Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two species of Glossodia (Waxlip Orchids)

Here are images of the Small Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia minor), and the more familiar large Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia major). One is a size comparison image of both species - with my fingers as the scale bar.

Firstly, let me say that it has been a very dry spring this year, in Kangaloon (near Robertson) where most of these images were taken. As a result, these Small Waxlip Orchids were very small (even for this species). They were growing in nearly bare patches of ground, in very poor yellowish clay soil, over sandstone. The trees nearby are mostly Scribbly Gums - which tells you something of the poor soil quality. The Orchid stems were less than 2 inches (50mm approx) tall. These Orchids make the small "Dusky Finger" Orchids I have shown recently, to seem "tall" by comparison. Their flowers are a little larger (wider) but they are still small plants.
Here is a macro image, to show the detail of the flower.
Click to enlarge to see the pair of "dog's ball" glands on the labellum.
Pardon the crude reference, but these paired glands are very distinctive.
Here is the first of the two finger scale images.
Here, for comparison is Glossodia major
with the same two fingers for scale.
Here is the composite image of the two species, with my fingers for scale. If anything, the image on the right is still slightly larger than it ought be
- as you can judge by the finger comparisons.
This is as close to real size as I can manage.
You can see that the Glossodia major is approximately 50% larger than
its smaller cousin.
The colour difference is real, not apparent,
as can also be judged by my fingers.
Glossodia major is clearly more blue,
whereas Glossodia minor is much more purplish.
*****
Finally, for a further comparison of the difference in these species here is another image of the labellum and column of Glossodia major.
Contrast those internal structures with the first image (above).
This was taken at Black Mountain (Canberra).
This image is deliberately taken nearly at ground level, to see the flower, from an insect's eye level, and to show the "active" parts of the flower
- the column and the cover over the pollinia.
Note how "hairy" the stem is on this species (click to enlarge).
*****
I will repeat a point I made a few days ago, that any beauty we see in these Orchid flowers is purely incidental to the function of the flower - which is to achieve pollination. As the normal pollinators of Orchids are insects, I usually try to take an "insect's eye" shot of these flowers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our best local Epiphytic Orchid

This is Sarcochilus falcatus - the "Orange Blossom Orchid".
The Robertson area is not well supplied with Epiphytic Orchids (Orchids which grow on trees). We do have a few, but mostly they grow very high in tall trees, and one only sees them when a tree blows down, bringing its "jewellery" with it.

In the case of the Orange Blossom Orchid, sometimes it is more accommodating, growing at about 3 metres above the ground. That is the case with this particular plant.In Robertson's cool temperate rainforest, this Sarcochilus likes to grow on Blackwood Wattles, but only on old trees which have developed a thick "coating" of the "Rock Felt Fern" (Pyrrosia rupestris). In this case, this is a relatively small tree, growing in a road cutting, so I could climb up the embankment to get half way to the height of the Orchids, then use the 300mm lens to get something approaching a reasonable image.
I was more or less on a level with the Orchid when I took this image.

This next plant is a "rescue" job, one which was on a branch which came down in a storm, and a friend of mine has tied it onto a small Blackwood, along with the root mat of the Fern. It is the third year it has flowered for her - so it is doing well.
Here it is up close.
These flowers are approximately 30 mm across,
and it is regarded by experts as a large-flowered form of this species.
The labellum is beautifully marked in orange with dark crimson stripes. That contrasts with the pure ice-white colour of the rest of the flower.

The plant gets its "orange blossom" name from reference to its sweet perfume. But I only saw this plant on a cold, windy night, and I was not conscious of any perfume. Perhaps on a warm, still, morning I would be aware of the perfume. The other plants, growing "wild" just down the road from my house, were too far away for me to be able to detect their perfume.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fifty Years ago

On 25 September 1959 - fifty years ago, today - my family moved from Melbourne to Canberra. My father was 47 years and 3 months. I was aged 10 years and 10 months old.
Birdwood Street, South Oakleigh, Victoria
My father was reluctant to move from Melbourne, but it was forced upon him when the group of Defence Departments (including the Department of the Navy, where he worked) was relocated from Melbourne to Canberra.
2 Scott Street, Narrabundah, ACT
Shortly after they moved there in 1959. Probably 1960.
It was a truly transforming moment in my father's life, and for the rest of the family. My two eldest brothers who were already working chose to make the move with the family. My next brother and I were both still at school, so our move was pretty much "automatic".

