Last Sunday the two boys and I walked down to the Cascades to meet Mat and some of his friends who were doing the 100km Oxfam walk. We did the salmon thing and headed against traffic from Bungaroo. We were on the Oxfam course between about midday and 2pm, the people we were passing were at the 75km or so mark and had been walking though the night without sleep, some people really showed it, most seemed pretty happy though.
Will did very well and walked the whole distance, Tom refused to walk and sat in the backpack until he got too uncomfortable then demanded to be carried!
We had lunch and a bit of a play at the cascades, Mat arrived at about 2:30pm, he was fine.
Just after leaving the Cascades I spotted this small bird with bright red coloring in the bush just off the fire trail. It was on a Mountain Devil plant flying from flower to flower drinking the nectar. It moved fast and it was difficult to get a good photo, it let me get within a few meters before flying away. Another one I’ll have to return for to try and get a clearer picture.
It turns out to be a male Myzomela sanguinolenta. It’s also known by a number of different common names, Birds in Backyards goes with Scarlet Honeyeater so that’s good enough for me.
The male Scarlet Honeyeater has a bright red head and body, it’s upper wings and tail are dark grey with lighter grey colouring underneath. The females are dull brown with dull white underparts. They are small birds, the adults being 10 – 11cm long.
Scarlet Honeyeaters are found from Cape York all the way down the east coast of Australia, but are less common south of Sydney where it’s a summer migrant. They’re also found in New Caledonia, Indonesia and surrounding islands.
Cockies are a very common bird around here, it can be easy to become a bit indifferent but when you step back and look they really are remarkable. They are are a large bird measuring 44 – 55cm in length, their whole body is snow white, except for the bright yellow “sulfur” crest on the tops of their head. They have a large powerful parrot beak that they use for crushing food and also as an extra grip when climbing. The sound they make can only be described as a loud piercing screech. Like many parrots they can learn to talk a few words.
We have a bird feeder hanging just outside the window out the back. The cockies have become quite aggressive with it, scaring the other smaller birds away and often fighting each other for a perch. When the seed has run out they sit in the feeder and tap on the window, if we don’t feed them they sometime start tearing away at the side of the house. They are not afraid, often when I fill the feeder with new seed they will hold their ground and grab the spoon in their beak before I get a chance to empty the seed into the tray. Their beaks look like they would do a lot of damage to a finger!
Another epiphyte observed on the morning dog walk. Beard Lichen looks so similar to Spanish Moss that the scientific name for Spanish moss is derived from it’s name. Biologically it would hard to be any more different. Spanish Moss is a plant, Beard Lichen, like all lichen, is a symbiosis of a fungus and an algae.
Beard Lichen grows off the ground, often on tree branches. It appears as a scraggly hair like growth up to 20cm long, it’s also known as “woman’s long hair” and “old mans beard” all good visual descriptions. It’s soft and flexible to touch and is light green in colour. Beard Lichen needs light to grow, it’s often found on sick or dead trees due to the the light permitted by the reduced canopy, but the lichen itself does not damage the tree.
Beard Lichen has antibiotic properties, it’s been used for 100’s of years to treat wounds.