Saturday, 28 June 2008

Feathering a nest with sticks

We've always had the joy of Australian Magpies visiting our suburban block. Magpies sitting on the deck warbling early in the morning is one of life's pleasures. Every year we see the parents feeding the begging young so we knew we were living in their breeding territory.

Today I was in the garden and noticed a magpie walking on a garden bed with a tuft of small sticks in its beak and watched to see which of the surrounding trees it would fly to. And was very surprised when it flew into the only gum tree in my garden, a Yellow Gum. I searched through the leaf canopy until I found the nest, almost completely constructed. Obviously, judging by the size of the nest and the size of the sticks being added to it, the magpie was fussing with the final touches. So now I'm eagerly waiting for the next phase.

The incubation period for magpie eggs is 20 days and the chicks fledge at four weeks. So I should be back from Queensland just before they hatch. Something to look forward to.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Hay stacked in the wrong place

This makes my blood boil. It makes me cross and grumpy. Why do farmers think that their properties extend beyond the boundary fence, that they can store the hay on natural vegetation like it's a waste area? By doing this they're making the roadside into waste areas. The native plants are suppressed and the pasture seeds released from the hay have some bare ground to grow into. I've sent photos of six or seven examples in one small community to the council but got no reply. I'll try again next year - I'm sure I'll have some fresh photos for them after the next hay season.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Feral?

For three weeks I've been trying to get rid of a cold, and getting very annoyed because it just keeps on hanging around. So I haven't felt like getting out and about in the natural world, and as well as that I have had to work full time the last two weeks! I've been getting used to not working (paid work that is) so it's a bit of a shock. So, no time for observing or blogging.

But there is sunshine on the horizon. Next week we go to Queensland, the sunny state, for three weeks - new territory to explore. Hopefully I can blog while I'm away so don't give up on me.

This rabbit has been living on the campus of Deakin Uni for several years, and I took its photo this week through a wet window so the quality is terrible, but you can see by the colouring that it's not a wild rabbit as such. Several others in the family group have patches of white as well. They often feed out in the open in the middle of the day, and ignore passing foot traffic.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Then and now


An artists' trail? At certain points on the east coast of Port Phillip Bay plaques replicate paintings done at those places last century. We saw this one today at Point King in beautiful Sorrento. Arthur Streeton painted from this very point in 1921. It would be great to follow the whole trail one day. (Another activity to add to the growing list!)

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Red and white sheds



Sometimes the built environment is as pretty as the natural environment. This photo was taken today from the bridge over the river at Anglesea on the coast south of Geelong.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Garden delights

I'm home feeling sorry for myself with some sort of chest infection/cold/flu :( And annoyed because I can't get out to explore? So I'm exploring my photo collection instead. Having fun finding photos I'd forgotten I had, revisiting places we've been and people we know.

But these are some that I took yesterday in my own garden. Banksia 'Birthday Candles' is low-growing and colourful, a gift from a friend. Hakea orthorrhyncha Bird's Beak Hakea is a plant from Western Australia that seems to like the spot I put it in. (Not all WA plants like it here in the east). But it hides it light under a bushel - all the flowers are hidden inside the shrub. I just looked up 'bushel' in the dictionary and found out it's a Celtic word that means 'in the hollow of the hand'. And the last one is a Bell-fruited Mallee Eucalyptus preissiana. You can see how big the flowers are by comparing the size of the ants inside. When it's fully in flower, as it will be in a few weeks, it's a stunning shrub.

Banksia 'Birthday Candles

Bird's Beak Hakea

Bell-fruited Mallee

Saturday, 7 June 2008

A sweet plant



It is one of the first wattles to flower in autumn, and continues to flower through the winter - the shrub called Sweet-scented Wattle Acacia suaveolens. It grows in the sandy soils on the coast.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Patterns in the sand

I think I've mentioned before that my knowledge of all things marine is minuscule. So when I do a beach walk it's like a mystery tour. I've got no idea what any of the small creatures on the sand or in the rock pools are. (I think that sentence is grammatically incorrect but it can stay - it's the way I talk, and a diary should be idiosyncratic.)

So, what could have made these tracks in the sand I wonder? Perhaps a crab?

And this one? We dug up the little bump at the end of the trail and found the shell. And buried it again.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

White Mangroves


At Wilsons Prom a path meanders between big old banksia trees to Millers Landing on Corner Inlet.

This beach faces north so we didn't see the big waves that had been coming in to the beaches on the west coast. Here we found the White Mangroves, the most southerly population of this species in the world. In Victoria the mangroves are quite stunted, and at Millers Landing they looked spectacular because of the surrounding sculptural granite rocks.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Keep to the left

emu

On the long road through to Tidal River on Wilsons Prom the speed limit is 80 km - for a very good reason. Emus, wombats, echidnas, possums, wallabies and kangaroos think they have right of way. So, slow down and enjoy the scenery.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Wombat

OK, OK. I know they're common, but when you live in the west of Victoria you never see them, so we got excited. They choose to live in the east of the state only (except for a small population near the South Australian border). I'm talking about Wombats, the Common Wombat. At Tidal River on the Prom we went out with our torches to look for them and found them easily, grazing on the grass near our cabin. I found it quite difficult to focus the camera on a moving target when it's pitch black, so most of my photos were of the backsides only!

Common Wombat

We saw evidence of wombats everywhere we went - diggings, burrows and scats on the tracks. The scats are rectangular and always in a little pile on top of a small bump or log. In several places we noticed that wire had been put along the banks, presumably to stop the wombats from digging into and eroding the hillside.



It's unbelievable that there used to be a bounty on wombat scalps until 1966, and even now they are unprotected in a number of areas and are killed by farmers who don't like the damage done to fences and pasture. Many are killed by road traffic.

The Prom

Here in Victoria a visit to The Prom doesn't mean you've been to the high school formal dance - it means Wilsons Promontory National Park, the southernmost part of the Australian mainland.

I've just been to The Prom for a couple of days - nowhere near long enough - and I'm ashamed to say that it's twenty years since I was last there. We stayed at Tidal River, and explored some of the local beaches and bush walks. My calendar tells me it's winter but last weekend the weather was beautifully calm and sunny. The Prom was looking fabulous - granite mountains, numerous little beaches with boulder-strewn headlands, creeks, dune lakes, fern gullies and mangroves.

This is the estuary of Tidal River with Mt Oberon in the background. A nicely designed footbridge has been constructed across this creek, and tracks lead to the headlands and beaches to the north. The next photo was taken at Squeaky Beach, where the sand really is squeaky and very white. The last two photos were taken at Whisky Beach where the huge boulders looked amazing.

Tidal River

Squeaky Beach

Whisky Bay

Whisky Bay