Sunday, 5 July 2015


Sometimes (often?) I'm appalled at my ignorance.

I had no idea that Tocumwal was the biggest aerodrome in the southern hemisphere in World War II. It must have been an amazing sight, and amazingly noisy, when the trainee pilots were flying all over the local countryside. We went out and had a look at several huge hangers that still exist near the present aerodrome. They're on private property now but must be positively cavernous inside and we wondered if the farmer uses them for storage. 

WW2 aircraft hanger, Tocumwal
But I digress. I really wanted to chat about the Murray River. This section of the river has some beautiful sandy beaches and I was really pleased to see the amount of debris in the river. Fallen trees and branches lined the banks providing shelter for fish and other creatures that call the river home. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Anakie Gorge

Folded rocks in Anakie Gorge
To walk back in time you only need to walk a short distance from the Picnic Ground at Anakie Gorge.

The Brisbane Ranges plateau was once, about 500 million years ago, submerged under an inland sea and the layers of sediment deposited on the seabed eventually compacted into slate and sandstone. The area became exposed over the years and under pressure about a million years ago the land east of  the Rowsley Fault that extends from about Bacchus Marsh to Geelong began to sink (Port Phillip Sunkland). The result was an impressive escarpment. Rivers like Little River and StonyCreek eroded deep valleys through the escarpment as they moved down to what is now Port Phillip Bay. Today we can clearly see the layers of ancient rock in the Anakie Gorge formed by Stony Creek.

And, as a bonus, I can promise numbers of birds all year round and a wildflower display in spring.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Banded Lapwings

Near Little River
It was the winter solstice, chilly but sunny. A beautiful day for a club excursion.

About thirty members of Geelong Field Nats gathered at the appointed meeting place before moving on to the main event. This was the view to the north, with the Little River in the middle distance, so most of us turned our backs, wrapped our scarves tighter and chatted in the sunshine. But not JN. He must have been scanning with his binoculars because when he announced quietly "Banded Lapwing" we all snapped to attention.

We grabbed our binoculars, a scope was erected and we scanned the paddock. The Banded Plovers were indeed in the paddock between us and the river, surprisingly well-hidden in the low stubble. In the photo above (on my computer screen) I can make out about ten birds but the final count was 23.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Point Impossible

There's a plant growing on the sand dunes at Point Impossible that I wanted to photograph. Today I had some free time so I took myself there. It turned out to be a beautiful calm day and I had the beach and estuary to myself.

The Thompson Creek flows into the sea at Point Impossible. Most of the time. Today the outlet was blocked by sand but that's good because it means the saltmarsh becomes inundated. There are several big fauna reserves behind the sand dunes, important habitat for plants and animals. And the creek itself is home to the Yarra Pygmy Perch, a species of fish that needs deep pools.

Thompson Creek, Point Impossible
One problem has been removed. A culvert under the road blocked the tidal inundations and the flora community was changing from from saline to fresh, but the culvert was changed about ten years ago and the saltmarsh has started to recover. (This is a common problem up and down the coast of Australia - there are hundreds of man-made contructions that restrict tidal flow.)

Karaaf Wetlands, the area of saltmarsh starting to recover after a culvert was modified to allow tidal ebb and flow.
Karaaf Wetlands, the area of saltmarsh starting to recover after a culvert was modified to allow tidal ebb and flow.
Torquay is expanding in the distance.
The plant I went to find was the Rare Bitter-bush Adriana quadripartita. It's classified at 'threatened' in Victoria I believe but at Point Impossible it is readily found on the sand dunes near the carpark. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants, shrubs that grow to two or three metres.

Rare Bitter-bush
I was alone on the sandy beach but there was plenty of other life around me. And I'm sure there was a lot more, hidden from view, in the water and the saltmarsh.

Surfing is popular at Point Impossible

Snails in a rock pool

A very tattered Meadow Argus butterfly on the sand dune.
Twelve Red-necked Stints were actively feeding. One was in breeding plumage.

White-faced Heron looking for food in the estuary.


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