The Town Common after rain

I’m not going to claim credit for it, of course, but my post about rainwater tanks was followed almost immediately by the best rain Townsville has had for years, with totals like 250 to 600 mm over a week or so, depending on exactly where you looked. Ross Dam went from about 15% to over 80% – but I will say more about that in another post.

I visited the Town Common yesterday, very briefly, to see the difference the rain had made there. The road through the park to Freshwater Lagoon was closed at the gates near the Golf Club, so we walked in from the Pallarenda carpark and up to the Tegoora Rock lookout instead; it gave us better views but we were further from the birdlife.

town common flood
The view from Tegoora Rock towards the city (Castle Hill is on the left)
town common
Looking West towards the Bohle River along the inland face of Many Peaks Range

Clicking on my photos normally gets you a full-size version in a lightbox but because I’ve visited this vantage point so often I thought it would be fun to show the seasonal change, so in this case clicking will show the same scenes as they were in April 2015 after a failed Wet season.

We were lucky enough to spot a small group of brolgas from our lookout. This pair looked at first as though they were swimming across the lagoon, although I think they were actually wading, and after foraging in the swamp for a minute or two they treated us to a brief dance.

town common brolgas
Crossing the floodwaters
town common brolgas
The dance

I saw the brolgas’ famous dance display at much closer range a few years ago, near the entrance to the Common; photos are here.

Bali Botanical Gardens

bali botanical garden
Formal gardens in the European style

The Bali Botanical Garden is up in the mountains, near Mount Batur, an hour or so from Ubud by car. Its altitude makes its climate significantly cooler than the lowlands and the day we visited was overcast with intermittent rain but we had a wonderful time anyway. The orchids and ferns were particularly good, and we would have spent far more time in the Taman Usada or Continue reading “Bali Botanical Gardens”

Leafcutter Bees

Ants, wasps and bees (Hymenoptera) create a stunning range of nests, many of them so specific to the species that they can be used to identify their makers, as Mike Downes said in his article about black weaver ants.

That’s certainly true of Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp., Megachilidae, Apoidea) and we might even go one step further and identify them by the marks they leave behind when harvesting their nest-building material.

Leafcutter Bee
Signs of a Leafcutter

Leafcutters are solitary, not social like Continue reading “Leafcutter Bees”

Rain!

A couple of days ago I said, “We’ve been promised rain every day for a week and seen very little – ‘scattered showers and storms’ is a fairly generous description,” Then it started raining, quite steadily.

A week ago I said, “If there’s a fixed open drain, [grey water on a rural property] might run into a banana patch, since bananas are always thirsty.” Now our bananas are standing in ankle-deep water, run-off from  the higher side of our own block and from our neighbours.

People around the city are reporting falls of 30 – 120mm over the last few days as the patchy showers turned into widespread rain. Townsville’s official records only tell us what fell at the airport and are taken at 9.00 a.m. every day; the total to 9.00 this morning was 34 mm and I expect tomorrow’s reading to be much higher.

Friday, 3 pm

More arboreal black weaver ants – Polyrhachis dives and others

A guest post by Dr Mike Downes; his first, about a different species of black weaver ants, is here.

The subject of ant nests came up recently after an object of interest was handed in at the Museum of Tropical Queensland:

ant nest
Exhibit A
Continue reading “More arboreal black weaver ants – Polyrhachis dives and others”