12 July 2008

Superb Lyrebird - Menura novaehollandiae

We found a huge nest built on the ground back in May - way up in the bush behind our rainforest. See entry for 18th May, 2008.

Much excitement today.

Today we paid the nest our third visit after leaving it alone for a few weeks.

We knew there was a bird in residence and we had guessed it was a Lyrebird. This time we were trying hard to be really quiet in the hope that we would get a close look at her.

A couple of weeks ago we tramped up to visit the nest and surprised her. She in turn surprised us because she let out a blood curdling scream and dashed into the scrub. All that was left behind was an echo in our ears, along with the impression of a streamlined dark bird with a tail as long as her body.

Naturally we didn't want to poke around her home without her permission so I stayed where I was and Frank crept up and peeped in. He saw no eggs, but the nest certainly looked as if it was being made ready for such an event. There was the beginnings of a layer of down from her body to help keep her egg warm.

Today’s excitement was due to us spotting the nest occupant peeking her head out to see what on earth was making the racket in her usually quiet peaceful neighbourhood.

Again she beat a hasty retreat though this time without so much as a peep, again I stayed where I was and Frank peeked in and quickly snapped a couple of photographs. He was pretty sure he had seen an egg and when we looked at the photographs we saw he was right. He had.

We were really, really excited. Lyrebirds are such shy beauties that we haven't seen many in our 20 years of residence. A couple on early morning horse rides, and two feathers once left behind in one of our gardens. We often heard them calling, at least we figured it was Lyrebirds by the different bird calls in quick succession we were treated to on our walks.

Her nest is constructed with largish sticks, bigger than twig size but not branches if that helps. It is quite large, about a metre across, placed carefully on an embankment. There is a lot of leaf litter on the forest floor which she has obviously scratched around in for food.

David Attenborough included a segment on Lyrebirds in one of his Wildlife programs. It shows the wonderful mimicry they are known for.

Further information.

11 July 2008

Central Coast Goes for Gold - Acacias in Bloom

They might not be the gold medals that Australia is hoping to win at the next Olympic games but the gold I see every day is a winner with me. I love the winter when the Acacias cheer me up by flowering prolifically for months along the sides of highways, the Freeway and semi-country roads. I’ve read that an Acacia can be in flower somewhere in Australia on every single day of the year, but here on the Central Coast we have a little hiatus during late autumn early winter. Then the Acacias begin again and flower on and on, passing the baton one to another before the cycle begins again a year or so later.

On my 10 hectares I have four endemic Acacias, (Acacia irrorata ssp irrorata, Acacia maidenii, Acacia prominens and Acacia binervia, plus one introduced Acacia, Acacia podalyriifolia ) all flowering at different times and all looking quite different in leaf and flower.

Acacia irrorata ssp irrorata

Acacia maidenii

Acacia prominens

Acacia binervia

Acacia podalyriifolia
Once they were safely sorted in my mind I widened my search to the end of my road (2.75 km) and came up with another four, (Acacia suavolens, Acacia terminalis, Acacia falcata and Acacia ulicifolia.

.Acacia suavolens Beautifully perfumed

Acacia ulicifolia Pretty but pointy

.Acacia falcata

Acacia terminalis

After that I decided to include my nearest cross-road, which is a rather long rural connection road, and along came more (Acacia longifolia, Acacia filicifolia, Acacia mearnsii, Acacia decurrens, Acacia hakeoides and another shrub somewhat like Acacia longifolia but with very pale flowers).

Acacia decurrens. I think of this one as bilious green wattle because to me the colour is not as attractive as some of the other yellows.

Acacia mearnsii
(I think)

Acacia filicifolia

Acacia longifolia rather bedraggled in the rain

Pale version of Acacia longifolia

Acacia hakeoides perhaps the most beautiful of them all.

If I include my general vicinity (Sydney region) then there are an astonishing 60-70 species of Acacias or wattles, all sharing generously their golden colour and special wattle perfume