Green Cape: Whales, Wombats, Wildflowers and Wild Woolly Winter Weather!

The period between Late Winter and Early Spring (August/ September) is one of the best times to visit Green Cape.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.28.23 While the weather is certainly cold, wild and windy, as seen in the photo above, the wildflowers are starting to come into full bloom and the whales are just starting to return south from their tropical Winter breeding grounds, with babies in tow.BlogGree Cape4017-08-29 15.56.38I have touched on Green Cape in previous posts (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/08/16/ben-boyd-national-park-part-1/

and  https://candeloblooms.com/2016/08/23/ben-boyd-national-park-part-2-photo-essay/).

It is the southernmost point of the Light to Light Walk, as can be seen in these maps from the NPWS interpretive boards.BlogGree Cape2515-06-28 13.01.23BlogGree Cape4015-03-31 14.57.57Green Cape lies at a latitude of 37 degrees South and longitude of 150 degrees East and because it juts so far out into the Tasman Sea, it is a wonderful spot to see humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) closeup, as they hug the coastline on their journey back home to their southern Summer Antarctic feeding grounds.BlogGree Cape2516-09-07 14.43.04BlogGree Cape3016-09-07 14.42.58BlogGree Cape2517-08-29 16.02.24The Yellow-Nosed Albatross (Diomedea chlororhynchus) can also be seen in Late Winter/ early Spring off Green Cape, though I have yet to see one, while the Short-Tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) head south in long black clouds from late September to early November on their annual migration from the North Pacific to their breeding burrows on the islands in southern waters.BlogGree Cape3017-09-07 19.07.42BlogGree Cape5015-06-28 15.03.29BlogGree Cape5015-03-31 14.46.39We have however seen plenty of other birds: Australasian Gannets (first photo above), Ospreys and White-Bellied Sea Eagles (2nd photo above), Nankeen Kestrels (3rd photo above), Cormorants and Pacific Gulls (first photo below), Crested Terns (2nd photo below), and Sooty Oyster Catchers (3rd photo below).BlogGree Cape3015-03-31 14.49.17BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 16.08.28BlogGree Cape2016-09-07 14.10.17Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) are also often seen, the latter forming bachelor rafts just off the point and lolling about in the surf with the odd Queen’s Wave!BlogGree Cape3015-06-28 13.24.02BlogGree Cape2516-09-07 14.49.59BlogGree Cape2017-08-29 15.45.13And on land, there are wombats, usually fast asleep in their burrows during the day, but sometimes surprised grazing on the tough wiry grasses, especially in more remote areas.BlogGree Cape2015-06-28 13.52.05BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.14.07 More commonly seen are the quiet Eastern Grey Kangaroos (first photo) and Swamp Wallabies (2nd photo), which graze near the lighthouse.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.33.39OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the coastal heath, there are Southern Emu Wrens (Stipiturus malachurus) and Grass Parrots. I would love to see the latter, which are best observed on first light.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love all the wildflowers of the rugged coastal heath, which is adapted to cope with the salt-laden winds and sandy soils of Green Cape.BlogGree Cape2016-09-07 13.53.02BlogGree Cape2015-06-28 14.25.41 I have organised them into colour ranges and identified them by their genus only:

White: Clockwise from Top Left: Westringia; Hakea; Leucopogon; and Leptospermum;

Yellow: Clockwise from Top Left: Hibbertia; Banksia; Senecio; and Pomaderris;

Reds: Clockwise from Top Left: Kennedia; Correa; Epacris; and Grevillea;

and Pinks: A beautiful Epacris impressa;BlogGree Cape2516-09-07 15.15.11Blues: Clockwise from Top Left: Patersonia; Comesperma; Dampiera; Hovea; Glossodia; and Hybanthus;

and Purples: Tetratheca and Comesperma;

with special sections for wattles (Acacia):

and peas (numerous genera).

Green Cape is a stunningly beautiful area, as the following photos attest.BlogGree Cape2015-03-31 14.54.35BlogGree Cape2015-03-31 14.50.22BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.27.32 It looks south across Disaster Bay to Baycliff and the mouth of the Wonboyn River, to the tall sand dunes of Cape Howe, the Nadgee Wilderness area and the Victorian border.BlogGree Cape2516-09-09 11.03.45BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.07.52OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then, there is the lighthouse itself- such beautiful architecture with a fascinating history!

BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.27.08 The East Australian Current flows south at 2 knots off Green Cape, which was great for ships sailing south, but difficult for northward-bound vessels, which would hug the coast to avoid the current, exposing them to the risk of being wrecked on reefs and promontories.BlogGree Cape2017-08-29 15.20.54 It is a very rugged section of the coast, which has claimed over 10 shipwrecks, including the Ly-Ee-Moon 1886, in which 71 people died, 24 of their bodies being buried in the cemetery nearby.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 16.23.15The decision was made in 1873 to build a lighthouse at Green Cape, the buildings to be designed by the then-colonial architect James Barnett.BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 18.58.19BlogGree Cape2017-08-29 16.27.33BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 17.51.39 Building supplies, as well as food and later supplies until 1927, were shipped from Eden to the storehouse at Bittangabee Bay, 7 km to the north, then were transported by horse-drawn tramway through the dense coastal heath and across creeks to the headland.BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 17.51.07BlogGree Cape5017-09-07 17.51.12 The lighthouse complex included the 29 m tall octagonal lighthouse and residences for the Head and Assistant Lightkeepers;BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.18.56 a Flag Locker (for marine and semaphore flags) and Signalling Mast and a Telegraph Station (Morse code from 1892 on); BlogGree Cape4015-03-31 14.57.30

and workshops, stables and garages; a tennis court; wells; a helipad and a garden.BlogGree Cape2515-06-28 14.11.26BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.01.49The light was first lit in 1883 and was originally powered, along with the resident quarters, by kerosene and coke coal and from 1962 on, diesel oil generators.BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.57.50BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 19.31.12BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.34.01BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.31.14 It operated all night every night with 4 hour shifts for over 100 years till 1992, when the lighthouse and weather station were automated, the power now supplied by solar panels.

BlogGree Cape5015-03-31 14.44.46BlogGree Cape2517-09-07 17.57.56BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.20.19We were lucky enough to do a tour of the lighthouse last year. I loved the spiral staircase and colours, as well as the curved verandah railings and the spectacular views from the top! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.54.25OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.18.32BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 18.19.18  It is also possible to stay in the lightkeepers’ cottages. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/green-cape-lightstation-keepers-cottage.

BlogGree Cape2017-09-07 17.50.35BlogGree Cape2015-03-31 14.43.13It really is a magical spot, which is the reason that we make our annual pilgrimage every Winter. Next week, I am featuring some of my favourite felting books!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Camera Woes

Last Spring, just as the garden was getting into full swing with the October Iris in bloom and the roses in full bud, I had the distressing experience of losing, not just one, but two of my faithful little point-and-shoot digital cameras to lens retraction error.BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.53.47 I don’t know what caused it, as neither had been bumped or dropped, and whether it was a speck in the air or a bit of the pervasive cottonwood poplar fluff, which had been constantly floating around or just sheer tiredness from overwork, but my sturdy little red work-horse refused to budge and when I retreated to my default option, my previous slightly dodgy model, whose erratic prima donna behaviour had prompted the later purchase of the more advanced model, it took one gasp of fresh air and immediately joined ranks, its lens also refusing to retract!BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.54.02As a keen photographer and chronicler of the garden, I was desperate, especially as my husband had been given a whale-watching trip voucher for that same weekend. After getting no response from the local camera shop, which was undergoing a transition of ownership, we resorted to good old Google, specifically this site: http://camerarepair.blogspot.com.au/2007/12/fixing-lens-error-on-digital-camera.html, with a sequence of progressively drastic steps to follow to resolve the problem.BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.54.20By the tapping stage, we had convinced the old camera (photo above) to finally close, and even though it is still dodgy, suddenly closing down mid-shoot or mid-zoom or refusing to turn on, it still worked when it wanted to, but we have had no luck with the red camera, which hasn’t budged from its adamant refusal to work! Unfortunately, to send it away for repair could cost over 200 to 300 dollars, so it is scarcely worth it for a mere point-and-shoot camera!BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 12.12.17Fortunately, we were able to borrow my daughter’s far superior and more expensive digital SLR camera (photo above) for the whale-watching, though I really did need a telescopic lens for it, and also my dodgy old camera decided that it would help me out for the special occasion, so with the combination of the two, I was still able to get a few good shoots, improved markedly with adjustment on the computer (see below!), but I really missed having the red camera with its great zoom.2017-10-25 23.05.062017-10-25 23.05.07But now I had a dilemma with Spring marching on in all her full glory and our upcoming northern holiday to visit family, but also enjoy the Old Roses of Saumarez Heritage Garden and Red Cow Farm en route during their peak season, not to mention the future of the blog, which as you all know is heavily reliant on my photographs!!

