Deep Dry

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Woko
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Deep Dry

Where I live in SA is in a deep dry at the moment. Not only that but temperatures, until these last few days, have been near or in record territory.

Bird breeding incidents have been as low as I've seen in the 32 years I've lived in this part of the world while at the same time there have been very few butterfly sightings. Other insects have been few & far between, even on humid evenings when I'd expect to see swarms of them being hawked by New Holland Honeyeaters. Last night there was not one moth around the back verandah light. As well, few Eucalypts have flowered & many of the Dryland Tea Trees Melaleuca lanceolata which are usually flowering at this time of the year are not even showing buds.

Bird numbers generally, but particularly those of smaller birds, have dropped significantly. E.g., I can usually rely on counting a maximum of about 40 New Holland Honeyeaters in a week but numbers are around the mid teens at present. Nature seems to have shut down in response to the deep dry.

I've also observed that many trees are shedding a lot more bark & leaves this summer. However, this seems to benefit small lizards such as Tawny Dragons which I've seen scuttling amidst & under shed bark. This may in due course benefit birds which predate small lizards. I'll keep my eyes peeled but in the meantime the response to this long, hot, dry period is quite fascinating. With an increase in intensity of this kind of weather due to climate change many of these changes may well become permanent. Not good for bird watchers let me assure you.

Woko
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Coincidentally, Professor of Biology at University of South Australia Chris Daniels was discussing on radio this morning how native creatures survive hot droughts. One strategy some use is to burrow adjacent to & beneath the trunks of trees, particularly River Red Gums Eucalyptus camaldulensis, where conditions are significantly cooler.

Those Birds in Backyarders with cracker memories might recall that I posted a couple of years ago about the trees, including several River Red Gums, which toppled during extremely windy conditions at our place. I wondered at the time what purpose the disturbed soil & deep holes & crevices made by the topplings might serve. Based on Chris Daniel's information this morning I imagine that the bases of these trees are providing good refuge for a number of native critters. While birds are unlikely to have used this strategy at least their tucker might have.

On a slightly different tack, I notice that Australian Swamp Rats have burrowed beneath a number of fallen trees' branches. The branches provide good protection from predators, I strongly suspect. In spite of the dry conditions here I've seen two Australian Swamp Rats in the last couple of months, a time of the year when, I understand, these animals are sheltering in their burrows.

Lightuningbird
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The think the drought has effected the birds here...iv been seeing cockatiels and a few zebra finches. Normally don’t see them here.

also, iv notest that the avoiries gouldian finches didn’t breed that much this year (there there original non domestic finches, good to keep a rare bird wild) and when they did breed they only bread males. Would the climate effect there gender? Wile it was cooler, there were more females.

Wimmera mally region, Vic.

Woko
Woko's picture

I think it’s worth being alert to unusual wildlife & plant events during droughts, floods & anything else that’s unusual weather-wise. (However, some weather events which were once unusual are now quite normal these days). Yesterday I saw 7 Purple-crowned Lorikeets, the most i’ve seen for many a long year. This is a species more common to the dry mallee country east of where I live. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for any other dry country species which might come my way perhaps because they find conditions to their liking here.  

Lightuningbird
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Iv also notest there are less corellas, but I think this is quite normal they tend to disappear wile summer. Also I’m not to shaw we’re they go. Iv also notest that a smell group of wite cockatoos have appeared, wich (according to my mother) haven’t been seen in a number of years. This could just be cuss not many people round here don’t look at birds, and cockatoos tend to look like corellas wile in flocks with them.

havent seen much change with the plants, but there has been a lot of star grass. But that may just be cause we no longer have a sheep.

Wimmera mally region, Vic.

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