Torres Strait Pigeons, aka Pied Imperial-Pigeons (i.e. PIPs) and Koels, aka Stormbirds or Rainbirds, are Wet-season visitors to the Townsville region. As I write, the Wet hasn’t arrived but the visitors have been with us for months.
The PIPs are often to be seen high in the tallest trees; their call is a baritone “Coo”, as befits their size, and we tend to smile when we hear them. The Koels, on the other hand, are rarely seen but the males’ incessant calling – a frantic rising wockawockwocka! – can wear out its welcome. The females are far quieter, which is probably a good thing.
Wildlife Queensland intended to visit Mount Stuart on March 24 but their date clashed with a biking event on the mountain so they went to Alligator Creek instead. I, on the other hand, went to their first-choice location a week later. My reasoning was that all the rain we’ve had recently would have made it exceptionally green, and so it was.
I said in August 2016 that, “The summit is a difficult environment for plants and animals alike: very exposed, very dry, and with only a thin covering of soil where there is any at all. Vegetation is ‘open woodland’ with a decent covering of tussocky grass, but most of the trees are tiny. Ants seem to be the most abundant invertebrates but there were other insects to be found as well as the spiders which prey on them.”
New plant growth always feeds more vegetarian insects, which in turn feed more carnivorous insects, spiders and birds, so conditions were good for all of them on this visit. Paperbarks and other trees were in bud rather than in full flower, so the flower spikes of the Grass-trees (Xanthorrhea) were the main nectar source, attracting European honey bees, several species of fly, Tiger moths, beetles and ants – and one Rainbow Lorikeet, too intent on lunch to fly off.
Butterflies included Blue Tiger, Glasswing, Common Crow, Grass Yellow, Ringlets and Blues. Nearly all the spiders I saw were orb-weavers, Neoscona and Eriophora species, but there were some Jumping spiders and one silver orb-weaver, Leucauge sp. Ants were everywhere, and there were quite a few wasps and beetles.
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”
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
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.
The Townsville region received quite a deluge between mid February and early March, after a dry start to what we hoped would be a good Wet. Green Path recently posted photos of the Town Common after rain, and here are some from Hervey’s Range to the West of the city.