Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Effects of Rain

Tall sundews started springing up in October.
The bracken (unfortunately) also started springing up and is now everywhere again, but at least it provides cover for the roos and birds and all the other things that rummage around in the undergrowth.
The wildflowers have gone berserk, especially these bluebells. I've never seen so many, all over the place, before. The blue pincushions up the north end are also numerous. Not so many vanilla lilies and fringe lilies yet, and hardly a riceflower to be seen.
Maybe this will be the summer we see the butterflies back in large numbers again? It's been six years now since that first summer where dozens flew around you with every step. Sigh.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sap and ... what?

Spring is on the way, I guess, and I have photos to post ... when Blogger decides to stop being on a go-slow. So the gum trees are getting excited, and I keep finding little knobs of red sap on the ground. This is on a tree, though.
And this is ... mould? I think I've posted a similar photo a year or more ago, and someone suggested it was a type of mould or fungus, but this specimen wasn't in a damp area. It was sitting on the side of the track in the grass and leaves. It did look wet, though.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Joys of Lichen and Moss

It's like a little forest on top of a tree stump...

Yet another year of little rain. On the one hand, I can say that our 20,000 litre tank supply is full after only about 3-4 weeks, yet by looking around the area carefully as I walk, I could see that there wasn't much evidence of persistent soaking rain - usually I see fungi on tree trunks, a lot of moss and lichen, toadstools and fungi everywhere on the ground. This year was very sparse up until about 3 weeks ago (when our tanks started filling). But I hate to think what might be ahead of us this summer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Conservation at all costs?

This is a tree. A very large gum tree - actually only half of it, because the other half (it was a double-trunker) fell the other way. You may discern that under this tree is a shed. Or what is left of it.
This is one of the trees that we wanted to cut down, but were told we were not allowed. This is an old and historic tree, the council man said. It must be preserved. This was three years ago when, even then, it was obvious the two trunks were gradually moving apart, and the tree falling was inevitable.
This tree is no longer old and historic. It is FLAT on the ground and it is becoming FIREWOOD. Unlike many of our other varied and beautiful gum trees, which are numerous and have birds and animals in them, this tree was clearly doomed, even to those who didn't know much about trees. Now it has gone. Our task is to try and extract our stuff from the shed, bit by bit.
The tree cannot be left for native habitat. There are many other fallen trees doing this job much better. Hopefully now it has gone, it will leave room for new trees.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fungi at last

We've finally had enough rain for the fungi to start popping out. Always lots of orange ones (above).
But I've never seen these before! I did a quick search of the fungi identification websites (but as I have no idea about their scientific names and families, I didn't get far). However, I did find one illustration of a green fungi called Amanita austroviridis. Is this it? Anyone know?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When Was This Bushfire?

I saw another photo yesterday of the bushfire devastation at Kinglake - the vast expanses of what look like burnt sticks, once a forest. On the weekend, I took these two photos. We don't have many trees like this, but there are a few. Big old gum trees with the insides burned out, that are still growing, one way or another. The bushfire that went through this area (and I'm told it was a bad one) was in 1969!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Little Rain, Little Change

Over the past few weeks there has been a bit of rain, enough to green up the sides of the roads, but ultimately it hasn't done much at all for the bush. All that has happened is a bit of new bracken has come up (the slight tinges of green you see above), but nothing more than that.

I have no new photos of plants or flowers, because everything still is just dead. We see kangaroos regularly, and our one lone swamp wallaby, but haven't spotted the wombat - just the piles of poo where he's been! I have to be content with small delights - a magpie gliding up to a branch, its wings spread to show the beautiful black and white pattern; the wrens squabbling in the bracken; occasional kookaburras swooping around and sounding off. The butterflies have disappeared early this year - usually by mid-April there are still plenty around. Melbourne dams are sitting around 28% full (72% empty) and the forecast says no real rain until June. It all continues to look pretty grim.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Signs of Drought and Heat

Last week the area experienced high winds, around 100 kph, so we were wondering how many trees might have come down. Luckily, very few - mostly branches, like the one above. The trouble is, when you take a closer look, there's an obvious reason why the branch decided to drop. It was rotten inside. Makes us wonder how many more are like this.

One of the effects of the continuing hot weather and drought which is most apparent to us is the butterfly population. I had great hopes around Christmas that our butterflies would be back in big numbers this year - they've been declining in the past six years. Yesterday, instead of being surrounded by them as I walked, there were just a few here and there. Hopefully, the ones I saw a couple of months ago went around madly procreating for the next season. The most common ones are yellow and brown (several different species), but of course once they land and close their wings, they disappear! This one obligingly opened up a couple of times.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tinder Box

In the past two weeks, as you can see, 98% of our undergrowth (mainly bracken) has died and turned to perfect fire fuel. When this happens, it's even easier to see the amount of dead branches, twigs and leaves underneath. Is this dangerous? Absolutely. We'd love nothing more than to find some magic way to get rid of it. But ...
A lot of this bracken is home to small birds like finches, a tonne of lizards and skinks, not to mention all the other invertebrate life that these all feed on. If the solution is burning, what happens to the wildlife? If the result is a huge bushfire, they die anyway.
At times, the dilemma seems so unresolvable, you don't know what to do, other than pray.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seen Recently...

Several of these cone-shaped edifices have been seen around - what built them? I sat and watched one, and discovered a long, blue-black wasp busily going in and out.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recent Observations

There were two of these in the rock-hard gravel road - the best place to dig in? No danger of falling soil or rocks perhaps. No inhabitant in sight, not that I was going to poke around in there anyway. I guess this is a spider home, but what kind of spider? My brief research on the net says it is probably a trapdoor spider.
We usually only see fungi in winter, when it's wet. However, a recent weekend of rain saw half a dozen of these pop up along the bottom track. At first they look like huge puffballs, and then expand outwards into these. This one was around five inches across.
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