My Mother decided, with Dad, to make the most of the new circumstances.
Neither of them allowed themselves to feel homesick for Melbourne, but accepted their new circumstances - new house, new school for the kids, new shops, and for Dad - the same job but in a new environment.

In truth, opportunities opened up for Dad as many people had found other jobs, and so there were promotional opportunities for him over the next few years.

He worked in the Naval Personnel Branch of the Navy Office. When the Melbourne cut the Voyager in half, it was my father who answered hundreds of distressing calls from relatives. The worst part was that the Navy did not have a fool-proof system of knowing exactly which sailors were on which ship, at an time. Hence the anxiety and distress for many people, not to mention the fact that quite literally, many sailors had a "wife" in every port. Part of his duty was to acknowledge that Sailor X was indeed missing, but that the caller was not the only person claiming to be his "wife".
.
That experience very nearly broke him - but he was one victim of that disaster who never complained.
.
In a happier mode, my father rapidly established a new garden, which he loved.
Taken in the late 1970s, probably.
And in the realm of bird watching, he quickly became recognised as a keen amateur, and recieved official; encouragement from senior CSIRO Wildlife Division people, who encouraged him to become a bird bander. I remember him saying that when we were in Melbourne, we were merely small fish in a big pool. In Canberra, in 1959, we were small fish in a very small pool. But he was recognised as showing great scientific attitude and rapidly became one of Australia's leading bird banders. He founded the Bird Banders Association of Australia. On behalf of the Bird Banders Association, he imported good quality nets from England, for other bird banders to use.
Possibly taken after the house was sold.
The car in the driveway is not theirs.
Dad then started to write articles for the Canberra Bird Notes, and other scientific journals. He was invited to write most of the section on "passerines" (small perching birds) and most of the Cuckoos, in the "Birds in the Australian High Country", edited by Dr. Harry Frith - who was Chief of the Division of Wildlife in CSIRO. Subsequently he was also invited to write some 40 entries in the 1st edition of the Readers Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds.
Finally Dad wrote his own book - Birds of the ACT: Two Centuries of change.

Meanwhile, my Mother established herself in Canberra's community, especially the local womens groups of her Church, and the Floral Art Guild of the ACT. She also worked for many years at CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, as a typist and clerical assistant. She really enjoyed mixing with the Plant Industry scientists and technical officers.

My brothers established themselves in Canberra, the two eldest brothers married there, and have lived there all their lives. One brother married and trained as an Engineer and moved around Australia for a number of years before eventually moving back to Canberra and now lives on the far South Coast of NSW. I married and settled in Canberra, travelled interstate and overseas and then moved back to Canberra, where my daughter, Zoe was born. I lived there until moving to Robertson some 7 years ago.

After my father had a minor seizure (a mini-stroke?) my parents decided to leave their first Canberra house, in Narrabundah, and moved to a house in Kambah. Dad started out again to build a new garden, with several specialist cactus garden beds. So much for him taking it easy! He also started propagating plants for his local Church school fete. They lived there for some 15 years (I think), until Mum's declining health required them to move to a Nursing Home, where she died in 2006.

As readers will be aware, my Dad died in Canberra two weeks ago.

All in all, today is a significant anniversary in my life and in the life of my family. A true turning point. And it is all due to the bravery of my parents, especially my father, who agreed to meet the challenge of a new job, in a new city, at the age of 47 years.

When he died, two weeks ago, he had lived longer in Canberra (49 years and 11 months) than he had in Victoria.

The move to Canberra was a significant challenge, which he met in remarkable fashion.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dark pink form of "dusky fingers" Orchid.

