There’s a lot to like in The Capricorn Sky but unfortunately there’s more than a little to dislike, too. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.
It’s Campbell’s first novel (nothing wrong with that) and it’s self-published. The book’s unpolished design (fonts, text spacing, margins, etc) sends up the first warning signals and suggests immediately that it has missed out on the benefit of experienced editorial eyes and hands. Furthermore, Campbell has chosen to write in an invented future English in which hyphenated words are replaced by camelCase, “qu” by “qw” (qwite, qwiet, etc), and there are other neologisms and re-spellings. He probably intended that it would help place the action where it’s set, at the end of this century. It’s a tactic which can work well in the hands of an experienced writer (Burgess’s Clockwork Orange and Hoban’s Riddley Walker come to mind) but this reader, for one, found it merely distracting.
And that’s a pity, because Campbell has set a good story in a worryingly plausible future North Queensland.
Green Path often needs to refer to residents of Townsville but I have always been ambivalent about both of the obvious terms, Townsvilleans or Townsvillians. The former preserves the silent “e” and is perfectly readable but the -eans ending looks vaguely wrong, while the latter is just that little bit harder to read, especially in a sans-serif font like Arial, because of the -illi- combination.
A little bit of not-too-serious research was in order, so I asked on facebook (my personal page, not the blog’s page). Names have been suppressed to protect my informants’ privacy.
People in Italy are Italians, people in Chile are Chileans, but in both cases the final vowel is sounded so they are not exact parallels. On the other hand, people of the Seychelles are Seychellois and Townsvillois is attractively exotic. Sadly, 99% of the Townsvillois who see the word will automatically rhyme it with boys, ruining it completely for the minority.
The Townsville flood of January-February 2019 was, like cyclones Althea and Yasi, one of the extreme weather events which define people’s lives in the city. Two months later, “How did you go in the floods?” is still the first question we ask friends we haven’t seen for a while. There’s a lot for Green Path to say about it but whatever we publish now will be incomplete so we will update and extend it as appropriate, in separate posts if justified by the amount of extra material.
Let’s begin with an overview of theweather event and its immediate consequences.
The weather event
A low in the monsoon trough over the Gulf became a rain depression and drifted South and East until it settled over Townsville, where it stayed much longer than “normal” (we will have to return to that concept later) and dumped an inordinate amount of rain on us over about ten days – say 29-30 Jan to 7-8 Feb. Continue reading “Townsville’s 2019 floods”
On Saturday I was lucky enough to visit the Town Common with a small group which included two keen, knowledgeable birders. Thanks to them, we ended up with a list of more than 50 species from Red-backed Wrens and Spice Finches (10 cm) to Jabirus and Brolgas (130 cm). We were happy that we spotted so many in just a couple of hours but I should note, just for context, that about 280 have been recorded on the Common.
We drove in past the golf club, visiting Payet’s Tower and the two nominated viewing points on the way to Freshwater bird hide, with a few unscheduled stops as one or another of us spotted birds from the vehicle. There is still a fair bit of open water on the Common and we saw substantial numbers of Magpie Geese, including about 150 in a single flock near the Pandanus viewing point. We briefly visited the Pallarenda Conservation Park, too, adding the Orange-footed Scrub Fowl, Scrub Turkey and others to our list.
A few years ago I began compiling a list of all the birds I have seen at home in Mundingburra, posting it to the blog as a separate page and keeping it up to date as I saw new species. Ian Walters has been maintaining a similar list in Kelso, about three kilometres from the river and four from the Ross Dam wall, a long way up-river from me and a little further from the river, and I thought it would be interesting to compare observations.
In the table below I have listed each family group in the sequence [only Mundingburra] – [both] – [only Kelso]. If you want to see photos, links in the species column will take you to my photos (mostly here on the blog) but you will need to visit Ian’s page at speciesorchids.com/LocalFriends to see his.
What does the comparison show us?
A very quick look reveals that there are more species from Kelso than from Mundingburra – about 75:50 – but that we do have a lot in common.
Ian has far more finches and parrots than I have, as we might have expected because he is closer to open grassland (food source for both families) and has more mature tress which provide nesting hollows for the parrots. He also has more water-birds, partly because he is relatively close to the dam but also because he has a small creek running (after rain, at least) across the back of his property. Continue reading “Birds in the ‘burbs – Mundingburra and Kelso”