hi all - long time between drinks - i added some new pics to my care2 album today and tried to post them in a new blogalong - it didnt work -- but the data in the blog is so important i went elsewhere and posted it - you will find it at http://www.myspace.com/wandjinaman/blog please consider reading it, and reposting through your networks. thanks -- b
well folks i am off line from today - its been nice communicating with the care2 mob, but circumstances have not allowed me to stay online - i can get messages via the whale call cafe -- have fun - keep up the good work :} b
hi all -- for those of you that have been following the Wadalba Wildlife Corridor reports at http://www. whalecall. org/index. php?page=improving. htm , it may be of interest to you that wyong council has approved the removal of numerous aboriginal sites, and the nesting tree of the endangered powerful owl - the local newspaper has been following the issue, and are now asking for community comment on the development - if you disagree that the development should proceed, please consider writing an email to the central coast express advocate newspaper.
As mentioned in my last blogalong, there may be a mention of ghosts in the next one – well here’s a story –
The above pic is of snowclouds rolling in to Beechworth in the sunrise – Beechworth, North Eastern Victoria, gold rush country in 1852, and where notorious bushranger Ned Kelly was sentenced to death after the Glenrowan Siege, home of the notorious Beechworth Jail, and the even more notorious Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum
In 1867, if you were lucky, as one of the first ‘guests’ at Mayday Hills, and if you were let out of your cell early enough, you would have seen a sunrise like this one.
As you were transported to this facility, you would have trotted up the hill in a shabby cart, along Albert Street, and the first part of Mayday Hills you would have seen was the gatehouse -
Around the corner to the right you would have alighted at the grand front door of Her Majesties Asylum --
On the right, just over the car roof, is the main entrance.
Once you were inside, you usually died there – 2 signatures to get you in, 8 signatures to get you out – from 8 year old horse thieves, to post natal depression, to drunken hallucinations, arsenic poisoning, men, women, children, all separated in a walled, 24 acre lunatic asylum
The first night, you would have slept in a cell like this – only a mattress and a pan – no lighting – wood shuttered thick glass windows -
If you were female, and lucky, you would have been housed in the female only, laundry wing – its warmer in winter snow – this wing now remains as the only example of an untouched 1800’s psychiatric ward anywhere in Australia.
If you were sick, you may have ended up in the infirmary, Grevillia House, like Ned Kelly’s uncle did.
Either way, most likely, you would only be waiting to become one of the 3000 plus that died in there.
Fast forward to today – MaydayHillsPsychiatric Hospital, as it was recently called, closed in 1995, and the buildings were gifted to La Trobe University. It is now a campus, but many of the buildings remain in original condition.
Throughout the operation of this facility, reports of ghosts and apparitions have been commonly reported by staff, and now staff and students of La Trobe are seeing the Matron walking down stairs and entering what is now the computer room, holding a lantern, as one of my friends, a nurse there, who saw her in 1995 can testify.
Green coated men wandering the old garden site, doors slamming, footsteps in empty upstairs rooms, orbs, lantern carrying and more now can be seen at Mayday Hills.
Eerie reflections like this one, light through a clear paned window on a cell wall -
I took these ‘green pics’ without flash in available light, then enhanced the contrast on the pc – the face on left in above pic is a ghost tourer – look at the middle top panel -
Taken in Grevillia House, Adam, the tour guide, was illuminated from the front – the light on the wall was not there when I took the pic – mebbe it was Kelly’s uncle, who left his signature scratched into glass in Grevillia, after being incarcerated for burning down a house, containing many relatives, including 14 year old Ned – who all escaped, by the way -
Next, taken over two nights, are a series of lights in windows and a doorway, that were not reflections of other lights, and not visible by my eyes when the pics were taken -
taken on the second night was this unexpected light –
And this unexpected light, taken at the front building –
But the best pics were taken the evening before, whilst on the ghost tour – www.beechworthghosttours.com – with Adam and a small but interested crew – again, no flash, no reflected light, contrast adjusted to show available light -
and a blowup of the doorway -
Now did I mention the smells? Death, portwine pipe tobacco, sly brewery, kerosene, or the creepy footprints in empty rooms, the feeling of illness when entering Grevillia, --- you decide – I will be back there for more investigation, that’s for sure – anyone for a tour?
Now, this blogalong isn’t about my weird pastimes, it’s about the environment.
I mentioned in the previous blogalong that the great plains feeding the Murray Darling River System looked green – how deceiving – whilst at Beechworth, I read in the local paper about the miserable state of Wodonga Creek, which leaves the Murray east of Albury, and joins it again west of Wodonga. This tweaked my interest, as a kid, I played in and around Wodonga Creek.