I had convinced myself that this orchid must be a different species from the other ones I had recently photographed, in Canberra, Goulburn and locally, in Kangaloon. It is so much darker it has to be different - Surely?
Well, actually - No.
I am talking about Petalochilus fuscatus (Caladenia fuscata).
Here are some 10 flowers on the forest floor - from mid pink, pale pink, to nearly white. (Click to enlarge).
Now let me show you why it is the same species, and what makes it this species, not a Petalochilus carneus (Caladenia carnea), which is what I thought it must be. That has proven not to be the case. Instead, what I have done is inadvertently document the extreme variability of this species.
Pale and mid-pink forms growing together.
This pale form displays beautifully the incurved wings of the labellum
This dark form displays the yellow tips of the labellum
and the dark red stripes across the base of the labellum,
and the two rows of "calli" (glands).
The colour of this particular plant was extraordinarily vibrant, growing in a dark patch of the forest floor. In fact, the environment was so dark, I had to use flash, which has probably made the flower look slightly less vibrant than it actually was.
I always remember a comment by David Attenborough in which he referred to these calli on Orchids like this as "like aircraft landing lights on a runway - for insects". I like that phrase, for it perfectly describes the visual function. But of course, these "calli" are glands, and probably produce scent as well. Same purpose, though - to direct the insect where to go into the flower.
  • It must be remembered that the sole function of a flower is to achieve successful pollination, and to set seed. Beauty is entirely secondary, if not accidental.
I had photographed this plant several says ago, but missed the diagnostic feature - the shape and texture of the outer side of the dorsal sepal. So I said yesterday that I needed to go back. So I went back today to find this one flower. I managed that, fortunately.

You can see the dust spots on the flower, following the dust storm yesterday. South Australian dust on a Southern Highlands Orchid. This is "actuality blogging" folks - proof of the date of this photo is in the photo itself.
And here is the image I needed to take.

It shows the "dusky" colour on the outside of the dorsal sepal. I have had to brighten the image, to show the soft brownish colour of the back of the flower. It is the same flower as in the image directly above. Same dust spots.
Here is the close-up of the labellum and the column of Petalochilus fuscatus. Note the golden tips along the edge of the labellum. The tip of the labellum is recurved, which can be seen from the side. These yellow "clubs" on the side of the labellum match with the two lines of "Calli" - also golden yellow.

Note the sides of the labellum are incurved, to protect the centre of the flower.How to tell P. fuscatus from P. carneus?
  • P. fuscatus tends to have single flowers (per stem). I have seen some with 2 flowers. P. carneus tends to have up to 5 flowers per stem.
  • P. fuscatus has brownish pink exterior of the flower, sometimes with longitudinal stripes of red on the back of the dorsal sepal.
  • If no red colour is present, the exterior of the dorsal sepal is brownish and hairy.
  • By contrast, P. carneus is referred to as "externally greenish to brownish pink". (Field Guide to the Orchids of the ACT. David Jones with Jean Egan and Tony Wood)
  • The labellum lobes (the sides of the flower protecting the "column") are "erect, but incurved" in P. fuscatus. By contrast, in P. carneus the sides are said to be erect, but not incurved.
The least helpful advice which the books offer in separating Petalochilus fuscatus and P. carneus is that P. fuscatus tends to flower several weeks earlier than the other species. If one finds just a few flowers, how does one know which is which?

Sure, if you keep records over years, in the same area, and if it then it falls into a pattern, then you can make an informed guess, based upon flowering times. But as I have just come back from Canberra, which is south from here, but lower, there are contradictory factors there too.

If I find lots of "pink fingers" in flower in a few weeks time, then I may be more confidsent in ascribing a name to those later flowering plants. Maybe. But for a "field guide tip" its not very helpful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Orchids of Springtime.

