What I Saw When the Aliens Abducted Me

•August 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

[Poem about Australia from my first book The Post-Man Letters and Other Poems (Picaro Press, 2010). The ‘Winnebago’ is a camper-van popular with retirees (aka ‘grey nomads’) doing their final round-Australia trip.’Chockas’ is slang for ‘chock full of’ and ‘blocks’ are divided plots of land for building. Sharkey and walwicz are two Australian predominantly satirical poets. Took the poster photo in a shopfront in a country town called Braidwood.]

What I Saw When the Aliens Abducted Me
(for Michael Sharkey and ania walwicz)

Yes, the swans were black.
The crows flew backwards
creaking romantically like iron roofs.

Funeral goers wore board shorts,
smiles like mouth-guards, bosses,
ministers all had first names

or kiddie ones ending in -y, -ie or -o
like cricketers, admen, school mates
all just over for a beer or ten.

Yes, a vast place
most people had never seen
nor wished to

except in a Winnebago
because they’d worked
hard all their lives.

The soldiers were inordinately brave
and elsewhere, the bridges made of steel,
roads, poles, opera houses concrete

men beat up their women,
each other, themselves
on a regular basis

before or after pubs
and flannel-free cricket
because they were mates.

Everything was the best
in the world, absolutely
world class or shit-house.

Yes, at the end of the day
the swans were black
the soldiers inordinately brave

everything wide and constricted
desolate, friendly
chockas with blocks, empty.

115 Bird Species at ‘Gundungurra’ Bundanoon

•August 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Australian birds

[An updated list of the 115 species now sighted, with some field notes, superseding one from a few years back.The photo collage shows a few species from left to right: King Parrot, Superb Fairy-wren, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (head a little cut off), Rainbow Lorikeet, Quail, Sulphur-crested White Cockatoo, Musk Duck, Gang Gang Cockatoo, King Parrot]

BIRDS AT ‘GUNDUNGURRA’ (115 spp.)

(All information from: K. Simpson & N. Day 1986, Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 2nd edition, Penguin Books Australia, Victoria, except where [R] noted: I. Rowley 1974, Bird Life, Australian Naturalist Library, Book Club Associates Sydney. Frequency refers to sightings at ‘Gundungurra’ and immediate vicinity of 200 metres. Uncertain identifications are indicated by a question mark.)

ACANTHIZIDAE (Scrubwrens, Gerygones, Thornbills)

Yellow (Little) Thornbill (Acanthiza nana), seasonal: feed in small groups, dry forest, often in acacias

Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chryssorrhoa), (first definite sighting 24/11/07), seasonal: constructs extra cup nest on top of main domed nesting chamber, feed in small groups, open woods, often on ground

Brown or Striated Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla or A. lineata)?, seasonal: feed in small groups, forest with undergrowth (Brown), dry forest (Striated)

White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis, race frontalis): (first sighting 22/3/07); many races, diverse group of controversial taxonomic interest; domed nests; dense undergrowth all altitudes including urban areas, heaths, salt marshes

ACCIPITRIDAE (Kites, Goshawks, Eagles, Harriers)

Wedge-tailed (Aquila audax), now and again, landed once: predominantly carrion eater but also small macropods, rabbits and birds; very large stick nests, often low to ground if no sturdy trees; most habitat types except closed forest

White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), twice 18/1/09, 9/7/11: spectacular dives; mammals, reptiles and birds also taken; large rivers, fresh and saline lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, coastal seas, islands

Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus)? : takes birds, reptiles, insects, small mammals; important predator of rabbits; stick nests high in trees; most timbered habitats

Grey (White) Goshawk (Accipiter novoaehollandiae), 8/6/09, 06/12, 04/15: various forest types, especially coastal closed forests; takes small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects; on rare occasions Grey Goshawks have interbred with Brown Goshawks

Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocephalus), 15/4/15 (dead in top copse): similar to Brown Goshawk but squarer tail and thinner legs and toes; small birds probably the major diet component; stick nests high in trees; most habitats

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus notatus)?, 10/6/03, very rarely: hunting often at dawn or dusk, prominent black shoulders, perches on top branches of dead trees

Square-tailed Kite (Lophoictinia isura), 23/01/2015: open forests, riverine woodlands, scrubs, heathlands; solitary, swoops low over or through tree canopy on raised wings; feeds on nestling birds; builds large stick nests; ‘relationship to other raptors is obscure, detailed behavioural, anatomic and biochemical studies would be invaluable’

Swamp (Marsh) Harrier (Circus approximans), 14/12/12, once: very long legs, long tail; hunting and swooping low over tall grass, reeds, rushes, open water, crops; prey on small rodents and waterfowl; performs courtship dives high above swamps; sometimes polygamous; owl-like facial disk provides acute hearing

Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis)? 14/01/13: very long legs, long tail; hunting and swooping low over open grassland, crops and windbreaks; prey on small rodents and waterfowl; owl-like- facial disk as for Swamp Harrier; world’s only tree-nesting harriers; nomadic, monogamous, defends large exclusive territories; THREATENED

AEGOTHELIDAE (Owlet-nightjars)

Australian Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus): (heard at night) woodlands with tree hollows, nocturnal, voice grating, strident

ALCEDINIDAE (Tree Kingfishers)

Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), resident: largest kingfisher, nests in tree holes smaller than those of cockatoos; 6 calls, only the ‘laugh’ advertising territory (after group laugh at dawn or dusk, neighbours usually respond); mainly insectivorous but also eats young snakes and nestling birds; can reproduce at just under one year; fledglings may help feed younger siblings of second nesting; non-breeders help incubate, brood, feed and care for fledglings, making two broods possible in food-rich years; territories defended throughout year but mainly autumn to spring breeding; new territories made and old boundaries adjusted by group displays (‘trapeze displays’, ‘circle flight’ chases) at opposing defence posts (perch/scar/tree hole) and margins July/August; upper limits of territory size depend more on numbers/defence capability, lower limits on food supply; rigid ranking with breeding pair at top and non-breeding auxiliaries ranked down to youngest fledgling [R]

Sacred Kingfisher (Halcyon sancta), seasonal: loud four-note call; eucalypt and paperbark forests, woodlands, mangroves

ANATIDAE (Ducks, Swans, Geese)

(Flight feathers of most water fowl moult usually after young have been raised creating a flightless, vulnerable period of 3-4 weeks, some male ducks enter an ‘eclipse’ (dull) plumage after breeding; “conservation of waterfowl could be greatly assisted by research into population fluctuations and their relationship to habitat quality, water regimes, climatic data and hunting pressure. Amateur bird-watchers could provide a lot of the base data on species’ abundance and diversity by participating in co-ordinated seasonal counts throughout Australia” (p. 292)

Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa), resident, breeding: deep heavily vegetated swamps and more open waters

