Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Trivia for Rainy Days.

This is what Robertson looked like today -
well, the view from my back deck, anyway.

The Power Stanchion
(barely visible beyond the tree)
is about 300 metres away.
 Here is a link to the same view taken on a hazy summer's afternoon.


For the record, we had  rain on 19 days out of 29 in February 2012.
We got a total of 289.5 mm of rain.

That number is well over the 
Bureau's Long term Mean figure for February of 165.9 mm.

And today's rain, which is looking likely to cause 
will of course, appear in the rainfall figures for March.


With the prospect of more rain over the next few days, perhaps you might like to text your brain against some Nature Trivia questions (with a few linguistic tricks thrown in). These are some of the questions I asked the local Robertson Trivia enthusiasts.

Our little group rotates the role of Quiz Master, so it is just as well that I don't get to ask all the questions. These were a combination of Nature Trivia and Linguistic origins and meanings. I also asked a second round of more traditional (normal) Trivia questions. 

These Questions might have been sponsored by Williams the Shoemen – but not all of them.

1.      Where would you find a Bigfoot and what is its “native name” (Mythical Creature)
2.     Where would you hope to find a Yeti? (Mythical Creature)
3.     What is the linguistic difference between a Megapode and a Macropod and give an example of each group.
4.     What does the name Gastropod mean? And give example.
5.     What is a Podiatrist?  (define)
6.     For variety, what is Paediatrics? (define)

7.     Back to the "pods": What is a Tetrapod  (Biology)(give example)
8.    What is a Hexapod? (Biology - give example)
9.     Spiders have 8 legs – are they Octopods
10.What is an Octopod? (Biology – Define and give example) Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish.
11.  What is a Cephalopod? (Biology – Define and give example)
12. What is a Decapod? (give example)

For variety we will go to the low numbers.

13. What is a Bipod? (mechanical)
14. What is a Biped? (biological)
15. What is a Monopod? (define or give example) Mechanical device
16. Who or what is a Monopod?  literature  and Mythology.
17. What is an Arthropod? (Biology) (define the significant feature, as mentioned in the name)
18.How many feet does a Millipede have? (estimate range of numbers of legs – between X and Y )
19. How many feet does a Centipede have? (range) -  15 and 30 pairs of legs in total and not 50.
20.  Spiders, do not have true blood. What colour is the circulatory fluid. Blue.  

21. Supplementary Question: (Free Drink or Cake Questions)
a.      The British arachnologist W.S. Bristowe established that an English meadow in late summer could support a population of around how many spiders per hectare. 100 000, b 1 million, c 5 million, 50 million? 
b.      What is the linguistic origin and meaning of the name “Fox”
The Modern English word "fox" is Old English, referring to the bushy tail.
It comes from the Proto-Germanic word fukh – compare German Fuchs, Gothic fauho, Old Norse foa and Dutch vos.  It corresponds to the Proto-Indo-European word puk - meaning "tail of it" (compare Sanskrit puccha, also "tail").  The bushy tail is also the source of the word for fox in Welsh: llwynog, from llwyn, "bush, grove". Lithuanian: uodegis, from uodega, "tail", Portuguese: raposa, from rabo, "tail”.

