Sunday, 27 November 2016

Fair weather suits finches just fine

Cumulus humilis, Flagstone Creek.

Dry conditions have settled in this spring in the Lockyer Valley, with less than half the monthly rainfall average being delivered for November.

Cumulus fractus, Flagstone Creek.
I headed out there this week to study cloud formations in the hills surrounding Flagstone Creek, but with such a lack of moisture in the air, there was little to see unfortunately.

I have been wanting to test out my cloud identification skills ever since I learned that meteorologists actually assign each variety a genus and species name, just like a living organism.

On this particular morning, however, all I could see for the most part were small, misshapen strands of condensation in the air, a formation known as Cumulus fractus.

These can dissipate as easily as they form, but where ridge lines and mountaintops feed them with updrafts full of warmth and moisture, they can develop into the more structured cumulus form (Cumulus humilis) that most people are familiar with.

Cumulus humilis, Flagstone Creek.

Indeed, by mid-morning, this was what was happening on the horizon all around me.

While I enjoyed my cloud-watching, there was a lot of wildlife that competed for my attention also.

Most remarkable were the flocks of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) bouncing through the air from shrub to shrub.

Zebra finch, Flagstone Creek.

Caper white, Flagstone Creek.
Having never seen this iconic bird of the Australian outback before, I was delighted to get a good, up-close view of a male gathering nesting material along the roadside.

This observation, along with some of the flock members being immature birds, suggests that they are actually breeding residents of the area.

Other creatures seen on the gravel road verge included large numbers of caper white (Belenois java) butterflies and yellow-winged locusts (Gastrimargus musicus).

Yellow-winged locust, Flagstone Creek.

Huge meat ant (Iridomyrmex species) nests offered another example of just how well insects can thrive in hot, dry weather.

Meat ant nest, Flagstone Creek.

Further afield on the parched hillsides were remnant trees from the scrub that once cloaked the area, with the narrow-leaved bottletrees (Brachychiton rupestris) standing out in particular.

Remnant vegetation, Flagstone Creek.

Luckily, there are bigger clouds and soaking rains on the horizon, with a week of thunderstorm activity forecast from this weekend onwards.

Keep an eye out for that most impressive of clouds, the Cumulonimbus incus!

Suspicious locals, Flagstone Creek.


  1. Love the shots of the zebra Finches and the 3 cows looking down the lens. Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Thanks Margaret, they were both lovely sights to behold, the finches especially!

  2. That must have been a treat to see the Zebra Finch. Great capture. I wish we had some rain clouds here now.

    1. It certainly was, Diane! They are not a bird I expected to see in SEQ.

      The rain has turned out patchy but decent - hope you got some! :)

  3. looks awesome! Yeah, here on the coast we've had a fair amount, which has brought out frogs (of course) and large numbers of birds! come to the sunshine coast and see what you can find!

    1. Funny you should mention it, but that's exactly my plan for this weekend! :)

    2. What a coincidence! We recently just had a storm which brought a couple of frogs out and lots of Channel Billed cuckoos and Koels.