Maned (Wood) Duck (Chenonetta jubata), resident, breeding: lightly timbered areas near water with access to short pasture/herbage, farm dams; often perches in trees. Breeds whenever green herbage available, but generally winter breeders in south, no breeding in dry years, nests in trees; when not breeding in flocks of 20-100, feeding in small family parties from late afternoon to early morning [R]

Hardhead (Aythya australis), seasonal: deep vegetated swamps, large open waters when not breeding

Musk Duck (Biziuria lobata), immature duck first time 10/6/2011: permanent swamps with dense vegetation, large open lakes and bays; expert diver; thrashes across water in cloud of spray when disturbed; spectacular splashing displays in courting males

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus), twice (e.g. 2009, 2012): usually mate for life; large expanses of water with abundant aquatic vegetation/pasture/crops. Travel long distances, true nomads [R]

ANHINGIDAE (Darters)

Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), (14/11/11): often immersed in water up to neck

ARDEIDAE (Herons, Egrets, Bitterns)

“Accurate field observations, particularly of plumage, soft-part colours, and behaviour changes which occur just before egg laying, are unknown for a surprising number of heron species. Detailed study and reporting by bird-watchers is needed in Australia.” (p. 290)

Pacific (White-necked) Heron (Ardea pacifica), seasonal, infrequent
White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae), frequent: often perches on trees and posts
Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), 31/10/11, 15/11/11; feeds nocturnally, roosts in trees close to water by day; swamps, estuaries, intertidal flats, creeks, rivers
Little Egret (Ardea garzetta), very rarely
Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia), very rarely (11/2006)
Great Egret (Ardea alba), very rarely (10/2008 and 12/11/11)
Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)?, very rarely, secretive (in long grass first time 31/10/08; sometimes seen among dam verge blackberry and phragmites, however very likely a mix-up with Buff-banded Rail) THREATENED

ARTAMIDAE (Woodswallows)

Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) (migrant, as of summer 2007/08): migrates north as far as Atherton Tablelands in autumn, south as far as Tasmania in spring; pairs share all nesting duties and nest together in close ‘neighbourhoods’; nests can be in hollows, forks, behind loose tree bark or on top of tree stumps or fence posts; much loud mobbing of all predators; catch insects from air in flight; open woodlands and forests, but denser ones than other woodswallows

CAMPHAGIDAE (Cuckoo Shrikes, Trillers)

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae), seasonal: undulating flight, forages for insects over outer tree foliage or hawks flying insects from static perch or alights on ground to pick up food, also eats berries and soft fruits, shallow nests, sometimes uses magpie-lark mud nests. Leaves Tasmania northwards for winter [R]

CHARADRIIDAE (Lapwings, Plovers, Dotterels)

Masked Lapwing (Plover) (Vanellus miles), seasonal: as the southern race (‘Spur-winged Plover’), solitary pairs very territorial during breeding, locally nomadic up to 150 km

CLIMACTERIDAE (Treecreepers)

Brown Tree Creeper (Climacteris picumnus), very rarely: usually roosts inside hollow dead branches, is communal and forages regularly on the ground; open woodlands/forest clearings and edges/eucs along watercourses; often on ground, bobs tail when resting; staccato notes, harsh rattle, chuckling; THREATENED

White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea): very rarely, 29/01/10 on E. globoidea; White-throated roosts externally on tree trunks/man-made constructions; rainforest/forest/woodland; differs from other Australian treecreepers in many respects; repeated piping note, tremulous calls

COLUMBIDAE (Pigeons, Doves)

Crested Pigeon (Geophaps lophotes), resident: some Aus pigeons fill similar ecological niches to pheasants, grouse and partridges; either granivorous or plant grazers; feeds extensively on leaves of semi-arid medicks utilising storage crop in oesophagus (also used for production of cheese-like secretion for newly hatched young)

Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia melanoleuca), heard once in evening 5/10/06?: high ‘coo coo’ repeated monotonously; old endemic species that has developed with the changes to the Aus environment; coastal, dense forests/scrubs, rainforest

Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera), 29/03/16 on road/top copse: dry forest, woodlands, heath, mallee

Peaceful Dove (Geopelia placida), 30/01/2015 (caught in chook yard): status secure; like other pigeons/doves, drinks by sucking, thus reducing vulnerability to predators at drinking places; lightly timbered country near water

CORACIIDAE (Rollers)

Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), seasonal: summer breeding migrant from southern Asia, hunts insects and even small birds early/late in day, acrobatic twisting during vocal courtship flights, nests in tree holes.

CORCORACIDAE (Mud-nesters)

White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos), once only in mid-1990s: perhaps more complex communal life than any other Aus bird; family party of usually seven with breeding unit of dominant male and several mature females plus previous progeny; all members equally share in distinctive mud nest construction, brooding and feeding of young; territory only defended during breeding; ground foraging for invertebrates and sometimes small vertebrates like frogs; autumn/winter migration to more open country where seeds become great part of diet; dry woodland

CORVIDAE (Ravens, Crows)

Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides), seasonal: adaptable, intelligent, considered among most highly evolved birds; usually at least two species (large resident plus smaller nomad) live together, avoiding competition by occupying different ecological niches and displaying different social behaviour; omnivores and scavengers (Little Raven/ C. mellori: insects); courtship as aerial pursuit by male (Little Raven: male ground promenade); monogamous; large stick nests; child-like wailing, slow calls, last note ‘with a strangled dying finish’ and throat hackles fanned to form long ‘beard’; most habitats except closed forest. Long-lasting pairs breed and can defend 110 hectare territory against other ravens (1970s Sth Tablelands); non-breeder teenagers in flocks of c. 30, nomadic in summer to plentiful food areas [R]

Little Raven (Corvus mellori), seasonal: move in large nomadic flocks except when breeding (April-Dec, particularly Aug-Oct); move from inland to coast in summer; flexible in choice of nest sites and breeding season; most habitats except closed forests; voice a series of rapid guttural barks, each note abruptly cut off; when perched, each call accompanied by flick of both wings above back; flight more rapid and agile than Australian Raven; only recognised as separate species in 1965

CRACTICIDAE (Butcherbirds, Currawongs, Magpies)

Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen), resident: three spp once recognised but now three races because interbreed at edges of their ranges; five different kinds of groups formed for breeding and feeding activities; omnivorous; aggressively territorial during breeding; mostly sedentary, partly nomadic; open forest/woodland/farmland/suburban. Females need psychological security within territory to breed, 75% of females do not breed, marginal groups spending much time defending territory usually fail to breed [R]

Pied Currawong (Strepea graculina), seasonal: annual altitudinal nomads/migrants with breeding pairs in highland forests [gleaning forest canopies] moving to more open lowland country/human settlements in autumn/winter to form large, noisy flocks; open and low open forest/woodland/scrub/farmland/suburban. Timing, direction and completeness of these movements unpredictable; effective predators of forest stick-insects [R]

Grey Butcherbird (Craticus torquatus), resident: mostly sedentary, partly nomadic; food cached in tree forks; open forest/woodland/farmland

