Monthly Archives: July 2014

Pied Cormorant

Phalacrocorax varius

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.

Pied Cormorant sitting near the bank of Middle Harbour River

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.

Pied Cormorant in flight – The family was too loud for it

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Scaly phebalium

Phebalium squamulosum

“An open slender lightly foliaged shrub” – NPOS p. 120

This plant was hard to identify, as best as I can tell it’s a Scaly Phebalium.

Scaly Phebalium – flowing in winter, they’re meant to flower in spring.

The  Scaly Phebalium is a small woody shrub growing to about 1.5m. It’s leaves are narrow, less that 10mm wide, deep green with lighter coloured dots on the top side. The undersides are lighter in colour and covered in small scales, which is where the common name comes from. It’s found in standsone landscapes and is common in the Sydney area.

NPOS describes it as aromatic, it does have a smell but it’s not nearly as strong as a tea tree, it could be that I have a bit of a blocked nose at the moment and am trouble smelling too.

Leaf underside showing the small scales. The leaf is about 8mm wide

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Juniper Grevillea

Grevillea juniperina

“A prickly, much branched shrub 1-2m high”NPOS p.95

This Juniper Grevillea is growing on the nature strip out the front, it’s self seeded which is interesting because although it’s a native plant it’s meant to be uncommon and mainly occurring in western Sydney.

Grevillea Juniperina flowering

The Juniper Grevillea is a hardy and adaptable species, which can be demonstrated by how well it’s doing without any care or cultivation. I’ve even recently cut it back as it’s been over growing onto the road. It’s in the form of a dense shrub which grows up to 2m tall, it has narrow stiff leaves that end with a sharp point. Flowers are red and take on the typical spidery Grevillea form. It’s meant to flower from September – November, our seems to flower year round, the picture was taken in July.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully a few times to collect seeds and grow them. Apparently you can achieve a greater chance of success by nicking the seeds to expose the embryo, or exposing the seeds to fire and smoke. They will also grow from cuttings. I’ll give these a go. It’s a beautiful plant that is extremely hardy and will not grow too tall, the rabbits and wallabies seem to leave it alone too, perfect for the garden.

Grevillea Juniperina – This one self seeded on the nature strip in front of our house

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