Townsville’s dry season begins

Pied Imperial-pigeon in treetop
Pied Imperial-pigeon in the topmost branches of our poplar gum

Easter seems to me to mark the usual turning point between Wet and Dry seasons here in Townsville, and it has certainly seemed so this year. Cyclone Debbie was looming as we left for Bali on March 25 but by the time we returned, a week ago, humidity had dropped right off, nights were noticeably cooler, the frangipanis were losing their leaves and the prospect of more real rain seemed to have evaporated.

I would love to be proven wrong on this, because Ross Dam is at 17% capacity, which is historically (and alarmingly) low for the end of the Wet, as I write. If we count December as part of the Wet, our 2016-17 season amounts to just on 500 mm. It follows a close-to-average 950 mm in 2016 and a record-low 400 mm in 2015. It’s not looking good.

Browsing the BoM’s Climate Data Online for Townsville confirms, more or less, my feeling that Easter marks the change of season, since April is consistently much drier than the first three months of the year. Daytime maximum temperatures don’t drop much but overnight minimums do drop about 3C from March to April – enough to make a significant difference to our comfort.

Some seasonal signs haven’t yet flipped, however: I heard this Pied Imperial-pigeon this afternoon and caught it on camera a few minutes later. Incidentally, the latest word from Ian Montgomery of Birdway is that the “Pied Imperial Pigeon has been split into four species. The Torresian Imperial Pigeon occurs in New Guinea and northern Australia,” so I’m using the wrong common name, but our visitors are still Ducula spilorrhoa as I said four years ago when I described them.

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