in".
The grouting is an extremely fine form of cement powder. The powder is so fine that it flows like a liquid. So we could fill the bottles, put the lid back on, and go around squeezing this grouting powder (dry) in between the "potatoes" and then use fine brushes to disperse the material evenly, and to brush off any excess powder from the tops of the potatoes. A very neat system indeed.

Already it is looking very good, with a dark chocolate brown colour, which brings out the soft colours in the "potatoes".

Finally Celeste sprayed the area of the grouting with a fine spray of water. From tests which Celeste has already done, this will allow the powered grout to absorb the water, and harden into a true concrete grouting between all the potatoes.

Pip brushing it in
Magnetic Potatoes?
We were speculating that the potatoes must have some special magnetic power, as we were being buzzed by the SCA's "Remote Sensing" plane, with its trailing "magnetometer". This plane is apparently doing a survey for the SCA looking for "magnetic anomalies", which is how they can trace Fault Lines and other geological features within the local rock base.

Although I cannot help feeling that Roberson is being spied on, I have to believe that the more information that the SCA's scientists have the better off we all are, when it comes to determining the safety, or otherwise of the proposal to drain the Kangaloon Aquifer.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Clarity of Vision

My friends, Steve and Celeste have great clarity of vision.

Not only do they live on the best hill top in the district (Mount Murray). They have views to the end of the earth (Sydney lights are visible at night). But in addition, they have great clarity of personal vision!

I was discussing personal matters with them both, this afternoon, and I feel encouraged, emboldened, and enlivened. I am ready to go forth to meet the future, whatever it may hold. And Steve is preparing the soundtrack to accompany my spiritual journey.

All this from a cup of Tea? Yes and no. All this comes from their clarity of vision.

To top it off, this was the clear view which was awaiting me as I drove back past the top of Macquarie Pass, looking down over the glass-like surface of Lake Illawarra, with Port Kembla beyond, and then the Pacific Ocean.

Actual clarity of vision, to match the emotional clarity of vision.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Blog it and be damned

I was having an email discussion with Miss Eagle, tonight.
We were talking Politics, of course.

As neither Miss Eagle nor I are admirers of the present Government, we were speculating that things are going to get worse for the general populace (in Australia) before they get better. I ended up with: Blog it and be Damned.

The reply came back: Amen, Brother!
The photo is of a male Satin Bowerbird sitting on the balustrade outside my kitchen window. The picture is taken through a flyscreen, hence its graininess. Still, I was pleased to see it there, as I hope to set up a bird feeding table - right near where he was sitting.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

PM says "Sorry"

My goodness, today John Howard said "Sorry".

Odd that. He said he could not apologise to the Stolen Generation, (let alone the entire community of Aboriginals disposessed by white settlers). His reason: it was before his time, so any apology from him would not be relevant to the original offence.

Today he apologised to a bunch of Vietnam War Veterans. I do not wish to dispute the merit of their claim to an apology. However, I would just point out that the issue is now 40 years old - long before John Howard entered Parliament. So, the issue for which he is apologising is "before his time". An inconsistent man.

As a matter of record, I lived on Anzac Park, Reid, in Canberra, just down the road from the Australian War Memorial. Some time after the Vietnam War Memorial was built, I heard the most awful howling and wailing echoing up my street. I went to investigate, and found a lone man - of my own age - howling and crying - in front of this most awful memorial. (I mean to use the word in its original meaning as "full of awe".) Please scroll down that page to see the night time shot of the flood-lit memorial. It is truly full of awe. I can only image the memories which this sight brought back to the former soldier. I have no problem with him and his colleagues (living and dead) being offered an apology.
My specific problem is that we should be apologising for having sent them in the first place. John Howard is apologising for their being ignored upon their return.
What a shallow man our Prime Minister is!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Endangered Orchid grows along Tourist Road

This is a photograph of a "Leek Orchid" (Prasophyllum sp) which I took along the edge of Tourist Road, in East Kangaloon, on 21 October 2005. At the time, I was unable to identify the plant, because I was relying upon general plant reference books for plants of the Sydney Region.

Prasophyllum appendiculatum
(Amended ID, by Dr Mark Clements)

I did know enough to know that it was not one of the regular species of Leek Orchids which occur in this district. At the time, I published my photograph as an "unidentified Leek Orchid".