At the risk of boring my readers, here are some more Orchids of springtime.
It is a busy Orchid flowering season, so this means busy blogging. In turn that means I cannot "do" these Orchids in the full detail which I would normally like to do.
Glossodia major - from Black Mountain (Canberra)Here is a low angle shot to reveal the details of the "column".
Click to enlarge the image.
Note the extreme hairiness of the stem.
This is true of the leaves as well.
Here is a cropped image of the "column"
The white patch of hairs on the "labellum" is very clearly visible.
Click to enlarge image.
Here is Pterostylis nutans - the famous "Nodding Greenhood".
The lower portion of the "galea" (the hood) is nearly transparent.
This is a subsequent image of Petalochilus fuscatus.
I posted several images from Black Mountain plants a few days ago.
This is from Kangaloon (in the Southern Highlands).
Please click to enlarge the image to check the dark, hairy back of the flower.
That is one of the diagnostic features of this species plant - from which it gains its name - "fuscatus" means "Dusky".
I shall have to go back to get a better photo of this feature.
This is Stegostyla moscata (formerly known as a Caladenia sp.)
And from a slightly lower angle - to see into the hood.
This shows the pollinia held high within the tip of the column
(within the hood)
There are 4 rows of "calli" - the glands on the labellum.
This shows the side profile of the flowers
and the hairy outside of the dorsal sepal.
Here is a sign of things to come - a pink Sun Orchid.
This one is not quite open.
With the wild weather of the last 24 hours, this one will not have opened.
I shall go back and check again soon.
These plants are shy to flower - they require perfect conditions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spring Orchids are starting to flower

These Orchids were flowering in Canberra last week.

This plant is Bunochilus umbrinus, a close relative of B. longifolius which grows commonly around Robertson.
To be honest I can barely tell the difference
between this flower and the local species.
There are minor differences in the texture of the hairs on the "labellum" of this plant and B. longifolius.
This is Petalochilus fuscatus (formerly Caladenia fuscata).
Here is a similar plant - viewed from the side.
Note the textured external surface of the upright dorsal sepal,
the banding on the back of the "column"
and the dull red top of the column - from which the plant gets its name "dusky"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cherry Blossoms starting - in Robertson

The famous Cherry Trees along the main street of Robertson are starting to flower.
As mentioned in comments on a previous posting, in response to a query received two weeks ago, the Cherry Trees are flowering early this year. Normally they are at their peak on the long weekend at the beginning of October.
This year they are flowering early. You might blame Global Warming - everyone else seems to blame things they do not like on Global Warming.

I prefer to regard is as part of the normal range of seasonal variations.
Anyway, the point of this posting is to forewarn the Japanese community of Sydney and the Illawarra (who I know do monitor this Blog) that if they wish to see the beautiful Cherry Trees of Robertson in their full glory, they ought visit Robertson over the next 10 days.
.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tributes to Steve Wilson from his friends and colleagues

TRIBUTES TO DAD FROM CANBERRA ORNITHOLOGISTS GROUP (COG) MEMBERS AND OFFICERS


Hi Denis,

I am very sorry to hear about the passing of your Father, he was a great contributor to our knowledge of the birds of the ACT.

Please let me know who you would like to contact and I will see what I can do with providing details.

Regards

Chris Davey (President)

+++++

Denis, so sorry to hear this news. I first met Steve and Noni many years ago when I joined the Cactus and Succulent Society, and Steve was no longer active in COG when I joined comparatively recently. If you need contact details for any COG members I can supply them - as secretary and also responsible for memberships I have all that info, so let me know if there's anyone you need contacts for.
Sandra Henderson
COG Secretary

+++++

Vale Steve Wilson

A remarkable man and acute bird observer, and a pleasure to work with.

Muriel Brookfield (Muriel edited Dad’s book – “Two centuries of change”)

++++++

I second that comment by Muriel about Steve Wilson. I visited him often over the years after his book release and before and after mine and gained from his and Nonie's company, support and advice.