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Red Cow Farm

There seemed little point in buying a third version of the same camera! These little Power Shot cameras are so portable and convenient, but their constant zooming in and out every time the camera is turned on, means that the lens has a very limited life, especially if used as much as I do!

The far better option seemed to be to save up and buy the far more expensive digital SLR camera like Caroline’s, even though it is slightly larger and requires more frequent lens changes. We resolved to research all the different models and either get my overseas daughter to purchase one duty-free on her return home for Christmas or investigate secondhand options. But what to do in the mean time?!!!BlogCameraWoesReszd30%Ross mobph 034

Borrowing Caroline’s camera a second time for the holiday  was a possible option, though it would mean she was without her camera for two whole weeks, and even if we did that, I would need a fair bit of practice to master its focusing, so my holiday photos weren’t all a bit of a blur! Could I manage with the dodgy old camera, my mobile phone, which admittedly takes excellent photos, and the odd local borrow of friends’ cameras along the way?

I had just resolved that I could, when my darling daughter phoned to let me know I could borrow her good camera and saved the day! I gave my lucky girl the misbehaving cameras to play with in exchange!!!

It was good having the opportunity to experiment with my daughter’s Digital SLR over the fortnight and while I did still manage to get some good photos, especially macro closeups and landscapes, I really missed my zoom lens for the birds. We saw both a Tawny Frogmouth on its nest, as well as lots of parrots in the Blue Mountains, but I really needed a telephoto lens on the Digital SLR and my mobile phone wasn’t much help in these instances either! See if you can spot the Tawny Frogmouth in the first photo!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was almost impossible to find the Tawny Frogmouth with the camera, a difficult task at the best of times, due to their superb camouflage skills and ability to freeze for long periods of time, so I literally did have to point-and-shoot blindly with Caro’s Digital SLR, but I was able to take a photo and the images above show gradual enlargement on the computer.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I could definitely pick the little Red-Rumped Parrots in her camera viewfinder (I would have to be blind not to detect their brilliant colours!), but my problem with them was not being able to zoom in close enough, even though I was just across a narrow waterway! The photos above (taken with Caroline’s camera) show the amount that I was able to progressively enlarge them on the computer before blurring of the image occurred.

My mobile phone wasn’t much better either! In fact, I think it was worse!!! Both images below were blurry to a certain extent. Enlarging the first mobile phone photo on the computer really wasn’t effective!BlogCameraWoesReszd3017-10-28 15.27.42BlogCameraWoesReszd5017-10-28 15.27.42 (2) Which got me thinking! I really didn’t want the inconvenience of having to constantly change lenses and there was also the possibility of blurring with the heavier camera, once the telephoto lens was on. I started veering back to my point-and-shoot models, despite their deficiencies!

BlogCameraWoesReszd3017-11-28 08.56.28BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.56.51

We visited a camera shop en route to research the options (see Buyer’s Guide above, as well as a possible point-and-shoot camera Lumix DMC-TZ80) and discovered Bridge cameras (photo below), which fit in between Digital SLRs and Point-and-Shoot cameras. They are slightly larger and more substantial than the latter, but don’t have as much lens movement on immediately turning on, as well as having a 60X zoom! I am now saving up like mad!BlogCameraWoesReszd3017-11-28 08.56.15Mean time, I also had to consider the future directions of my blog for next year, especially in the light of a potential lack of a camera for a period! I had thought for a while about showcasing the wonderful Australian bird life, especially in our local region, and luckily, I already have a huge number of bird photographs, some of which have already appeared on this blog, so that was one option and it tied in with my idea of presenting them monthly in line with the song, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.

I also had many new photos from excursions this last year, which I can explore in more depth this coming year. I may even include one post in this section about major new developments in our Candelo Garden where appropriate.

My book posts are easy, as their photographs require scanning on the computer and I had already intended to explore my craft library this year. And for the fourth week, I was sure that I had enough photos of all the beautiful plants in my garden to revisit my monthly feature plant posts.

So, I think I am now all organized (!) and it won’t require an immediate camera purchase or as much flogging of any new camera this coming year! The final line-up is as follows:

Week 1 : Monthly Feature Plant;

Week 2 : Birds;

Week 3 : Craft Books; and

Week 4 : Places to Explore!

So, for January 2018, it’s Buddleias; Parrots and Cockatoos; Colour and Design Books; and the beautiful Murrah Lagoon!

