On Saturday 10th I drove to Lyneham to buy fruit & vegetables at Choku Bai Jo. All along Ginninderra Drive there seemed to be people of all ages walking or cycling. Once home I determined not to miss the opportunity of my own walk before the expected, humid 30 degrees following 12ml rain. I was on the Mt Rogers circling track by 10.10am and decided to make a note of the birds I heard or saw as I walked round. A kingfisher was a highlight.
Towards the end of the 2.4 km walk where I’d stopped several times, I came across a couple with two leashed dogs getting ready to collect dogs’ poo. I opened the conversation with “Thank you for being responsible dog owners.” “Oh always have been and always will be,” was part of the response, and they’d had dogs for 20+ years. “It’s all part of the [ownership] deal”. We chatted on and during this the black bag of poo was put above the path near the beehive tree.
They mentioned Canwalk which is a website that details over fifty different walks around the ACT including those of the Centenary Trail. As we parted company I was astonished to observe there was absolutely no effort to collect the bag of poo and take it away. How bizarre!
On my previous walk I had a relaxing and in-the-shade chat with Nancy and John. We were near the notice-box and sat on the seat delaying the inevitable return into the mid-morning heat. In the bush up from the seat we could see a bag and a collection of bottles. Assuming that there would be some empties that I could take away rather than have the hoons smash them against the rocks, we went close to check out the scene. There was a brand new Rabbitos back-pack-cooler bag as well as the scatter of cans and bottles. Some of the cans and bottles were unopened as were a bottle of Bundaberg and several other expensive bottles of booze....bizarre.
Between us we had several theories of the drinker’s state and plight. I took away the empties and John carefully packed the $100+ of drink into the bag. Placed against a tree the bag wasn’t visible from the seat and, going past today, there was no sign of it.
On 7th my main purpose was to check out a report from David W. that there were Patersons Curse plants in flower on the trackside between the tanks. He was right, and now the plants have been duly bagged so the seeds have no chance to mature - as they can do when left on the ground on pulled-out plants. Thank you, David, for keeping us informed.
As I walked through the rough grass on the western edge of the twin tanks’ fence I came across several Indigofera adesmiifolia plants which are new to our records. Oddly Mt Rogers doesn’t seem to have the commoner Indigofera, Australian Indigo, but has several of the tiny-leaved species which are considered to be a rarer species and worthy of protection.  Beautiful!
Beautiful and notable for a different reason are clusters of St Johns Wort flowers. They’re almost shiningly deep yellow at present. David has noted some of these also and they will be a priority for our resumed working-bees. Pulling the plants out isn’t a long-term solution so we will note their positions and see if Steve can spray them with Starane. In the meantime we can cut off the heads and bag them to prevent the capsules from maturing and the thousands of minute seeds from ripening and being dispersed.
Just when I was adding to my tally of 21 species in the hour’s walk there was movement east of the Flynn playground as a parent Kookaburra gave its young a tasty morsel. More movement and the other parent landed on a nearby power-pole and continued to look into the grass below. Beautiful to personally acknowledge a previous report of the young Kookaburra being fed, some days ago. Near the Avery Place trees I’d seen a Kingfisher.
I thought I’d heard a Superb parrot’s call but couldn’t see any movement. Hanging around paid off as three eventually flew out of the trees and over towards the Woodger Place trees. I’d not expected to come across any Superbs, thinking that their days of creching the young on Mt Rogers had been superseded by the young being strong enough to fly into the suburbs and search for food with their parents.
Loquat tree owners have mentioned a poor crop this summer. Perhaps this is why there haven’t been regular comings and going of Superb Parrots in mid-Flynn this year. The loquats have failed. Wattlebirds took most of a neighbour’s unharvested peaches and there’s a strong presence of Rainbow Lorikeets. Has the latter species already asserted authority over the Superb Parrots around here?
On Mt Rogers and in other reserves there are cream flowers on Bursaria and Cassinia bushes as spring gives way to summer’s heat. Neither of these native shrubs is particularly attractive as a garden plant but they attract numerous nectar-seeking insects, including butterflies, in the bush. This in turn attracts the attention of small birds which also find the prickly Bursaria a valuable shelter that deters predatory species.
For at least the past month 1 in 10 gardens around the local suburbs are hosting creamy-white to yellow flowering trees which will delight Currawongs and other berry-eaters by autumn. Privets are a sign of time-poor gardeners. Often the trees are seen growing through other plants, showing that the original berries were pooed into the garden by birds perched on existing plants.
Broad-leaf and Small-leaf privet are Ligustrum species which were introduced as hedge plants. “The whole plant is considered poisonous, especially the leaves and berries; the slightly fragrant (I think it’s sickly) perfume can cause hay fever and sore eyes. Toxic to Livestock…and Humans, especially the berries to children.” (A quote from RCH Shepherd, Is that plant poisonous? page 144.) Let’s hope Privet owners can fell these environmental weeds before the berries are edible and bring them to the next Parkwood WEED SWAP in April and be eligible for free native replacement plants.
I don’t think it’s my imagination but there seem to be more Meadow Argus butterflies about in recent weeks. Previously the commonest butterflies were the Common Brown. The Meadow Argus have rings or eye-shaped patterns on their wings, possibly to deceive predators. I’ve come across brown hairy caterpillars several times and wonder what adults they’ll morph into. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a book to help identify caterpillars? It’d be a tall order with 400 butterfly and 20,000 moth species in Australia but they’re not all common enough for us to come across them.
If anyone’s interested in local Indigenous history and culture there’s a series of Ngunawal Walks and Talks scheduled for 2015. Local Elders, in partnership with freshwater and earth scientists, bring fascinating interpretations of the vistas we take for granted by reading the landscapes and showing how Aboriginal people lived for and from the land.  If anyone would like to try growing “bush tucker” Kangaroo Apples there are numerous berries on our bushes which would enjoy new homes!
I hope the change of pace over the holiday period has meant that you’ve been able to explore new walks and ways to be outdoors even with the heat’s deterrent. There have certainly been new faces, including children, walking round Mt Rogers in recent weeks which is wonderful. Several said they’d driven up from Dunlop, or Evatt, and first-timers had come from Macgregor.
We’re beginning to notice and enjoy the textures and hues of eucalypts which begin shedding bark now. Beautiful colours to us, and useful mulch, but those used to deciduous trees have found the annual shedding of bark to be a bizarre Australian habit.
A walk along Ginninderra Creek to Kippax the other day gave views of a Kingfisher and Leaden Flycatchers. There were calls from Orioles, and Cunningham’s Skinks and Water Dragons could be seen on rocks under the boardwalk. Native raspberries grow there and a Water Rat was swimming in the creek.
On 27th December I strolled along the Centenary Trail from Hall reconnecting with views and sightings first seen a year ago. There were Scarlet Robins there so presumably they breed in the area. At one point a rare Little Eagle flew overhead upsetting the Ravens. The activities of the Christmas Beetles could fill another newsletter, as might the trackside weeds!
Have a look at the blog to see what was happening this time last year!  

Rosemary,  Convenor, Mt Rogers Landcare,  6258 4724.     11.01.15.

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