Perth geology can be pretty much summarized as “Darling Escarpment and granite outcrops in the east, floodplains, brackish lakes, sand dunes and limestone ridges, start swimming or drown”.
The sand dunes along the shore are quite often large - indeed, they’re the only high ground in some parts of what is a mostly flat city. Most of them are long since immobilised by changes in climate and sea level, covered in bushland and small trees, and in a depressing large part of the city built on or bulldozed flat. Closer to the beach, the dunes are much smaller, and still fairly mobile, save where the dune plants are holding them together. The next few TIGTIDAW are some of those plants.
#793 - Ammophila arenaria - Marram - European Beachgrass
This species is native to the dunes of Europe, but any Google search for it will turn up phrases like “most problematic”, “highly invasive”, “noxious weed” and so on. This is entirely deserved - after the plant was introduced to Australia and California for ‘dune stabilisation’ it promptly ran rampant over the native dune plants, slashing species diversity and occupying open sand areas used by birds like the endangered snowy plover. This is a story you’re going to hear a lot - I can’t think of any plant that was introduced for dune stabilisation that didn’t then become a major pest.
That said, Marram does have a number of adaptations that make it a very successful dune plant - most notably the tightly curled leaves. The exposed side is waxy, to reduce water loss, and the inner surface highly folded with a large surface area, where the plant can transpire and photosynthesise without drying out.
#794 - Arctotheca populifolia - Cape Beach Daisy
AKA South African beach daisy, coast capeweed, dune arctotheca, beach pumpkin, sea pumpkin, dune cabbage, and in South Africa, seepampoen, tonteldoek, and strandgousblom.
As you might guess from the common name, native to South Africa. As you probably guessed, another invasive species, introduced to Western Australia as a ‘dune stabiliser’ and now a noxious weed on all temperate coastlines and anywhere basaltic soils let it march inland as well.
Distinguished from most of the other dune plants around here by the very wide leaves (silvery with hairs to reduce water loss) and the fact hat it will grow much, much closer to the water than any of the other dune plants. A pioneer species readily growing in open sand - which is part of the problem. It is so readily established on open sand, and so good at holding that sand together, that birds that nest in open areas are forced out, and it can even block the flow of seawater in and out coastal lakes.
The seeds are a favoured food of the African hairy-footed gerbil. But since we don’t have hairy-footed gerbils in Australia, fuck ‘em.
#795 - Carpobrotus virescens - Native Pigface
This one is actually native to Western Australia, where it grows in sand and limestone areas. It’s distinguished from the Introduced Pigface (I bet you knew THAT was coming) by the colour of the flowers - purple with a white center - and the colour of the succulent and rather tasty fruit - red.
Woodman Point, Perth
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And now for some of the birds at Bibra Lake. Bibra Lake is wide, but very shallow, and well suited to any number of waders, dabblers, and other water birds. It certainly had plenty of ducks, although more of some species than others. The smaller duck in the foreground is a Grey Teal, The two in the background are Pacific Black Ducks, but I’ll be covering them soon enough.
Grey Teals can be found anywhere in Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands that has enough water for them to swim in, and they’ll fly great distances to find it. In 1957, Australia was suffering a severe drought, and large numbers of them flew to New Zealand. They nest on the ground, in rabbit burrows, or tree hollows. Quiite vocal, especially at night, but the call is a fairly ordinary QUACK.
#786 - Anas platyrhynchos - Domestic Mallard
Also, apparently, highly radioactive. Or perhaps overexposed - a combination of cameraphone, binoculars, and Australian sunlight does not make for the best photos.
The Mallard is native to many parts of the word, and introduced to pretty much everywhere it wasn’t, where they’ll gleefully attempt to interbreed with any other duck they can catch. ‘Mallard’ appears to be derived from the Old French for ‘wild drake’, but the species has been domesticated and bred into a variety of colour forms since then.
Baldivis, Perth, but enough of them have escaped from captivity that you can spot them anywhere in Perth.
#786 - Anas rhynchotis - Australasian Shoveller
Most of the ducks at Bibra Lake and in this picture - the brown ones with the over-sized bills anyway - are Shovellers. They’re not called Shovellers because they’re William H. Macy fans.