CUCULIDAE (Parasitic Cuckoos, Coucals)

Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cuculus flabelliformis), Summer 2007, heard 10/09/09: selects dome-shaped nests to lay eggs; breeds in Australia, at least some migration to north in winter; forests, woodlands

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx lucidus) 15/9/12: cuckoos vocal, day or night, when breeding, otherwise silent and difficult to see; most cuckoos insectivorous; selects same kind of nests as Fan-tailed Cuckoo; forests

Common Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea), (Spring 2006, 2013): parasitic on other birds; selects open or cup-shaped nests; fast undulating flight, loud repetitive and resonant call at night; breeds in Australia but at least part of population then migrates north to Nth Australia and New Guinea in winter; forests and tall trees

DICAEIDAE (Flowerpeckers)

Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum): August 2009; only Australian representative of the Dicaeidae; highly nomadic when not breeding, range from western Papua New Guinea to all of Australia except Tasmania; digestive even duct for rapid berry passing, no muscular gizzard as in other birds; perches lengthwise on branches and defecates mistletoe seeds onto them

FALCONIDAE (Falcons)

Australian Kestrel (Falco cenchroides), once (c. 1994-2002) frequent, now absent, probably because of greater tree cover: hovers for ground-dwelling small vertebrates/insects; nests in tree hollows; toxic bio-indicator since most severely affected by pesticides

Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos), (first time 5/09/09), habitat usually woodland and scrub in ARID zone; RARE

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), winter 2010 killing purple swamphen, rocky outcrops

FRINGILLIDAE (True Finches)

European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) (Spring 2006): introduced, restricted to south-eastern Australia and Tasmania, settlements and agricultural areas

GRALLINIDAE (Magpie-larks)

Australian Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca), resident: pairs sing antiphonally; in future may be included with Monarchs and Flycatchers

HIRUNDINIDAE (Swallows, Martins)

Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena), seasonal: breeds and roosts in half-cup mud nest under eaves or bridges. Some in southern Australia (all of Tas and most of Vic) migrate northwards in winter [R]

MALURIDAE (Fairy-wrens)

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus), resident: insectivorous or grass seeds, flies through bushes, low over ground or hops, elaborate rodent-like scuttling distraction display for intruders approaching nest, cooperative social/territorial groups with one dominant male and female, subordinate non-breeding birds and first year birds; domed nests in bush/shrub, new nest with every brood; snakes as major nest predators; rainforest/open forest/swamps/coast/gardens.

MELIPHAGIDAE (Honeyeaters)

Feed mainly on nectar, fruit and honeydew/lerp but “no species feeds entirely on them. All honeyeaters include at least a few insects in their diets…” (p. 328). Close mutual association with flora as important pollinators (Eucalyptus, Banksia, Callistemon, Grevillea, Correa, Eremophila, mistletoes, epacrids) and seed dispersers (acacias, chenopods, mistletoes, epacrids). Aus is particularly rich in Honeyeaters (c. 69 spp.)

Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops), rare: feeds similarly to Noisy Miners (gleaning foliage, probing bark for honeydew, lerp or insects) but seasonally migratory southwards in spring, northwards in autumn, perhaps wintering in coastal NSW; forests. Migrates in daytime noisy successive flocks of up to 100 birds tending to follow same routes each year [R]

White-eared Honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucotis), rare: first time 10/6/2011 near Grevillea; 6/09/2014 feeding on apricot blossoms; forests, woodlands, mallee; feeds similarly to Noisy Miner

Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), resident as of 1996: although brush-tongued, feeds mainly by gleaning foliage or probing bark for honeydew, lerp or insects; excludes smaller species from richest food sources (e.g. outbreak of lerp); colonies, complex social system, breeds communally, gathers for yammering and slow fluttering group displays or ‘corroborees’ (the purpose of which is unknown). Open woodlands, avoiding both true forest and very open paddocks; lives in ‘neighbourhoods’ or aggregations of nesting territories; density may range from 25/ha in low-fertility pastoral area to 400-500/ha in sub-tropical habitat; may group up to forage in winter; female builds nest, incubates and is not helped or fed, but all bring food to chicks resulting in exceptionally high feeding rate (up to 70 visits/hr); young of first brood may help feed younger siblings of next nest or even neighbouring nest; clear social ranking within family enforced by calling and display (horizontal, sleeking feathers, facing victim while subordinates ruffle feathers and adopt more vertical stance with bills upwards); aggression uncommon between groups of same colony but frequent between colonies; rarely preen each other but bath and roost communally; prominent alerting shriek and mobbing of potential predator, several groups may combine against large enemy [R]

Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata): once only; raucous, harsh calls; forests, woodlands, suburbs

Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera lunulata chrysoptera), only once: harsh cackles; feeds mainly on nectar; coastal woodlands/heaths/scrub/gardens, especially in Banksia

Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris), seasonal: feeds mainly on nectar, specialised long decurved bill (for particular plants e.g. Epacris longiflora); heath/forest with heath

Noisy Friarbird (Philemon argenticeps), once 19/10/13: loud raucous sounds and squawks, open forests and woodlands

MUSCICAPIDAE (Thrushes, Flycatchers and allies)

Fantails (Monarch Flycatchers, Sub Family Myiagrinae)

Grey Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa), frequent: very variable; six races; very active fantail, flying up to catch insects and constant tail fanning; tends to perch sideways; forest/woodlands

Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons), once in early autumn 2008; very active, fans and waves long tail up and down and side to side; wet forest, occasionally more open forests

Willy Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), resident as of 2014: a flycatcher, not a wagtail; runs on ground, perches on livestock; all habitats except very wet forest

Flycatchers

Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta), once only: open forests

Satin Flycatcher (Myiagra cyanoleuca) 29/2/2016: tall and medium open forests; breeds in Australia, migrates to north Queensland and New Guinea in winter

Microeca Flycatchers

Jacky Winter (Microeca leuchophaea) ?, seasonal : nomadic; catches flying insects; smallest nests of any Aus bird covered with cobwebs/mosses/lichens; dry forests/woodlands/farmlands; waves tail side to side emphasising white edges

Shrike-thrushes

Grey Shrike Thrush (Colluricinda harmonica), resident and breeding: beautiful melodious song; feeds on arboreal and ground invertebrates; forest/woodland/scrub

Whistlers

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris), seasonal: beautiful ringing song, whipcrack-like or ‘joey-joey-joey’, open forest/woodland, arid inland scrub, less common in wetter tall forest

Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis), seasonal: beautiful melodious song, sometimes with whip-crack ending; rainforest/open forest/woodland/coastal

‘Red’ Robins

Rose Robin (Petroica rosea), rarely : most arboreal and acrobatic of robins, catches insects in high outer canopies; cup shaped nests sometimes parasitised by cuckoos; some autumn/winter dispersal to more open forest; breeds in deep gullies of tall open forests/rainforest

