Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Drought Continues 1

Back in July 2018  I wrote about the drought that was affecting 99% of our state and linked it to a photo essay from The Guardian that showed how desperate things were for our farmers.
A year on a follow up photo essay shows that things have not improved.
New South Wales Drought Map July 2019

Here on the South Coast we have had minimal rainfall over the last year. 
Despite the odd heavy storm related downpour, our creek is still not running and our dams are still looking a sorry sight.
We have once again started hand feeding our small herd of cattle with $28/bale hay over winter.
Now, while our livelihood does not depend on weather, thirty years of living in a rural environment tends to make one more than sympathetic for the plight of those where it does.
Meanwhile climate change scepticism within much of world leadership runs rampant and they continue to fiddle while Rome (and the Arctic) burns.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

There's a New Bird in Town

We throw out vegetative kitchen scraps on the garden outside the little house to become compost.
Not much of it makes it that far.
The area has become a gathering place for kangaroos, wallabies and birds, mainly currawongs, magpies and satin birds who enjoy an easy meal.
Lately a large group of black birds has descended on the bounty, scaring away the others in a show of force.
They are larger than a crow, have a white flash on their wings and bright red eyes
A quick Google established that they are the white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos) which is one of only two surviving members of the Australian mud-nest builders family.

It is only distantly related to the European choughs that it closely resembles in shape, and for which it was named. 
They are easily mistaken for "crows"
Those red eyes become swollen and brighter in colour when the bird is excited.
White-winged choughs are not particularly strong or agile fliers and spend the great majority of their time on the ground, foraging methodically through leaf litter for worms, insects, grain, and snails in a loose group.

A rich find is the cause of general excitement and all come running in to share in it.
This is the behaviour we are witnessing.
They live in flocks of from about 4 up to about 20 birds, usually all the offspring of a single pair.
So they are new around here and we expect to see more of them.