Often seen in flocks with Pink-eared Ducks, as is the case here. They inhabit a wide variety of wetlands, including terrestrial swamps and lakes, estuaries, and sheltered inshore waters. Open water fringed by abundant aquatic vegetation is ideal. They filter small aquatic invertebrates or dabble in the mud, small grooves - lamellae - in the large beak being very useful indeed, At Bibra Lake, large flocks of them were swimming around feeding.
There’s a New Zealand subspecies as well.
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Tomorrow we have just three technicians covering the entire Perth area. Guess I won't be going to Shadowrun, again....
PC Characters so far:
Lamech Judocus, gnome wild sorceror
Urlon, Elf fighter
Elethandiel, Blue dragonkin fighter
Kavorog, Blue dragonkin fighter-mage
But a dwarf – one Kerak Darkstar - HAS turned up to investigate what the hell is going on, and exercise suspicious eyebrows about our own activities. Such as standing around in dragon cultist costumes, with a pile of half naked humans in one corner.
Kerak: And they are?
Lamech: Dragon cultists.
Kerak: There was a dragon around here?
Lamech: Still is.
Kerak: What's it been doing?
Lamech: Bossing people around. Exercising his megalomania glands basically.
Kavorog: We offered Venomfang the Wyvern Tor orcs as minions.
Lamech: Meals on heels.
And of course there's an even bigger green dragon off in that direction, so if Venomfang finds out that he's moved closer to the territories of at least two other wyrms, there WILL be trouble. Especially if one is granddam to Venomfang.
Druid: This is why you shouldn't meddle with the environment.
Lamech: Hey, YOU were the one that wanted him moved on.
The druid's apprentice transforms in a wolf and runs off to deliver our message back to the village of Phandalin.
Lamech: If you really want to be dangerous transform into a Cape Buffalo.
GM: I think we can safely assume you're not going to the Jungle of Chult so he can learn how to shapeshift into a dinosaur.
Lamech: Eh. Cape Buffalo are bad enough. And hippos are worse.
Karek insists we investigate Venomfang's lair while he's out hunting. This is probably suicidal, but then, so is getting into an argument with a dwarf.
Kavek: I'd be dead with treasure than alive without it.
Lamech: Spoken like a true dwarf.
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The April Field Trip for the WA Naturalists Club was to Bibra Lake, a very shallow lake usually dry by this time of year, but refreshed by the dying cyclone the week before. Naturally, there were a LOT of waterbirds taking advantage.
Since it’s a suburban lake, it’s not surprising that a large amount of land around it has been cleared for parking and picnic areas, which does limit the variety of other animals you might find. The chilly weather that day, and strong breeze,, probably didn’t help either.
Nonetheless, there were a few around - such as these large dimpled brown eggs of the Emperor Gum Moth, a very large Saturniid moth. More common in the northern states, but still found over all of Australia. One claim to fame is that it was the first insect species from which continuous cell cultures were derived, back in 1962 by Dr Thomas D C Grace, a researcher with CSIRO. Grace’s Insect Medium is still in use today for growing hundreds of the insect cell lines that have been developed since.
The caterpillar is large, green and covered in colourful but harmless tubercles. The cocoons are brown and hairy, and the moth tears her way out with regurgitated enzymes and hooks on her wingbases. Lacking mouthparts, they’ll have a few weeks at best to find a mate and continue the cycle.
Bibra Lake, Perth
#779 - Chlorophyllum brunneum - Shaggy Parasol
The Shaggy Parasol - Chlorophyllum rhacodes, C. olivieri and C. brunneum, were formerly known as Macrolepiota rhacodes or Lepiota rhacodes, but molecular phylogenetic evidence got them renamed, and Macrolepiota rhacodes var. brunneum elevated to species status. If Neale Bougher’s e-book of Perth Fungi is right, this is the latter.
The shaggy parasol is a large and conspicuous agaric, with thick brown scales and protuberances on its fleshy white cap, which become flatter and wider with age - eventually up to 20cm across. The gills and spore print are both white. Its stipe is slender, and up to 20cm tall when fully grown, but bulbous at the base, is coloured uniformly and bears no patterns. A reddish or maroon discoloration occurs and a pungent odour released when it’s cut.
