Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Time will stand still on Sunday morning.

"Because the Earth is slowing down, time on the clock gets a little ahead of the time told by the sun, so we have to delay the clocks by adding an extra second,'' the National Measurement Institute's Bruce Warrington said."

Salvador Dali - Melting clock image

Because World Time is dominated by Greenwich (the Royal Observatory, and the home of the Greenwich Prime Meridian and all that stuff), the adjustment will occur when our clocks are about to kick over to 10:00:00 AM (Australian Eastern Standard Time).
  • "Before atomic clocks were introduced in the 1960s, the Earth's rotation was key to defining time. After it was realised that the rotation was variable, the orbit of the Earth was used until the arrival of the atomic clock" (SMH as above)
But there is a group in Paris which monitors the world's banks of Atomic clocks which have made astronomical calculation of time almost irrelevant. But world time still is set on Greenwich Mean Time.

Unfortunately, the Tech Heads in Paris speak in Tech Head short-hand:
1 July 2012, 0h UTC
Until further notice, the value of DUT1 to be disseminated with the
time signals will be: DUT1 = +0.4 s
You got that I trust.
Wikipedia has a few words to try to help us, but their words don't mean much to me.
That's where the kiddies at the National Measurement Institute in Canberra come in and translate, and disseminate this information to us all.
"Leap Second
Time will stand still for a second on Sunday 1 July 2012 when the nation's timekeepers add a second to keep the atomic clock in sync with the Earth."

The Sydney Morning Herald ran the story several days ago, to warn us all.

Everything which involved clock calculations, time read-outs and all data records need to be adjusted to keep "in synch" with everything else in the world. Banks, computers, all technical measuring devices everywhere.

For the rest of us, "joe public" who all carry watches, mobile phones, even my Digital Camera has a clock code in it. We all rely upon time signals (more or less). The "Pips" - which only operate on ABC AM Radio broadcasts these days, (have you noticed - the Pips are not broadcast on FM, because there is a built-in delay in the reception, and it is supposedly illegal to broadcast a time signal which is incorrect, so FM radio does not use the "Pips".

So Yes - Time can stand still:
But only for a second, every fifteen years or so, when the French boffins decide.

If the slowing rotation of the Earth a fore-teller of the End of the Earth?
Almost certainly, but not just yet, OK?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Winter flowers - Snowdrops or Galanthus

I have loved these flowers for many years, long before I ever owned any.
I bought some before I moved to Robertson.
I held them in pots for a couple of years, while I lived in a tin shed, and before my house was built.
Eventually I planted them out.
And then I forgot where they were.

They managed to flower last year, and yet again, I was surprised to "discover them" (all over again).
Sounds like "Gardening with Asbergers" doesn't it?
Galanthus elwesii
But after the passing of the Winter Solstice, I was thrilled to notice these lovely flowers blooming, nearly overgrown, in my garden.
A clump of Snowdrops (Galanthus)
These differ from "Snowflakes"
which are similarly green and white,
winter flowering bulbs.
Hardy, pretty  little things.
They have to be hardy to survive and flower in what passes for a garden in my wilderness.


Galanthus elwesii
"The true snowdrops are perhaps the best of all early flowering bulbs, appearing through the bleakest period of the year and heralding the imminent arrival of a new season. Most are easy but we never have enough of the cultivars and prices may appear steep but they are expensive for us to purchase and acclimatise." Source: Hill View Rare Plants

Galanthus elwesii
Much larger flowered and vigorous species than G. nivalis with greyish leaves that are hooded at the tips. Generally the flower has green markings at both the base and the tip of the inner segment

Monday, June 25, 2012

A few Orchids from Comerong Island

Last weekend the Illawarra Branch of the Australasian Native Orchid Society went on an excursion to Comerong Island. See the introduction to this post, for location and geographic information about the Island. It was intended to be an Orchid trip, but we found more varieties of Fungi than Orchids (much to the frustration of my friend Colin Rowan).

We saw literally thousands of leaves of Pterostylis curta and some Pterostylis nutans. None were in flower, unfortunately.

However, Alan Stephenson was on a mission to re-locate a group of variegated Pterostylis curta plants which he had seen a few years previously. This required a  bit of walking along one section of track several times until Alan spotted what he was after.

There were a few, not many, of these unusually marked plants.
Such markings are uncommon, but not unknown. Possibly they were originally affected by a virus (as has famously happened with Tulips), but it seems that these plant markings are stable, not variable, nor likely to be an infection, which might otherwise kill these plants off, (or spread to others around them).

Variegated leaves of Pterostylis curta

Variegated leaves of Pterostylis curta
We then photographed some of the hundreds of Helmet Orchids
which were carpeting the ground
along the side of the track.
Corybas fimbriatus, the Fringed Helmet Orchid

Corybas fimbriatus, the Fringed Helmet Orchid

Corybas fimbriatus, the Fringed Helmet Orchid
A colony of them in the sand dunes, in the Littoral Rainforest
We drove along the single lane track which goes the full length of Comerong Island, out to the wharf at Crookhaven River (the redirected Shoalhaven River mouth). The last kilometer of the track had many deep puddles, but they were on solid bases, so, although a little scary (I had visions of cars getting stuck) Alan pressed through quite successfully. Definitely this last bit was 4WD only.
Acianthus fornicatus
This was one of very few in flower, but there
were literally hundreds of leaves of these plants growing
in certain patches of the forest, especially in disturbed areas
(e.g., where NPWS had bulldozed fallen logs
off the road, and into the forest).

