Local memory is that in early autumn many of the local streams start to flow, powered by an upwelling of springs responding to a change in atmospheric pressure. Sadly, this autumn the springs haven’t been able to conjure a flow. As a result some of our waterways, including the Jumcra Creek, have shrunk to a disconnected series of drying and stagnant pools. This water is still a magnet for small birds, such as fairy-wrens, scrub-wrens and finches.
Red-browed Finch, Jumcra Creek, 17th March 2019
Superb Fairy-wren (male in eclipse plumage)
Female Superb fairy-wren
Note: The circumstances around the naming of the Jim Crow Creek are a matter of ongoing discussion and research – see here for more information.
What a wonderful response to yesterday’s brilliant story by Patrick Kavanagh.
I was heartened to see the beautiful images of small birds, especially the Speckled Warbler – a shared favourite. While recent weather has been taxing for humans, it is likewise for the birds and to see evidence of their local persistence ‘made my day’.
Yesterday at about 5pm a dramatic dust-storm rolled over Newstead from the north-west, racing ahead of a band of thunderstorms that left a grand total of 2mm in town. Other places in the region fared better … but the drought still grips.
Click on the panoramic image below for a landscape view of yesterday’s storm.
Dust storm over the Moolort Plains, 30th January 2019
It was an early start yesterday morning – up at 5am in search of the “blood moon”. Sadly the cloud cover spoiled my chances … a fleeting moment captured through a veil of high cloud was the best I got.
Around 6am I heard my first Fan-tailed Cuckoo of the season which made the early start more worthwhile. Later in the day I enjoyed great views of a pair of Hooded Robins at the Newstead Cemetery.
Blood moon from Newstead, 28th July 2018
Male Hooded Robin, Newstead Cemetery, 28th July 2018
Female Hooded Robin
Hooded Robin pair
Great Egret, Joyce’s Creek @ Cairn Curran, 22nd June 2018
Female Nankeen Kestrel
Is that the Sea of Tranquility?
We may not see wild emus in our bush around Newstead, but there is one vast dark one that now strides across our sky. The dark lanes and dust of the centre of the Milky Way galaxy become visible as galactic centre rises on winter evenings. Aboriginal astronomers did not limit their descriptions to bright stars as the Arabic and subsequent European astronomers did, but include the dark shapes of the night skies into their science.
The head, neck and body of the emu rise above our place at Strangways
And with some labels
The most impressive is the great emu that stretches across the winter sky, with its head at the base of the Southern Cross (unromantically called the Coalsack by Europeans) and feet well north in the constellation Aquila (the Eagle). The mighty body of this bird, thousands of trillions of kilometres long, is found in the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius.
Picnic point on Lake Cairn Curran provided a great setting for photographing the centre of the Milky Way. Saturn adds an extra bright object to the spectacle. The Sagittarius Star Cloud is also easily picked out with the naked eye, but is a real treat with binoculars. The Lagoon nebula is also discernible with the naked eye and is one of the many star-creating bright nebulae in this part of the galaxy. Messier objects 6 & 7 are open star clusters and are recently born clusters of stars that have blown their gaseous nebula into space.
And rumour has it that Newstead is the centre of the universe.
Milky Way central rises above Cairn Curran. Somewhere in there is a black hole millions of times the mass of our sun.
and some labels to go with that.
When you’re on to a good thing … ‘stick to it’!
How many places are there where you can sit quietly and have Diamond Firetail drop in and virtually land on the end of your lens?
Bush dam, South German Track, 19th March 2018
Brown-headed Honeyeaters at the dam
Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater … such a ‘show-off’
Occasionally, when my attention wanders from a skyward gaze, I reflect on what lies under my feet.
Sadly my understanding of our local geological landscape is scant, but I’ve always had a fascination for rocks. This road cutting, just to the east of Joyce’s Creek, is notable as it lies very close to the Campbelltown fault. I’ve often stopped to photograph the exposed face of the cutting on trips home from the Moolort Plains. The rocks were apparently formed from deep marine sediments between 490 and 460 million years ago … that’s about where my knowledge starts to peter out!
You can view larger versions of these images here.
Section of the 1:50000 Geological Map Series – Campbelltown sheet
You can download a high-resolution version of the 1:50000 Campbelltown map sheet here.
PS: I would welcome any offers of occasional ‘geological’ contributions to Natural Newstead.