Easily confused with Chlorophyllum molybdites, which has the green sporeprint more typical of the genus, and the source of the genus name. Chlorophyllum molybdites can cause gastric upset if undercooked, and severe allergic reactions even if well cooked.
Bibra Lake, Perth
#780 - Hemibela sp. - Tube Concealer Moth
This had me quite puzzled when I found it attached to one of the trees at Bibra Lake - there are fungi that produce cylindrical fruiting bodies that resemble cigarettes, and it was also possible a solitary wasp or bee could add an entrance tube to a nest. I also considered the possibility of a case moth. As it was, I was close with that last one, but it’s an Oecophorid, not a Psychid.
Tube Concealer caterpillars find a suitable twig, chew off the ends, hollow it out, and carry it around as a portable refuge while they feed on Eucalypts. The adult moth is a drab, unremarkable brown.
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There was a pile of these, some more covered in barnacles than others, in a kerbside garden a block from home.
This is not, as you’ve probably guessed, a natural habitat for any species of oyster, but the Sydney Rock Oyster is one of three farmed for food over here - the other two being the Southern Mud Oyster Ostrea angasi, a native, and the Pacific Oyster, Crassostrea gigas, which has proven distressingly invasive. The White-lipped or Gold-lipped Pearl Oyster Pinctada maxima is farmed up on WA’s NW coast.
But back to this one - native to the Australian coastline from Victoria, then counter-clockwise to Shark Bay far north of Perth, but also farmed in Bass Strait, Tasmania, and Albany on WA southwest coast. A highly prized seafood, and absolutely delicious with a squirt of lemon juice.
All that said, whoever dumped the shells in the garden still deserves a swift kick to the backside for littering.
#775 - Onitis sp. - Introduced Dungbeetle
A large dungbeetle, and one of the species introduced to Australia during efforts to stop the countryside being buried in cowpats.
#776 - Sternula nereis - Fairy Tern
Adorably wee Sternids. There were two at Woodman Point the other day, both juveniles.
Fairy Terns are considered Vulnerable, and the NZ subspecies critically endangered- it was down to 42 individuals in 2011. Populations of all the subspecies throughout the range have been dropping rapidly, which was a bit of a shock to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which had previously considered it a Species of Least Concern.
They nest on sheltered beaches or offshore island, and is pisses me off no end that despite all the effort by the WA Naturalists Club here in Rockingham, people completely ignore the fences and warning signs and walk all over the nesting area. With their dogs. Or call in a friend with a tow truck to rip out entire security gates so they can get into a conservation area to fish and build fires. Not surprisingly, the fairy terns abandoned the site.
Woodman Point, Perth.
#777 - Utetheisa lotrix - Crotalaria Moth
A reasonably sized Arctiid moth, differing from the very similar U. pulchoides in diet, and the arrangement of the red markings on the wing. Absence of a red spot on the tornus. and red spots along the forewing extend from costa to the subcoastal vein in U. pulchoides, but in this one they extend further into the wing to the radial vein.
The caterpillars eat Crotalaria plants - legumes also known as ‘rattlepods’, from the way the seeds shake about inside the dry pod.
Baldivis Spid Shed, Perth
And then it throws in a G1 villain as well.
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And then there was this week's episode, when through together some classical mythology and proved that if you're not a pony, you get to live in a Third World hellhole full of greed, gambling, and other things starting with G. It also answered some questions that the fandom have been thinking about since early in Season One, and featured the return of an antagonist that the fans have wanted to see redeemed since then.
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This has been an outstanding season so far - and the next episode is number 100.
The reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road has been amusing. The howling manbabies screaming that any right-thinking male should boycott it or the' feminist agenda' will ruin action movies forever has made me moire interested in seeing it. And I'm not the only one. The MRA nutjobs further claim that it's an attack on American cultural heritage, which made me howl with laughter, given that they're Australian movies.
On the other hand....
What the fuck is this.
I never watched the original cartoon series, but I'm aware of it, but it's difficult to believe a trailer could miss the source material that badly, unless the movie itself is way, way off the mark. Back when Equestria Girls 2 :