Sunday, 14 October 2018

Early October weather

A few uimages etc which I need to publish to link to.

On 14/10 the Weatherzone radar looks promising.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Boofhead and bugs

I continue to try to get photos of Cockatoos with crests raised.  Yesterday I got pretty close with Cacatua roseicapilla boofheadi (the Bogan Galah).
 Also yesterday I was pruning some eucalypt regrowth (I think E. mannifera) from one of our boundary fences and noticed some pretty bugs (ie members of the Order Hemiptera).  I didn't have any optical kit with me, so went back today.  Here are some photos: I can't put any more detail to the beasties - searching by Googl;e for "Red and black leafhopper " only got some UK species.

 This shows how they were spread around the tree.
Following an id to family as Eurymelidse (by Penny Gullan) and following a Google for "Eurymelid". I have been able to identify it as Eurymelops rubrovittata: this is the first time I have found Canberra Nature Map useful! Apparently the sighting recorded there was the first for the ACT Region (whatever that may be).  I shall add my sighting to the Atlas of Living Australia.

As I walked home I found quite a few of the regrowing trees, over a distance of about 300m had the bugs on them.  In one case there were also these things, which could be egg cases.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Homewards bound

It was Frances. turn to have a foul night's sleep, mainly due to noise from the local dogs,  We have noticed in the past that this is often a problem in country towns (Bourke is the worst I had noticed until now).  Presumably the fence-looker was part of the problem.

So we broke our fast broke, down the tent - finding that the underside of the floor was both dirty and damp due to the rain - packed the car and headed for the poo pits.

As it was still early in the morning the insects were not a problem this time.   The avian highlight was finding about 20 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers: some were in one of the lagoons,
 ... while most were in a marsh alongside the pits.  Also in the pits were about 10 Red-capped Plovers, which we hadn't seen the previous day.

We had seen a White-breasted Woodswallow the previous day but it hadn't been as cooperative in posing as this specimen.
 On our way towards West Wyalong, where a pie was acquired from the Roundabout Bakery.  This was a Pepper Steak specimen and after applying  the official guidelines it came out with a score of 6: adequate but not startling.  However it was then a matter of finding somewhere to munch it which got us into a Rest Area where we found many interesting things.  This has led to the pie scoring a bonus point for stimulating an interesting visit to somewhere we wouldn't otherwise have gone.  (The Committee has been consulted and that has now been added to the official score.  NB: the ideal size of a Committee is 1.)

The most obvious feature of the site was this replica poppet head built for the centenary of the town in 1994.  I had never realised that this was a gold mining area but apparently they extracted 445,700 ounces of gold (worth roughly $750 million at current prices) from 368,203 tons of ore.
 I have no idea why this log cabin was here, but it was interestingly decrepid!
 There seemed to be a sculpture park here which needs more exploration .  This work is called Elephant and is by a sculptor from Wyalong by name of Ralph Tikerpae
 A nearby eucalypt was in exciting colour.  One of the few flowering plants seen on the trip.
 Some very noisy Apostlebirds signalled that they had a nest near by.  Proving they are cooperative breeders one bird was on the nest with another in close attendance.  (Several others were buzzing about in other trees.)
 We pressed on down the road a little to Centenary Lake, some 2.5 km out of Temora.  This time there were 2 Magpie Geese!
 Also 2 Yellow-billed Spoonbills.
It was then on down the road.  The most interesting sight in this was the level crossing at Stockinbingal with barriers down and lights flashing but no train in sight in either direction (see 4 red dots).  About 5 cars were there and they all followed the green arrows ...
So did we and then  got caught for 5 minutes by some useless temporary lights (2 red dots) at road non-works. 

The rest of the trip was a simple rumble down the road, getting home at about 1530.  By the time I had unloaded the car there was just time to watch the last 45 minutes of the Bathurst 1000 (just as Lowndes took the lead).

A day in the West

I had a really crappy night's sleep - woke up after a few hours with my mind finding all sorts of things to keep me awake.  However we did manage to get about a bit.

The first interesting thing was Frances noticed a Crested Pigeon nest right above the tent,
 Unfortunately there was a broken egg on the ground and I think the est was deserted later in the day.  However the birds seemed to be in the mood to start again: definitely seemed to be "tough love" with one bird constantly grabbing the other one's neck.
 Our first call - before breakfast - was to the waste water treatment plant (aka the poo pits).  As well as the water the old dead trees are important as a site for nesting by several species of parrot and cockatoo.
For example, this Cockatiel:

There were a good lot of ducks, with at least 200 each of Grey Teal and Pink-eared Ducks.  This is a small portion of the swimming flock.
Quite a few waders including these Red-necked Avocets ...
.. some sandpipers, Stilts and Red-kneed Dotterels.