 

Next Tuesday, we return to the last of my posts on Rose Types, with a look at other Modern Shrub Roses and their breeders.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Three: Natural History Books: Animals and Marine Life

Following on from my last post about books on birds and butterflies are publications about other fascinating wildlife in our environment from reptiles to our unique Australian mammals and finally, the wonderful and endlessly fascinating marine life on our coast.

Reptiles

With all their beautiful diversity and colour, it is very difficult to comprehend that birds originated from dinosaurs, but reptiles are much less of a stretch of the imagination! We have a large number of poisonous snakes in Australia, as well as lots of lizards, so a good reptile guide is an important part of any natural history library!

A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan  2003

Our most recent acquisition and a second-hand copy of a book, which we have wanted for a long time, this field guide is a very comprehensive look at the 836 named species of : crocodiles; sea and freshwater turtles; geckoes, lizards and skinks; dragons and monitors (goannas); and a wide variety of sea and land snakes, which live on continental Australia, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

The book begins with notes on using the guide; a glossary; anatomical illustrations; and brief notes on their environment, followed by detailed chapters on each reptile family with general notes, genus notes and species entries. Each of the latter is described on the left-hand page, including the common and scientific name; a distribution map; a description of its physical appearance and length specifications; notes about its behaviour, diet and habitat; and its conservation status. Particular diagnostic features are highlighted in bold type. The right-hand page is devoted to excellent photographs of each species in its natural habitat.

I never knew there were so many different kinds of snakes in Australia, and while I am quite happy to steer a wide berth, they can be very beautiful and they do play an important role in Australia’s ecology.

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Mammals

Mammals are a totally different story! The cuddly koala, quaint wombats and cute little pygmy possums and gliders are iconic Australian animals, much beloved by the general public, though often difficult to see in the wild due to their nocturnal habits. The next two books are excellent identification guides to our unique Australian animals.

The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals Edited by Ronald Strahan 1983

This large tome is the coffee table guide, which you consult at home! Here in Australia, we have some fascinating and very old mammalian fauna from the egg-laying monotremes, the platypus and echidna, and the amazing pouched marsupials (carnivorous; omnivorous; and herbivorous), both of which are descendants of the days when Australia was still part of Gondwanaland, to the more modern placental mammals (including bats and fruit bats; mice and rats; marine mammals; and introduced mammals).

Each subclass is described in great depth, with single or double page spreads devoted to each species and superb photographs of each animal in its natural environment, except for the extinct Thylacine and Julia Creek Dunnart.

Each species entry has an italicized sidebar with details on size and weight; identification; synonyms and common names; conservation status (though this information would now be greatly out-of-date, many more species now being in a much direr state with the impacts of habitat destruction, feral animals and now climate change!); subspecies; extralimital distribution; and references.

The main text discusses their physical appearance; history; distribution and preferred habitat; diet; behaviour; reproduction and offspring; and threats to their survival.

They are all such unique and interesting creatures and it is vitally important that we do everything in our power to preserve the rapidly dwindling diversity of marsupial species, which we are currently lucky enough to have here in Australia.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (514)

Key Guide to Australian Mammals by Leonard Cronin 1991/ 1997

A much more compact field guide, ideal for the bushwalker and naturalist! In the front is a basic visual key, which refers readers to the pertinent pages. Animals have been categorized into subheadings: monotremes; carnivorous marsupials; bandicoots; wombats; koalas and possums; kangaroos; bats; rodents; sea mammals; and dingoes.

Each double page spread has text on the left, covering two species, with a distribution map for each and colour illustrations on the right, with the scientific name of each species.

The text includes information on the common and scientific names; physical appearance, size and weight; behaviour; development; food; habitat and conservation status.

Ross has used this book a lot, judging by all the notes he has scribbled on his sightings throughout the book!

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It is also worth looking out for books on specific Australian animals, which are part of the Australian Natural History Series, originally published by New South Wales University Press and now produced by the CSIRO. See: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/series/48. They cover a wide variety of Australian animals from birds (kookaburras; magpies; cockatoos; bowerbirds; herons; albatross; scrub turkeys; bustards; tawny frogmouths and wedge-tailed eagles) and sea mammals (whales, sea lions and fur seals) to dingoes; kangaroos; tree kangaroos; potoroos and betongs; native mice and rats; echidnas; platypus and wombats.

We love our local wombats, such bumbling, amiable trundle-buses, so vulnerable to fast-moving night traffic, and were thrilled to watch platypus, feeding  in broad daylight, at a local stream recently, so both the following books are valuable additions to our natural history library.

The Wombat: Common Wombats in Australia by Barbara Briggs 1988/ 1990

This small publication contains everything you want to know about wombats from their evolution and early history; their classification; physical characteristics; burrows; behaviour and daily life in the burrow and above ground; its life cycle from birth to old age; the risk factors wombats face from disease to environmental (predation; flood; drought; fire) and man-induced hazards (poisoning; land clearing; and road deaths); and finally, raising orphaned wombats.

I love the pencil sketches by Ross Goldingay of these endearing creatures, as well as the many black-and-white and colour photographs. In the back are appendices of growth and development tables and the dos and don’ts of hand rearing orphaned wombats, as well as an excellent bibliography.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (668) - Copy

I was fascinated to learn the following facts about wombats:

Wombats evolved 100 Million years ago, the oldest fossils being 24 Million years old;andthe largest wombat ever was Phascolonus gigas, weighing up to 100 Kg (at least twice the size of modern wombats!)

There are currently three species: the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Lasiorhinus krefftii, which is critically endangered and is confined to a small colony in Epping Forest National Park, Central Queensland; the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Lasiorhinus latifrons, now confined to the Nullabor Plain and a few semi-arid areas of South Australia; and the Common Wombat Vombatus ursinus, the subject of this book and found in South-Eastern Australia and Tasmania.

It is the only marsupial to have two incisor teeth in its upper jaw and their teeth are continuously growing throughout its life, which is reassuring, given their diet of tough grasses, sedges and even bark and dry leaves.

Burrows can be up to 30 metres long and are used by a number of wombats on a time-share basis. They can live up to 10 to 15 years old in the wild and 20 to 25 years old in captivity.

Wombats enjoy dust baths, known as wombat wallows, and slide down steep river banks and snow slopes. They are also efficient swimmers over short distances, dogpaddling silently with their short legs under the water with no splashing at all! I would love to see a wombat gliding silently through the water, however platypus viewing is much more likely! On a recent visit to Bombala and Delegate, we watched 4 platypuses in two different streams, such a thrill given they are more commonly seen at dawn and dusk!

The Platypus: A Unique Mammal by Tom Grant 1989.

Another excellent publication, which covers their physical characteristics; taxonomy;  and distribution and status in the first chapter, after which the book is divided into seasonal chapters:

Winter : Diet and Body temperature regulation;

Spring : Floods; Reproduction; and Social organization and the crural system

Summer : Milk; Burrows and their use; Adaptations to burrowing and diving; growth; location of position and of food; and the environmental impact of dams.

Autumn : Population studies; disease and mortality; age; juvenile dispersal and movements.

In the back is a species profile and bibliography and again, the book is full of excellent photographs, and diagrams and pencil sketches by Dominic Fanning.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (667) - Copy

Mammal Tracks and Signs: A Field Guide For South-eastern Australia by Barbara Triggs 1984

Because many Australian animals are nocturnal, we often don’t see them in the wild unless we are out and about, spotlighting at nighttime, but we often see signs of them in their scats, tracks and evidence of foraging activities, as well as unfortunately the all-too- often and disastrously plentiful road kill!

There are four keys provided : a key to tracks at the beginning of the book; a key to scats; a key to skulls; and finally, a key to shelters. Each key refers to the pertinent pages for each species.

There is an introductory chapter concerning where to look; the structure of feet; gaits; scats and their analysis and the identification of animals from their bones.

The rest of the book is divided into the different mammal types, including their tracks, scats (including diagnostic features), shelters, bones and skulls and species. There are distribution maps, including preferred habitat; black-and-white photos; excellent illustrations of tracks, scats and skulls; and useful tables specifying the lengths of the hind foot, toe print, and stride when hopping and punting, essential for separating out large kangaroos from large wallabies, small wallabies and rat-kangaroos!

It is a very detailed and complex field and this book is invaluable! At the end is a list of useful books and journals for further reading.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd40%Image (525)

Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Hadoram Shirihai and Brett Jarrett 2006

A must, given that we now live so close to the coast and an excellent lead-in to my next category! We always get so excited when we see a whale spouting or breaching close in to our local coastline or a pod of dolphins surfing the waves or encounter a seal unexpectedly on a wild deserted beach.

Every year, Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales migrate north from the Antarctic Ocean, up the eastern coastline of Australia, to the warmer subtropical waters of Queensland from June to August (Winter), then return home with their calves from September to November. Their annual migration covers a journey of 10 000 km. See: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/humpback-whales-eastern-australia and https://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-facts/about-whales/whale-migration. The latter site even has a Whale App, which records the latest sightings. See: http://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/app.

In our area on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Green Cape is a particularly good spot to see them, as it juts so far out into the sea and the path of the whales, that it is possible to get a really good look at them up close. They are such beautiful, huge, gentle and highly intelligent mammals, so it is great to have a field guide, not only for our Australian species, but all the different types of whales around the world!

Each entry has a feature box covering basic information to aid identification, like scientific name; range; maximum size and physical appearance and typical behaviour on surfacing, as well as notes on variations (age/ sex/ individuals); similar species; distribution and population; and ecology (behaviour, breaching, diving, diet, reproduction, immatures and life span), all accompanied by superb photographs and maps.

The dolphin and seal sections have a similar format. I never knew there were so many different types of dolphins, including estuarine and river dolphins (Amazon River, South America; Ganges River, India; Yangtse River, China and the Irrawaddy Dolphins of South-East Asia). This book also explains the differences between dolphins and porpoises, which are closely related, but have different teeth, patterns and pigmentations, range and behaviours.

I also learnt that not all seals are the same! Fur seals (our type of seal) and sea lions are eared seals (external ear flaps), while true seals only have a small ear canal with no earflap. Their anatomy and agility on land is also very different, but you will have to read the book to learn more!

There is so much information in this book about the 129 species of marine mammals worldwide! It even covers the old mermaids of delirious sex-starved sailors : the dugongs, sea-cows and manatees of tropical waters , as well as arctic animals like walrus, otters and polar bears. It finishes with a list of prime marine mammal sites for viewing all these animals in their natural environments and a conservation checklist for all the different species.

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Now for more on marine life…!!!

Having lived in the country for most of our lives, we feel so lucky here in Candelo to have excellent access to the coast, especially one with such natural unspoilt beauty, protected by National Park status. Having grown up in Tasmania, it is so lovely to be able to still experience beaches in their natural state without a house or building in sight, an increasing rarity these days, with the increased population and urbanization of our coastline, especially on the mainland.

Marine Life

When I was a teenager, my parents developed our interest in natural history by encouraging collecting as a hobby. I collected Tasmanian shells, which I swapped with fellow conchologists in New Zealand and Queensland, while my sisters collected gemstones and butterflies and my brother, rocks. I had a set of special narrow drawers, lined with cotton wool, as well as a glass display cabinet, to store my shells, which I labelled with their scientific names and sorted into family and genus groups.

We spent many fascinating hours, head down and walking slowly along beaches, searching for the best example of a particular shell, as well as marvelling at the rich rock pool environment. Along the way, I learned so much about their natural history, as well as that of their fellow marine life: the seaweeds , algae, coral and plankton; sea tulips and cunjevoi;  the sea slugs and sea hares; the sponges, sea anemones, starfish and chitons and all the tough survivors of the littoral zone, not to mention the fish, larger sea mammals and sea birds. I love the fact that the sea can still astound and surprise us with new discoveries constantly being made! These books were indispensable to my education.

What Shell is That by Neville Coleman 1975

A good all-rounder for an appreciation of shells as living animals, it covers 750 common species of Mollusca, which are divided up into the different types of environment, in which they are found, including mud and mangroves; rocky reefs; coral reefs; sand and rubble; continental shelf and ocean pelagics.

It contains photographs, both of the shells and the living animals in their natural environment, which makes for easy identification. Each species entry contains its family name; common name and scientific name, as well as a brief description of its physical appearance, distribution and abundance. As you can see, it was a very well-used book!

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Australian Shells by BR Wilson and K Gillett 1971

This subtitle of lovely book is ‘Illustrating and Describing 600 Species of Marine Gastropods From Australian Waters’ and it certainly delivers!

Gastropods are just one of six classes of the phylum Mollusca, but it is the largest with over 90 000 living marine, freshwater and terrestrial snail and slug species. The other classes are : Monoplacophora (only 2 to 3 very deep water limpet-like molluscs); Amphineura (chitons; several hundred species); Bivalvia (bivalves; 15 000 species); and Cephalopoda (octopus, squid and nautilus; several hundred species).

Gastropoda is divided into three subclasses: Prosobranchiata; Opisthobranchiata and PulmonataProsobranchiata includes most of the marine and a large number of the land snails. They have gills in the mantle cavity and most are able to seal the aperture with an operculum. Opisthobranchiata includes marine snails and slugs like bubble shells, sea hares and nudibranchs, where the shell is commonly reduced or absent and all are hermaphroditic.  Pulmonata includes all the hermaphroditic land snails and slugs, which lack an operculum and gills and breathe by means of a lung, which is a modified mantle cavity. All the molluscs in this book are marine prosobranchs.

There is a large section on gastropod anatomy; feeding; and reproduction and development, followed by an examination of its shell – the composition; shape; colours and patterns; and growth and age.

The book then describes the different geographical distribution zones: Northern Australian; Southern Australian; Eastern and Western Overlap zones and their affinities with certain gastropod species ; discusses shell collecting practices and gives a list of relevant books and journals.

The majority of the book is devoted to the different gastropod families, with the left page covering general notes, then entries about specific species, including a description; date discovered; size; abundance and distribution; and the right page featuring photographs of each species. Throughout the book are also photographs of the living creatures with the most amazingly patterned feet, especially the volutes (the Amoria genus in particular)! The underwater world is endlessly fascinating!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (575)Australian Seashores by W. J. Dakin 1976

The original Australian seashore bible!

Part One covers the physical elements: the sea, the tides and ocean waves; the sculpture of the coastline; the pasture of the sea, plankton; and  luminescence, camouflage and living colour!  and

Part Two looks at the seashore life : the zones of animal and plant life; seaweeds and sponges; jellyfish, anemones, blue-bottles and corals; worms and worm-like creatures; sea-mats and sea-mosses; crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, prawns, sea slaters and sandhoppers);  and barnacles; molluscs, including sea hares, nudibranches and sea slugs; echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers); sea squirts (cunjevoi and ascidians) and finally, flotsam and jetsam.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (516)

WJ Dakin’s Classic Study: Australian Seashores by Isobel Bennett 1987

This revision of Dakin’s book has many more photos and maps, which support the text admirably. For example, the chapter on The Sculpture of a Coastline, with its original diagrams illustrating coastline features, zones and rock platforms, comes alive with the new addition of photographs of concrete examples from different coastlines around Australia. The different zones of the seashore and all the different plants and animals are even easier to understand with all the supporting photographs.

The other big advantage of this book, especially when it comes to identification of the latest new discovery, is its use of colour photographs, compared to the black-and-white photos of the old book. So, this is definitely the version to get!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (519)Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales 2015

A very readable paperback, which brings the seashore to life with all its wondrous diversity, randomness and infinite possibilities.  The author’s enthusiasm and passion for her subject shines through – she must have had so much fun doing all the research for this book!

She explores a wide variety of shell-related topics from their prehistory and anatomy; shell architecture and building; human use of shells (currency; funerals; jewellery; symbolism; and seafood); the oyster industry; hermit crabs; spinning sea-silk (of which I had never heard , but found fascinating!); ammonites and argonauts; shell mania; the coral triangle; nautilus fisheries; shell collecting; the venomous cone shells; and the sea butterfly effect!

I hope I have whetted your curiosity for further reading of this interesting little book!

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Next week, I am featuring some excellent general reference guides to life on earth, covering the geology and soils, the weather and climate and lastly, the amazing night sky!

Birthday Blessings

This is why I am NOT a millionaire! I NEVER win my bets!!! Amongst the known contenders for the Candelo Rose Cup, Stanwell Perpetual won by two lengths, followed by Heaven Scent, then Lolita. But the two dark horses were the unidentified (still!) rose on the lane side of the house (front/back wall!) and a very sneaky Alnwick in the Soho Bed, right under our noses!!! I think we decided in the end that the winning trio were : Stanwell Perpetual (photos below) , Alnwick , then the unidentified climber !BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.23.22BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-07 17.03.02I love Stanwell Perpetual! She is so modest and unassuming, yet so generous with her blooms. She is often the first and last rose to bloom in the season and she has a divine fragrance! The following photos show : Heaven Scent; Lolita and our two dark horses: our unidentified climber and Alnwick.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 13.35.33BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 07.56.22BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 14.26.19BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.10.47We visited Canberra on the hot Tuesday and caught up with old friends, who both work at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a real show at the moment and so impressive! There has been so much growth and development since our last visit 10 years ago.BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-06 11.31.16BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.29.43Afterwards, we called in to the lovely Heritage Nursery at Yarralumla (http://heritagenursery.com.au/), where I found a scented rhododendron at long last. Rhododendron ‘Daviesii’ has a lovely warm spicy fragrance and will be perfect to hide the compost bay.