‘Black and White’ Robins

Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria asutralis), rarely (as of November 2008): up to five races described, two accepted (northern/southern); mainly insectivorous, from ground and surfaces of trunks and branches; monotone piping, harsh ‘chit’; wet open forests, woodlands, coastal thickets

Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata), rarely and only females (28/2/11, 21/11/11, 4/11/13): usually quiet; dry forests, woodlands, mallee, scrublands; VULNERABLE

Blackbird (Turdus merula) (as of winter 2006), very rarely: introduced, urban gardens/orchards/blackberries/forest edge

ORIOLIDAE (Orioles, Figbirds)

Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus) wooded areas, mid-storey to canopy; insect- and fruit- eater, migratory or nomadic perhaps responding to food supplies; thought to be fairly recent colonists in Australia; strong, deep, cup-shaped, suspended nests

PARDALOTIDAE (Pardalotes)

Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus), 3/11/03, 10/10/08, 1/10/11: pardalotes glean arthropods from tree foliage often hanging upside down to do so; also feed on lerps exuded by psyllids in eucalypts; clicking sound when removing lerps is diagnostic for pardalotes; may have substantial seasonal movement, moving away in large flocks from wetter and mountain areas both inland and to northern coast; Spotted Pardalote nests in loose soil at end of burrow; all pardalotes most conspicuous when breeding on ground, otherwise high in eucalypt foliage only to be heard through frequent calling (loud or soft double notes) or beak clicking; eucalypt forest

Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus), 1/10/06: four races, taxonomy controversial with some authors suggesting four or five species; acrobatic insect forager and substantial seasonal migration like Spotted Pardalote; nests in tree hollows or in earth banks (sandhills, river banks, road cuttings); loud double or triple notes; eucalypt forest or woodland

PELICANIDAE (Pelicans)

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus), only once seen on dam; nomadic; nests in ground hollows; flies gracefully, swims in flocks; large areas of fresh and salt water

PHALACROCORACIDAE (Cormorants, Shags)

“After fishing, cormorants and darters spread their wings, the reason for this is not yet known.” (p. 289)

Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos), seasonal: flies separately

Little Black Cormorant (Phalocrocorax sulcirostris), rare: flies in V-formation, larger flocks

Great (Black) Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), rare, 03/15: largest Aus cormorant; flies in V-formation

PHASIANIDAE (Quails, Pheasants)

Stubble Quail (Coturnix pectoralis)?, 1994-1997 while tractor slashing, and 26/12/03: fairly nomadic, wandering wherever conditions are suitable and breeding in large numbers in some seasons; hide in grass till nearly walked upon, then flush into rapid whirring flight low to ground; nests on ground under bushes or grass; open grassy areas; breeding Oct-Feb

Brown Quail (Coturnix australis)?, 03/15 : dense grassland often near forest, rich brown in flight with streaks hard to see; nomadic

PLATALEIDAE (Ibises, Spoonbills)

Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis), seasonal: flies in V-formation. Also feeds in drier areas, roosts in reeds (typha, lignum, uleocharis) not in trees [R]

Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica), seasonal: Ibises frequently travel 30-40 km from colonies to feed, using thermals to gain height; roosts in trees. More restricted to aquatic environment [R]

Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes), only once: often roosts in trees

PLOCEIDAE (Grass Finches)

Red-browed Firetail (Neochmia temporalis), seasonal: varied habitats, usually dense shrubs interspersed with open grassy areas

PODARGIDAE (Frogmouths)

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides), (7/05/12, 05/01/15 sitting near bee hives): woodlands; nocturnal, swoops on arthropods/snails/small vertebrates on ground; strong flier only over short distances; roosts by day on exposed branches camouflaging itself as broken branch; nests in horizontal forks

PODICIPEDIDAE (Grebes)

“Grebes fly well but prefer not to in daylight. Migratory or nomadic flights are at night….Breeding plumage differs from non-breeding plumage.” (p. 285)

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae), resident: more likely to flee danger by diving than by flying; may join Hoary-headed Grebes in mixed flocks during winter but less gregarious

Hoary-headed Grebe (Poliocephalus poliocephalus), rarely: flees danger by flying away; long splashing take-off; flies low and fast

PSITTACIDAE (Cockatoos, Lorikeets, Parrots)

White Cockatoos

Little Corella (Cacatua pastinator), 11/2010 first time together with large flocks of Sulphur-crested cockatoos: originally semi-arid shrub- and woodlands only, vast noisy flocks

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), usually overflying: extremely loud, raucous; uneven wing beat

Galah (Cacatua tenuirostris), sometimes breeding in stag: non-breeders may travel widely (most other parrot spp sedentary) , lines tree hollow nest with fresh eucalypt leaves (other parrots chew woodchips from inside hollow); woodlands/grasslands. 11 calls; defends same nest hole each year; defended territory restricted to within 3 m of nest hole; stable pairs the basic unit, seldom forage more than 10 km from nesting area and return to area most evenings; fledglings live in ‘creches’ c. 1 mile from nest tree; seed eaters, large feeding groups when seed abundant; resident pairs tend to stay in same small group of 20-40 in spring/summer and join with non-breeding birds in autumn/winter to exploit scarcer food resources; associations beyond pair and family largely fortuitous [R]

Black Cockatoos

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami), seasonal: has learned to extract insect larvae from tree trunks, roots, Banksia cones; chicks are cared for over 100 days; flocks; slow wing beat

Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum), rarely: open forest moving to woodland/farmland/suburbs autumn-winter, erratic flight. Little known about it and its movements which may sometimes parallel pied currawong (summer mountain forest breeding moving to lower altitudes in autumn/winter) but adults seen in mountains in winter and non-breeding in lowlands in summer) [R]; VULNERABLE

Rosellas

Crimson Rosella (Platycerus elegans, race elegans), frequent: moist forests/farmlands/parks. 21 calls (second most complex vocab of Psittacidae).