Nature Trivia Answers

1)      Bigfoot: USA ,,, Sasquatch
2)     Yeti: Himalayas.
3)     A – Megapode = large foot (Greek: mega = large, poda = foot) (example) Brush Turkey, Mallee Fowl  (Mound-builders)
       B – Macropod = Macro (Latin) and Poda (foot (Greek) e.g., Kangaroos and Wallabies.
4)     Gastropod means Stomach + Foot.  Example - Snail
5)     Podiatrist is a Doctor specialising in a branch of medicine devoted to the study of, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower leg.
6)     Paediatrics  (Nothing to do with “pods”) A medical specialisation - deals with the care of infants and children and the treatment of their diseases.
7)     Tetrapods (Greek,  ("four-footed") corresponds to Latin quadruped. vertebrate animals having four limbs. Amphibians, sauropsids and mammals are tetrapods. 
8)    Hexapoda (from the Greek for six legs) constitutes the largest (in terms of number of species) grouping of arthropods and includes the insects as well as three much smaller groups of wingless arthropods: Collembola, Protura, and Diplura  Hexapods are named for their most distinctive feature: a consolidated thorax with three pairs of legs
9)     Spiders have 8 legs – but they are not Octopods?  No – they have 8 jointed legs and so are in the class of Arthropods?
10) Octopods – Marine creatures with 8 legs – (example) Octopus, Squid, Cuttlefish.
11)  A Cephalopod is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda (Greek plural "head-feet"). These exclusively marine animals are characterized by a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles modified from the primitive molluscan foot.  octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish; and Nautilus and Allonautilus (shelled)
12)            The Decapods or Decapoda (literally "ten-footed") are an order of crustaceans including many familiar groups, such as crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp
13) Bipod - 2 legged support - gun support, etc.
14) Biped. Hominids, dinosaurs, birds, hopping mice, etc, Kangaroos and Gerboas, (famous for hopping on two back feet).
15)  Monopod, also called a unipod, is a single staff or pole used to help support cameras, video cameras, binoculars, rifles or other precision instruments in the field.
16) Monopod (Greek Mythological creatures), mentioned by CS Lewis in Chronicles of Narnia. Humans said to have only one leg. This myth then developed to the idea that they rested on their backs during the heat of the day, with the large foot held high over the head, like an umbrella. Image available on this site. The myth supposedly developed from stories of Indian Yogis standing on one foot, with other foot bent back. Quite how they then supposedly took to lying on their back with the foot in the air, is not clear (to me).
17) Arthropod. (define the significant feature, as mentioned in the name) Jointed legs (arthro – “joint”)
18) Millipede (estimate range of numbers of legs – between X and Y ) Common species have between 36 and 400 legs. One reported to have 750.
19) Centipede (range) - 15 and 30 pairs of legs in total and not 50 (pairs).
20) Spiders, do not have true blood. What colour is the circulatory fluid? Blue.   Haemolymph, is pumped through arteries by a heart into spaces called sinuses surrounding their internal organs. The haemolymph contains hemocyanin, a respiratory protein similar in function to hemoglobin. Hemocyanin contains two copper atoms, tinting the haemolymph with a faint blue color.

Supplementary Question: (Free Drink or Cake Questions)

a)    The British arachnologist W.S. Bristowe established that an English meadow in late summer could support a population of around how many spiders per hectarea 100 000, b 1 million, c 5 million, d 50 million?  
      Answer: C five million   

Incidentally: The weight of insects consumed by English spiders each year easily exceeds the weight of the entire human population of England.   

b)     What is the linguistic origin and meaning of the name “Fox”
      The Modern English word "fox" is Old English, and comes from the Proto-Germanic word fukh – compare German Fuchs, Gothic fauho, Old Norse foa and Dutch vos.                         It corresponds to the Proto-Indo-European word puk- meaning "tail of it" (compare Sanskrit puccha, also "tail").  The bushy tail is also the source of the word for fox in Welsh: llwynog, from llwyn, "bush, grove". Lithuanian: uodegis, from uodega, "tail", Portuguese: raposa, from rabo, "tail"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Local endangered Greenhoods having good year.

Down along the one of the local creeks the Beautiful Greenhood (Diplodium pulchellum) is just starting to flower.
EDIT: I have corrected the previously published references to this plant as the "Illawarra Greenhood". Kirsten has pointed out that name is applied to Pterostylis gibbosa. There is another more suitable name, the Waterfall Greenhood, but as I have demonstrated previously, they don't always live beside waterfalls.
Re the use of Pterostylis vs Diplodium, I stick by my choice to follow the "new names" (for Orchids generally) and especially with the Greenhoods, because that term covers such a vast assortment of forms of plants, whereas Bunochilus or Diplodium gives the naturalist a clue as to the form of the plant, and when in the field, what to look for.

I found one mature flower, 
3 new flowers just opening, 
and several buds.
Beautiful Greenhood (Diplodium pulchellum)
a fine mature flower
Beautiful Greenhood (Diplodium pulchellum)
New flower developing
Beautiful Greenhood (Diplodium pulchellum)

Rosette of Beautiful Greenhood
Diplodium pulchellum)

Given the "vulnerable" status of this plant,
it is very gratifying that I also found 
many, many rosettes
of young non-flowering plants.
Lovely fresh rosettes of Beautiful Greenhood
Diplodium pulchellum)
Lots of new rosettes of Beautiful Greenhood
Diplodium pulchellum)
The mature flower of Beautiful Greenhood
(Diplodium pulchellum)
This plant is listed as "Vulnerable" under the NSW Threatened Species Legislation. mostly because of its restricted range and a preference for a very limited habits in which it likes to grow.

