Beaumaris …

No kangaroos this morning, I’m in the big city.

Yesterday I took the dog for a walk along the Beaumaris cliff top from the Motor Yacht Squadron to Table Rock. For the uninitiated this is a Melbourne suburb south east of the city on the edge of Port Phillip Bay.

The cliff is a deep red and way below our feet is …

Australia’s single richest marine animal fossil site, spanning the last 5 million to 10 million years of Earth’s history …

… The fossils paint a vivid picture of life below a sea that once covered parts of Melbourne. They comprise remains of ancient whales, seals, dolphins, sharks, fishes and sea birds, crabs, shells, corals and sea urchins.

An added distinction of Beaumaris is that it is one of the only sites known in Australia where we find evidence of our ancient land mammals in rocks formed in the shallows of an ancient bay.

As land animals died, their carcasses were washed out to sea by what was an ancestral Yarra River. This co-occurrence of land and marine animals is world famous, enabling precise dating of the evolution of Australia’s unique marsupial fauna.

The Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron has already covered a part of this site, public land of inestimable value, with a carpark and would like to develop a commercial marina. Enriching for them, impoverishing for a landscape that inspired a couple of generations of Australian painters. Let’s hope the council has the wit to deny them that opportunity.

On the journey we pass a sign …

‘At this site in the summer of 1886 the artists Tom Roberts and
Frederick McCubbin first met Arthur Streeton. Together with Charles Conder these men were the founders of the Heidelberg School.’
Fine art has been made at virtually every lookout on the way, not only by Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton and Condor but also by John Perceval, Alfred Coleman, Clarice Beckett and many less famous artists.  You can find more detail <HERE>.

It’s a place that has managed to retain a bit of bush and a little wildness despite the proximity of a busy road. For me it offers a chance to enjoy some of the local birds. I shot all of these within 45 minutes with the dog waiting patiently at my side …

Silver Gull

Silver Gull
Crested Tern
Australian Pelican
Pied Cormorant
Little Black Cormorant

Kangaroo …

I woke up this morning to find a bunch of Eastern Grey Kangaroos at the back door. They were gone in a flash but I found this one again a little later and she was a little slower to flee …

Joey is getting a bit big for riding around in the pouch, the style is typically untidy. It is probably sharing the accommodation with a much smaller sibling fastened on a teat and there may be another sibling in utero in a state known as embryonic diapause.

Despite the heavy load, when it’s time to go it’s time to go …

Distant pizza …

From where I live it’s a 30 km round trip for a takeaway pizza.

This has some advantages.  For one thing you learn to make your own pizzas and they knock the insipid shop bought ones for six. Among the other advantages is the night sky. A clear night is a numinous experience.

Sunset last night was at 5.30 and the moon would not be up until a little after 8. I drove up to a higher point not far from home hoping to get a photo with the milky way springing up brightly straight from the horizon. That wasn’t going to happen, the glow of the lights from Maryborough and Avoca, each about 15 km away, some smoke haze and a little cloud all conspired to make the horizon very soft. Overhead though was pretty good.

That the stars had coalesced into a large R was very exciting but not enough to enliven the composition. Fortunately, I had a foreground element with me which could be made visible by judiciously washing over it with my headlamp …

Improving but the action is really higher in the sky. Home again to my trusty windmill …

I love my windmill. When the wind blows it pumps water from an underground aquifer into my dam. Sadly the water is too salty to use for irrigation but stock could drink it. Perhaps I should get some stock. The dam doesn’t hold water very well. I like to think that it leaks back into the aquifer. My very own hydrological cycle and so immensely aesthetic.

By which time the moon could wait no longer. One day I will get a milky way photo that I can be proud of. For now I’ll settle for a moonrise …

 

 

A Rolling Stone …

The Department of Agriculture makes the news again.

Having ensured that no Nicobar Pigeon without the appropriate paperwork becomes a permanent resident they have incinerated a couple of green blobs.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Australian customs officials destroyed two irreplaceable plant specimens that were being loaned to scientists by international institutions, prompting one of the institutions to suspend all transfers to Australian scientists.

France’s National Museum of Natural History and New Zealand’s Landcare Research Allan Herbarium had sent the samples, which dated back to the 19th century, to help with Australian research, but they were intercepted by customs officers due to inaccurate paperwork …

… Neither the French or New Zealand institutions were informed of the decision to destroy their lichen, nor were the Australian scientists who were due to receive the samples. Normally a sender or recipient would be informed if there was a threat to destroy imported items.

Michelle Waycott, a professor of plant systematic at the University of Adelaide and chairwoman of the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, said the specimens were to be used to determine whether new plant species had been discovered in Australia.

“These specimens are also the last remaining evidence that they were present in a particular location,” Professor Waycott said.

Presumably they were in separate packages coming from two different senders. Who was it that said “To lose one husband is unfortunate, to lose two is careless“?

Pigeon pie …

The capture was reported to quarantine services and the bird was removed by Department of Agriculture officials.

The bird in question was a Nicobar Pigeon, The Australian reports …

If the extinct dodo was dumb, its closest relative the Nicobar pigeon may be considered adventurous, after one of the birds native to South East Asia and the South Pacific was found in Western Australia’s north.

The indigenous Bardi Jawi rangers first spotted the colourful, near endangered bird last month at Chile Creek on the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley region – far from its usual habitat between India and the Solomon Islands.

Senior ranger Kevin George said there were many sightings of the bright bird before it was captured at a One Arm Point front yard earlier this week.

This is a species that is mostly found on islands but does visit adjacent mainland coasts. It is found in Timor and New Guinea. The article gives the impression that it has made a huge journey to get here – it ain’t necessarily so.  Timor is about 600 km north of the Dampier Peninsula and the crossing is made easier by the Islands of Ashmore Reef , directly on route.

Nicobar Pigeon

Australia is a part time home to dozens of migratory species that cross the sea to our north. If the Department of Agriculture is going to collect them all they’re going to be very busy.

So why  “collect” this one.

The Nicobar Pigeon is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN.