Tuesday, 22 January 2008
The Inverleigh Golf Course runs along one boundary, and they must have installed this opening for the kangaroos. Judging by the worn track it must be effective. It's one way of protecting the fence. Pity we can't use the same method at the farm - the sheep would love the escape route.
I was slowly driving along one track listening for birds, and not taking too much notice of the track itself, and suddenly found myself in a predicament. Bogged in the sand.
I put leaves and sticks behind the wheels and tried backing out. No good, I only dug myself in deeper. With images from the film Japanese Story in my mind, I had to decide what to do. Should I ring a friend, or the RACV? Ended up ringing a friend who drove out from Geelong and rescued me. (Thanks Dick.) Mobile phones are great when they work. It certainly saved me a long walk. A sandy soil is great for Australian plants but I'll have to respect it more in the future.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
When I went to Narrawong recently there was evidence of a stormy winter or spring. Lots of trees and branches (of Moonah perhaps?) were embedded in the sand, and the sand dune at the very high tide level has been undercut by the storms, creating a sand cliff. My nephew gazes at the sea and there is no land between him and the Antarctic.
In 1987 a 15-metre Sperm Whale beached itself at Narrawong. The decision was made to bury it and retrieve it at a later date. Eleven years later, in 1999, they uncovered the skeleton (that still had blubber attached), cleaned it (in a car wash initially) and employed a local builder to put it together. It's now on display at the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre. It even has a name – Skeletonia.
In winter Narrawong is a very reliable spot to find Hooded Plovers, a bird under threat from beachwalkers, foxes and dogs because it likes to nest on the sand. I've been on Hooded Plover counts along this stretch of coast, wonderful 15 kilometre walks along the sandy beach with not a house or a person in site. We can only hope that it stays that way.
Thursday, 10 January 2008
What is it about white flowers in summer? Only one of the photos is of a plant natural to the Homerton area, but insects and beetles were loving the food sources available. Not much else was flowering in the bush.The House Fly is on a Wild Carrot. The carrot is a weed that grows on the roadsides.
The Flesh Fly is on a Cassinia. We used to call it Christmas Bush because it flowers at Christmas time.
The beetle is on a melaleuca growing in the farm garden.
In the 1840s the area that is now our farm was part of a squatter's station on Crown Land, and the natural vegetation was left more or less intact. In the 1860s the land was opened up for selection and the land was purchased on a lease arrangement from the government. As part of the agreement the farmer had to clear and fence the land. This was done gradually, and the clearing was not always total. Trees were often left isolated in paddocks.
We have a few remnant trees on our farm, but they are dying or dead. This happens because a tree that has grown up surrounded by other vegetation in a bush doesn't cope very well when it is left to stand alone. We leave them after they die, because so many birds use them as lookout trees and resting places.
Monday, 7 January 2008
The photo below was taken on the ground before the spider moved onto a small stick and curling up to an inconspicuous knot. I lifted the stick up and returned the spider to the apple tree, and it immediately moved to a patch of lichen and sat immobile. I would have had great difficulty seeing it if I didn't know where it was.
It's a Garden Orb-weaving Spider Eriophora biapicata. This species is common and can be identified by the humps on its back, and the bright red base of its legs. Its main claim to fame is that it builds a large circular web at dusk (usually, in my garden, in the path of a certain husband organising the rubbish bins) and devours it at dawn, repeating the process the following night. They rarely bite by the way, and if they do it's not usually a problem so my life was not under threat.
Sunday, 6 January 2008
A while ago my daughter was stung by a bull ant and an uncle suggested the bush remedy - break off a frond of bracken and apply the bracken 'juice' to the site of the bite. It worked, in that the crying stopped. Was it mind over matter or does it really work?
The bull ant bit me while I was having a close look at a Cottony Cushion Scale Icerya purchasi on the stem of a bracken. (I didn't identify the bull ant, but it was big, very big. In fact the more I think about it, it was huge.) But I did identify the scale. The mother scale is at the top of the object and apparently up to 1000 red eggs are laid into the sac below. They can be clearly seen in the photo. Some ants - don't know whether they were the type that bit me - were feeding on the mould and for a while I wondered if they were eating the eggs, but I read that the scale insects secrete a lot of honeydew which attracts the ants. Possibly it is a form of defence for the scale. And I don't know why the scale was on bracken because their normal habitat is a wattle.