“A small graceful tree to 15m high, but sometimes much taller”NOPS p.38
During the big storms a few weeks ago I was lying in bed at around 11pm just about to ready to go to sleep when a loud and prolonged cracking sound started coming from just outside the bedroom. I knew right away that the large Sydney Peppermint gum in the back yard was falling over! I jumped up and tried to get to the window but it was pitch dark and storming, I couldn’t a thing. As the cracking continued I was terrified it was going to fall on the house, luckily it went the other way and ended up taking out a sizeable swath of bush and other trees as it came down. Phew!
The Sydney Peppermint gum is a small to medium tree of up to 15m but can be much taller in the right conditions. It’s trunk is covered by rough grey bark that detaches from the tree and hangs in strips as it reaches higher up revealing smooth white upper branches. The leaves have a strong peppermint smell especially when crushed. The Sydney Peppermint was the first Australian plant to be used medicinally by Europeans. It’s oil was found by a surgeon on the first fleet to be “more efficacious in removing all cholicky complaints than of the English Peppermint”
As the name suggests Sydney Peppermint gum is found in the Sydney basin, it ranges from the extreme south NSW coast up to the central north coast. Flowering time is early summer.
It was a shame to loose the tree, it was a large feature of the back yard. The pair of kookaburras who used to sit in it came and sat on the toppled tree no doubt wondering what had happened.
“Easily recognized by it’s large pink flowers and thick grey green foliage” NPOS p.118
After having come home from the boys soccer to an empty house without keys there was only one thing to do, get the boys on their bikes and head down the bush! The weather was warm with the first hints of spring, a number of flowers had started to come out too.
I didn’t have my camera with me so I took these photos with my phone, I’m still so impressed at how clearly they come out with such a small lense and sensor.
This plant took me a while to identify, in NPOS it looks similar to Crowea saligna or Crowea exalata, but the flowers are not quite as depicted in the book. In the end I’m pretty sure it’s a Eriostemon australasius also known as the Pink Wax Flower.
Pink Wax Flowers are common in heath and woodlands on sandstone plateaus. They are a small shrub growing to about 1.5m They have leathery leaves that are narrow, 1cm, and long, 8cm or so. The flowers are numerous and striking, large and pink with 5 petals.
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.
This Pied Cormorant was spotted perched by the bank of Middle Harbour River. The noise of the family must have been too much for it as it soon flew away. I’ll have to go back to try and get some clearer photos.
The Pied Cormorant is a large bird with white underside and black wings and top. They are found in marine habitats and feed mainly on fish but will also take crustaceans and mollusks. Like all Cormorants they catch their food by swimming underwater making use of their large webbed feet. Their feathers are not waterproof which is why cormorants are so often spotted standing wings outstretched in the sun.