Saturday, 31 December 2011

Light and shade

It's been quite a wet year in the far west of Victoria - compared with the decade or so of drought - so all the swamps and waterholes have been full to overflowing. And many still are.

With this in mind I've been on the lookout for Austral Ladies' Tresses along the bush tracks this summer. It likes damp areas, I haven't seen it for years ... and still haven't. I haven't given up yet - we're here for another week or so. Or maybe the thought of snakes will deter me. We've already had a Tiger Snake at the house.

The heathy woodland areas are awash with shades of yellow and cream at the moment. The Woolly Everlastings, Silver Banksias, Mitchell's Wattles and Tree Everlastings are all looking very healthy and in amongst the vegetation there are gems like Dwarf Boronia, Dwarf Wire-lily, Pale Grass-lily, Jersey Cudweed and, in the damp spots, Lesser Joyweed. All have pale flowers.

Mitchell's Wattle Acacia mitchellii

Woolly Everlasting Agentipallium blandowskianum

Jersey Cudweed Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum

Lesser Joyweed Alternanthera denticulata

Pale Grass-lily Caesia parviflora var. parviflora

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A humble beauty

A pretty but common plant can get a bit tiresome when really you want to see something else. Bent Goodenia Goodenia geniculata is brightly coloured and an interesting shape but it's really common and I keep checking to make sure it's not a Spur Velleia Velleia paradoxa or a different Goodenia.

Yay! Success! Today I was walking in a damp heathy woodland and found the beautiful little Swamp Goodenia Goodenia humilis in patches. I've seen it before but it was lovely to see it again.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

My, what big feet you have

It was a beautiful summer's evening here at Homerton in western Victoria last night - temperature in the low 20s, no wind, no clouds.  The landscape looked stunning in the late afternoon glow. Perfect.

I went to the Darlot Creek to see if anything exciting like bitterns, crakes or rails would show up. They didn't of course, but I enjoyed the company of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Silvereyes, a Swamp Harrier, Red Wattlebirds, Crimson Rosellas, Grey Fantails and Superb Fairy-wrens exploring the willows the infest the creek's banks, and several Dusky Moorhens and an Eastern Swamphen exploring the reeds. A koala bellowed his presence in a Manna Gum nearby.

And then, just as I was about to leave, two Black Wallabies (Wallabia bicolor) came out of the blue gum plantation to graze on the Calystegia, large bindweed, that is enveloping the creekside vegetation in places. (This particular genus of wallaby is unusual in that it will feed of higher shrubs, and that's exactly what these two were doing.) One of the wallabies looked quite old, the other young.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Marbled Xenica

Many Common Brown males fly up from the grassy understory as I walk through the bush, and occasionally the smaller and darker Marbled Xenicas, also males (below). They perch on leaf mulch or exposed soil.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Pelicans and butterflies

It was a muggy and warm day today, with big black clouds blocking the sun and thunder rumbling in the distance. It was all talk though, because there were only a few drops of rain.

At one stage I went to find my binoculars to have a look at a flock of about 30 pelicans circling low in a thermal over my house. Never seen that here before.

And then I got distracted by the hundreds of butterflies fluttering at very high levels. Never seen that before either. They were all dark and flying randomly (i.e. not all flying in the one direction). As my garden has been populated by numbers of male Common Browns in the last week or so I'm assuming the high-flying butterflies were the same species.