Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Red sky

Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors warning. Is this old addage true?

Storm systems generally move in from the west. A red sky at night, indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. The red sky is a reflection of the high concentration of dust particles. In layman's term, good weather will follow.

However, a red sunrise indicates that a storm system may be moving to the east. This is because a red sunrise is a reflection of the dust particles of a system that has just passed from the west. A deep fiery red morning sky often means there is a high concentration of water in the atmosphere, ie. rain is on its way.

Watery Wednesday #15: Another day at the office

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today's Flowers #20

Christmas Bells...Blandfordia nobilis
FLOWERING: December - February

Christmas Bush...Ceratopetalum gummiferum
FLOWERING: October - November

Friday, December 19, 2008

Around the house

No it's not a mouse, it's an antechinus. This one jumped into the vase.

We get echidnas stomping through the yard.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Flight of the flying foxes...thought I'd just sneak this one in.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's rare in your area?

Styphelia angustifolia
HABITAT: open forest, rocky outcrops
FLOWERING: December - March

This species has a scattered distribution, and has only a few recorded sighting in the area (Lucky for me, there's a shrub growing near my house).

In my area, this species is unusual because it has cream flowers with pink stamens, instead of the ususal pale green flowers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Watery Wednesday #14: Rain drops and Apple-berry

Billardiera scandens Apple-berry, Dumplings
HABITAT: in wet scleraphyll forest, rainforest margins and occasionally coastal heathland.
FLOWERING: September - December
The fruits of this little twining plant are edible. The ripe fruit can be eaten raw, the green fruits after roasting.

It rained on Thu
The rain didn't stop till Friday night..
The sun came out on Saturday....

Flooded: Part of a mountain bike track

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wild Orchids

There are a lot of species of native orchids that grow wild in my area. Here's a snapshot of what's been growing around my house this year.

Dipodium punctatum
Hyacinth Orchid

FLOWERING: November-February

Caleana major
Flying Duck-orchid, Large Duck-orchid
FLOWERING: Semptember-January

Thelymitra ixiodes
Dotted Sun-orchid
FLOWERING: August-October

Petalochilus catenatus (formerly Caladenia catenata)
White Finger, White Caladenia

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Moon gazing on a windy night

Did you know that the same side of the moon alway faces toward the Earth. This is because it has a synchronous rotation. This means that the Moon is locked in phase with its orbit so that the same side is always facing toward the Earth.

A few degrees of the far side can be seen from time to time. This is because the Moon does not orbit the Earth in a completely circular orbit, making it appear to 'wobble'.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birds and things

Red Wattle Bird Anthochaera carunculata (juvenile)

Another common bird in the area. They produce a raucous 'tobacco box', 'chokk'.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita

These birds were intially hand reared, before being released into the wild many years ago. With no natural fear of humans, they have become a bit of a pest in the area, stealing food right out of peoples' hands.

Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo navaeguineae

These birds don't twitter or chatter, they laugh. Their raucous 'laughter' gives them the title Laughing Kookaburra.

No it's not a bird. This is a swamp wallaby...We get many of these in our yard at night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Angophora hispida...Dwarf Apple
Angophoras were called Apples since colonial time, because of their supposed resemblance to apple trees. I'm not so sure.

Xanthorrhoea...Grass Tree, Blackboy
Xanthorrhoeaceae is almost entirely an Australian species (1 or 2 species of Lomandra in New Guinea and New Caledonia). These very slow growing Grass Trees produce long spikes at the end of a scape (not pictured). They are often one of the first group of plants to flower after wildfire. Xanthorrhoea provided food, drink, fibre as well as materials for making implements and weapons for the aborigines.

Centaurium erythraea...Centuary
This common weed (at least in my garden) is a digestive stimulant. In herbal medicine it is indicated in apetite loss (when associated with liver weakness). It is also a useful herb in conditions involving a slugggish digestion and in dyspepsia.

Dianella caerulea var. producta...Paroo Lily
I seem to remember someone once telling me that the berries were used as a plant dye.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Watery Wednesday #13: A river divided

A river divided: freshwater

Rills flow into creeks, creeks flow into rivers and rivers flow into the sea. Once upon a time, saltwater from the sea intermingled with the freshwater flowing from channels in the surrounding hills.

Today, a weir divides the river into two; the freshwater and saltwater side.

A river divided: saltwater

Monday, December 8, 2008

What's flying around your place?

Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae

Female Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus

Male Superb Fairy-wren

I like to talk to the Ravens every morning.

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Black-eyed Susan

Thunbergia alata Black-eyed Susan....This is a weed in my area.
Thunbergia alata is a vigorous perennial twining vine native to northern India and Africa.

Tetratheca Black-eyed Susan..this isn't a weed.

The genera Tetratheca, in which there are 39 species, occur in all southern states of Australia.

What's crawling around in your area?

This is the larva of Australia's largest Hawk Moth. This photo was taken on a Hakea bush in my driveway. The caterpillar measured 10 cm (that's about the length of my middle finger).

In Australia there are 65 known species of Hawk Moth (world wide, 850 species).
The caterpillar has large eye spots on the thorax (the head is actually on the other end) which may assist in warding off predators.

COMMON NAME: Crane Fly, Daddy Long-legs Fly

One of the key characteristics of this group are the long thin legs, hence the name daddy long-legs fly. These flies are often found near water and are often mistaken for super-sized mosquitoes. Luckily they don't bite!

The St. Andrew's Cross Spider, is one of the most common spiders found on the east coast of Australia. The spider gets its name from the cross design woven into its web. When fully formed, the diagonal pattern is similar to the cross of the patron saint of Scotland.

Chrysolopus spectabilis...Botany Bay Weevil, Wattle Weevil, Botany Bay Diamond Weevil, Diamond Beetle, Australian Weevil.

FOOD SOURCE: Acacias (adults feed on the leaves, while the larvae feed on the roots)

DISTRIBUTION: South-eastern Australia.

HABITAT: Urban areas, forests and woodlands.

This weevil was one of the first Australian insects to be described, from specimens collected by Joseph Banks in 1770.

Termite nest on a eucalypt tree.

Still trying to work this one out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What's in your backyard at night?

If you squint, you can just see a boobook owl perched on a branch. It is the smallest of the Australian owl species and has a distinctive "boo-book" call.

Just one of our resident brushtail possums.

This photo was taken after a heavy rain period in September. The body of water in this photo is actually a puddle.