Monday, July 21, 2014

An Echidna Encounter

Some patches of sunlight this afternoon enticed me to put the camera in the ute and head for the Rokeby Rail Trail. Glad I had the gumboots in. Part of the first section must be used by the local 4WD enthusiasts to see if they can climb a particular muddy incline. Once through the barrier though conditions were a little easier.

Pretty quickly I found two or three fungi species of interest by just sticking to the track.
Earth Star Puffball
Troops of Mycena sp.
Toothed Jelly fungus - perhaps?
 After about a kilometer and a half I took a horse trail that headed up into some drier country.

This track climbed and meandered about and after a short while it was time to sit quietly for a bit on a mossy log. I was listening to a few birds close by when an Eastern Yellow Robin completely disregarded my presence and landed almost at my feet on a patch of recently disturbed ground.

The bird found a meal and took off. Another followed closely and did the same, then another.

Suddenly I saw some gentle movement in the earth by my feet and an Echidna emerged. We looked at each other for a bit then it continued bulldozing its way down the hill, followed by two or three enterprising yellow robins!

A not too unusual inter-specie connection I guess?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Tale of Two Bills

Finally, a couple of bird shots – it’s been awhile! Like me, many birds seem mostly to be still in their winter torpor. It’s very bird-quiet in the bush around here.

All is not lost, but! On yet another fungi foray a day or two back, I was at ground level under some dense understorey in Bunyip State Park trying to get the camera to give me a sharp enough image of a mushroom in the dark, when a family of ‘little brown jobs’ came quietly dancing through. And they were quiet, even though they seemed to be a feeding party when normally I would expect them to be chittering and chattering excitedly.

Just Brown Thornbills was my first impression but their size and jizz got me thinking otherwise. Sans binoculars I waited patiently for them to sit still close enough to me for an ID. Ah-ha, that Large-billed Scrubwren again. Chance for a decent shot perhaps. Click-click- click, click-click-click, let me check the playback. Damn, how many times have I done that – forgot to reset the camera from macro?

I chased the birds up for a bit, getting mildly lost in the process, but could only manage some distant images again. Story of my retirement photography career – Missed Opportunities!

Back at the ute I boiled the billy and began to nourish the inner man and to drink in the peace of the place, when I heard the distinct mournful call of the Crested Shrike-tit from a nearby patch of bush. Checking the camera settings, (see, I’m a fast learner), I barged quietly in – bird people learn to barge quietly.

Bit more success this time. My camera does struggle in low light but a couple of shots turned out well enough to ID a very interesting bird.

A dull cold day was brightened by two lovely birds and I drove home replete.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lawson Falls

Lawson Creek and its falls are situated in the eastern end of Bunyip State Park.

They are easy to access by parking right beside the track on Forest Rd from where the walk down is only several hundred metres, or by starting from the picnic ground at the intersection of Forest Rd and Tea Tree Rd and taking the 5km circuit up and back. On Friday I opted for the latter.

Beautiful despite the steady incline!
 The track goes up beside the creek and passes through some beautiful cool temperate wet forest, abundant with ferns, mosses and fungi.
Mosses galore.
I think this is Bjerkandera adusta, (Smoky Bracket)?
Witches Butter- Exidia glandulosa, (perhaps?)
 The creek is invisible all the way, except at the falls, but it can be heard gurgling along through the dense understory. After a couple of kilometers of steady but mostly gentle climbing, the din of the falls begins to dominate and suddenly they appear through the tree ferns and undergrowth.
The falls
 Time to stand and contemplate the peace and beauty and to experiment with some time exposure and delay settings on the camera.
Some perspective - not large but attractive
The walk back down via the road was easy. The clearing at the picnic ground allowed some sunshine through and the billy was quickly boiled!