Philip Veerman

+++++

I’m so sorry to hear of Steve’s death, but in a way also relieved. When I last visited him, he seemed resigned to the fact he was still with us, but as always, proud to recount the number of grandchildren etc. I was sorry he never accepted my invitation to take him out in his wheelchair. While he always said he didn’t like the hassles involved, I suspected he had a few qualms about my wheelchair driving abilities!! Please let me know of any people you wish to advise as I may be able to help. Either email, or phone

Barbara Allen

+++++

Denis,

It is with great sadness that I read your email this morning. I, along with many others, owe a huge debt to both Steve, and your late mother, for what I have managed to achieve in my life to date. He will be greatly missed by the ornithological community here in Canberra as well as other groups that he was associated with over the years. To you, your brothers, and all your families, I extent my deepest sympathies.

Best wishes at this difficult time,

Mark Clayton (Mark was one of Dad's team of young birders who went on to become a life-long professional ornithologist. Mark is a founding member of COG, as was Dad.)

++++++

Denis - Very sorry. Steve will be widely missed. When he was still a bit mobile it was great to run into him here and there, with his little notebook in his hand.

Barbara Allan and Chris Davey will probably be most help with contacts. Will copy to them.

Geoffrey Dabb

++++++

Hello Denis

I was sorry to read of the death of your father. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

Charmian Lawson

++++++

Dear Denis

Please accept my sympathy for your father's passing away. While I only met him a few times, he was defnitely one of nature's gentlemen.

Martin Butterfield

+++++

Denis,

I was saddened to read that your father had recently passed away. While I never knew your father personally, I am sure that I am like many others who could say that anyone with an interest in Canberra birds ‘knew’ Steve Wilson.

Having recently completed the task of digitalising the Canberra Birds Notes, I feel I got to know him through the many volumes that he edited and the many articles that he wrote. Obviously all of us modern birders can thank for Steve for making his knowledge of Canberra birds available through his book ‘Birds of the ACT’. It is a book that I constantly refer to and now I will treasure my signed copy even more.

May he rest in peace.

Best regards
Alastair Smith

++++++

I had a lengthy chat, and reminiscence about Dad with David Purchase.

Unfortunately I have not been able ot make contact with Barry Baker, (another of the "team of Youngsters", who is in Tasmania, with the Antarctic Division, these days, working on Albatross studies. Messages have been sent to him via friends, etc.

FROM MEMBERS OF THE CROWE FAMILY

(Children of Claude and Isobel Crowe, late of Berrima Bridge Nursery. Mrs Crowe died in April this year, and I attended her funeral, and wrote an Obituary for her in the local Magazine.)

Dear Denis,

My sympathies to you on the passing of your father. I very much enjoyed reading his obituary in the Canberra Times today. What a busy, interesting and varied life he led.

I remember visiting your parents at their home with my mother, Isobel Crowe, we had our first child (Ben, now thirty) with us, he was only a baby! How time flies. I know that Mum always appreciated your fathers’ interests in common with her. He sat patiently listening to her tapes of birdcalls and helped identify them for her on that occasion.

I have just finished giving all Mum’s ornithological magazines, newsletters and nest collection to COG for their use. There were many mentions and articles written by your father, Mum had the very first COG newsletters in her collection!

All the best, your support to us was very much appreciated in April. We return the honour to you and your family. Our thoughts are with at this time.

Many thanks

Merrie Pepper (nee Crowe)

g.mpepper@netspeed.com.au

+++++

Dear Denis

Jennifer & myself and our family particularly offer to you and your family our deepest and most sincere condolences for the loss of your dear father.

May both he and your mother meet our parents once again and exchange greetings, as old friends do, in the higher world.

We are thinking of you at this difficult time with thoughts of support and to help give you strength to reflect on the full life of your dear dad - as we recall the life also of our recent loss in our dear Mum.

