Friday, January 30, 2009


It's getting warm now. Two in a row over 40 degrees, and more to come apparently.

The birds even seem to be gasping, with their beaks agape. The water bowls around home are popular spots and any time there is a sprinkler going on the golf course, they flock around it.

I can't do much watering in the middle of the day at present - the temperatures are too high. The greens can burn, and a fair amount is lost to evaporation. I'm trying to be proactive and water heavily at night before the following hot day.

As I approached the 12th green tonight, I spotted a small Ring-tail Possum having a drink from the cup in the green. I ducked home for the camera and returned in hope it would be still there. I couldn't see it in the headlights of the bike, so thought I was out of luck and went ahead with changing the position of the sprinkler. I was just about to leave and decided to have a look around with the spot light and I caught him on top of the flag stick!

Just made a nice ending to my day / night.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Conditions seem to have been just right for ‘widowmakers’ around here lately.

This big old Apple Box on the golf course was the first to drop a huge limb from up high.

Then, a little later on the same day, a youngish Red Gum at the neighbour’s place across the road was next.

Firewood all round, and no doubt in due course various birds or possums will utilise the hollows that inevitably form at the fracture point.

As seems to be usual, the weather was fine, warm and calm. We were at the end of a dry spell – perhaps you could say an 8-year dry spell really. Various theories abound. The most plausible is that the tree is under stress and sheds a limb to conserve water.

The term ‘widowmaker’ is given as a result of the number of early pioneering settlers that were killed when inexplicably huge limbs dropped on them as they cleared their land.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Herewith, one hot Noisy Miner...

Here's why...

Stay cool.

Sugar Gums

G’day Readers,
I’ve been doing a lot of watering lately. It’s been some time since we’ve had any decent precipitation. I don’t know how long ago it was since we last had some rain. (You could send some down Tony). In my position you think I’d be keeping tabs on things like that. Perhaps subconsciously I don’t really want to know.
A good deal of my work on the golf course in the hot weather takes place early in the day or later in the evenings. Often in the middle of the day the temperature is too high or the wind has got up, making watering as good as useless. The low angle sunlight at the beginning and end of the day can make for some attractive panoramas.

The other night, a couple of Sugar Gums, (I think), Eucalyptus cladocalyx, which are still in bloom, caught my eye and my nose – the smell from the nectar was very powerful.

This eucalypt is endemic to South Australia. Some of its attributes include …
Very good drought tolerance.
Good for shelter belts.
Great firewood.
Produces an attractive tan coloured timber.
Very high durability.

Ideal plantation species.

Some CSIRO research even suggests that Sugar Gum is superior to Red Gum in many aspects.

However, one of its most endearing properties for me is the beautiful colours and patterns that form as the smooth bark layers peel away.

Anyway, something for me to look at as I fling hoses around, switch valves and pumps on and off etc.

Friday, January 16, 2009

St Andrew's Cross Spider

We’ve got heaps of these around Mrs Gouldiae’s garden at present.

The St Andrew’s Cross spider is a beautiful species, or at least the female has a degree of beauty. The much smaller male is far plainer. The Argiope family of spiders is wide spread throughout the world. This Australian species, Argiope keyserlingi, is named in honour of Dr Keyserling, an early student of Australian spiders.

The common name, St Andrew’s Cross, is given because of the odd habit of the species weaving an orb web with a silky cross pattern at the centre. The purpose of the ‘cross’ is a bit unclear. Some research attributes it to attracting prey, small insects, beetles etc. Other sources believe the cross is designed to ward off larger species. It may be a camouflage strategy or perhaps a strengthening feature of the web. Apparently the cross part will reflect ultra violet light.

Normally, the spider hangs upside down in the centre of its web, with two adjacent legs held close together and aligned along each arm of the cross. How strange?

Unlike the Garden Orb Spider that weaves a new web each night, the St Andrew’s Cross Spider has a fixed web that it uses for some considerable time. Usually it is placed less than a couple of metres above the ground in relatively dense vegetation.

St Andrew’s Cross spiders are basically harmless to humans. They prey on small insects that might stumble into their web. Usually they wrap their prey in silk before delivering the fatal bite.
An exquisite addition to the garden.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heyfield Birdwatchers - January 2009

G’day All,
Yep, I’m still alive. The heat and hot northerly winds at the moment are not all that wonderful, but I think I’ve got the greens well prepared!

On Sunday just three of us toured some of the wetland areas around Sale – Lake Guyatt, Sale Common, Heart Morass, Marlay Point, and Lake Kakydra.
It wasn’t a stunning day for birds, but among some of the better ‘ticks’ were, Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo, White-winged Triller, Mistletoe Bird, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Latham’s Snipe, Greenshank, Clamorous Reed Warbler and Little Grassbird.

It was good to be out and about again and in good company.