A few weeks ago I received an enquiry from a reader: did I know what was happening with the Blue Tigers at Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island?
At that time all I knew was second-hand or worse but soon afterwards I saw a local ABC News report about thousands of them on the site of the old Horseshoe Bay school, which I was fortunate enough to visit with family and friends at the end of May. It was a magical experience.
My very first impression of Townsville’s landscape, thirty years ago, was of dead-flat land interrupted by peculiarly isolated hills and ranges, and it has only been reinforced over the years by views and events.
The views? Getting to know the topography from the top of Castle Hill, Mt Stuart or (most recently) Mt Marlow on the Town Common reveals a coastal landscape of mangrove flats rising (minimally) to the suburbs which wrap around the bases of the hills, with Ross River, Ross Creek and the Bohle River winding lazily through them.
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.
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: