Birds at Ross Dam

The best time to see birds is early in the morning but that means getting up even earlier than they do. I managed that (with a bit of encouragement) last Saturday and got to Ross Dam by 7 o’clock.

Mt Elliott from Ross Dam
Streamers of cloud draped across Mout Elliott

The dam wall offers the best views, so that’s where I began. There are usually a few raptors to be seen from it. There were more than usual this time, attracted, according to the high-vis dog-walker in my photo, by some burning-off in the area. (Some remnant smoke is visible in the photo.)

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Ross Dam and the Borrow Pits

We visited Ross Dam recently with members of Wildlife Queensland’s Townsville Branch for a morning of birdwatching and botanising.  We wandered along the dam wall, back to the park at its foot, and then down to the Borrow Pits nearby.

The dam was much lower than on my last visits, in March and May of last year, but the Borrow Pit made me a liar by being emptier than when I saw it in December 2013. Perhaps we had had more rain before that visit than we have had in the last few months?

Views from the dam wall

Ross Dam
Looking along the dam wall

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Black Weir to Ross Dam

My ongoing exploration of the Ross River bikeways has ameliorated the lockdown for me to some extent, and bike shops report booming sales as others enjoy the same outlet.

I completed the Riverway circuit (introduced here) by riding on the Riverside Gardens side of the river from Black Weir to the motorway bridge and returning past the Riverway Arts Centre (closed since the 2019 floods), sports fields and playgrounds. That side was more interesting and enjoyable than the other, which just runs through a narrow strip of parkland between houses and the river like the rest of the Riverside Gardens section.

motorway bridge
The motorway bridge, with the footbridge slung beneath it

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Look at all that lovely water!

A visit to Kelso on Saturday gave me a chance to see Ross Dam, nearly full again after dropping steadily from this time last year until the last week of January.  The sign said it was at 85% but the number doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the view from the dam wall.

Ross Dam nearly full
Ross Dam, looking from the wall towards Toonpan and Barringha

It’s raining as I write, and the BOM is forecasting more rain in coming days – up to and including a possible cyclone – so it’s quite likely the dam will fill before the Wet season ends in about a month.

What we’ve had so far this year, according to the BoM, is about 600 mm since the last week of January.

What we would like, of course, is just enough rain, nicely spread out through the month. What we will get is, as always, unpredictable.

Townsville’s 2018 Wet Season and what comes after

We’re officially in Winter now and I reckon we moved definitively into the Dry season a fortnight ago, so it’s worth looking back at the Wet and seeing what’s likely to happen to our water supply in the Dry.

Wet season rainfall and the year to come

Herveys Range rain radar
Here comes the rain! Hervey’s Range rain radar, 9.15 pm on Feb 20, 2018

BoM climate data reveals that our rainfall so far this year, Jan – Feb – Mar – April – May, was 118 – 285 – 343 – 10 – 2 mm, for a total of 760 mm.

Of that, 435 mm fell in the last week of February and the first two days of March when a rain depression was trapped over the city; an unusual but very welcome event which made the difference between another really  weak Wet and a nearly-average one. Continue reading “Townsville’s 2018 Wet Season and what comes after”