I have since done more checking and now believe that this plant is the Wingecarribee Leek Orchid, (Prasophyllum uroglossum). That species in known to occur (in very small numbers) in the Wingecarribee Swamp, just a few kilometres away. That is the only published location for the species.
((( DJW Edit: I have been advised that this plant is NOT
the Wingecarribee Leek Orchid.
But it does not appear to have been properly identified,
or possibly it has not yet described.
Dec 2010.)))

These plants have now been identified by Dr Mark Clements
(CSIRO Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research)

Prasophyllum appendiculatum Nicholls,
Victorian Naturalist 66: 212, f. F-J (1950).
Type: ‘Victoria, Genoa Creek’, 13 Nov.1949, N.A.Wakefield s.n. (holo MEL).

Thanks to Nick Corkish for the advice, 
as of 7 March 2012.
Nick Corkish
Project Officer
Growth Centres Biodiversity Offset Program
Biodiversity Survey & Assessment Section, Metropolitan Branch, 
Office of Environment and Heritage  (NSW)

Prasophyllum appendiculatum
(Amended ID, by Dr Mark Clements)
It is classed as an "Endangered Species" under the NSW and Commonwealth legislation. If my identification of this plant is correct, it might be the only record of this species occurring outside the Wingecarribee Swamp.

The documentation under the NSW Threatened Species declaration for this species requires that to recover this species, that what must be done is to: "Retain and do not disturb all vegetation within 200m of swamps supporting the species."

In view of the amended ID for these plants - the reference to them being an Endangered Species is no longer supported.  DJW 7 March 2012

Will the SCA take notice of this legal requirement
when it comes to plans to put either power lines or even a pipe line along the edge of Tourist Road, in East Kangaloon, right where this plant is growing?

Prasophyllym uroglossum

Prasophyllum uroglossum is listed as an Endangered Species on Schedule 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995. This species is also listed as an Endangered Species on Schedule 1 of the Commonwealth
Endangered Species Protection Act, 1992.

Source: NPWS Threatened Species Information:
Prasophyllum uroglossum.

Prasophyllum fuscum

There is confusion about the taxonomic status of this species. Jones (1993) claims the species is identical with P. fuscum.
(see illustration at left)

However, Bishop (1992) claims B. Bates of Adelaide has established that P. uroglossum is a distinct species.

Source: NPWS Threatened Species Information:
Prasophyllum uroglossum.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fault Lines under the Kangaloon Aquifer

The SCA has a map which shows the location of known fault lines in the area of the Kangaloon Aquifer and the headwaters of the Upper Nepean Catchment Area (including Robertson).

This map is an important document, because it shows that contrary to the assurances given to the community, there are three main fault lines (all related), which affect the Kangaloon Aquifer. Fault lines are major cracks in the bedrock (often associated with major uplifts in the underlying sandstone bedrock). These fault lines are relevant to this issue of the Aquifer, because water can flow freely through these fault lines. The fault lines also mean that the shale layer below the basalt is almost certainly ruptured at this point allowing water from the basalt caps to flow through the shale into the sandstone, from where the SCA proposes to drain it from the Kangaloon Aquifer. This gives the lie to the SCA's claim that the water in the basalt caps is separated from the water in the Kangaloon Aquifer.

This diagram shows the original map by the NSW Dept of Commerce, published in conjunction with the SCA. The official map title appears to be: "Geology of Study Area".
Its reference number is GL31/A. I have added captions to the map.

The title which I have inscribed on the map "Fault Lines Under Aquifer" is my own title.I have marked in red the main roads in the area, to assist you in following the location of the fault lines. This image has been uploaded as a large file, but it should open in full if you click on the image.

The first Fault Line is the so-called Mount Murray Monocline. It starts at Mount Murray, and runs through the lower part of East Kangaloon and the Glenquarry area. In fact Tourist Road pretty well runs along the line of the Mount Murray Monocline.

That is not accidental, of course, because the early settlers cleared the good soil areas, primarily, and left the poorer sandstone soils, and when Tourist Road was laid out they more or less followed the edge of the settled farmland. Hence Tourist Road runs along the divide between the rich soil and the poor sandstone soil - which happens to be the Fault Line which is known as the Mount Murray Monocline.