Soon the way back to the Whale Call Camp, I detoured around the Wodonga Traveling Stock route, as far as the rotted out bridge I used to ride my bike over –
And shook my head at what I saw – rivulets dry for the first time in my life, pylons meters above the old water level, trees dropping on the banks, a useless river, and still thousands of kilometers to go to get to the sea.
A few kilometers away, the Majestic Murray is no longer majestic – neither is the paddle steamer that plied it – stuck in mud – the Murray reduced to a dribble – river redgums in death throes, and water being sucked dry by agriculture, industry, and huge ‘decentralised’ cities.
And here’s something regular readers may have seen before – it is a new species of ground orchid that I found in 1998 – it is now named, and has just been added to the threatened species list as critically endangered.
It has been a 1700 kilometer drive from Wadalba via Lightning Ridge to Beechworth through the center of New South Wales, following the inland river systems to the Murray river
Water at lightning ridge comes from the great artesian basin, is extracted with bores, and is hot and mineral.
The free to use hot bore baths at the ridge are a must for a visit.
Healing properties of this water are renowned, but the GreatArtesianBasin is now testing positive for phytoestrogens and antibiotics, on top of the agricultural chemicals that have leached into the underground basin.
The quirkyness of lightning ridge, the home of Black Opal, can be seen in this pic of the local bottleshop
Mining for opal here started in the early 1900’s –
This is the first legal mine at the ridge, commenced in 1908.
On the drive south from the ridge, at Forbes, I came across the sheep yards in full usage for an auction – as this area is a sheep/wheat growing region, I expected a few sheep, but not the 25,000 that came in for this auction.
As you can imagine, the result from industries of this type is water pollution, so I stopped, took a few pics, looked for signs of obvious animal cruelty, then drove south to the other side of town, only to find a swamp full of dead old growth trees.
It looked healthy at casual glance with bird populations using the tree hollows and branches for nesting, black swans and ducks on the water, with numerous smaller bird species utilizing the reeds at the edges –
but the initial appearance is deceiving. Excessive nutrients have made the edges and calmer areas of the lagoon poisonous with thick layers of blue green algae – enough for council to post warning signs not to use or go in the water.
GumtreeSwamp is its name. A man made swamp initially constructed for town water use, killing old growth trees, and creating a watery wasteland.
Driving south again, over the Murray river, and to Beechworth, looking for the next spot of clean potable water. I found some on the ground – it hadn’t had the chance to hit the dirt to absorb the toxic residues of gold mining –
A gumleaf, high in essential oils, allows water to float in droplets on the tough skin of the leaf –
Beechworth is a heritage town, with a rich history of gold mining. Chinese, Welsh and others made an impact that still stands and can be seen in the town.
It also has the claim to fame of being the town where Ned Kelly, notorious Australian Bushranger was put to trial and sentenced to hanging for his ‘crimes’
This granite mountainous areaprovided much gold for the emerging colony, and much of it was hard rock tunnel mining.
Alluvial gold was present, and still is present in the Beechworth Gorge and Woolshed Creek.
The pic below is Woolshed creek – already polluted water from livestock coliforms, and high levels of arsenic and other associated minerals.
The holes in this creek regularly produce pannable gold.
The lengths gone to, in order to preserve a historic feel in the town, extend to the local garage – this is the town’s flat bed tilt tray tow truck.
In a museum in town, I found this horse drawn hearse, built in Beechworth in the 1800s. Seeing this really made my day –
In the 1950s, my dad had a radio repair and manufacturing shop in Rutherglen, about 30 miles away from here. When possible, I went with dad to the shop, which he visited weekly – I was an inquisitive kid, so it was no surprise I was to be found on many occasions playing in the yard at the rear of the shop. This yard was owned by the local garage/service station, and had a big open shed straddling the rear boundary. In this shed was a variety of cars, trucks, and a horse drawn hearse. The hearse was covered in chicken droppings, and hen nesting spots, but beneath the dirt I saw a magnificent piece of craftsmanship.
Over the years I often thought of this vehicle, and wondered what had happened to it.
In the mid 1980s, I revisited the spot to look for it – there were houses there, and the shed was gone.
Today, I found it again – in the 1990s, the national heritage org put out a call for carriages and knowledge about them, in order to create a museum – carriages and horse drawn vehicles came out of the woodwork in droves, and someone donated the hearse to the collection.
It is now back where it came from.
Then I was due for another surprise.
The museum was in the premises of a hundred year old soft drink and brewing factory, M.B. – Murray Breweries.
When I was a kid, I drank their softdrinks and cordials, knowing it was from Beechworth, but not much more.
Well the company is still in production, and all the water they use comes from a spring, and has done since the factory was started. A 20 foot well had been dug through the hard rock, lined with bricks that look Chinese in manufacture, and this well is still in operation.
The water in this well comes from Mt Hotham, underground through the SnowyMountains, and emerges pure and free from pollutants.
Fresh clean water, and still the same as when it was found.
And I was drinking it 60 years ago.
Ok, that’s enough for now – while I was at Beechworth, I went on a ghost tour at Mayday Hills Asylum, now a Latrobe university campus – amazing – a report and pics in the next blogalong –
I have just been prodded by a foreign correspondent – “you should write more about your life, it’s interesting.”
I replied “but I don’t have the time at the moment - the past 3 months have been full on pressure trying to save 2 sites from housing – one, a new suburb, and the other, 3 new suburbs.”
Yes, it was early December when I put the last blogalong together.
Since then, I have been consumed with the above projects.
Its not that I want to stop housing, but I have a moral responsibility to ensure that this government, nor any other government, does not willingly allow the destruction of extremely rare genetic material, and listed threatened and endangered species, as well as abiding by their own laws when making decisions that will push some species to the brink of extinction.
And there are species new to science in all proposed sites.
Whilst on the issue of extinction, I must relate the story of the Canberra Kangaroo Cull catastrophe. When the issue surfaced, I put together the following –
The Canberra site is a military signals base with mostly grassland. It is a totally fenced site, and the roos have no means of escape from the site.
They have been there for many years, and without predators such as dogs, they have increased in population size.
Roos have a natural contraception that can be switched on when bad times are ahead, but this population is not slowing down its breeding so obviously they consider they can multiply on the site without overgrazing it. Eastern greys have a tendency to breed profusely when the rainfall is 200mm over the monthly average, and this has been the case in Canberra within the past six months.
After speaking with govt scientists, I have been told that there has never been an environmental impact statement prepared for this site, and there certainly has never been an orchid survey of the site.
Arachnorchis actensis is a critically endangered species, found in a semi circle around Canberra. The gap in the circle is the military site. This orchid has been previously been located only kilometers away in an area which is now housing. As there is some habitat on the Military site suitable for this orchid, it could be assumed that the precautionary principle should be applied until the circumstances effecting the ongoing growth of this species are mitigated, and surveys done for the species.
Unfortunately, kangaroos eat the succulent leaves and flowers of terrestrial orchids, and are a specific threat to this species. The orchid, however, can survive underground for many years despite the above ground parts being eaten, as they have an association with a fungus to provide the carbon transfer to the plant, and allow it to produce annual underground tubers for reproduction.
The release of roos from this site will put the known orchid sites under pressure, as roos commute around Canberra already, and to leave the population expanding as it is, will eventually remove all orchid populations from the Canberra site.
Failing to manage kangaroo populations around Canberra could be interpreted as a significant impact to the habitat of this critically endangered orchid.
Then the greens put out a media release on the issue –
Politics costing endangered species
ACT Greens MLA Deb Foskey today expressed her deep concern that the politics of the issue of the kangaroos on the Lawson Defence site has overtaken good science.
"Let's go back to first base: In May last year we were told that as a matter of urgency, the captive kangaroos reproduced beyond sustainable numbers, threatening an endangered grassland and its dependent species," said Dr Foskey today.
"That was an election year, so the decision was deferred, worsening the situation for kangaroos, grasslands and the endangered species."
"So the situation this year is even more urgent."
"These are difficult issues, but they cannot be shirked. It seems to me that Defence is putting off the hard decisions that a responsible land manager must make."
"And the reported refusal of the Chief Minister to contact his federal colleague to put the ACT's case is unhelpful, to say the least."
"The primary concern must be protection of the grasslands and the endangered species because nothing returns from extinction."
"The endangered species at Lawson apparently don't have the emotional pulling power of the fortunately abundant Eastern Grey kangaroo, but they are part of the ecological fabric."
"While a research project looking at the ecological and animal welfare consequences of translocation of kangaroos from Lawson would be useful if this horrendous situation arises again, funding for the project must not come at the expense of protecting endangered species on Defence land."
"When the Commissioner for the Environment's report first appeared, I commented on the paucity of information behind her dismissal of the translocation option. That lack of scientific rigour has come back to bite the ACT Government."
"Since then I have sought detailed information about the impacts of translocation and have been surprised that there is no systematic scientificdata."
"All the evidence to date suggests that it is not a humane or effective solution to the problem, although Defence apparently finds it politically expedient."
"If it is to go ahead, I urge Defence to restrict the scientific translocation exercise to about 100 animals and proceed with the cull immediately in order to protect the grasslands. The research must be pursued with scientific rigour and documented, because if Defence continues to manage its land so poorly, it will be faced with the same situation again - perhaps at Majura in the very near future" said Dr Foskey.
In the midst of all that, was the issue of whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, which became an interesting chess game between Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, the Japanese military [who are barred by law from entering Antarctic waters by a treaty Japan does not recognise], the Whaling fleet, a refitted Japanese fishing/spy vessel bristling with electronics, fuel wasting chases, the Australian customs ship, hide and seek behind icebergs, a boarding of a Japanese ship by 2 Sea Shepherd members to deliver a letter of warning to the captain that they were in breach of Australian law which the Japanese do not recognise], the attack by grenades on the Steve Irwin by Japanese military, the shooting and attempted murder of Captain Paul Watson, the necessary denials from the Japanese, the still photo of a possible gun flash from the Japanese ship, more denials, political meetings to try to solve the situation by allowing Japan to whale elsewhere without impunity, most likely endangered fin and humpbacks taken before Japan &lsquoromised’ not to take humpbacks and an interrupted season with few whales taken.
And the Lepidoptera study I started in earnest in December, has grown, with 49 named species, and at least 17 species either unknown, undescribed, or impossible to photograph. All these species have been recorded within a 300 meter radius of Wadalba Hill.
Eurema hecabe, the Common Grass Yellow Butterfly, resting at Wadalba.
Wadalba Wildlife Corridor and Cultural Heritage Report # 27 has also been put online since the last blogalong, and can be found on the above link as well.
To the south of Wadalba, clearing for grazing land in the 1950’s removed the vegetation from part of a wetland – this recent fog covers the area where the wetland was. In heavy rain events, this area is also flooded. The wood ducks in this pic are all facing the rising sun.
If you have been following the blogalong, you may remember that I have been restoring a 1974 Toyota Coaster Motor Home, to use as a Whale Call Event bus, and to access natural areas of isolated bushland for extended study.
We took it on its first trip since the restoration to test it out for any problems – yes there were some probs, but it ran well, and didn’t leak.
To save duplicating, go to the two threads in the Whale Call Café, posted by Tony, who came with me to run a Whale Call information stall at the festival we attended, the Nundle Go For Gold festival. All the pics I took are in these 2 threads –
Briefly, I volunteered to assist the Go For Gold Committee to teach gold panning to interested people. Now disturbing rivers and streams by panning is an avoidable behaviour, so as I showed people how to pan gold, I explained to them that they should not dig up stream banks, they should not make the creek or river muddy from the panning, and be aware of the environment so you minimize any damage.
Environmentally sensible gold panning involves taking a bucket of water from the creek, digging and prizing all the dirt from cracks and crevices in the rocks in and around the stream bed, and using the water to pan in an area away from the stream.
Topic: Arc en Ciel Trout Farm at HangingRockMountain
Over the past few years there have been a number of reports dealing with fish farming that have been scathing on the industry due to problems created in aquaculture relating to sea lice, nutrient/food intake usage and disposal of concentrated aquaculture water after farm usage..
The world average for trout production is 2.2 kilos of food in, to 1 kilo of trout meat produced. This figure is far from ecologically sustainable, but the Arc en Ciel Trout Farm is producing trout by getting 1 kilo of trout from 1 kilo of food put into the system.
The bonus for me during this trip was to photograph a Graphium macleayensis, the Green Triangle Butterfly, rarely seen at ground level, and never seen alive by my expert butterfly advisor.
Last time I was there, I saw a spotted tail quoll – quite a rare sight in the Aussie Bush – it was too fast for my camera, but the farm owners see them regularly.
That’s all for now folks – I hope you understand how I find it difficult to acquire time to write more blogalongs –
Again there has been so much going on that time to compile a blog has been hard to find – between the email subscriptions, and the myspace subscriptions, this blogalong now has over 500 subscribers, with thousands more readers of each issue –
I would like to thank all who have left comments and messages of support – and I wish you safe holidays, and an upcoming positive year---
It has been a busy few months, with magpie rescues and care being but one of the issues to deal with.
Wildlife at Wadalba has been active, [check the wadalba reports in the documents section of www.whalecall.org ]
The Whaling issue is on the table again, and there has been a new government in Australia -which has required re establishing contacts and organizing new contacts to brief on environment issues, both locally and country wide.
Despite pre election promises by the new environment minister to ‘send the navy to stop illegal whaling in the southern ocean sanctuary’, this action is unlikely to occur. Since the election, the tune has changed to ‘monitor and collect evidence’ – and at the time of writing this blog, the only ships in the southern ocean are the Japanese killing fleet, and Sea Shepherd – no greenpeace in sight, no navy in sight either –and the killing has started.
The I.F.A.W/Whale Call/Oceania Project/Surfers for Cetaceans Humpback Icon Project has attained its goal of fifty Humpback Whales adopted by Coastal Councils around Australia
The news release is as follows –
FIFTY HUMPBACK ICONS UNDER THREAT
On behalf of the Humpback Icon Project, IFAW and Whale Call are pleased to announce that 50 councils and communities around Australia have officially adopted individual humpback whales.
Tragically, these whales, including Wyong’s own adopted whale Norah (www.iconproject.com.au) could become victims of Japan’s expanded “scientific” whale hunt. The whaling fleet, which is due to arrive in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this weekend, is set to kill more than 1000 whales, including for the first time in four decades, 50 humpback whales.
“The whales are an incredibly important part of our community – we look forward to the return of these magnificent creatures on their migration each year.To lose a single humpback to whalers’ harpoons would be a tragedy,” said Debra Raymont, local HIP Coordinator.
Wyong is calling on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to honour his election promise and take decisive action to protect whales from the hunt.
“Although it’s wonderful to see that 49 other towns have joined us in adopting a humpback, we must all unite now to urge the Australian Government to take action and protect our iconic humpback whales, and the $300 million whale watch industry they support,” Ms Raymont from Whale Call said.
“The depth and breadth of feeling about humpbacks among the Australian communities is almost tangible.To have reached the landmark figure of 50 adoptive communities clearly demonstrates that Australians will not sit back and let the Government of Japan unlawfully and inhumanely kill these animals for their “scientific” scam,” said Darren Kindleysides, IFAW Asia Pacific Campaigns Manager.
Each whale adopted through the Humpback Icon Project can be individually identified by its distinctive tail markings. Each of the 50 communities has named their whales, aiming to use them to educate people about the marine environment and raise awareness of the threats facing this vulnerable species.
The 50 communities stretch along the east coast of the mainland down to Tasmania and up the west coast of Australia, forming a symbolic chain of communities determined to save humpback whales from the harpoon.
The Humpback Icon Project is led by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), with support from the Oceania Project, Centre for Whale Research (WA) and Surfers for Cetaceans.
The Humpback Icon Project aims to reach 100 adopted whales before the next International Whaling Commission meeting, in May 2008. For more information, please visit www.stopwhaling.com.au
Global warming and climate change has been big in the news due to the Kyoto conference in Bali.Despite postulating by right wing deniers, the CO2 reductions we have to commit to, have started world wide. But it seems in the rush to get the Global Warming issue onto the world stage has impacted on other environmental issues.
Basic environmental protections are being undercut by state law, and more and more land is being excised from environmental law, mostly in the name of development.
We are fully aware of the lowering of species numbers with flora and fauna, but it seems the insect world is being left behind.
The lack of information, data and specimens on Australian insects is allowing councils to approve land for development without even noting the insect populations in the ecological studies – its in the ‘too hard basket’ – instead of gathering data on insects, each investigation is absolved somehow from assessing the part of the local insects in the studied environment.
Here is a good example -
This is Periclystus circuiter, an antlion, belonging to the order Neuroptera, which also contains the Lacewings.
The AustralianMuseum has about 20 specimens of this insect, indicating it is rarely seen, but the habitat data for the species is the huge drainage basins of N.S.W. N.T. and Queensland, where sand is available for larval growth.
This adult was found in my vegetable garden, and as I hadn’t seen it before, I photographed the specimen and emailed it to my entomology contacts at the AustMuseum, and in Queensland.
The Queensland entomologists I sent the pic to hadn’t seen it before, the museum specialist had seen it twice in the wild, in the Sydney region.
This is the first identification of this species from the Wyong Shire.
For many years I have seen antlion holes in sandy soil at Wadalba, but the common antlion in this shire is the Heoclisis species. This find puts out an alert that one of the country’s rarest insects resides in one part of the shire, and a part of the shire that is planned for development.
This find also points out that the environment surveys requested by council before development applications can be approved, are faulty, and because of failing to include the insect orders within the collected data, localized extinctions are highly likely to occur.
A long term study of Periclystus circuiter in Wyong Shire, in particular Wadalba should now be initiated – this would be a perfect study subject for the WadalbaCommunitySchool.
This is Nymphes myrmeleonide, a Lacewing, also in the Neuroptera order.
And a close up pic of a dragonfly –
Back to climate change and global warming – its summer time here – but December has been noted this year for huge storm cells – one of which passed through the Whale Call Camp last week – this pic is from my bedroom window – half-spheres the size of golfballs rattled the roof, ripped the canvas annex to pieces, and trashed leaf and flower bud on the trees.
After the 20 minute storm, I found this supply of ice hanging in the shadecloth --
Fortunately, I located no injured birds after this cranky thunderstorm cell.
There has been so much happening outdoors that time to write the blogalong has been limited – the weather this spring has been more like summer, with environmental events occurring over a month early, like the annual bark drop of Spotted Gum is 6 weeks early.
The above butterfly, Vanessa itea, the yellow admiral, is a rare sight at Wadalba, but is common this season, as is the Bogong Moth.
This blogalong gets back to an issue I am committed about – Whaling.
The Japanese Whaling Fleet is about to set sail for the Australian Southern Ocean Sanctuary to kill 50 Humpback Whales.
It is highly likely that the Humpbacks they will kill are from the East Coast Humpback population that has been instrumental in creating a huge industry, not in killing, but in watching.
Since the late 1980’s the populations of Humpback Whales around the AustralianCoast have increased in numbers due to a total ban on killing this species.
Hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, have now had the unique opportunity to view a Humpback, in close proximity, in the ocean on the East Coast of Australia.
I.F.A.W. in conjunction with The Oceania Project and Surfers for Cetaceans now have 47 local coastal councils supporting their Humpback Icon Project, giving community ownership to 47 adopted Humpback Whales, Australian Whales.
On Saturday 3rd November is Fight for Fifty Day , and to mark this, many towns and communities involved in the Humpback Icon Project will take action and protest against scientific and commercial Whaling, calling for further action by the Australian Government to save our Whales.
SoldiersBeach carpark circa mid sixties -
Whale Call has organized an action at Soldiers Beach to protest the possible wanton death of Australian Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Minke Whales, in fact all Whales, by the Japanese Government supported illegal action in Australian Ocean Sanctuaries, and all ocean waters.
Tonga, one of the countries that supported the Japanese at the last I.W.C. meeting in Alaska, has had a bumper season for Humpback Whales. The Whale Watching Industry in Tonga has actually placed a value to each Humpback in terms of dollars bought into the Tongan economy due directly to Whale Watching.
One million dollars each –
Yet some of the island chiefs are pushing for Whaling to boost their economy – it kind of doesn’t make sense considering Whale meat is too toxic to eat, has no export opportunity, and has no financial market.
The claims of ‘tradition’ need to be readdressed by these chiefs – in Australia 200 years ago it was a ‘tradition’ to eat koala – fortunately for the koala, that ‘tradition’ has now been supplanted by a more sensible tradition – that to save the few koalas we have left in the wild.
This ethic needs to be transplanted into the minds of all that call for ‘traditional’ Whaling, and for that matter, into the minds of all who kill the many oceanic species in decline, in the name of either ‘tradition’ or sport.
If you are a regular blogalong reader, you may remember that last time Whale Call went out Whale Watching on the Imagine at Nelson Bay, we saw no Whales – it was a great day with sightings of dolphins and many pelagic birds – so they gave us a half price ticket for next time – well it took some time to get up there again, but Tony, our media man, and myself took time out from daily life in Wyong, and drove to Nelson Bay, about an hour and a half north, to catch up with the crew of Imagine and go looking for Whales -
Well what a day – Ray Alley, the world famous Whale photographer was on board – as it was getting late in the season, we were not sure if we would find a whale – but after about ¾ hour cruising looking for the telltale blow of a surfacing Whale, we saw one – further out to sea – a mother and calf making their way back to feeding grounds in the Antarctic – they were staying down for a long time, and we lost them – but on the way back, a pair of adults and a calf were found frolicking not far off shore
Above is the calf having a good look at us --
This calf was really active with many tail displays and a lot of slapping, diving in and about the two adults – it felt strange this trip, knowing that these majestic mammals are heading to harpoon land, and may not make it back next season.
What is being done by the Australian Government to stop this travesty?
The current government is saying it should not happen, but will not take any action to protect them in Australian Waters, but there is an election coming up – the current opposition has stated that they will send in warships, but haven’t said what they will do with those warships – but by the time this election is over, if the opposition wins, it will already be too late to stop the Japanese this season.
