The Town Common in September

The Town Common Conservation Park, to give it its full name, is a valuable wetland year-round but changes with the seasons. Now, in mid-September, it is drying out. Grasses and small shrubs are dying off except where they are in or near the remaining open water. Water birds are returning to the Common as other resources dry out even more, but insects and other birds are not so numerous.

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Many Peaks trail revisited

I walked the Many Peaks trail again last weekend, almost exactly a year after my previous visit. This time, walking with friends, I didn’t stop so often to look at little wildlife, but we still took about five hours for the twelve kilometres or so. That seems, in fact, to be a reasonable minimum time for the route for anyone who wants to enjoy it.

The Wet is well over but there is still open water. The water birds, however, still have other options and are not in great numbers on the Common. That said, we did see Drongo, Magpie Geese, Egret, Peaceful Dove, Honeyeaters, Rainbow Bee-eater, hawk (probably Black Kite), Plovers, Scrub Turkey and other species.

The Tawny Coster is now so well established that it was one of the commonest butterflies but there were plenty of the usual Swamp Tigers, Blue Tigers, Crows (both Common and Brown) and others.

view of Many Peaks Range
Bald Rock from near Tegoora Rock

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Many Peaks Range and Magnetic Island

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.

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Many Peaks trail and Mount Marlow

Town Common from the Many Peaks track
Town Common from the Many Peaks track: Freshwater bird hide at centre left, Mt Stuart on the horizon and Bald Rock at far right

I hiked up Mount Marlow via the Many Peaks Trail on the Common (see map) four years ago and noted in my post about it that I was glad I had chosen not to rush it. Last Tuesday I started an hour later, at about 9.20, but finished at the same time, and wished I had allowed more time for it.

Pallarenda to the top of the hill, 4.5 km according to the sign, took a little over two hours of fairly steady walking on the very rough track so I stopped for a snack and the views on top of Mt Marlow. Continue reading “Many Peaks trail and Mount Marlow”

Lovely weather for ducks!

We’ve had lovely weather for ducks in the last week – ever since I posted about last year’s rainfall, in fact, although I don’t think my post was the cause. I visited the Town Common on Wednesday morning and enjoyed sloshing around in intermittent drizzle before the really heavy rain started about 11 o’clock. Everything was beautifully green and the waterbirds were feeding happily.

cattle egrets on Town Common
Cattle Egrets and others under dark grey skies

Most of this group were Cattle Egrets (more precisely Eastern Cattle Egrets, Bubulcus coromandus) – which are pure white in non-breeding plumage and rufous in breeding plumage. The bigger pure white birds are Intermediate Egrets (Ardea intermedia).

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