The existence of the Mount Murray Monocline has been well enough known.

What is less well known is that there is a major fault line which runs right from the top of the basalt ridge on which Robertson is located, straight down into the centre of the bore field. Surely water from the basalt springs is susceptible to being drained if the Kangaloon Aquifer is drained?

This fault line runs from the top of the ridge east of Kangaloon Road - from the top of the hill, not far past the Hindmarsh Farm. (Sorry, it is west of the road -DJW 16/8/06). It starts where the sign on top of the hill says "East Kangaloon", on your left as you leave Robertson. I published a blog about the springs on this hillside, and the dams in the creek here - two weeks ago. At that time I did not know that this map of the fault lines existed.

The dark line of Sassafras and Blackwood trees, going down the main gully from left, would appear to be following that fault line, according to the map. This is the absolute upper reach of the Nepean River.

This view, taken from the same place as the preceding photo, looks down, over the Nepean River catchment.

This fault line appears to run
parallel to Kangaloon Road, down into East Kangaloon, through the dense bush patch in East Kangaloon.

If you know where the old dam is located, in East Kangaloon, the Nepean River pretty much follows the fault line, down to Moresby Hill Road, and then through the bush, and across farmland down to where the Nepean River crosses Tourist Road, about 1 Km east of the junction with Kirkland Road.

The main relevance of this is that it means there is a major fault line running directly from the basalt hills of Robertson, down to the most productive bores tested by the SCA last summer, along Tourist Road.

Surely the existence of this fault line calls into question the entire theory that the SCA has been pushing, namely that the springs in the basalt caps of Robertson (and Mount Murray) are protected from the draining of the aquifer. We have been told that there is an impervious layer of shale underneath the basalt, which serves to protect the springs in the basalt from being drained by draining of the aquifer. How can that story be true, when there are major fault lines, associated with significant uplifts of the sandstone bedrock, running beneath the basalt hills of Robertson and Mount Murray?

The third main fault line runs through the cutting below Mount Murray (where the Railway Line and Tourist Road diverge from the Illawarra Highway). From there it runs parallel to Tourist Road (on the western side), past the eastern end of Moresby Hill Road, then through into the wet forest along Tourist Road. The fault line then appears to split. Where Tourist Road curves to the west, the Mount Murray Monocline (fault) is shown as running up the dry sandstone ridge above Butlers Swamp - it then runs all the way through to Glenquarry (parallel to Tourist Road). The other branch of the fault line diverges from Tourist Road in the wettest part of the forest, (below Mount Butler). There is an unmarked creek line there, which runs through the forest into the Burke River (apparently) and on into the Avon Dam.

So, as with the main basalt ridge in Robertson, the eastern edges of the basalt, (from below the Pie Shop), and also Mount Murray, are both directly connected to the bore field by a major fault line. Therefore these areas are threatened by the draining of the Aquifer, in exactly the same way as the basalt ridge behind Robertson is threatened.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A View to Forever

Today I went with Beth Boughton to visit Ros Badgery, at her property, Wanganderry, at High Range. What a location!

When seen from the southern side, Mt Wanganderry appears as a tiny point, sticking up just a little bit higher than High Range. Yet, it is the highest point in the western side of the Wingecarribee Shire.

But, as soon as you pass around the edge of Mt Wanganderry, you realise that it deserves its status as a mountain. It forms a clear divide. Beyond Mt Wanganderry, you look north west - "a View to Forever", over a series of valleys, starting with the Wollondilly (coming from the south, and the Nattai, coming from the east).
This area is known as the Nattai Wilderness, and is part of the Southern Section of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

This wild landscape spans from here, just a little west of Mittagong, all the way to Katoomba, in the main part of the Blue Mountains.

Today was clear, with just a hint of summer haze. But the distinctive blue tinge is real, not "faked up".

I was fascinated by the deeply incised valleys, for although we are looking across to the other side of a vast sandstone plateau, the expected flat-topped profile is far less noticeable than the wildly eroded hills in the middle of the valley.

It is only when you pan around the horizon, that you realise that everything on that vast vista is more-or-less at the same level that the idea of how flat the entire horizon is. Then and only then, does the idea of the vast sandstone plateau make sense.

I hope to paste some of these images together, to give you such a panoramic vista, but that will take me some time.

