A Parched Landscape
|Humpback Whale, Noosa Heads|
- despite the impressive light show, these storms don't seem to be dropping all that much rain on the parched landscape.
|Nobbi Dragon, Joyner|
Animals like the Nobbi Dragon (Diporiphora nobbi) enjoy the dry heat. I had my first ever sighting of one by Lake Samsonvale last week, when I was trying to find the local Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) there for my visitors. This particular lizard was a male in breeding colours, and these first few weeks of genuinely hot spring weather are perhaps his busiest time of year. Butterflies like the Wanderer (Danaus plexippus) seem to take the heat in their stride also.
The beach has been a lovely place to be in such circumstances, and in between swims and sunscreen applications, I have noticed that it seems to be a case of 'business as usual' for the local marine life. On a day trip to Noosa National Park, my friend Katie and I were thrilled to see Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching out to sea and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) frolicking closer into shore, both species appearing to have not a worry in the world.
|Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, Noosa Heads|
|Brown Quail, Rocklea|
I do notice that bird behaviour changes in these unforgivingly dry conditions. For example, species that usually stick to dense cover find their grassy hideaways beginning to wilt and thin out, forcing them into more exposed foraging sites. As a result, this month I have had excellent views of birds including Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora), Latham's Snipe (Gallinago hardiwickii) and Painted Button-Quail (Turnix varius), the latter species being a bird I've only encountered once before.
Evaporating wetlands also have an effect on the the local bird fauna. Sandgate's Dowse Lagoon in particular is a place to watch carefully right now, for as the water level lowers, interesting birds like the Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) and Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) are appearing overnight on newly-revealed mudbanks. Species that prefer deeper water have reduced in numbers however, with White-eyed Ducks (Aythya australis) and Australasian Grebes (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) being suddenly less common at the site. For more on these and other birds, check out 'Wild Bird Wednesday', a collection of birding blogs from around the world.
|Green Tree Frog, Kippa-Ring|
The creatures I feel most sorry for in these times of drought though are the frogs. Not only do they need water as part of their breeding cycle, but their skin also requires moisture in order to perform basic essential functions like transpiration. On a night tour of Chelsea Street Environmental Reserve, my friends and I came across a Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) shortly after dark, perhaps roused into activity by the nearby lightning storms that were flickering through the trees. Unfortunately, the thunderclouds failed to produce even a single drop of rain in the area, a situation that I hope gets rectified soon.
|Fringe Myrtle (Calytrix tetragona), Glass House Mountains|