I especially like it as it is a Robertson local.
I love this plant to bits. 

Elsewhere, in the same creek valley
 the lovely green ("Alba") form 
of Chiloglottis sylvestris is in flower.

Alba form of Chiloglottis sylvestris

Alba form of Chiloglottis sylvestris
This species is on its southern most limit of its range here near Robertson.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sequel to the Big Day out at Tallong

This will be relatively short.

Alan Stephenson has sent me some images he took yesterday.
Some I could not take (one of my knee being used as a measuring stick for a tall Corunastylis apostasioides) and others taken at Meryla Pass (Griffin's Fire Trail) where I had made a lazy decision that I was too tired to cart my heavy Macro lens down the first section of the steep downhill Fire Trail.
Alan has kindly sent me some images to fill the gap in my record.

Firstly two excellent images Alan took of Corunastylis plumosa.
Corunastylis plumosa - Tallong Midge Orchid, at Tallong
Photo Courtesy of Alan Stephenson

Corunastylis plumosa - Tallong Midge Orchid, at Tallong
Photo Courtesy of Alan Stephenson
My knee being used to measure the height of a very tall
Corunastylis apostasioides.
PlantNET says it goes to 30 cm tall
Alan measured this as 50 cm tall.
And it was growing in 30 mm of moss
on a normally dry hillside.
No soil. Very "poor" sandstone scrub.
If you have ever seen Kunzea parvifolia growing
near Braidwood, Marulan or here at Tallong, you will know what I mean.
Corunastylis apostasioides against my knee as height measure.
Photo: Alan Stephenson
Then we went back home via Meryla Pass Road.
(off the Moss Vale to Fitzroy Falls Road)
Griffins Fire Trail (top end)
One of two species of Chiloglottis which were
growing in moist moss on a  vertical wall,
part of the old track cut in the rock to make
the original Meryla Pass track.
Chiloglottis seminuda
(long "clubs" below labellum)
Not reflexed backwards
Lower half of labellum clear
Photo: Alan Stephenson

 The second species of Chiloglottis found on Griffins Fire Trail
Ch. reflexa.
Chiloglottis reflexa (Photo: A. Stephenson)

Alan got excited about these next couple of shots.
Cymbidium suave is seldom recorded
growing on Old Man Banksia trees.
But here were three plants on the one Banksia serrata
Old Man Banksia.
Photos:Alan Stephenson.

Cymbidium suave on Banksia serrata
Cymbidium suave on Banksia serrata

These minute fungi gave us some excitement too.
Alan spotted them,
because he thought the moss sheet looked promising 
- for Orchids, of course.
Instead he found these strange Fungi
The moss and lichens and "fungi" were all growing together.
I have told you it was the end of a very long day (at Tallong)
so I was trying to rest on a convenient log. 
But I soon got called over to inspect these Fungi.
I have concluded that they are probably Multiclavula
At the time I guessed Clavaria (which is fairly close).
Just possibly these are
"the fruiting body has a short stem 
and then broadens to a thin, somewhat fishtail-like apex"
Source ANBG Basidiolichens website.
This ID awaits confirmation from the Experts.

Possible Multiclavula icthyiformis

Possible Multiclavula icthyiformis

Possible Multiclavula icthyiformis
I will say this for Alan.
For an Orchid Expert, 
he is very open-minded when it comes 
to investigating other aspects of Nature
be they Turquoise Parrots, 
or these Fungi, or interesting Insects.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A big day out at Tallong

Tallong is home to the Tallong Midge Orchid, (Corunastylis plumosa). This Corunastylis is endemic to the district, and likes to grow on mossy rock shelves. It grows under or close to the Violet Kunzea (Kunzea parvifolia) and Common Fringe-myrtle (Calytrix tetragona) shrubbery which dominates these generally dry and exposed rock mounds.This rare plant is listed as Endangered on the EPBC Act lists.
Corunastylis plumosa in situ
growing out of moist moss shelf.

Corunastylis plumosa at Tallong
Corunastylis plumosa at Tallong
Corunastylis plumosa at Tallong
Click to enlarge to see details.