And as we were on the edge of a plateau, with cliffs just a little distance away, of course we were in Eagle territory.

Two Wedge-tailed Eagles were enjoying the late afternoon breezes, as we prepared to leave the Nattai Wilderness.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Plant version of Anni's Literary "meme"

Anni, who Blogs at Mayday 34°35'S 150°36'E sent me a literary challenge, which I am not sure that I am ready to handle. In the past I have been a very enthusiastic reader. In recent years, I have found myself reading plant books - reference books about native plants, Orchids, Peonies. I love these books. But I am sure these books are not what Anni was asking about.

Anyway, Anni suggested that I vary the "meme", to make it centred around plants - plants I have always grown, plants I have never managed to grow, plants that I wish nobody would ever grow, etc. You can see where this is heading. So, I am up for this challenge. I will stick as closely as I can to Anni's original literary questions.


One plant which changed your life:
I can answer this question in a very literal (not "literary") way. The plant in question is the Madagascan Periwinkle. As that link explains, it is the source of two extremely potent drugs used in Chemotherapy treatments - Vincristine and Vinblastine. The old Latin name for this plant is "Vinca", (which means a chain). That "latin root" (Vin...) appears in the names of the two drugs mentioned. The botanists have now revised the name, and it is officially called catharanthus roseus.

Anyway, as you have doubtless guessed by now, this was the source of one of the drugs with which I was treated last year, in my first round of Chemotherapy treatments for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. So, in a very physical way, this plant changed my life!

One plant you've grown more than once:
Well, there are many plants which meet that definition - such as Lawn Grasses. But speaking of plants which I value more that. The Rose "Just Joey" would be the best example. I love this plant, and always find myself planting it in any garden I have something to do with. I have donated one to the CTC in Robertson, where it is growing beside the main door. "Just Joey" is a "good doer", ("healthy as...." in the modern vernacular).

It is a large flowered modern Rose, with shades of pink and apricot in its flower. It has a slight tea scent, so one tends not to grow it for its perfume. I have a pair of "grafted standards" planted either side of my front door, so that it has enough stem height to give me flowers at eye height. Last year, when I was in hospital in Canberra, Anni posted this photo of one of my own "Just Joey" flowers, on her blog - which was very sweet of her.

I love the old fashioned roses, The Gallicas, the Damasks (especially Isphahan and Kazanlik) and the tough, but lovely Rugosas, from Japan, for their wonderful elegant, true "Rose perfume". "Just Joey" has none of that perfume (it has Tea Rose ancestry, alas). It also has a stupid name. However, despite these fundamental deficiencies, I still rate this plant as my favourite Rose.

One plant which made you giddy:
In this case, I would go for a perfumed plant. I am very responsive to the scents and odours emitted by plants. My personal preference is for the heavier, muskier odours. Light fragrances, such as Violets emit are unfortunately lost on me. I know they are very powerful for some people.

Currently, my favourite aromatic plant is a Mint Bush - Prostanthera sieberii. There are many Mint Bushes (Prostantheras) in cultivation - P. seiberii, ovalifolia, and melissifolia are species which are all nice. But I find the perfume of the leaves in P. seiberii to be
most to my liking - a combination of sweet and musky odours.

Sydney Botanic Gardens "plantnet" site for this species, describes it as being "strongly and unpleasantly aromatic".

As my old Latin teacher used say: "De gustibus, non est disputandum" - (Regarding tastes, there can be no argument.)

I have this plant growing beside the path to my front door - deliberately planted too close to the path, so that one has to brush past it, as you enter the house, and you get enveloped in its perfume as you walk past it. It is also known as Prostanthera incisa var sieberi.

One plant which wracked you with sobs:
(This question makes more sense in the "literary" version of this "meme")

I will take the "literary" (dare I say it - the "girlie") interpretation of this question. I take it to mean a plant which is so beautiful that it almost does not deserve to exist.

This plant takes my
my breath away.

Here is Tree Peony "Shimane Hakugan". (please click to enlarge the image and study the centre of the flower, and then the purity of the white petals).

One plant which you wish had been bred:
Many people would say a "blue rose". I will not. I like plants to do what they do best. Roses do pinks and reds, and even yellows to perfection. Why ask them to do that which they cannot manage, genetically? If you want blue, grow one of the Forget-me-not family, or a Pansy, or the stunning sky blue Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis sp.).

