Townsville’s 2019 fire season

Winter is traditionally followed by Spring but not here, and not in the era of climate change. Last week was Winter; this week is the Fire Season.

Perhaps that is a little melodramatic, but it’s justified by the conditions we have experienced recently. The fire season is already well under way, as it usually is by this time of year, and we have had several very smoky days in town but today was exceptional. Late this morning I could hardly see Mount Stuart from the Rising Sun intersection on Charters Towers Rd, so I visited Castle Hill with my camera to see what I could see from there. It wasn’t pretty.

View over Kissing Point to Magnetic Island
Looking over Kissing Point to Magnetic Island

Continue reading “Townsville’s 2019 fire season”

Mound-building birds on Magnetic Island

Walking up the hill behind Nelly Bay a few weeks ago, following the pipeline to Horseshoe Bay, I was surprised by an enormous mound beside the vehicle track.

megapode mound of leaf litter and earth
Megapode mound, with my hat for scale

My surprise wasn’t at the existence of the mound, but at its size. Continue reading “Mound-building birds on Magnetic Island”

What Bird is That?

Two bird photographs from my walk around Magnetic Island in June have languished on my hard drive ever since, waiting for an ID. In cases like this I usually spend some time going through references online or on paper then, if that doesn’t give me a result, ask the appropriate Friendly Local Expert (FLE). FLE’s are wonderful people, putting up with some very ordinary questions (I’m sure) for nothing more than the pleasure of sharing their passion for ants, sap-sucking insects, or (as in this case) birds. This bird was my problem:

rufous whistler
Very ordinary small bird (1) side view

Continue reading “What Bird is That?”

Why don’t people like us?

Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. Here we are, performing a really important, useful service, day after day, year after year, uncomplainingly, and getting no recognition for it at all. Okay, I admit that being on the clean-up crew is rarely regarded as being a glamour job, but where would you be without us? Under a big pile of very smelly decaying organic matter, that’s where. (I’m not going to say ‘shit’, because most of it isn’t. Oops! I said it anyway. Tough.)

But it’s worse than that. Continue reading “Why don’t people like us?”

Magnetic Island profile

This blog is usually updated about twice per week so the gap since my last post is longer than I would have liked. I can’t even excuse myself by saying I have been away from home, but I do apologise.

We have been to Magnetic Island twice in the last fortnight and passed it on the way to Cape Cleveland two days ago. There should be at least one more post arising from these trips but meanwhile, here’s a photo from the last of them: the island as seen from the South-east, an unusual vantage point which puts Picnic Bay at the far left and Radical and Balding Bays at the right.

magnetic island
Magnetic Island from the South-east

The photo was taken from the ferry on the way to Cape Cleveland – another Wildlife Queensland excursion – on a blustery day of low cloud and occasional drizzle; the tops of Mount Cook (497m) which dominates the centre of the island, Mount Stuart (584m) and the spine of Cape Cleveland were all lost in cloud at various times. The overcast skies were such a contrast to our usual winter sunshine that the monochrome treatment seemed appropriate.

P.S. The organisers’ report on the trip is now on here on the WQ branch blog, with photos.