Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, July 28, 2014

Great sunset colours this evening Monday 28 July 2014

While working on my computer, this afternoon,
I noticed an eerie pinkish glow in the western sky.
Of course, it was sunset.
But such rich colours, with a distinct purplish tinge.

Looking to the far-south-west.
Main patch of colour around to the right (west).

The tall conical tree is the Sassafras I regularly photograph.
The light changes, the range of visibility changes,
depending on conditions.

Similar angle, slight change in light as sun set changes colour.

Taken from the western side of my house.
Looking through deciduous trees.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bassian Thrush near Carrington Falls

Yesterday I went to visit my friend Jim Foran, who lives at the end of Cloonty Road, which runs out beyond Carrington Falls.

As I drove there, I saw a Bassian Thrush beside the road. just past the Kangaroo River crossing (the main bridge) on the Carrington Falls road. It was between the Bridge and the turn in to the main parking area leading down to the main lookouts. This is across the River, not the popular swimming hole used by the locals, which is accessed by veering right, before the River crossing.

The Bassian Thrush is a fairly secretive bird, a little smaller than a female Bowerbird (which looks somewhat similar). Bowerbirds hop with both legs simultaneously (they "bounce") whereas the thrush runs low to the ground and moves quickly, once it decides to go. When I flies it has a faint light stripe along the wing. It has a mottled chest, and a dark olive/brown back. It has a large dark eye, with a pale ring of feathers around the eye.

Bassian Thrush
Formerly known as "Ground Thrush"
I seldom see these birds around Robertson and never seem to get a decent photo of them. They seem to like dense thickets of vegetation, not necessarily rainforest. But I have seen them at the Robertson Cemetery where there is a dense patch of remnant rainforest.

However, I have more frequently seen them in wet sclerophyll forests around the bottom of Fountaindale Road (which is taller forest than at Carrington Falls, but not far away, "as the Thrush flies". I have also heard them and occasionally seen them beside the road to Belmore Falls, in what I refer to as sandstone scrub below Eucalypt forest, with many Banksias present in the vegetation mix. I know it is a very imprecise description, but it does not fit the classic definition of "wet sclerophyll forest" (as described by NSW Office of Environment - well certainly not the "grassy sub-formation") This is typical wet forest on sandstone around the southern Nepean River catchment and the northern end of the Shoalhaven River. 

I drove on to Jim's place, where there has been a lot of clearing, and saw another Bassian Thrush beside the road beside a stand of remnant (maybe regrowth) forest on black soil, over shallow sandstone.

Then as I drove back several hours later, I saw another Bassian Thrush, not far past the entrance to the Carrington Falls picnic area. Possibly the same bird as previously sighted.

From notes i have been receiving from the Canberra Ornithologists group, it seems Bassian thrushes are starting to breed in and around Canberra, so this seasonal factor might explain their apparent more obvious feeding beside roadways around the local sandstone forests.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The mystery of the Acacia longifolia in my yard continues

I have written something about this plant, previously, although it is not apparent from the title.
My Bad!
This year it is flowering even more early in the season.

Flowers starting to open yesterday 8 July 2014
Flowers of Acacia longifolia
Thing is, this plant occurs below Robertson, on the Sandstone Plateau. But it does not occur naturally up here on the basalt soil. I know I did not plant this plant here. In fact, I was tempted to remove it, but decided to leave it to grow, when I first recognised that it was not a Blackwood Wattle (which is completely normal here). I decided to let it grow, to see what species it is. Now that I know, do I let it grow on?
Flowers of Acacia longifolia.
This is one of the Acacias with flowers on "rods"
not in a ball-like structure.
It is now taller than the adjacent Blackwood self-planted seedling. It will probably grow quickly, and then die off. I hope so. Whereas Blackwoods are huge trees, and they live a long time. Landscape trees.
But I do not want two huge trees growing side by side, directly in front of my house. They will cut off the natural light in the house.

"Leaf " (phyllode) of Acacia longifolia
Note veins and short stem (pulvinus)
and location of the "gland"
close to the stem. (top right)

Pulvinus (stem) of the "phyllode"
(swollen stem which acts as a leaf)
Note the gland on lower edge of phyllode
and the slight change in angle of the edge of the phyllode.
Most of the Wattles with phyllodes have these glands.
The theory is that they are there to attract ants
which in turn would protect the Wattle from insects.
Possibly a remnant (archaic) structure.

Two main veins running more or less parallel,
Several minor veins also apparent.

In this photo, the two dominant veins are clearly evident.