I would like to see a disease resistent Meconopsis, to follow up that particular flower. I have had great difficulty growing this plant, but I have a friend in Canberra who was successful with them, by growing them in full sun, in a half Oak Barrel, filled with a blend of rich leaf litter and sand. Perfect drainage is required, it seems. Even though Robbo soils are well drained, it seems they are not well drained enough for this most stunning blue flower.

One plant which you wish had never been bred:
Well, obviously I would list weeds - like the Blackberry, as being a terribly invasive pest. But it is a natural plant, more or less.

But again to take the "romantic" interpretation, I would say a Red Rose, with no perfume. In my mind, a Red Rose deserves to have perfume. It cries out for perfume, it demands perfume.

Some French couturiers (who tend to market perfumes as well) have specified that any Rose named in their honour must not have a perfume - it would clash with their "brand" perfumes. An example of a nearly scentless, but beautiful red rose is Rosa "Christian Dior" (see image at left). An affront to nature, in my mind.

One plant which I am currently growing:
Well, Peonies are my particular "favourites", one might say, my obsession. Of these, I rate the Tree Peonies very highly indeed. But the Herbaceous Peony Hybrid called "Coral Charm" is an extraordinary plant. This plant (surely a "female plant") is so lovely in bud, when freshly opened, at fully mature stage, and at her "blowsy best" when fading ("like an old courtesan", as my friends Steve and Celeste like to say).

I would rate her as my most special plant, and she is "currently growing" in the precise meaning of making growth, right outside my front door, today - with buds about 10 cms high now.

Two weeks ago, Coral Charm was getting ready for Spring!

Anticipation, at its feminine best!

One plant I’ve been meaning to grow:

There is one Magnolia which I have seen growing (overseas), which is a white Magnolia with a dark strawberry-red coloured centre. It is called Magnolia sieboldii.

A truly lovely plant, which I would dearly love to grow - one day, maybe, perhaps. This photo was originally sourced from the Dutch Botanic Garden Collections Foundation.

What is about white flowers with dark centres?

Now tag some "Bloggers":
Well, I have to start with Anni, of course, whose suggestion led to this modification of the original "literary meme". I hope you think it worked, Anni. I must admit I have had fun with it, even if it has taken me hours to compile my list.

Then Miss Eagle (who rang me hours ago, to ask how I was going with my book list). She was so enthused by the "literary meme" that she broke the task into 2 separate postings. Her second post is here.

At the severe risk of losing a good email friend, I shall tag Leo, my Peony-growing pal in Canada. Leo's Blog is called "Peonies - and the rest". If it is raining in Nova Scotia, and too wet for digging Peonies, or for cycling up and down the steep hills of that region, Leo might get around to responding, in his own way to this "meme" on his blog. I do hope so.

Anni, would you please pass on a notice to your fellow Finnish ex-patriot (in Sweden), namely Jaska that I would dearly like to see his list of favourite plants, and least favourites, etc. You might also tell him please, that I liked his insect photos on his recent posting. Typical late summer scenes - butterlies and Dragonflies. Lovely.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Some birds of Hampden Park.

Grey Butcherbird
Yesterday, when I was in Hampden Park, I got a quick look at a Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus). Check this link to the Birds in Backyards site, for the full life story of Butcherbirds.

These birds are very fast fliers, and quite aggressive towards other birds.

This one attacked a Red Wattlebird which was looking for insects under bark in a Gum Tree. The Wattlebird is marginally larger than the Butcherbird.

The Butcherbird flew out into the open, and landed on a power line, where it perched momentarily.

It then flew off across the Park, to harass something else.

Although far smaller than a Magpie, they are fairly "mean birds", and aggressive. They also kill other small birds, especially nestlings (in season). However, mostly their diet consists of insects, worms, and small lizards.

A Kookaburra flew in and perched "iconically" in a Gum Tree (as in the song).

After I had taken some photos, and returned to the car, a group of 3 more flew in , and landed together, and started "laughing" together.

