Sorry folks, I have had a complete lack of free time in March, and didn’t manage to get in a field visit. I did attempt to do a bit of a study of native vegetation used in streetscaping in Wagga Wagga while out walking with my nieces the other day, but I underestimated the impatience of two preschoolers who wanted to get to the park.
I did have the delightful experience last night of hearing a Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae – also known as the Mopoke) sounding-off very close-by outside my house as I went to bed. You can listen to a recording of their call here. Their call reminds me of cartoon cuckoo-clocks, the sort of sound that if you heard it in a TV show you’d think it didn’t sound anything like a real bird. I’m not sure if the one I heard was in my garden or a neighbour’s, but it sounded quite close, and called several times before falling silent, which quite made my night. There are a lot of mice and rats around at the moment, which may have drawn it into town, but I do hope it hasn’t eaten any poisoned ones; birds of prey are one of the tragic by-catches of rodent baits every time rodent numbers increase. Aaaand that was a great way to put a downer on my story about hearing a fun bird last night.
In other news: the insect field guide I had on back-order from CSIRO arrived yesterday, which makes my first ‘proper’ insect guide. My other invertebrate guides are for spiders, water bugs, and ‘garden pests’, so I’m pleased to finally have a book which will help me ID actual terrestrial insects that I see around the place.
This is the book I bought, available for purchase here.
April is shaping up to be busy as well, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got something happening every weekend, but I will do my utmost to get a proper field trip in to share with you all. See you then.
This month I visited another precinct of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park: Berry Jerry.
Berry Jerry is located along the Sturt Highway between Wagga Wagga and Narrandera, and like many of the reserves in the area is predominantly River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) woodland, with a creek passing through it that feeds into the Murrumbidgee River. There’s a highway rest stop with toilet facilities located just outside the entrance, so it’s a good spot for a day trip. You can park in the rest area or drive into the reserve itself.
Welcome to 2017!
My year got off to an exciting start when I was contacted by someone from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) asking me if I’d like to visit one of their environmental watering project sites with some field officers doing a wetlands health survey. Naturally I said yes, and so last Tuesday I headed to Yarradda lagoon (within the Yarrada precinct of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park) near Darlington Point with four field officers: two from OEH and two from Charles Sturt University (CSU).
I have two new field guides (and another on back-order). My thanks to Damien Michael who contacted me a few months ago suggesting I might be interested in his ‘Reptiles of the NSW Murray Catchment’. This is my first proper reptile field guide, and I’m sure it will come in very handy. The ‘Mosses of Dry Forests’ may see less use, but I do find mosses fascinating, and am looking forward to learning a bit more about them.
I was at a loss as to where to visit for my final field trip of 2016, when a friend on Twitter unwittingly provided inspiration:
So off to Griffith I went to visit Campbell’s Swamp.
Last week I needed to visit Cowra for a day, so I took the opportunity to stop into Conimbla National Park for a while before heading home. Cowra is outside of the area identified as ‘Riverina’ on the map on my About page, but it’s within the federal electoral division of Riverina, so I decided that was good enough to count as a Riverina site.
Conimbla National Park is very pretty, prepare yourself for lots of general scenery shots. Also pictures of bark; I’m intrigued by the variety of colours and textures of bark, and there was a lot of very artistic bark on display in the portion of the Park I visited.
I have an aunt and uncle who own a property near Wagga Wagga, and they recently discovered a Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) nesting near their house, and invited my parents and I out to see it.
I’ve never seen a Rainbow Bee-eater in person before, so I leapt at the chance, and was not disappointed. We saw the bee-eater flying around and snapping up insects, and it very kindly perched for a few minutes on a tree branch so I could get some photos.
It was quite windy, so we weren’t sure if we’d see many birds, but we were delighted to find several families of ducks, swans and swamphens, including fuzzy babies of assorted species.