Monday, March 11, 2019

Early Morning

You know your days are not going to be very pleasant when the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology -the official weather place) puts out warnings that the whole of SE Queensland is going to have extremely hot weather for the next week. GET READY!!!
Very early mornings are the only really comfortable times and I like to sit just inside the glass doors in my family room and watch the morning slowly brighten.

Over the last few  weeks there have been big flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets flying around. Even before it is properly light they start arriving and like most of their parrot 'cousins' they are noisy.

To give an adequate idea of the size and noise of the flocks I need to really work on my camera skills! Until then - please use some imagination  with these still pics.  Rainbow Lorikeets always seem to want to do things as groups. I especially like to see them catching hold of unopened palm fronds and lining along the extent of the frond until one too many tries to join in and then it sways down and they all fly off again with much squawking. Also,being parrots they don't seem to mind if they hang upside down - or right way up.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Very High Tide

When it gets excessively hot - as it has been recently - I retreat inside, turn on the air con, and hibernate! Fortunately I have good friends that keep me up-to-date on what is happening outside! Early last week I got an email and some photos reminding me that it was one of the highest tides of the year. As well there was a tropical cyclone coming towards us which was pushing tides even higher. These are a couple of photos Sarah sent me showing the height of the tide along the shoreline towards the Mullens bird roost. I always appreciate Sarah's photos as she captures angles and details that I often miss!
The next day I went out in the car to at least record where the tide had got to in the parking lot.  In previous years I have seen the tide completely fill up this area and even surround cars that had been left parked by owners that had not realized what can sometimes happen down here.This photo shows the parking lot towards the south and also the track usually used to get down to the boat ramp on the creek.
This photo is the opposite end of the parking lot and when the tide is lower this is a favorite place to park where you are not likely to be boxed in!
After seeing the height of the tide here I decided it would be worth it to check Tin Can Bay at the Crab Creek end.  There was a lot of water lying around on lower parts,
I have used  the amount of water over the path as a guide to just how high the tide really is but this year the path was new concrete and I think it was moved slightly as well - so it was a bit hard to guess the height.
I should also tell a bit more about that cyclone. They are notoriously hard to predict and this time the worst that happened was higher than average tides and big seas - which made the surfers happy but caused life savers lots of trouble when people went out to try the waves for themselves without enough experience to manage the waves or to get themselves back safely to the beach!!!

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Unexpected!

It is obvious from my recent blog postings that I have not been out in my local environment the way I used to be.  Fortunately I have several friends who keep me informed about anything unexpected. Over the last few days I have been hearing about a very large die-off  in the mangroves. This is a  photo sent to me by a friend.
Yesterday morning Sarah offered to go down to the bay side with me so I could see for myself. The bay is still as beautiful as ever but the heavy clouds looked like rain - but it did not rain and we are still as dry as ever. 
The devastation is everywhere! This first photo is taken from the picnic area looking down over the creek.
All the people I talked to think this must have been caused by that hail storm that hit the area on the 11th of October.  (That is more than three months ago.) Sarah went down to the bay the next day and saw lots of damage then - trees stripped of their leaves and lots of leaves and green foliage floating in the water.  But as usual I am left  with more questions than answers. Was there more damage done to some kinds of mangroves than others?  Was the age of the plant/tree a factor? How much can the different kinds of trees rejuvenate?
These leaves are new growth on a Grey Mangrove.
These are close photos showing hail pits on the trunk of a mangrove tree. The first photo was taken soon after the storm when the pits were new and showed the damage with color as well as the pits.
To document most of the damage to the trees I need to be out on my kayak to get up close - and I have not been on the kayak for some time. Still Hoping!

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Local Trivia

Very local! around my house and yard!
After the big hail storm it took me a little while to discover the amount of damage that had been done to the trees and plants around my yard.  This Leopard Tree is mid way across my back yard and very visible from my back window. Every year it loses some of the leaves but this is what the hail storm did - I could get a good view right through all the leaves and see all the birds that usually hide somewhere in there.
Slowly the dead looking branches flushed with new color and soon after that leaves covered everything again.
This palm tree is in front of the Leopard Tree and shows the hail damage. Some of the fronds were totally dead - many more badly shredded and right in the middle is a new green frond. However it will take a while for some of the palms to look really good again.
It was the palm trees out the front garden that were the most surprising. I assume it was a response to the severe weather and then the soaking rain we got a few days later. They all put up flower stems and then set seeds at a similar time.
This is an appropriate place to say that when I had a tradesman go up on my house roof he found a lot more hail damage than I had expected. Both sky-lights were broken, the roof itself pitted quite badly in places, the solar hot water system damaged, and the two roof vents on the shed roof broken.  Now I am waiting for the insurance to make up their minds!!! It will all have to be replaced. Anyway there is no water coming inside so no-one seems in a hurry
 I have recently passed another milestone. It is 5 years since I was diagnosed with macular degeneration and started getting injections in the eyes to control it. I am very grateful that I can still read and drive the car and I guess the rest is not important in the long run. I must say that the injections are never comfortable. When the eyes are too uncomfortable I retreat and remind myself that ' this too shall pass'!
Enough of the doom and gloom. The other day there was a heavy rain fall and much of the property next door to me had a few inches of water lying over it. Australian White Ibis found this and came down to poke their beaks into the softened ground and hunt for whatever they could find. These birds have got a bad name because they are very good at finding all the rubbish that we humans discard - they are commonly called 'dump chickens'  .  On nice clean grass like this they look too good for that name!