Eastern Rosella (Platycerus eximius), frequent: woodlands/farmlands with eucalypt copses/parks. 25 calls (the most complex vocab of all Psittacidae); seed eater thus requiring large area (e.g. 100 birds on 320 ha) and variety of seeds; organised into two status groups of a high-status core of sedentary stable pairs and subsidiary less stable groups of 4-6 that range more widely and are also internally ranked; no bounded and defended territoriality; defends same nest hole each year; loose autumn flocks of low-status birds that then fragment and intersperse with high-status sedentary pairs [R]

Long-tailed Parrots

Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis), seasonal: moist tall forest and adjacent farmland, orchards/parks/gardens in winter. Only 4 calls [R]

Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), first time 30/12/2014 in orchard, nomadic according to food sources nectar, pollen and fruit; rainforest, open forest, woodland, heath, gardens

PTILONORHYNCHIDAE (Bowerbirds)

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), frequent, resident: rainforest and nearby areas, considered by some to be most advanced of all birds because of remarkable bower-building and associated behaviour, males are promiscuous, predominantly frugivorous, but buds/flowers/succulent stems and leaves also eaten (more so in winter). Active display July/August, mating in bower Sept/Oct, summer abandoning of bowers and joining of nomadic frugivorous flocks; male destroys rival bowers, takes seven years to achieve full blue plumage and successful copulation [R]

RALLIDAE (Swamphens, Coots, Rails)

Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa), only once

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), seasonal; large floating nests anchored to reeds or built on top of bushes standing in water

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), resident: nomadic, build up numbers in wet years and disperse to coast/remaining waterholes in dry year

Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis), 15/04/15, secretive, stays in dense vegetation close to water; nomadic like Purple Swamphen

SCOLOPACIDAE (Snipes, Curlews, Sandpipers, Godwits)

Latham’s (Japanese) Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii), seasonal: juveniles hatch in northern summer in NE Siberia [Japan: R] or Alaska and arrive in SE Aus from spring to early summer and in autumn do not return to breeding areas until more than one year old (either staying for our summer or migrating small distances northwards; believed to migrate to Aus over established species’ routes and generally between the same areas each year; open and wooded swamps or wet grasslands, well camouflaged, often flies late dusk. One of c. 250,000 to 500,000 northern waders visiting SE Aus (c. 30 spp.) each summer, most to Port Phillip Bay, Victoria [R]

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper or Red-necked Stint (Calidris acuminata or C. ruficollis)?, only once (22/5/04): both very common, like Latham’s Snipe mostly breed in northern temperate areas and migrate over established routes; former seldom winters in Aus while latter migrates to China, Taiwan, Philippines, Australasia and many over-winter here; inland waters, coastal

STRIGIDAE (Hawk Owls)

Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae), midnight 2/05/15 walking up driveway: voice falsetto double-hoot, continuous hooting; woodlands, forests, scrublands; delicate flight, rarely glides; larger eyes than barn owls; forms pairs which defend territories with monotonous hooting; males feed incubating females by calling them from the nest; unique among raptors, Australian hawk owls display tendency towards larger males

STURNIDAE (Starlings, Mynahs)

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), seasonal as of 2000: introduced, commensal with humans but not dependent, competes with natives for food and nesting holes, significant agricultural pests; flocks feed on ground; roosts colonially; here attracted to wild blackberries

Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis) (rare-intermittent as of 2002), very rare: as above, though more urban/suburban; mainly on ground; roosts colonially [but seen here only as pair, sometimes near cattle]

SYLVIIDAE (Old World Warblers)

Clamorous Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus), was resident : beautiful song; not well known, “observers could contribute to their taxonomy, breeding and behavioural biology, ecological niches and movements about the continent” (p. 324); dense vegetation near water

TURNICIDAE (Button-quails)

Painted Button-quail (Turnix varia), once or twice, 3/10/11: may be nomadic; feed on insects and seeds; ground nest cup-shaped near tussock or shrub; males incubate eggs for about 14 days and care for young; calls little known and worthy of further study; grassy forests, woodlands

TYTONIDAE (Barn Owls)

Barn Owl or Masked Owl (Tyto alba or T. Novaehollandiae) ?, once: males feed females at the nest; may roost on ground (Barn owl); active in middle storey (Masked Owl)

ZOSTEROPIDAE (White-eyes)

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis), rare: seven races; some populations undertake lengthy northward migrations in autumn (travelling at night), search foliage for insects, seeds, nectar (they have brush tipped tongues) and fruit; most vegetation types/orchards/gardens. Tasmanian silvereyes may spend winter as far north as Queensland; may be one sedentary and one migratory population in E Australia [R]

Flora at ‘Gundungurra’, Bundanoon

•August 7, 2016 • 2 Comments

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[This is just a local species list of around 260 plant species for those interested in Australian flora, the naturalists and permaculturalists. It just shows the immense floral biodiversity that may still exist here on a small property in south-eastern Australia, and that we are fortunate to be able to maintain, regenerate and improve on our 20 acres at ‘Gundungurra’. (Gundungurra are the first people of this bioregion). The first photos shows two native understorey plants in late spring: the climber Old Man’s Beard over Gorse Bitter-pea with some White Stringybark trees in the background, the second photo is of a worker form-pruning our plantation native blackwoods for future cabinet timber. This list is actually formatted as a table, but would not convert as such to the WordPress blog.]

Flora at ‘Gundungurra’ Bundanoon

The following lists detail the uncultivated plant species on the eight hectares at ‘Gundungurra’ according to our present incomplete (and ever-evolving) knowledge. The property lies in a small valley at the headwaters of Paddy’s River in the Wingecarribee bioregion of the southern tablelands of NSW, Australia. Altitude is around 670 metres and average annual rainfall around 1200 mm. The soil is predominantly shale-derived and supports a remnant of the endangered ecological community Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands.

Question marks indicate where identification is uncertain. There are doubtless as yet many unidentified species, particularly of fungi, pasture and opportunist species. (In 1990 Professor J. Brewer of Macquarie University found 360 plant species on a mere thousand square metre, i.e. quarter acre, block on Sydney’s suburban North Shore. He also found 60 species of vertebrates, 4,000 species of invertebrates and 20,000 species of microorganisms!).

The list has been subdivided into identified natives occurring on-site (c. 95 spp, mainly along the creek line corridor), exotic opportunist/naturalised and pasture species (c. 64 spp.) and native flora planted since our work on the property began in 1995 (c. 100 spp). Thus total identified native plant species are now about 196, and all identified ‘wild/uncultivated’ plant species listed here together number about 259.

There are at least another 70 or so exotic tree genera/species which we have planted in the orchard, garden and windbreaks (for exotic fruit and nut varieties, cf. separate lists). This would give a grand total of around 329 identified plant species, wild/naturalised and cultivated. If we, in addition, had a hypothetical 20-40 or so as yet unidentified wild/naturalised species, this would give a grand total of about 348-368 probable plant species at ‘Gundungurra’. (This is close to Professor Brewer’s figure of 360 plant species for a small suburban Sydney North Shore block. Perhaps his figures for vertebrates, invertebrates and microorganisms might thus also be roughly applicable to Gundungurra?).

Native plants have been identified using A. Fairley & P. Moore (1989), Native Plants of the Sydney District. An Identification Guide, L. Costermans (1991), Native Trees and Shrubs of South-Eastern Australia, L. Robertson (1991), Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney, R. MacDonald & J. Westerman (1979), A Field Guide to Fungi of South-eastern Australia. Exotic opportunist species have been identified using F.J. Richardson et al (2011), Weeds of the South-East. An Identification Guide for Australia, R. Fitter et al (1974), The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, and H. Garms (1972), Pflanzen und Tiere Europas.