A tail slap next to one of the adults brings this blogalong to a close.
The Whaling issue is one that just won’t go away – it is up to us, humans with compassion, to ensure this murderous madness ceases for all time
We cannot just leave it up to Sea Shepherd to do our work for us – get active, write, pick up the phone and call your local politicians and demand action
More orchid pics this edition – actually it’s an Orchid edition –
And welcome to the many new subscribers. – thanks to all those who leave comments on the blogalong – as you can see I haven’t had much time to comment back in most instances, however I do value your comments –
Since the last blogalong, it has been Sun Orchid time.
The Sun Orchids require precise climatic situations to flower – well, for the flower to open up, that is.
Opening of the flower is dependant on temperature, sunshine, and wind chill. Once the temperature just above the base of the plant reaches about 20 degrees Celsius, and the flowering height reaches about 22 degrees, if the flower is in direct sunshine, it will open.
If the climatic conditions during the week that the flowers are due to open does not suit, the flowers will not open, and self pollinate.
The window of opportunity to have insect pollination is a few hours at most with the species in Wyong Shire, but the extraordinary sweet fragrance of the open flower attracts moths and wasps and other insects to the flower to assist pollination.
I managed to get a couple of good shots if this insect crawling over Thelymitra angustifolia --
Thelymitra angustifolia is one of the species that was separated from the Thelymitra pauciflora /nuda complex a few years ago.
It is a small flowered Sun Orchid, being found in small populations in some areas of the Shire.
Thelymitra aff angustifolia
At the moment, this plant is being lumped into Thelymitra angustifolia by the orchid taxonomists, despite distinct differences. The column tip is always yellow, with no dark base of the tip. The fragrance from this plant is something a Parisian perfumer would die for – absolutely stunning, and strong, as opposed to the type species which has little perfume, if any.
When the shire Orchid Survey was done, this plant had been identified as T. pauciflora, but since the revision of the species, angustifolia and its close relatives have been separated out, creating the need for another survey targeting Thelymitra to assess the various populations of these Thelymitra in the Shire.
Research on the Calochilus robertsonii populations of the shire has been full on for a few weeks now, with the species almost finished flowering now.
Above is the type species, below is the Wyong Golden form.
This form seems to grow independently, but in the same localized environment that supports the fungus necessary for Calochilus growth.
Other Bearded Orchid species found within this fungus zone are Calochilus paludosus, [ below ]
and Calochilus campestris ----
Now back to the Sun orchids.
About a month before the Thelymitra taxonomic revision was complete, actually, as it was being written up, I supplied some of the different Thelymitra specimens to the Melbourne Botanical gardens, where the research was being undertaken.
Amongst the specimens were a couple that stood out as deserving species status – Thelymitra adorata, and this one, the Chain Valley Thely.
Enough funding and time was found to do the taxonomy on the adorata, but not on the Chain Valley Thely.
Some discussion between the Orchid Taxonomists ensued, with one thinking the plant had an affinity to Thelymitra ixioides, which is present in the area, and another taxonomist thought it was affinity purpurata.
Thelymitra purpurata has not been officially recognised in the shire, and is presently known at Myall lakes as the south of range.
As Myall is some hundreds of kilometers north, I consider it unlikely that purpurata has any influence in this plant, and considering the ixioides in the shire have all finished by weeks when the Chain Valley Thely starts flowering, it is unlikely that ixioides is in the equation either.
Specimens and gps locations of all known colonies of this plant have been taken this past week, and prepared for addition to the Royal Botanical Gardens collection in Sydney.
6 locations have been found within the Shire, with 15 plants being located this season.
Highly threatened, endangered applications for this plant are being prepared, as it is in extreme danger of becoming extinct if the factors threatening its survival are not ceased.
Caladenia porphyrea, the Majenta orchid –
This is a new location find of a known Endangered species, Caladenia porphyrea.
During my research on Thelymitra adorata this season, I became aware of a new location of orchids, one that I had looked at during the Shire Orchid Survey, and had found little Orchid activity, probably due to the lack of rain the year the Shire orchid Survey was done.
Barry Collier, a well known, in demand, retired botanist, had found the orchids in a reserve, and noticed a similarity to Thelymitra adorata.
When I went to look, I found Thelymitra sp Chain Valley Thely, Caladenia porphyrea, Caladenia aff catenata var Warnervalensis, and the following plant, Caladenia aff fuscata, being the third population of this species ever found.
