I’ve been reading Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake and it inspired me to go out looking for mushrooms. It’s good timing as we’re in autumn and have recently had a lot of rain, great mushroom conditions!
During a short explore in the bush close to home I came across these large striking purple mushrooms. There were 3 of them, 2 quite large with caps approximately 10cm across, a 3rd was smaller and growing under the shelter of one of the larger ones. The caps were wet and slimy and deep purple in colour. They were growing in the ground pushing up through the covering of leaves and sheoak needles. Next to them was a small hole that looked like it had been dug by a foraging animal.
Some Google image searching pointed to it being a common Australian native, Cortinarius archeri. Cortinarius archeri has been found along the east coast from southern Queensland all the way through to southern Victoria. It’s also been found throughout Tasmania, South Australia surrounding Adelaide and in Western Australia from Perth down the south West coast to Albany. Peak season is April to July.
I sometimes upload sightings like this to the Atlas of Living Australia. I’ve not done it for a while, when I went to post there was a message saying they are transitioning to use iNaturalist to upload observations. OK. I signed up and posted, it made a suggestion that the photos were of Cortinarius archeri, quite impressive. Then within a few hours 2 community members had also suggested it was Cortinarius archeri. Nice.
Hoping to find and post some more fungi over the next few months!
[update] – I returned the next day and one of the large mushrooms had been knocked over, the day after that they were all gone! The base of the stalks were broken off at ground level. Looks like something had eaten them or taken them away
Grey Goshawks are a frequent visitor to the area, up until now I’ve not been able to identify or get a good photo of one. Last week I heard the sound of a screeching flock of cockatoos off in the distance, as they got closer the sound got louder. They were swooping and swerving making a huge racket, in front of them was a hawk! It looked like they were chasing it away! A few days later I spotted it sitting in a tree out the back and managed to get these photos.
Grey Goshawks are a medium size bird of prey, local ones have a grey back and upper wings, with a white belly. They have large yellow talons and a yellow, black tipped hooked beak. They prey on mammals like rabbits, possums and bats, also reptiles and insects. Their most common prey is other birds, no wonder the cockies were chasing it away.
The Echidna, such an iconic Australian animal and unique too being one of only two monotremes, the other being the Platypus. We’re lucky enough to have Echidnas in the local area and even venturing into our yard from time to time.
Last week I was looking out the window at home while making lunch and noticed what looked like an unusual rough clump on the ground. I went outside to have a look and it turned out to be a group of four Echidnas huddled together in the sun! They were not moving and appeared to be just relaxing. I’ve only seen lone Echidnas before, four in one place was amazing!
Some online searching confirmed that they are solitary animals but they group up during mating season which is June – September. During this time up to ten males can follow a female around for weeks at a time, she will end up mating with the one that stays following her the longest.
The group I saw wasn’t moving, must have been just a short rest in the sun. I checked again after lunch and they were gone.
There’s no shortage of sandstone in the Sydney area, almost the entire extent of Garigal National Park sits on whats known as the Hawkesbury Sandstone. The Sydney 1:100 000 Geological Sheet classifies it as “Medium to course-grained quartz sandstone, very minor shale and laminite lenses” I wanted to highlight two sandstone formations, both of which are a bit of a mystery as to how they form.
I came across these formations on a trail run on a section of single track in Belrose that runs from the end of Ralston Ave down to the Bare Creek trail next to Bare Creek.
The first formation is called tessellated pavement.
There are a number of different types of tessellated pavement. The type I came across is seen on flat sections of sandstone that have been fractured into 4-6 sided geometric shapes. Some of the blocks are surrounded by deep grooves with rounded edges. It really looks like a man made road or path the way the blocks lock together. It’s not known how this structure forms.
The second formation is even more of a mystery.
It was on the same section of trail near the tessellated pavement. Found on a gently sloping section of sandstone, it had rows of deep grooves all running in the same direction from the top of the slope to the bottom. They looked like they could have been worn over many years by the trickle of water. Above the trail was a minor gully, there wasn’t any visible creek but it looked damp and swampy. In wetter times perhaps water could have drained slowly over the sandstone. This is all guessing, I couldn’t find any information on this type of formation. The closest I came was rillenkarren or rundkarren which is the weathering of similar channels in limestone by the slight acidity of the water dissolving the rock. Rillenkarren has sharper ridges and is thought to form out in the open while rundkarren is more rounded and thought to form under a superficial covering like sandy till, peat or a layer of plants and lichen.