A. Species Occurring Naturally On-Site

1. Trees (13)

Myrtaceae
Eucalyptus obliqua Messmate
E. viminalis Manna Gum
E. cypellocarpa Mountain Grey Gum
E. viminalis x cypellocarpa hybrid ? Manna Gum/Mt Grey Gum hybrid
E. radiata ssp. radiata Narrow-leaved Peppermint
E. globoidea White Stringybark
E. deanii Mountain Blue Gum/Broad-leaved Gum
E. ovata Swamp Gum
E. elata River Peppermint, River White Gum
E. elata x radiata radiata hybrid ? River Peppermint/Narrow-l. Peppermint
Mimosaceae
Acacia melanoxylon Blackwood
A. decurrens Green Wattle
A. parramattensis Parramatta/Sydney Green Wattle
A. longifolia var. longifolia Sydney Golden Wattle
A. irrorata ssp irrorata Green Wattle/ Blue Skin

2. Shrubs (9)

Apiaceae
Platysace linearifolia Narrow-leaf Platysace
Araliaceae
Astrotricha asperifolia Rough Star-hair
Polyscias sambucifolia Elderberry Pannax (bi-pinnate form)
Asteraceae
Cassinia uncata Sticky Cassinia
Olearia phlogopappa Alpine Daisy-bush
Euphorbiaceae
Phyllanthus thymoides Thyme Spurge
Fabaceae
Daviesia ulicifolia Gorse Bitter-pea
Rhamnaceae
Pomaderris discolor (?) Pomaderris
Santalaceae
Exocarpos strictus Pale Ballart

3. Herbs, Forbs, Ferns, Climbers and Grasses (45)

Adiantaceae
Adiantum aethiopicum Maidenhair Fern
Apiaceae
Hydrocotyle tripartite
Xanthosia sp.
Asclepiadaceae
Marsdenia suaveolens Scented Marsdenia/Sweet-scented Doubah
Asteraceae
Helichrysum rutidolepis (?) Paper Daisy/ Everlasting
Podolepis jaceoides Showy Copper-wire Daisy
Blechnaceae
Blechnum cartilagineum Gristle Fern
Campanulaceae
Wahlenbergia gracilis Native Bluebell
W. stricta Tall or Austral Bluebell
Convolvulaceae
Dichondra repens Kidney Weed
Dennstaedtiaceae
Pteridium esculentum Bracken Fern
Dilleniaceae
Hibbertia empetrifolia Trailing Guinea Flower
Epacridaceae
Leucopogon lanceolatus Lance-leaf Beard-heath
Fabaceae
Glycine clandestina Love Creeper
G. tabacina Love Creeper
Hardenbergia violacea False Sarsaparilla
Geraniaceae
Geranium homeanum Northern Cranesbill
Iridaceae
Libertia paniculata Branching Grass-flag
Liliaceae
Bulbine bulbosa Bulbine/Golden Lily or Native Leek
Dianella revoluta Mauve Flax Lily
Schellhammera undulata Lilac Lily
Loranthaceae
Amyema spp or Muellerina eucalyptoides? Mistletoe (on eucalypts)
Orchidaceae
Dipodium punctatum Hyacinth Orchid
Diuris sulphurea Tiger/Donkey Orchid
Pterostylis nutans Nodding Greenhood
Pterostylis pedunculata Little Red Riding Hood/Maroon Hood
Spiranthes sinensis ssp. australis Austral Ladies’ Tresses
Prasophyllum brevilabre Short-lip Leek-orchid
Pittosporaceae
Billiardiera scandens Apple Berry, Apple Dumplings
Poaceae
Danthonia spp Wallaby Grass
Poa labillardieri Tussock Grass
Microlaena stipoides Weeping Grass
Themeda australis Kangaroo Grass
Ranunculaceae
Clematis aristata Old Man’s Beard, Traveller’s Joy
Rosaceae
Rubus parvifolius Native Raspberry, Small-leaf Bramble
Acaena novae-zelandiae Bidgee-widgee
Rubiaceae
Asperula conferta Common Woodruff
Solanaceae
Solanum nigrum Black Nightshade
Solanum aviculare Kangaroo Apple
Stackhousiaceae
Stackhousia monogyna Candles, Candlesticks
S. nuda Leafless Stackhousia
Violaceae
Viola hederacea Native Ivy-leafed Violet
Xanthorrhoeaceae
Lomandra cylindrica Needle Mat Rush
L. longifolia Spiny-headed Mat Rush

Usnea inermis ? Lichen (green feathery)
Parmotrema perlatum ? Lichen (grey thallose)

4. Fungi (16)

Anthurus archeri (Clathraceae) (Phalloid, or Stinkhorn)
Aseroe rubra (Clathraceae) Starfish Fungus, Anemone Stinkhorn
Phallus rubicundus (Clathraceae) Red Stinkhorn
Boletus multicolor (Boletaceae) Boletus
Boletus portentosus (Boletaceae) Giant Boletus
Agaricus campestris (Agaricinae) Common Field Mushroom (edible)
A. xanthoderma (Agaricinae) ‘Yellow Stainer’ (inedible)
Coprinus comatus (Agaricinae) Shaggy Ink Cap or Lawyer’s Wig (edible)
Ganoderma applanatum (Polyporaceae) Bracket fungus (on E. cypellocarpa)
Lepiota gracilenta (Agaricinae) Slender Parasol (edible)
Lycoperdon glabrescens (Lycoperdaceae) Puff Balls
Scleroderma cepa Tough-skinned Puffball
Russula clelandii (Russulineae)
Trametes spp. (Polyporaceae) Bracket fungi
? Paint fungus (white) on dead wood litter
? Green/red rust fungi on living bark

5. Aquatic Species (12)

Alismataceae
Alisma plantago-aquatica Common Water Plantain
Characeae
Nitella sp Stonewort
Crassulaceae
Crassula helmsii Australian Stonecrop
Cyperaceae
Cyperus brevifolius (?) Sedge
C. polystachyos (?) Sedge
Eleocharis acuta (gracilis? cylindrostachys?) Common Spike Rush
Schoenus apogon Fluke Bogrush
Juncaceae
Juncus usitatus (continuus?) Common Rush
J. pallidus (?) Bullrush
Polygonaceae
Persicaria decipiens Slender Knotweed
P. hydropiper Water Pepper
Typhaceae
Typha orientalis Bulrush or Broad-leaf Cumbungi