Thanks guys! I'll try again another time.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Nature of Hampden Park

Caalang Creek rises in Robertson. It runs through Hampden Park, right in the centre of the village. Most of the Park is given over to playing fields (Cricket, soccer/rugby, tennis, etc) plus a Skate Ramp area and a kids playground.
Tree Ferns over a river bend
However, it is Caalang Creek which I wish to concentrate on, tonight. It begins less than 1 Km east from this point.

There are some lovely bends where tree ferns hold together the steep sided river banks, opposite shallow grassy banks.

In most parts of Robertson one could just about jump over Caalang Creek.

Caalang Creek is the absolute "upper reach" of the Wingecarribee River. That river then feeds into the Wollondilly River, and into the Warragamba Dam. So this is the very beginning of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment.
Like all natural streams, it varies from ponds and quiet pools, to narrow sections where the river runs quite fast.

The frogs were calling loudly this afternoon, a sign of a healthy stream.

A swarm of Midges
This afternoon, there was a swarm of midges flying, illuminated by a shaft of late afternoon light.

They were hovering over a tree fern, in a patch of warm air.

I managed to trick the "auto focus of the camera, by first focussing on the tree fern, then lifting the camera up, and pressed the shutter.

Bingo. Midges, more or less in focus.

Click on the photo, to enlarge the image.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Nature of Camouflage

If you are a Red-browed Finch, (Neochmia temporalis) which eats grass seeds, you have to come out into the open (where the grasses live) to eat. So, how do you protect yourself?

Well, firstly, being nearly invisible is a great start - so camouflage is relevant. You will note the use of military style "khaki", but it is mixed with a lovely grey, black on the tail, and red flashes on the head and rump.

Many finches have some bright colouring. But bright colours are not a problem, if they are mixed up. You do not present a clear outline or "target" that way.

Second trick is to blend in. Don't sit high on a tree.

Or if you do, .....

don't stay there for very long!

Going down!

Third trick is to travel in flocks. There the statistical truth of "safety in numbers", but in fact, it also helps confuse predators, which are never sure which bird to go for.
There are 10 birds in this group, in an area about the size of two A4 pages, side by side. Companionship? Maybe. But definitely a safety issue too.

Finally, keep moving, and be alert. These little birds stayed in one place for a matter of seconds only, not even for a minute. Hopping forward, to pick up seeds, looking around all the time, for new "prizes", but with one eye open to spot danger, and listening for any alarm calls of other birds, or the sudden flap of wings from their colleagues. Nervous energy was on display.

These lovely little birds - a flock of about 50 in all, were swarming over the ground yesterday in the late afternoon sunlight, when the ground was warm. But they were constantly on the move - hopping here and there, then suddenly, if one panicked, the whole flock would be off to the nearby cover of shrubs and trees. Then in less than a minute, the bravest would return, and then the others would follow. This cycle kept going for about 10 minutes, then suddenly the whole flock was gone.

Bellies full of seeds, and warmed up by the late afternoon sun.

Happy and safe, for another day.

The Nature of a local Waterfall

Jim took me on a short "mystery" bushwalk the other day. We only drove about 3 Km from Robertson, then walked into a very, very, very wet piece of Robertson Rainforest. There were the best tree ferns I have ever seen, in this little patch of forest. The walk was only about 300 metres, but what a surprise was in store for me.

This Waterfall
deserves a name.

We came to the base of a surprising waterfall, where a stream crashes about 30 metres
over a basalt rock face. (Height adjusted - I got mixed up with my estimation of units. About twice the height of the local trees. DJW)

ThIs is the stream which flows behind the Pie Shop, and flows under the Illawarra Highway, beside the railway crossing bridge. The road sign says it is the poetically named "Macquarie Rivulet". The stream then veers through some really dense rainforest, then within 300 metres distance, it crashes over this little cliff.

Jim, showed me on the map that the Macquarie Rivulet really is not the creek which bears this name (on the road sign). In fact the stream of that name originates close to the corner where Tourist Road starts.

The trouble is, that leaves this little waterfall as an un-named waterfall on an un-named creek. That seems a shame. This pretty waterfall deserves a name.
There was another small surprise in this little forest patch.

Does this fungus have a name?
The darkest little "toadstool" which I have ever seen. Black-brown above, and black-brown in the gills too.