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Monday, October 22, 2018

After the Storms

As I looked down the side of my drive I could see that the callistemon trees were in flower - and this in spite of it being barely a week since the big hail storm! I planted two kinds of  these trees - one with red flowers and one with creamy colored flowers. The red flowered kind looks much more spectacular but the flowering this year has been rather spasmodic up here. (For a really spectacular display of red flowers go and look at Diane's blog and her wonderful header photo.) Anyway the birds seemed to like the cream flowers this last week.  I even saw some Rainbow Lorikeets come down for a brief visit.
The cream flowers looked best up against the blue sky.

Most of the birds I saw on the flowers were Brown Honeyeaters. These birds are tiny. The book says they are 12-16cm and they seem to be able to reach any way they please to reach the flower they
want - all while hanging by a 'toe-nail'!
There were quite a few birds fluttering around and at first I thought they were all little Browns but then I saw a flash of yellow and realized there were also White-cheeked Honeyeaters. The book says they are a little larger16-19 cms but I could see little difference up in the trees.
Now a couple of days later and most of the flowers have fallen and there are few birds up there.

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Real Summer Extremes

You know it is summer in Queensland when -----
First the gentle and non-threatening evidence! You draw the drapes and turn on the lights and there is an immediate pattering of insects on the window all sounding as if they are splattering their tiny bodies to approach your light. Modern buildings are all fully screened but the screen door into my family room must not be perfectly fitting any more. I have been finding quite large beetles caught between the screen and the inner glass door. I have simply opened the outer screen and brushed the beetle out on to the path. First the magpie found these additions to its breakfast but then blue-faced honeyeaters, 'leatherheads' and 'peewees' came along and some of them even stood outside the door and scolded me when they did not find a beetle to eat.
Temperatures have been variable with the BOM ( bureau of meteorology) predicting storms nearly every day,  But it did not happen until last Thursday, There was an article up on their web site explaining why summer storms were so hard to predict too early.  There was plenty of time for the warnings but no-one predicted how bad this one would be. This photo was taken out my back door - I  cracked it open a few inches and closed it again ASAP.  That hail was bouncing off the ground. I now see that lots of palm leaves were shredded - especially the leaves which are normally fan shaped.

Fortunately this hail did not last too long at my place and I missed the big winds but I was lucky! Water poured into the big shopping center food store just a few blocks away. I was told they worked all night to clean up and dry out . There are horror stories being reported from all around. The worst I have read is a young mother who was in a car - pulled off the road because the rain got too heavy and then the hail started and broke the back window - her baby daughter was in a car seat back there so she dived over the seat to cover the baby with her own body and ended up bloodied and bruised but protected her daughter.. Agricultural damage still has to be assessed but whole crops were wiped out. Houses have been damaged everywhere. My friends in Gympie think they are lucky because they just lost one window.
This kind of summer storm is not unheard of but I am glad they don't happen too often.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Australian Magpie

Magpies are not uncommon in Aussies backyards but I have not had any in my yard since I moved up here nearly 15 years ago. However, not everyone likes these birds in their yard. They often become very aggressive during the breeding season and they are big birds with big strong beaks. This is the bird that has recently been visiting my yard - I think it is a male.

 More often it sees me coming with the camera and  takes off. I am hoping that it will get more used to me as time goes on.
 In my opinion these are some of the smartest birds around! I came to this opinion some years ago when living in New South Wales. My house was next door to my parent's house but about 300 meters down the hill. There were magpies nesting in a big tree behind their house. We found out later that some teens who lived close by had made a habit of throwing stones at the birds and their nest. I think this was what had initially made these birds so very aggressive. But not to Mum! She gardened close under their nest and when she saw the birds she talked softly to them.  They used to come to her back door and 'warble' to her until she came out with some crumbs. But not me!! I had only to open my door to walk up to her house and they would aggressively swoop down and threaten to  attack me. My solution was to borrow Mums floppy blue hat that she always wore out in the yard. It worked As long as I had her blue hat on my head those birds ignored me. Smart birds!!   Hopefully the one now visiting my yard will get as friendly as Mum's birds became.                             

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