A Winter’s afternoon at Sandy Creek Falls

DSCF1392The weather held; we even had blue sky on a wonderful walk to Sandy Creek Falls. About 50 people joined in as we walked in virtual silence along a track that took us north off the Barjarg Rd and down a dry, northerly spur of open forest. It was steep in places, but still fairly easy walking. Occasional boulder-outcrops, plenty of fallen timber and an understory of ferns, low shrubs, lillies and tussock grasses met us as we descended 150 m in altitude, to the valley-bottom.

Sandy Creek drains the highest peaks of the Strathbogie Granite Massif, before winding its way down to the northern end of Lake Nillahcootie. Continue reading

Posted in Community Event, Fungi, Rocky outcrops, Strathbogie | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Carnage on Strathbogie roads continues

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A road-killed Koala on the Strathbogie-Euroa Rd, just before the Creek Junction Rd intersection.

The 2002-10 drought really hit Koalas hard in the Strathbogie Ranges – numbers  plummeted. Before the drought you could always find a least a couple of Koalas when walking in the forest on the Tableland. Then the drought, poor quality feed (leaves) and water stress led to lower breeding success and increased death of Koalas, so much so that by 2008 there was no guarantee at all of finding Koalas, even if you looked hard.

They’re slowly starting to recover numbers, so it’s very sad and totally unnecessary when Koalas get hit by vehicles on our local roads. I know of many people that have lived up here for decades and that have never even come close to hitting a Koala. I can understand Koala fatalities on the Hume Freeway, but a road-killed Koala up here means some idiot is just driving too fast.

 

Posted in Animals, Mammals | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Strange atmospheric phenomenon – tree clouds!

This wisp above the canopy appears to be a water vapour trail - a little cloud.

This wisp above the canopy appears to be a water vapour trail – a little cloud.

So, this is a little weird. A colleague and I were on the road north of Shepparton at 0930 a few weeks ago, when we noticed these little chimneys of ‘gas’ above the canopies of the roadside Grey Box trees (Eucalyptus microcarpa).

At first unable to grasp what on earth we were seeing, we stopped for a closer look.

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These little vapour-trails were on the lee side of the canopy and showed the direction of the light breeze blowing at the time. I can only guess that it’s condensed water vapour, trapped in a sort of slip-stream on the lee side of the tree and in the shade of the canopy – making them seem dark. It was a sunny, cool Autumn morning.

But what’s making the water condense and why at specific points and not all over the lee sides of the trees?

Anyone have ideas out there? [and no, they're not insect swarms]

Posted in Trees | 2 Comments

Tree-hugging in a Box-Gum Grassy Woodland

Box-Gum Grassy Woodland is a Nationally Threatened plant community that occurs on the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range, across the States of Victoria, NSW and Qld. In parts of Victoria, this community is characterized by White Box and Yellow Box eucalypts.

What happens when White Box and Yellow Box collide? They embrace, of course.

DSCF1050This Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) at left, and White Box (E. albens) are more than just neighbours; they have an intimate connection. Two of the Yellow Box’s branches have grown into its neighbour and the White Box has responded with amazing callous growth that has all but enclosed the offending Yellow Box branches. Continue reading

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Ants and Golden Wattle regeneration

 

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) seedling growing out of ant nest, with attendant ants.

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) seedling growing out of ant nest, with attendant ants.

Continue reading

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Processionary caterpillars at Boho

A procession of caterpillars.

A procession of caterpillars.

I was wandering through a rather weedy Grassy Woodland today, avoiding getting snagged by briar rose, when my walking companion, Doug, exclaimed ‘Hey, what’s this?’ It was a furry line snaking through the grass, at slow but steady pace.

These were the incredibly hairy Processionary Caterpillars of an attractive moth, Ochrogaster lunifer, that occurs over much of Australia. About 20 larvae were following their leader, head to tail, through the short grass, stopping occasionally when they felt threatened by my close-up presence.

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We watched as they made a bee-line (so to speak) towards … something, nearby; we didn’t hang around to find out. This sighting helped to close a circle for me, as I’d only recently become aware that this species occurs in the Strathbogie Ranges. I was  surprised that an adult moth turned up at Boho South a couple of months ago. I’d naively thought this species was restricted to outback Australia, as that’s where they are usually depicted as occurring.  Now I know better. I’ll keep my eye out in future and maybe even follow them to see where they’re headed.

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The Rainbow Butterfly-eater?

Here’s a piece from our occasional correspondent from Shean’s Creek, Penny Algar.

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“Rainbow Bea-eaters (Merops ornatus, this one obviously needs glasses!!), usually arrive at our place sometime after August and depart towards the end March. Hearing the first warbly, almost guttural calls that herald their arrival, is exciting. The Bee-eaters’ iridescent green and blue plumage is extraordinarily beautiful. I first noticed these birds after hearing tapping sounds on dead timber, a behaviour that seems to be a technique to smash prey, usually butterflies and other insects and presumably bees! I have seen Rainbow Bee-eaters swooping gracefully en masse to take insects on the wing as well as bathing in dust and foraging on the ground. They are very social and seem to always travel in chatty groups.

“This year their numbers seemed to be slightly down on previous years. I have never seen a nest but there are many areas of eroded gully banks nearby where they might breed. These photos were taken with a 500mm lens near the house dam. The dead tree perch is popular with many birds but is particularly enjoyed by the Bee-eaters. This bird had just caught a female Common Brown Butterfly (Heteronympha merope).”

 

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