B. Opportunists (Weeds) (54)

Amaranthaceae
Amaranthus caudatus Love-Lies-Bleeding/Red Amaranth
Apocynaceae
Vinca minor Lesser Periwinkle
Asteraceae
Arctotheca calendula Capeweed
Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle
Conyza canadensis pusilla Canadian Fleabane
C. sumatrensis or bonariensis? Tall Fleabane
Hypochaeris radicata Common Catsear/Flatweed
Lapsana communis Nipplewort
Senecio madagascariensis Fireweed
S. sylvaticus (?) Mountain/Heath Groundsel
Silybum marianum Milk/Variegated Thistle
Sonchus arvensis Perennial Sow-thistle
S. asper Prickly Sow-thistle
S. oleraceus Smooth Sow-thistle
S. palustris Marsh Sow-thistle
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion
Berberidaceae
Berberis vulgaris Berberis/European Barberry
Boraginaceae
Echium plantagineum Patterson’s Curse/Salvation Jane
Brassicaceae
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s Purse
Caryophyllaceae
Gypsophila muralis Annual Gypsophila
Stellaria media Chickweed
Chenopodiaceae
Chenopodium album Fat Hen
Cruciferae
Nasturtium officinale Watercress
Cyperaceae
Isolepis (syn Scirpus) prolifera
Euphorbiaceae
Euphorbia peplus Petty Spurge
Gentianaceae
Centaurium tenuiflorum Slender Centaury
Guttiferae
Hypericum perforatum agg. Perforate St John’s Wort
Labiatae
Prunella vulgaris Self-Heal
Malvaceae
Malva sylvestris Common Mallow
M. parvifolia Small-flowered Mallow/ Marshmallow
M. neglecta Dwarf Mallow
Onagraceae
Epilobium lanceolatum Spear-leaved Willowherb
Oxalidaceae
Oxalis pes-caprae Soursob/Yellow Oxalis
O. purpurea or debilis Lilac Oxalis
Phytolaccaceae
Phytolacca octandra Ink Weed
Plantaginaceae
Plantago lanceolata Narrow-leaved/Ribwort Plantain
P. major Broad-leaved/Greater Plantain
Plumbaginaceae
Limonium spp. Common Sea-Lavender/Statice
Polygonaceae
Rumex acetosella Sheep’s Sorrel
R. crispus Curled Dock
R. obtusifolius Broad-leaved Dock
Primulaceae
Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel
Ranunculaceae
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Rosaceae
Cotoneaster microphyllus Small-leaved Cotoneaster
Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet
Rosa rubiginosa Sweet Briar
Rubus fruticosus agg Blackberry
Rubiaceae
Galium aparine Common Cleavers
G. mollugo Hedge Bedstraw
Scrophulariaceae
Euphrasia micrantha (?) Slender (?) Eyebright
Veronica persica Common Field Speedwell
Solanaceae
Solanum pseudocapsicum Jerusalem Cherry/Madeira Winter Cherry
Umbelliferae
Daucus carota Wild Carrot
Urticaceae
Urtica urens Stinging Nettle

C. Exotic Pasture Grasses (10)

Cynodon dactylon Couch
Dactylis glomerata Cocksfoot
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog
Paspalum dilatatum Paspalum
Phalaris aquatica Phalaris or Canary Grass
Trifolium repens White Clover
T. angustifolium. Narrow-leaf Clover
T. dubium Yellow suckling Clover
Vicia sativa Vetch
Pennisetum clandestinum Kikuyu

D. Native Species Planted since 1995

1. Trees (26)

Casuarinaceae
Casuarina cunninghamiana River She-oak
C. cristata Belah
C. glauca Grey (Swamp) She-oak
Cupressaceae
Callitris columellaris White Cypress Pine
C. oblonga
Meliaceae
Melia azedarach White Cedar
Mimosaceae
Acacia decurrens Green Wattle
A. elata Mountain Cedar Wattle
A. mearnsii Black Wattle
A. melanoxylon Blackwood
Myrtaceae
Eucalyptus blakelyi Blakely’s Red Gum
E. cinerea Argyle Apple
E. crebra Narrow-leaved Ironbark
E. dalrympleana Mountain Grey Gum
E. eximia nana Yellow Bloodwood
E. globulus globulus compacta Tasmanian Blue Gum
E. gunnii Cider Gum
E. macarthurii Paddy’s River Gum
Corymbia maculata Spotted Gum
E. obliqua Messmate
E. ovata Swamp Gum
E. pauciflora Snow Gum
E. perriniana Spinning Gum
E. punctata Grey Gum
E. stellulata Black Sallee
Sterculiaceae
Brachychiton populneus Kurrajong

2. Shrubs, Forbs and Aquatics (78)

Baueraceae
Bauera sessiliflora Grampians Bauera
Fabaceae
Indigofera australis Austral Indigo
Lamiaceae
Westringia poorinda Native Rosemary
Liliaceae
Arthropodium milleflorum Vanilla Lily
Mimosaceae
Acacia binervata Two-veined Hickory
A. boormanii Snowy River Wattle
A. cultriformis
A. dealbata Silver Wattle
A. falciformis Hickory Wattle
A. fimbriata Fringed Wattle
A. floribunda Gossamer Wattle
A. howittii Sticky Wattle
A. implexa Hickory or Lightwood
A. lineata Streaked Wattle
A. myrtifolia Myrtle Wattle
A. pravissima Oven’s Wattle
A. rubida Red Stem Wattle
A. stricta Hop Wattle
A. suaveolens Sweet Wattle
A. terminalis Sunshine Wattle
A. verniciflua Varnish Wattle (died)
Myrtaceae
Acmena smithii Lillypilly
Baeckea virgata Tall Baeckea
Callistemon citrinus Crimson Bottlebrush
C. sieberi Alpine Bottlebrush
C. subulatus Dwarf Bottlebrush
C. viminalis Weeping Bottlebrush
C. vim. ‘Dawson River weeping’
C. vim. ‘Hannah Ray’
C. salignus x C. vim. ‘Edna Walling Scarlet Willow’
C. ‘King Park Special’
Calytrix sullivanii Pink Grampians Fringe-myrtle
Kunzea ambigua White Kunzea/Tick Bush
Leptospermum flavescens syn polygalifolium Yellow Tea Tree
L. juniperinum Prickly Tea Tree
L. lanigerum Woolly Tea Tree
L. morrisonii
L. murraysii
Melaleuca armillaris Giant Honey-myrtle
M. hypericifolia Red-flowering Paperbark
M. linariifolia
M. squarrosa Scented Paperbark
M. stypheloides Prickly-leaved Paperbark
M. thymifolia
Syzygium paniculatum ‘Magenta Cherry’ Lillypilly
Pittosporaceae
Bursaria spinosa Sweet Bursaria/Blackthorn
Pittosporum undulatum Sweet Pittosporum
Protaceae
Banksia ericifolia Heath Banksia
B. marginata Silver Banksia
B. spinulosa Hairpin Banksia
Grevillea baueri
G. ‘Bronze rambler’
G. ‘Apricot Fire’
G. ‘Austroflora Jubilee’
G. ‘Moonlight’
G. ‘Peter Poorinda’
G. ‘Robyn Gordon’
G. ‘White Wings’
G. rivularis Carrington Falls Grevillea
Hakea ‘Burrendong Beauty’
H. laurina
H. salicifolia Willow-leaved Hakea
H. sericea Needlebush
H. teretifolia Dagger Hakea
H. suavolens
Telopea speciosissima Waratah
Rosaceae
Rubus rosifolius Forest Bramble, Rose-leaf Bramble
Rutaceae
Correa reflexa Common Correa
Crowea exalata Small Crowea
Eriostemon hispidulus Wax Flower
Sapindaceae
Dodonea viscosa ssp. cuneata Wedge-leaf Hop Bush
Solanaceae
Solanum aviculare Kangaroo Apple
Aquatics
Marsilia mutica (Marsileaceae) Large-leaved Nardoo
Restio tetraphyllus (Restionaceae) Tassel-leaved Spike Rush
Baumea articulata (Cyperaceae) Jointed Twig-rush
Carex appressa (Cyperaceae) Tall Sedge
Gahnia sieberaniana (Cyperaceae) Red-fruited Saw-sedge
Phragmites australis (Poaceae) Common Reed
Triglochin procera (Juncaginaceae) Water Ribbons