I  discovered and bought my long-desired crabapple , Malus ‘Golden Hornet’, but because it was a bare-rooted tree, which has been potted, we will have to wait till Christmas to plant it out, so that we don’t damage its fragile new roots. We also bought a French Tarragon and a Sprekelia bulb (Jacobean Lily).BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.24.45BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 13.37.29We arrived home to discover that the blue Dutch Iris and ranunculas had finally opened.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.21.07BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 16.28.51The poppies are a real show of happiness!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.25.01BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.16.59The ranunculas always remind me of Can Can girls, with their frilly skirts and rich exotic colours!

BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.30.03BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.16.45BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.20.06BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.19.52‘Madame Lemoine’ (white Lilac) and  the ‘White Caviar’ (Magnolia below) are still flowering, but the bluebells and  ‘The Bride’ have bowed out. It looks like we could get a bumper crop of navel oranges!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-07 17.05.35BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.25.25A few more unexpected discoveries :

‘Little Red Riding Hood’ has her first flower and I just discovered the first of the highly scented old-fashioned Grandma’s freesias!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 09.03.28BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.16.14The anemones continue their amazing display!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 13.36.51BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.18.08BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.18.23BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.17.54This is the last of the tulips, as well as the first blooms of a Scented Geranium.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.15.19BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 08.05.42The Banksia and Fortuneana roses are throwing plenty of blooms and our daisies are looking very happy!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 08.06.01BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.01.17‘Green Goddess’ has been joined by this exotic bromeliad bloom.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 08.04.29BlogBdayblessgs40%Reszd2015-10-10 16.59.10 - CopyLots of garden tasks this week!

We planted out the new Rhododendron in front of the compost bays behind the red Azalea, the new Lemon next to the Cumquats and the Black Passionfruit vine on our neighbour’s fence, about which she is delighted!!!BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-09 09.03.47BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 14.00.43We transplanted the herbs to new pots and replaced the Russian Tarragon with the tastier French Tarragon, banishing the former to the vegie garden. We planted out the Heritage tomatoes, the lettuces, the red cabbages and the mixed capsicums and sowed sunflower and carrot seed.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.21.14BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.21.32BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.37.58We planted the Jacobean Lily at the bottom of the steps, where its red blooms will be a real eye catcher. And we tied back the climber Clos de Vougeot, which is covered in blooms and found a home for my 3 metal fairies in the shady reading nook.BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.29.01Ross found a perfect spot for his Pink Rock Orchid in a natural depression in the trunk of the Pepperina tree, where it can be seen from all angles of the garden.BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.03.48BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.04.23And we celebrated Ross’s birthday at the end of the week. Finally, I can show you a photo of the gift I made him – a cushion covered in his favourite rain forest birds! It was so difficult finding Ross-free time to make it and I was almost caught out a number of times towards the end! He loved it !!!

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We had a great birthday dinner with friends and dear Katrina made him a spectacular chocolate cake, decorated with mixed berries, apple blossom and purple Bouganvillea and a cute little wheelbarrow, which she found in the toy shop! A great addition to the collection, though a trifle small!!!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 19.36.00BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 19.37.22BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 07.54.12BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 07.54.53A pod of 8 Humpback Whales even made it to the party (though a day late!). We were so thrilled to finally see some and they were so close into the shore. The adults and their babies are heading back down south for the Antarctic Summer!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.59.20BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 11.10.32BlogBdayblessgs40%Reszd2015-10-10 11.31.50 - Copy (3)BlogBdayblessgs30%Reszd2015-10-10 11.15.48 - CopyOn our way home, we took some photos of the beautiful Spring wild flowers in bloom.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.07.02BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.18.16BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.08.24BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.08.42But the best birthday treat of all was a surprise visit by our youngest daughter and friend on Saturday night! So it was back to Tathra the following afternoon! Alas, no whales this time, but we did find this little fellow moseying along the footpath!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.13.09BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.12.43

My daughter was slightly concerned that the echidna might try to cross the road, but when she tried to divert him, he just dived into his ball and dug his toes in, so firmly that he wouldn’t budge! We waited and watched him as he approached the gutter, but I suspect he may have been pretty street-wise, as he veered away from making the leap down onto the road! They are such cute creatures and great survivors, being one of only two Monotremes (egg-laying mammals) in the world. It is thought that they originated over 200 Million years ago. When both whales and such primitive mammals turn up for your birthday weekend, you know it has been a pretty special one!!!             Happy Birthday Ross!!!