Close to where the hundreds of Acianthus were,
we also found a few late blooming Cobra Greenhoods
Pterostylis grandiflora - the Cobra Greenhood
And finally we found a few very bedraggled,
but recognisable specimens of Bunochilus tunstallii
This Bunochilus tunstallii had collapsed,
and the flower had been triggered closed
but I was able to open the flower
to reveal the diagnostic brown labellum.
Bunochilus longifolia has a
cream labellum with a fine dark brown stripe up the middle.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More of the Fungi from Comerong Island

Please read this in conjunction with yesterday's post.

One thing I did not explain yesterday was that the original purpose of the Comerong Island trip was to look for various Ground Orchids. I was with the local Australasian Native Orchid Society people. As such I did not take the time which would have been necessary to examine all these Fungi in detail - with photos of gills, etc, in all cases.
Consequently some of these IDs are simply based upon similarities with published images, in Bruce Fuhrer's "Field Guide to Australian Fungi", or in the Sydney Fungal Studies Group website, or other published web images. I have linked to other known authoritative sources, where possible.
A baby Polypore?
Quite hard, not squishy.
and not a Gilled or Bolete Fungus

Unknown red-brown gilled fungus
Probably Cortinarius rotundisporus
A steely-blue cap, with yellow "umbo"
which increases in prominence as the Fungus ages.

I love to call these cute little lumpy jelly fungi
"Gummy Bears" (in honour of sweets of that name).
They are also known as "Jelly Babies"
The official name is Leotia lubrica
Possibly Clavaria miniata, "Flame Fungus"
This and the next couple of images are of
relatives of the "Coral Fungi"
But they are growing singly, and
not showing the typical divided heads
of Coral Fungi.
These forms are not rare, just different from
the classic Coral Fungi
and because they are very small, they are less easily seen.
A small specimen probably in what is known as
part of the Clavulina cristata complex.
Another specimen of
the Clavulina cristata complex

A type of Polypore or Bracket Fungus.
This does not grow from a dead tree, as most "brackets" do
but has a stem arising from the ground.
It has a distinctly leathery texture
allowing it to be bent over to reveal
the undersurface.(see below)
Undersurface of this leathery fungus.
It does not show obvious gills, but lines
which radiate out from the stem.
it is possible that it is related to the Gomphus complex of fungi
(note there are Dragonflies which share that name).

A fine gilled capped Fungus
with a dark stem.
Not sure what type.
This one I DO KNOW
Ghost Fungus. A luminous fungus.
Omphalotus nidiformis

Some unusual Geastrum (Earth Star) Puffballs
The reddish colour and poorly divided outer shells
make these somewhat unusual.
Another type of brown viscid gilled fungus
This one has a prominent "umbo"
A clump of moss growing on the ground,
with a small Mycena at left
This Mycena I did pick
to show the fine basal "hairs"
low down on the stem.
(Click on image to enlarge it)
This specimen was growing
from the moss on rotting wood

Some Fungi from Comerong Island

Comerong Island is a long sand island, at the end of the Shoalhaven River.
It is in effect, the southern end of Seven Mile Beach.
The flow of the Shoalhaven River has been disturbed, historically, by the diversion of the River via a canal dug by the first European landowner, Alexander Berry. The Shoalhaven River's main flow now is permanently diverted via the Crookhaven River.
"Comerong Island has the largest remaining area of
littoral (coastal) rainforest on the south coast."

Crookhaven River outlet of Shoalhaven River
Comerong Island with sand beach visible front and centre
The original opening was at "Shoalhaven Heads", but once the canal was dug, the Shoalhaven River has ceased to bust open the sand dunes which now block the original Shoalhaven Heads (some 5 Kms to the north).

Shoalhaven Heads - as seldom seen these days.
The beach is now continuous with Seven Mile Beach
(which extends to the left as far as Gerroa).
Comerong Island is just visible to the right.
It goes for approx 5 Kms
as seen in the image above.

Here are some of the Fungi we found on Comerong Island last Sunday.
A lovely small specimen of
Cryptotrama aspratum

unknown fungus
Not sure if this was a severely decomposed Fungus,
or a Slime Mould

Lovely cluster of small kidney-shaped fungi
with horizontal stems

A small (4 cm tall) black fungus
with no cap, but a solid fruiting body
Possibly Geoglossum sp
The leaves are of a Pterostylis, (Greenhood Orchid)

A lump of soft, sticky yellow Jelly Fungus
Tremella mesenterica
It takes its name from abdominal tissues (mesentery)
which separate key functional organs.
In culinary terms, think of "tripe" (offal).
Unknown gilled fungus with lovely chestnut colour
Too pretty not to photograph
even though I have no idea what it is.
A young cap of Russula persanguinea
These Russulas have distinctive stiff
stems which snap like a piece of chalk.
Possible Cortinarius sp.

Stem of possible Cortinarius (as above)
Note the prominent stem ring (annulus)
A wonderful moss-covered log
with thousands of these small pale brown capped fungi
Probably the best colony of fungi we saw.

Interesting patterns in the upper cap of this little fungus.
I love the "architecture" of fungi caps.

Possible Cortinarius perfoetens
formerly Rozites foetens

The underside of the same specimen above.

More fungal fun to come

in subsequent posts.