Herons in the morning light

•August 1, 2016 • 6 Comments

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[Poem just published in the current edition of the Australian Poetry Journal, 6.1. ‘Dorpers’ are a breed of sheep. Shot of light on our farm dam.]

Herons in the morning light

Dawn’s rosy-fingered kitsch intimates evening’s in time’s mind
as you rise to find your mouth set in an unusual smile

& shadows of the old unshaven guy in The Milagro Beanfields War
(Thank you Lord for another day!), aware of movies & death

as one is these days, & two herons do their Zen elegance thing east
across the dark dam, wings gently rising & falling

like the economic data on the evening news (after all, you think,
who’s ever seen a heron crash for good) & two

of the dorpers are just visible up on the slope between trees,
lounging couch potatoes keeping their rumen bacteria happy

as larry in the best of all possible worlds & a magpie struts
its stuff over the patio pavers checking out any crumbs fallen

from the dog’s mouth now asleep like its owner on his night sofa
in the attached greenhouse soon to be shaded against the uv bomb

as the Great East Australian Current brings down its predictable packages
of El Ninjo heat & bushfires jack out of the National Park box

or some sad oaf with low self-esteem & a match who’s pining
for a pyromanic erection & his very own byte of the news.

Now the light’s greyed into a skyscape that’s median in the published
spectrum of Likes and Followers, an indeterminate corrugation

of iron & bright portending neither heat nor rain, good nor bad, bad
nor good. No shadows, no interest. Time to plant those walnut seedlings today

down by the shed; never know your fat luck, they might bear fruit.
The revolution might come. You might eke out a few more years, go

blind only slowly, grow no new tumour, your grandson sit in their shade,
chew nuts, still see herons winging it over unpixellated water.

Return (after T’ao Yuan-ming)

•July 21, 2016 • 2 Comments

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[Hot off the press, a very free ‘translation’ or rather Australian ‘version’ of an ancient Chinese poem by T’ao Yuan-ming aka T’ao Chi’en aka Tao Chi who lived 372-427 CE and created the Chinese genre of ‘field and garden poems’. Photo taken from the house shows our small apple orchard in the mist, honey locust leaves framing the photo at top, roses and then trellised grapes in foreground, large farm dam to the right, old eucalypts along the intermittent creek in the background struck by light.]

Return (after T’ao Yuan Ming 372-427 CE)

Always been a bit of a loner but
took that government job, secure,
boring, and then it’s forty years
among the herd in the Big Smoke.
The caged bird longs for sky and
wind, the fish in the tank: ocean.
Now back where I belong:
twenty acres of average soil
and a swampy bit down the middle.
Cleared a patch of brambles
to the north, a good spot
for some she-oak coppice, willow,
a few angophoras for the bees.
Peach, plum, apricot on the drier
slope, honey locusts shade the house.
A few chickens roost in the mulberry,
dogs bark far off, neighbours’ smoke
wreaths curl faint and distant.
Inside, five rooms with books and
a silence you can cut with a knife
or kookaburra laugh. Too long
inside a cage, a screen, now back
where nature, freedom, makes itself.

How to Set Up a Police State in Four Easy Steps

•July 18, 2016 • 3 Comments

Riot police France tear gas 07Riot police Baton Rouge 090716

[Erdogan in Turkey, just the latest example happening in post-liberal ‘democracies’ all over the world at least since 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’. Readers can fill in the specific details in their countries. Old as the hills, the state protection racket. Works like a charm unless enough people jump up and down, dissent and resist.]

How to Set Up a Police State in Four Easy Steps

1. Use any violent attacks on public institutions as pretexts for increasing the powers of your executive and decreasing the powers and freedoms of civil society, the legislative, the judiciary.

2. Designate an internal and/or external Enemy and demonise that Enemy.

3. Pour fuel on the flames: increase the likelihood of attacks by the Designated Enemy by violently repressing and attacking them, waging all-out war on them.

4. Cultivate a fear and siege mentality (stay ‘alert and alarmed’, watch for the ‘unnormal’) in your populace so that they accept all limitations on their freedoms for the sake of ‘security’.

Some things that get me through

•July 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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[Older poem. Photo of trees from near here in the southern highlands: life and death, together.]

Some Things That Get Me Through

the man with The End Is Nigh sign near the ice cream van at Speakers’ Corner London

the water mark on the ceiling in fourth class

Whitman’s ‘Song Of Myself’ in Leaves Of Grass

a hot shower followed by a cold shower

the Indian women dancers film in the church hall on my first night out at age four

my mother’s wounds

the two hundred year old messmate trees on our property

the game of shuttlecock with my father at Collaroy beach when I was eleven

Schumann’s piano piece Kinderspielen

Jimmy Hendrix’ rendition of Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock

Barbara’s sourdough bread

the old gnome with the hairy toes and self-made maps mumble-lecturing his theory of evolution at the base of the Moreton Bay fig in the Sydney Domain c. 1964

T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

planting a tree, especially a heritage fruit variety

our dog Billy

seeing Arthur Stace’s Eternity chalked on the footpath at the corner of Haberfield Road and Parramatta Road c. 1963

a dream of body surfing a star wave in space

tending bees

my father’s giving a stunned magpie water and releasing it out the window when I was five or six

the smell of the skin of the women and child I have loved

the life and works of mystic anarchist Gustav Landauer, murdered in Munich in 1919

discovering a previously unknown plant, bird or insect on our property

the grumpy self-encapsulated old guy my age at the pre-war anti-war rally in Belmore Park with the sign saying Capitalism means war – get used to it! who had obviously been attending such rallies to no avail since around 1914

Meister Eckhardt, Hölderlin, Marx, Adorno, Bloch and Rilke in German

the first organic raspberry I tasted in a holiday garden near Hobart when I was ten

the goodness of most people I meet

Louis McNeice’s Autumn Journal

the ocean

Cartier Bresson’s photo of a man leaping a puddle at Gare St Lazare in 1932

my son’s eyes after his birth

small children, small birds

 
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