Please stay in touch - we regard you as one of our dear family friends

Noel Crowe and the Crowe family


TRIBUTES FROM CACTUS AND SUCCULENT SOCIETY PEOPLE


Dear Kevin and Margaret, Brian and Carmel, Brendan and Elizabeth and Denis,


It was with immense sadness that I learned of your father’s passing today. I first meet your father/father-in-law more than 40 years ago at a meeting of the Canberra Philatelic Society. After several months I found out that he shared my interest in cacti. Even though he had put his interest in these plants on the back-burner when he left Melbourne and moved to Canberra, I eventually convinced him to join the Cactus and Succulent Society of the ACT. His rekindled interest in cacti and succulents is now history. We shared our interest in both stamps and succulent with considerable passion until I moved to the Philippines in 1978. After that time we kept in contact by mail. Following my return to Australia in 1995 I settled in Sydney and so we saw each other only on my very infrequent trips to the ACT.

Steve (and one never thinks of Steve without thinking of his lifelong companion, Nonie) had a profound influence on me during my entire life; and, I dare say, on the majority of people who had the privilege of knowing him. I cannot think of anyone who I held in higher regard in my lifetime or who I admired more than Steve. His generosity of spirit, strength of conviction and steadfast adherence to fairness and common sense in everything he did were a wonderful template for anyone to live by. A template I have but only very imperfectly try to follow.

Steve’s love and devotion to his family, (and boy what a family you, your children and your grandchildren are), were put only above his devotion to his fellow man and his church. The goodness that Steve personified in his life, which he lived so vigorously and with such conviction, will certainly not be” interred with his bones”, it will live on with pride in his family his friends, indeed in every person who was ever touched by this paradigm of a man.

I will miss Steve, and Nonie, more than you will ever know and I share the intense pain of your loss. My one consolation is that you will all know that he is now among the most revered of all the angels in Heaven.

God bless you all,

Ian Hay


+++++

Subject: With sympathy

Dear Kevin and Margaret, Brian and Carmel, Brendan and Elizabeth, Denis and all your family
As a member of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the ACT and now its vice president, I am writing to express my sincere sympathy, and that of my husband Don, on the loss of your father, grandfather and great grandfather, Steve. I regret that I don't have a street address to write to you properly. I also apologise that I won't be able to attend the Requiem Mass for him this Thursday, as I have another engagement at that same time.
Although being a member of the CSSACT only since 1999, I had known Steve to have a splendid collection of cacti and succulents and to be a mentor to younger members of the Society. Others in the Society have told me that he was also an ornithological expert, had undertaken field trips and written about birds. I knew too that he ran amazing plant stalls at his church and school's annual fetes and that he was active with National Parks and Wildlife. Your late mother, Nonie, had also been very pleasant to me at the earliest CSSACT Christmas parties I attended. I believe your parents had - impressively - celebrated at least their 66th wedding anniversary. I visited them once at Amity in Aranda, shortly before Nonie died.
When your father turned 90 in 2002, I made sure your parents were attending the closest CSSACT meeting, still in the planthouse of the (now late) George Davidson. I had made Steve a cactus birthday cake. Please accept this photo of your parents on that occasion.
Be proud of your father and his many achievements. You have much cause to celebrate his life.
With warm symapthy to all of you
Yours sincerely
Jenny Rowland
Vice President
Cactus and Succulents Society of the ACT

Melba ACT 2615


Subject: Fw: Steve Wilson at 90

Kevin
Not sure if you have this email and photo from Jenny Rowland. Note the cake is in the shape etc of a cactus.
Regards, thoughts and prayers to you all particularly Bren and Denis of course...
Jim O'Connor

Subject: Steve Wilson at 90

Dear friends
This is a photo I took of Steve and Nonie at the CSSACT meeting in June 2002, with the cactus cake I made for Steve's 90th birthday.
Jenny

Love the Cactus Cake for Dad's 90th Birthday.
Thanks to Jenny Rowland and Jim O'Connor




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some of the wild birds of Black Mountain

Black Mountain is on the edge of the centre of Canberra (if you get what I mean). It is one of the two dominant hills of Canberra, and is the one with the TV tower on it - if you have ever been to Canberra. Lake Burley Griffin (an man-made lake) now washes the southern slopes of Black Mountain. It starts to rise a mere 3 Km from Civic Centre. Much of it has been left undisturbed, fortunately. The Botanic Gardens where yesterday's photos were taken, are located at the base of the hill. Near the top of the mountain, there is a parking area, from where a track leads off, which provides a circuit, some 100 metres lower than the summit. Black Mountain Nature Reserve is one of the jewels of Canberra Nature Park

This circuit passes through mixed Eucalypt forest - Stringybarks and Scribbly Gums mostly. It is a dry, open forest, with grasses and small shrubs. It is very steep and rocky. The rocks are classed as white quartz Black Mountain Sandstone.

