Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spring Flowers

Common Fringe-lily (my favourites!)

Ivy-leafed violets
With all the winter rain and now more rain, plus some sunshine and warmth, the spring flowers are bursting out all over, with more on show right now than I've ever seen. Along with them have come the butterflies! It's been seven years (since last decent rain) since I've been able to go walking and be surrounded by butterflies rising up from the undergrowth. It's a truly magical experience and one I wondered if I'd ever see again, to be honest. The drought seemed to kill off nearly everything living up there, even the ever-present bracken.Common Brown Butterfly

While the Bossiaea came and went a few weeks ago, gradually more and more wildflowers have been emerging, not just in ones and twos but in great swathes everywhere! Even the bluebells have re-emerged after an early flowering.
Last weekend I saw the following: Vanilla lilies, Milkmaids, Fringe-lilies, Early Nancies (above), Pink Fingers, Sun orchids, Mat rush, Billy-buttons, Bear's-ear, Bottle daisy, Cotton fireweed, Blue pincushions (hundreds), Bluebells, Sundews, Rice flowers and violets.
Unfortunately, we're also getting an influx of dandelions, due to a neighbour who has a huge paddock next to us that is thick with them. Time for action!

The Months Have Zoomed Past!

I can't believe it's more than four months since I last posted! I was sure I had at least put some photos up. I have been taking plenty of photos, all the same, just not getting to place them on the blog. (Mental slapping of hand.) What I can report is that there has been rain ... and rain ... and rain. So much so that I have been witnessing wetness in previously unheard-of, unseen amounts. The creek, which has only run once in the past seven years (and then only a dribble under the bracken) is almost a waterfall in some places, and there is water running down the tracks and creating new creeks of their own!

Around the house, we've been seeing the results of living on granite sand. Unlike clay, the water doesn't run off or turn into mud. Instead it runs through, so we've been dealing with unexpected underground water. Don't you just love soil testing companies who tell you what you've got (which you already know) but don't give you any information on what this means when it rains a lot? Or is it that it's been so long since we've had lots of continuous heavy rain here that they've forgotten how to provide useful information about stormwater and where it might go?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Falling Trees and Wombats

It seemed to be one of those days today. We were 100 metres from our front gate and there was a tree across the road. It had fallen about five seconds before we got there (we knew this because we passed another car about 4 seconds beforehand, and I think the tree had come down just after he'd gone past). Can't help wondering how close it was, whether he saw it in his rear view mirror! Anyway, he flashed his headlights at us as a warning, which was good.

It took half an hour for the local CFAs and council person to arrive with chainsaws - in the meantime someone else had come along and made a start. The tree was soon cleared, but as last night was really windy, we did wonder how things were on our place. Luckily only one small tree down and not near the house.

But on our walk later in the day, we came across a small, rather wet wombat, who very obligingly stopped in the middle of the track and let us take photos. And a couple of short videos, that won't upload in their present format! Hopefully I'll get them uploaded somehow soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Last Fungi and Plenty of Moss

We've had a huge amount of rain, evidence being waves of leaf debris on the tracks, washed down into patterns. And the mud. And everything being soaked. Most of the fungi has gone, apart from tiny growths here and there, mostly on tree trunks.
Now we have lots of moss - often in bright green patches, although there are some places where the ground is covered in it for many metres.

Moss pathway, leading up to what I think is heather!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fungi Outcrops

Going for walks has been fun, as mushrooms and toadstools of all sizes, shapes and colours have been on the tracks and in the undergrowth. Lots of tiny orange ones started erupting a couple of weeks ago. Then I went down another track where there are several large trees on the ground, and found little "villages" of fungi along the trunks.
Now that it's rained quite a bit this week, and is getting very cold (due to snow on the mountains further north), I suspect a lot of these will shortly disappear.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Late Autumn Pics

With autumn rains continuing, and it not being too cold yet, we are still getting lots and lots of fungi of all sorts popping up. New varieties every week, almost. This coral fungus is amazing.

Last week I saw on the Postcards TV show that someone was running "picking wild mushrooms" tours on the Mornington Peninsula. I'm sure there are enough on our property to feed about a hundred people, but in the back of my mind is the story about author Nicholas Evans who, in late 2008, ate wild mushrooms in Scotland (along with several of his family) and they all became severely ill. The ultimate long-term effect was a total loss of kidney function, with no idea of when or if they might recover. So I'm leaving ours alone, as I have no references that will accurately tell me what I can eat and what I can't (and I'm not that keen on mushies anyway).
Initially, most of the fungi growing were huge (and still are) but now all the tiny ones are coming out, both white and orange. You have to look closely to see them.

And these are some of the sundews that are also growing in large patches. We also have the ones with the red edges but those photos didn't come out clearly enough.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Fungi Season

Are we seeing signs of the drought really breaking at last? In six years, I've only seen one early winter showing of lots of fungi on the property, and most of this was "small stuff" - bunches of small and tiny toadstools in damp places. But in the past three weeks, the amount of new fungi everywhere has been astounding. Species I've never seen before, and huge toadstools literally forcing their way up through the ground all over the place.
Yesterday I found several varieties that were new to me, and unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me. These photos are from last week.
As I said, these large ones are coming up under leaf litter, pushing branches aside, popping out of the middle of the track, and growing in rows (some look like a line up of alien space craft just landed!). At first they're rounded, then they open out and look like this.
In one very damp area on the south side, these ones had mould on their tops. They looked a bit like pizzas (not very botanic of me, but then I am a writer, not a scientist!).
And after they've been out for a while, they turn even further up, like this. At that point, I think when it rains, the water in the hollowed tops then rots them and they sink away out of sight again.
The other thing I've noticed is large patches of sundew - these have flat leaves so I'm guessing they're scented sundew, not pygmaea (which in the photos I've looked at seem to have red edges). Hopefully I'll get a photo of this one next week.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Caterpillar Question

This was on the ground by the front gate, and could possibly have dropped from the gum tree overhead. It was about 3cm long, and a bright green. I've checked online and it doesn't seem to be a goat moth caterpillar or a witchety grub (wrong colour). Whatever it becomes at the end of its cycle is likely to be large! Any ideas, anyone?
There is so much bracken on our property that often all you hear of animals and lizards is a thumping or skittering as they run away. I caught this guy napping. His head popped up and he stared at me as if stunned, then after a few long seconds, decided to make a run for it.
This particular walk was full of kookaburras - I think I heard several different choruses from at least a dozen different bird groups. I'm convinced that they warn everything that I'm coming!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looking Closer...

One of the things I've learned since owning this expanse of woodland is to look closely at all kinds of things, whether they be on the ground, in the air, on a tree... whatever. Of course, not being a scientist, I tend to see things that I can only guess at. The bug above would not be an insect since I was taught at school that they have six legs! Is it some kind of millipede?

And these were sitting on the gravel next to the car, getting very cosy with each other. I've seen the stripy caterpillars (larvae) in Melbourne that people say spit at you, but these were about 1.5 cm long and hanging around in this small group.
Any guidance as to what either of these are would be appreciated!

On the other hand, after watching some birds out the front of the house and making close observations through binoculars, I was able to later find my bird book and identify them as white-winged choughs. And I was right - they did behave just like my chooks did in the back yard as they scratched and dug and pecked.
Their curved beaks and red eyes make them easily identified as not crows! Now all I need to do is keep an eye out for their mud nests.
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