This land was a proposed housing estate when I first surveyed it, now it is a closed estate, with a lot of bushland reserve left within the estate.
The orchid populations are in good condition, are being preserved, and in some cases, expanding in population size due to maintenance procedures.
Hi all – since the last blogalong, there have been quite a few new subscribers to this continuing journal. – new blogalongs are put out when I have time to put them together, or when there is something important to say -the topics are varied, but regularly the damage humans are doing to their home planet will get an airing
Other missions I am involved in get written about as well.
Visit www.whalecall.org , look at the Whale Call Café for daily news about oceanic issues, particularly those relating to Whaling – like the report this week about the sinking of the killer whaling ship Willassen Senior http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5g4TBrx6tuym275mg60kGg5J--pbwat port in Norway – Whale Call puts out a News of the Week email bulletin covering issues related mostly to oceanic and species survival – you have to subscribe to it to get it –
containing more of the same type of photography as you see in this blogalong.
The Wadalba reports cover environmental issues in an area pegged for further population growth, including the environmental destruction that inevitably precedes such state planning and ‘development’ programs.
Since I returned from the Lightning Ridge trip, many hours have been spent on finishing the Whale Call bus restoration project to a stage that the vehicle is on the road and drivable – finishing touches like wheel alignment have been done, and it is ready to hit the road for a test trip.
This is the time of year in east coast Australia that the spring flowers are at their best.
Many orchids are flowering now, so this blogalong will show some of the ground orchids photographed this season, as well as some other spring sights –
Caladenia caerulea [above] is one of the first Caladenia ground orchids to flower. It is not common in this shire, but a few scattered populations are known to survive. The fragrance from this orchid is superb – worthy of using in the perfumery trade.
Even rarer is this minature version of Caladenia aff catenata var warnervalensis. Only three locations have been found where this plant has been seen. Nominations for protection of this plant are still being considered by the N.S.W. Scientific Committee.
Red Beaks, and the yellow version of this species also ooze a perfume that is quite exquisite – a few colonies in the shire, but not common here, as in other places in the state.
Glossodia minor, flowering in small colonies is a stunning sight to see – these flowers are a couple of inches from the ground, and provide a beacon for pollinating insects in the grasses.
Angophora costata, the Coastal Red gum, is a sight to behold when it ages and displays its twisted branches, as well as providing ample hollows for wildlife habitat. The above tree is estimated to be over 500 years old, and one of the ten most significant aged Angophora costata in the shire, but is in land pegged for housing development at Gwandolan.
Spring time is not just flowers – the insects come out, and so do the spiders that eat insects – like this St Andrews Cross spider.
One of my hens disappeared a few weeks ago – she re appeared a few days ago with seven chickens – and the bush is abuzz with the sounds of new hatchling birds of all descriptions – and birds of prey looking for unguarded cockatoo nestlings – the feathers of a baby owl were found today – looks like a bird of prey kill – spring has also increased road kills locally, with a King Parrot, a Blue Tongued Lizard and a Brush Tail Possum all being road killed in the first few hot days of September.
The Whale Call Crew attended the second Terrigal Whale Festival at Terrigal Primary School – we took the bus, and a car trailer with the Whale Tail on it – parked on the main road and used it to direct traffic to the festival – I reckon about 15 thousand attended – Whale Call had a Marquee with the Norah Banner, I took some of my Whale Rock Carvings to display, we lobbied with politicians, and educated kids on how precious humpbacks are – Skye Bortoli, Teens against Whaling, made a speech on her recent trip to the I.W.C. meeting in Alaska, and on Whales in general – check out her website if you haven’t already - http://www.teensagainstwhaling.com/
Skye Bortoli and Tony Fields from Whale Call reconnecting at the Terrigal Whale Festival
During the month, I spent a few hours on TuggerahLake in a canoe with Rick, the Whale Call Southern Oceans Director – we looked at sea bird roosts around the shoreline of Wyongah.
Cormorants were the most common roosting bird, although sooty terns and pacific gulls were seen –
This is a plover on the left, a pelican, and a cormorant sharing the same rock shelf. This surprised me as the plover is usually a land bird, even though it utilizes wetland areas, it is normally seen in grassy spots.
As we paddled home, a 20 foot fishing boat was on its way home, with by catch being thrown from the speeding boat – seabirds in flocks pursued the boat looking for an easy meal of fish – in came a flock of pelicans, just skimming the water for over 100 yards – I had the paddle in my hand, not the camera, so you missed the stunning sight – but then, another flock of pelicans came in – diving, with a juvenile sea eagle also vying for the feast --
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