Greetings from cyclone-ravaged Queensland! Whether you're reading this from Brisbane, interstate or overseas, you have probably heard the news of Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia bearing down on the central Queensland coast, unleashing havoc and fury as a category five storm.
|Bureau of Meteorology forecast, correctly predicting the course that|
Tropical Cyclone Marcia would travel.
As an avid armchair-stormchaser, I followed the developments of this system as it began life in the Coral Sea as a tropical low. Just 72 hours before it made landfall at Shoalwater Bay, it had been forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology to be nothing more than a category one storm when it reached land. Marcia had other plans though: she increased in size and ferocity with astonishing speed, escalating to a category five cyclone over the course of one day and generating sustained winds of up to 215 kilometers per hour. After landfall near Yeppoon, Marcia moved steadily south along the Great Dividing Range, weakening and reverting to a tropical low upon reaching South-east Queensland. By then, several records had been broken: Tropical Cyclone Marcia is the furthest south that a category five system has made landfall since European settlement in Australia; thanks to Severe Tropical Cyclone Lam in the Northern Territory, it was also the first time two cyclones have made simultaneous landfall on the coastline of one country. Expect more weather records to be broken in coming years.
|Beach Stone-Curlew pair, Bongaree.|
In South-east Queensland, Marcia's effects were mostly felt by the amount of water that fell from the sky, bringing widespread flash-flooding. The Caboolture area received the highest rainfalls over the weekend, with a total of 541mm recorded. When the low pressure system moved offshore, I headed to Buckley's Hole Conservation Park on Bribie Island, to assess the impact of the storm for myself. Strewn debris along the severely-eroded beach was the only indicator of Marcia's presence, and there were none of the dead or exhausted seabirds I had feared there might be. Quite the opposite in fact: on the shores of Pumicestone Passage were a healthy collection of several rare and uncommon birds, including Beach Stone-Curlews (Esacus magnirostris), Greater Sand-Plovers (Charadrius leschenaultii) and Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa).
|Wombat Berry, Moorooka.|
|Verreaux's Skink, Sandgate.|
This month, I also joined a bushcare project at Chelsea Street Environmental Reserve, where I was offered a warm welcome by a lovely group of regular volunteers. I hope to continue this monthly exercise for the rest of the year, as it's the least I can do in the service of such an incredible, fauna-rich reserve. On a spotlighting walk there earlier this month, I was pleased to find a calling group of Striped Rocketfrogs (Litoria nasuta); even better was discovering a peculiar Spiny Bark Mantis (Gyromantis kraussi) on the trunk of a she-oak tree. If any Redcliffe locals wish to join in on this bushcare project, volunteers meet from 7:30-9:30am on the second Saturday of each month.
|Spiny Bark Mantis, Kippa-Ring.|