I can find no illustration in my fungi reference books to match this little mystery fungus.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Nature of Ocean Glimpses

As today is one of those stunningly clear days which occur after rain, with a visible horizon approaching infinity, I decided to record the clarity of the view today. Here are three frames taken from my neighbour's driveway, in the late afternoon light.

Ocean glimpses

In Real Estate terms, my neighbours from across the road have "Ocean Glimpses". I am sure these "pixels" are valuable, in real estate terms. Half their luck!

Of course, in Robertson, it all depends upon the weather! Ocean glimpses don't actually work when you can only see 100 metres in the fog or rain, which as regular readers will know, is a situation which occurs pretty often, in Robbo.

A zoomed-in view
Missingham Parade runs due south, along a ridge, so the people on the left hand side of the road have views towards the coast. Depending upon how far along the road they are located, they might have views to local hills, or a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, 27 Kms away.

At my place, (on the right hand side of the road) my views would be expected to be to the west. However, because of the angle I have set my house, I look down to the south or west. So I have views south, over the Kangaroo Valley, or west, across to the Burrawang Ridge. I have published such views on many occasions, previously.
A late-afternoon Moon
The nearly full moon, rising in the east, in the late-afternoon light, is a bonus!
Click to view the full image.

Peace to you - the reader of this blog!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Basic Rule of Photography

The basic Rule of Photography which I have learnt today is: Never leave your camera at home.

I went to have coffee with George, and being conscious that the last time I had gone there, I spent ages taking photographs of birds, I thought it would have been rude of me to do the same today.

Damn this politeness which my parents tried to instill in me.


Brown Cuckoo-Dove
When I got to George's place, I had to gently walk past the feeding table while 4 "Brown Pigeons" sat there - within metres of me.

No Camera!

George took pity on me, and loaned me his camera, and I took a few photos. Thanks George.

Incidentally, the Brown Pigeon is officially called the Brown Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia phasianella) these days - a truly stupid name. They do have a dove-like long tail, I accept that. But the Cuckoo part is totally misleading. Indeed the Latin specific name would refer to it being "pheasant like" - even more misleading. I suspect the "Cuckoo-dove" name is is due to the internationalistion of bird names - presumably there are related birds in South-east Asia, with the same generic name. (That guess has been confirmed via a later Google search - birds of the same genus are indeed found in Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.) DJW
To explain further, under the rules of nomenclature, the first "valid name" has priority, so however the bird was first described - in a formal taxonomic paper (usually published in scientific Latin, in a European scientific journal), that name sticks, unless some later, smarter taxonomist can prove that the bird is fundamentally different from others which were once all named in the same group. Then, the smart taxonomist can then invent a new name. In the case of Australian birds, early explorers named birds as they found them. Later on, internationalisation came in, and taxonomists said: This bird which you call a Brown Pigeon" is actually in the same genus as these other Asian birds, and their "earlier" name then becomes applied. Of course, in the case of a clunky English name like "Cuckoo-dove" is not likely to be the name by which these birds are known in Asia - it is how they are known in English books of Asian birds. So, it is almost certainly an old name given by a European explorer, or (worse) a taxonomist working away, deep in the bowels of a dusty European Museum looking - at a stuffed specimen sent back to Europe, from Asia. At least the "dove" part of the name is appropriate, but forget the "Cuckoo", (or the "pheasant" - for you Latin speakers). Such is the Nature of Science. DJW.

Satin Bowerbird - female
There were many Satin Bowerbirds - mostly the ones in the green plumage, which might be females, or immature males. This is a female - you can tell by the dark beak colour. (Photo by George)

This explains why one sees far more "green" birds than "blue" - half of the green birds are likely to be immature males, up to the age of about 4 or 5 years old, apparently.

Satin Bowerbird - Male

Then, a male Satin Bowerbird (the "Blue Bird" as locals call it), flew down to the feeder. Damn! (Photo by George)

This bird is the absolute jewel of the local forest. He is so dark blue that, from front on, he looks totally black, except where the light glistens off his head, or wings. He has a real high gloss finish on his feathers. Amazing!

To top it all off, Bowerbirds have this most amazing blue eye, with a tinge of red in it.


Immature Male (note beak colour)

White-headed Pigeon
George also gave me some photos which he had taken previously - this shot of a White-headed Pigeon, and the great shots of the male Satin Bower Bird, and of a female.

So I am sharing these with you today, courtesy of George.