Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Wildlife Report

This month, I am presenting three photographs taken by other residents here in South-east Queensland.

Supercell Thunderstorm, Kai Linkerhof.

Approaching storm, Brisbane City.

Taken on Thursday 27th November, this incredible photo shows a powerful and destructive storm bearing down on Brisbane. Two thunderstorms already labelled as severe by the Bureau of Meteorology merged on approach to Brisbane, forming a 'supercell' that unleashed tropical cyclone strength winds on an unsuspecting city.

I watched the storm advance towards me from my front garden. As soon as I felt the competing air streams rush past - one humid and warm, the other icy and brittle - I realised the gravity of what I was witnessing and ran for shelter. The wind began to roar like a waterfall, and for twenty terrifying seconds, I was sure I was about to experience my first (and last) tornado. Instead, an intense wall of wind called a 'microburst' rushed through the neighbourhood, tearing roofs off houses and sending trees crashing down. My house and car weathered the storm, but the outdoor pergola was not so lucky, with the canopy being torn to shreds by golf-ball sized hail. The damage total for the whole of Brisbane city is expected to reach $150 million.

Southern Ribbonfish, North Stradbroke Island.

Southern Ribbonfish, Darren Burns.

Thanks to Brisbane playing host to the G20 World Leader's Summit this month, residents were given a long weekend from the 14th-16th November. Our conservative Federal Government hosts were reluctant to include climate change on the event agenda, but 'Mother Nature' didn't seem to get the memo - temperatures over that spring weekend reached an unbearable 41C in parts of South-east Queensland.

As a result, many Brisbane residents spent those sweltering days on the coast. Those that went to North Stradbroke Island were greeted with the strange sight of a Southern Ribbonfish (Trachipterus jacksonensis) carcass on Main Beach. Despite being rarely seen and poorly known, the creature's anatomy still manages to give away clues about its lifestyle; the large eyes allow it to live in a deep ocean environment for example, and the protractible mouth is perfect for sucking up squid. This photo was shared by SEQ Catchments on their Facebook page, which I highly recommend following.

Wood Sandpiper, Sandgate.

Wood Sandpiper, Greg Roberts.

This month has seen Brisbane exceed its average November rainfall figure, mostly thanks to just the two severe thunderstorms we endured. It hasn't been enough to completely refill the local wetlands, but it has allowed them to persist in their depleted condition.

In its half-full state, Sandgate's Dowse Lagoon has turned into something of a birding hotspot. Many migratory waders are arriving to take advantage of the new stretches of shallow water appearing throughout the lagoon, including some significant rarities. Among the large flocks of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (Calidris acuminata) are exciting species like a Pectoral (C. melanotos) and Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), the latter bird being featured on Greg's excellent Sunshine Coast Birds blog. Photographed on the November 20th, it will be interesting to see how long these migrants remain in the area.

Now let's see what December brings!


  1. i had heard about that terrible storm system that came through brisbane! so glad your home and car are okay, but i'm certain many have suffered damages. thanks for sharing these photos!

    1. Wow, didn't realise it made the news elsewhere, but a friend in Toronto also checked in with me. Yes, thankfully, everything was fine for us!

  2. We have been following Greg Roberts sunshinecoastbirds blog for some time and have discovered SEQ Catchments facebook page recently; both are excellent. We love your blog. Just goes to show that there are still plenty of fascinating sights to discover around south-east QLD.

    1. And now National Park Odyssey adds to all the passionate voice out there, advocating for the environment! :)

  3. that first shot is amazingly menacing. Great find that fish.

    1. I can tell you, it looked menacing in the thick of it too! Haha!

  4. The first photo really is superb in capturing the incoming threat. I can imagine being in that storm would be truly frightening.

    Well of course I'd never heard of ribbon fish but it does look most unusual. They do say that the oceans are the last unexplored wilderness with so much yet to discover.

    Yes, we too in the UK get Sharp-tailed, Pec and Wood Sandpipers. A small world containing some amazing creatures indeed.

    1. It's surprising what birds overlap between the UK and Australia really. There are the waders of course, but also Coots, Barn Owls, Great Crested Grebes and even the occasional Barn Swallow.

      We have a weekend of more storms lined up, so wish us luck! :)