The Crimson Rosellas love the hollows in the old trees. So too, no doubt, do possums and other creatures. This bird was standing guard over its nesting hollow, from a convenient perch on the neighbouring tree. Click to enlarge image.
Grey Fantails are very common in this patch of forest, chasing insects in the air, as they dodge through the trees and shrubs. I managed to catch this little guy stationary - for just an instant. These poor images are more typical of my success - or lack of it - with Grey Fantails. These birds are known to child birdwatchers as "Crazy Fans" -because they are so seldom still.Having seen the clear image of the bird, hopefully you can recognise it, in flight. 1/300th of a second is not enough to freeze this little fellow's wings.

This is the shot I really wished had worked - but it is close-enough that I will publish it anyway. The professional photographer Bloggers will not approve - but here goes. The Fantail earns his name from this spread of feathers. The bird is actually stationery, on the side of the tree, but it is fanning its tail, which accounts for the blurring.

The Pied Currawong is a dominant predator in this forest. They eat fruit and berries in winter, but feed their chicks on a high protein diet of grubs and spiders and baby birds - in season.
This is why they are so dangerous for small birds. Inquisitive eyes and a huge beak, capable of inflicting terrible damage. Click to enlarge - if you are feeling brave.By contrast, the female Australian Magpie (actually collecting food scraps from the restaurant at the Botanic Gardens - the day before) has a much smaller beak than the Currawong.
This bird was my favourite of the walk along this track on Black Mountain.
A Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea). I managed to quietly track it (I could hear it's melodious trill call), and eventually I got a couple of clear photos. The diagnostic features of this species are - the colour of the red - (flame red, not scarlet), the very large patch of white on the wing flash, the red goes a long way down the abdomen (not just on the chest) and there is no black bib under the beak - the red goes all the way up to the beak. Sometimes shadows make that last point hard to determine.Here it is in full blown-up detail.
Comparisons with other "red chested" Robins.

The Scarlet Robin has a black throat, a darker red chest, and a larger white patch over the beak.
Gouldiae has a very fine image of a male Scarlet Robin on his Blog.
The Red-capped Robin is similar to the Scarlet, but has a red patch over the beak. Duncan, at Ben Cruachan had several wonderful images of one of them some months back.

The Pink Robin and Rose Robin are both distinctively different in the colour of the red on their chests. The Rose Robin breeds in rainforests and the high, cool mountains of the NSW and Victorian Alps, but they pass through places like Canberra in non-breeding season. The Pink Robin is a winter migrant from Victoria and Tasmania. Neither of these '"wet forest" birds has the prominent white wing flash which my Flame Robin shows.

All of these comments relate only to the male birds. The females are predominantly small, pale brown birds, with little colour on their chests. They need to be distinguished by the wing markings (if any, they vary from buff to white), the colour on the chest (if any), the white edges (if any) on the tail. In truth, one is often lucky enough to see a male robin with a female, which makes the identification easier.

The Birds in Backyards site has some useful notes to help tell them apart.
Pink Robin - a wet forest specialist, but moves through to other habitats in winter
Rose Robin - primarily breeds in Tasmania, Victoria and far south coast of NSW, and moves to drier country in winter.
Flame Robin - primarily an alpine breeder, but it is a "vertical migrant" - coming down to lower altitude habitats in winter.
Scarlet Robin - the classic "Red breasted Robin" of Eastern Australia. It normally prefers open Eucalypt forest.
Red-capped Robin - it is primarily an inland bird and loves stands of Callitris Pine.