 There were a few other species of Midge Orchids in flower today, at Tallong.
Corunastylis apostasioides (typically barely open)
Click to enlarge.
 We found a giant specimen of this species. 
The flowers had just finished.
Alan Stephenson measured it at 48 cm high
(The measurement is hard to read from above).
I do know it came up to my knee height.

Corunastylis fimbriata at Tallong

Corunastylis fimbriata - the Labellums flap in the breeze

Corunastylis simulans at Tallong
This plant also has a motile labellum
It is a rich purple colour.
We left the main Tallong area and went to the stunning Lookouts (and good Orchid habitats) of the district, overlooking the Upper Reaches of the Shoalhaven River.

Firstly we went to Long Point Lookout. This stunning place gives you great views of "Horseshoe Bend" in the Shoalhaven River.
Long Point Lookout view to the right (up-river)
Shoalhaven River.

Long Point Lookout view, looking straight down the river
Shoalhaven River - from Long Point Lookout.

Diplodium obtusum at Long Point Lookout
Growing on steep slopes of loose rocks
makes Diplodium obtusum hard to photograph.
Close-up of Diplodium obtusum
Note the "rolled edge" on the "sinus"
The labellum is still "set" but is hard to see.
Click to enlarge.
Diplodium obtusum rosettes forming
It is interesting to see so many  new plants forming up.
Presumably getting ready for next season.
A very large brown beetle seen at Long Point Lookout
 Then we drove to the next lookout. Badgery's Lookout is quite famous in geological circles because of the way one can look into the ancient past to see how the land has been formed.
  • The sandstone cliff of the marine Snapper Point Formation [a body of rock] is adjacent to the lookout, while further east, a cliff with three distinct levels can be seen, a lower sandstone cliff [Snapper Point Formation], a plateau in the middle [Wandrawandrian Siltstone] and an upper sandstone cliff [Nowra Sandstone]. [Mulwaree Shire Community Heritage Study, 2002 - 2004 - P. 20]
Shoalhaven River seen from Badgery's Lookout
I was surprised to see "Cycads" or "Burrawangs" growing on the steep scree slope opposite and to the left from Badgery's Lookout. They were not across the main valley of the Shoalhaven, but across a gully to the east from the lookout. The reason I was surprised is that I normally associate these plants with deep sandy soils. But after checking PlantNET. there is only one species list anywhere near this area, and that is Macrozamia communis.
Cycads on rocky scree slope - from Badgery's Lookout
View toward Bungonia from Badgery Lookout
Bungonia mine from Badgery's Lookout
This is a terrible scar on the landscape,
but only a few visitors to Badgery's Lookout see this view.

One of the interesting things about these two lookout, quite close, and overlooking the same river, is the different species of plants found at these two locations. Presumably there are minor changes in geology between them, which influence the plants which feel comfortable growing in the two different soil types.

In this case, we find Diplodium reflexum growing at Badgery's Lookout, and not Dipl. obtusum. We found such good displays of these Orchids, that even though both Alan and I knew they grew here, and had seen them in previous years, we both felt that this was the best season for these plants which we had ever encountered.

Long pointed nose of Diplodium reflexum
Close-up of Diplodium reflexum
We found many "groups" of these plants. One loose group had 8 plants in it, but this tight cluster was better for me to photograph. They were in terrific form and condition. There were obvious signs of recent heavy rain in the district, which has presumably helped them bring on flowering in such profusion.
Diplodium reflexum - four fine plants growing together.

An even better cluster of Diplodium reflexum
Never knowing "When to say When", we continued back towards Fitzroy Falls and then we took a divergence to Meryla Pass (the head of Griffins Fire Trail). Alan is familiar with the bottom end of that track, in Kangaroo Valley, but had never been to the top.
I took him down several hundred metres along the Griffins FT, to see an exposed seam of coal there. Of course we found Orchids as well. Chiloglottis reflexa and Alan spotted a number of plants of Cymbidium suave
At this point, although I love the views along that road, I was in need of "Calling it a Day".

But then I came home, had a bite to eat, and sat down and took 5 hours to Blog about it, didn't I?
But I can sleep well, now having found a rare and endangered plant (the Tallong Midge Orchid), and the very best display of Diplodium reflexum which either Alan or I had ever seen.