We then adjourned to the tent for breakfast.  By the time we got back the 'vanners were leaving.  One couple had interesting contrast in footwearings.
How (and/or why) do you keep boots that shiny when camping out West?

A Yellow-throated Miner perched on the tent.  It left a sample of DNA if any taxonomist wishes to collect same from the fly sheet!
The people from the Illawarra we met at Centenary Lake said that they had had a great visit to Murrin Bridge Reserve.  As we found that dogs were not prohibited (apparently it is a Travelling Stock Reserve not a Nature Reserve) we went in.  There were a few issues>

  1. a lot of burr-clovers which gave Tammy some grief;
  2. some of the tracks were a bit damp, but to quote Jake Blues "Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration" didn't fail us in the soggy bits; and
  3. there was an enormous amount of litter - mainly beer bottles ... 

.... but also several burnt out cars.

A female Red-capped Robin was a nice sighting as was a group (family?) of three Whistling Kites.
The Lachlan River forms the Northern boundary of the Reserve and had a good flow.  Presumably this was from the track soggying rain of Thursday.
On to Chat Alley.  It had some White-fronted Chats but neither of the other two Chat species.  Some White-winged Fairy Wrens were a good sighting as was a small group of Zebra Finches.
We then headed for Sheet of Water but didn't go the most direct route as that was marked 'dry weather only' (see point 2 above).  We actually failed to get there as  the road rain out and th fisherpeople there didn't know the route.  (I have just realised that what we thought was a track into private property was actually the road we should have taken.)  However we did see these Carp placed in a good position
 and a pretty fair sized Goanna
Another side road revealed some Fairy Martins gathering mud for their nests.
After a snooze by me and a stroll along the Lake by Frances we went back to the poo pits to see what they were like later in the day.  Insect enhanced was the answer: aggressive meat-ants underfoot and inquisitive blowies in the air.  Not as relaxed as our walk in the morning.  The Dorpers were moving out on to the mud.
Before calling it a day we returned to the lake to check out a wader Frances had seen.  This turned out to be a Marsh Sandpiper, which are not common.
It has long legs for a sandpiper, but a Pied Stilt shows what really long legs are like!
Back at the tent we were looked at by this pooch.  The fence it is looking over is about 1.5m high.  I suspect it is a Great Dane.



Friday, 5 October 2018

To Lake Cargelligo (again)

WE decided some weeks ago to pay a visit to Lake Cargelligo before it got too hot.  That resolved to leaving today.   The route was straightforward: Harden- Temora - West Wyalong - Lake Cargelligo a total of about 450kms of pretty easy driving.

When we done this before the country has been very yellow with Canola flowers at this time of year.  At the start it appeared that the dry meant this wouldn't be the case.  However the paddocks soon went the expected colour.
We started under drizzly skies but as the canola increased the overcast rolled back. 
The first town we drove through was Harden- Murrumburrah where an enormous funeral was being held on the far side of the town.  It turns out this was a Robert Stewart from a property called Springfield.  He must have been well respected to draw a crowd that big: hopefully his nominated charity - the Harden Murrumburrah Branch of CanAssist  -got a good boost.

We decided to pull in to Centenary Lake outside Temora as they offered a dunnie, which seemed desirable after 300km.  There were a few birds around and a bunch of birders.  It turned out they were from Wollongong and we recognised each others names from eBird!  One of them was a teacher and had acquired some bullock bones for use in the class.

They put us on to some good birds including a Glossy Ibis (not photod) and a Magpie Goose- far less expected.

Pressing on the clouds became a little more interesting.

The roadsides also got more interesting, showing signs of the good rain of the previous day (which is a bugger, as it might curtail some of our planned activities).

We got to the Lake , and noted the interesting altitude graph available for the Pajero information system.  I'll do a better graph when we get home.

Here is the better graph:
Certainly Harden is still High Country, and I think Stockingbal at 300m is also high.  Reefton, just before West Wyalong at 250m is my tip for the start of the low inland.

After setting up the tent
.we went for a short walk around the end of the ton and the lake produced a few good birds, of which the best was a Pied Butcherbird back at the camp.
Another species of goose was in the caravan park:
You'd have to be a goose to spend an hour washing your car on a camping trip!

Monday, 1 October 2018

September 2018 Carwoola Weather

Here is the final Gazette format summary of the weather.  The only change is a slight increase in the average temperature.  With regard to rainfall I wonder if we are moving from drought to desertification.

Rainfall

Non-trivial rain fell on 2 consecutive days early in the month and we had a couple of mornings foggy enough to condense 0.2mm.  Surprisingly it wasn't the driest September of all time, although well below average.
Every month in 2018 has been below average, and in most cases below the equivalent month in 2017.   This is reflected in the Gazette summary with the pro-rata estimate of total rainfall for the year being 80mm below the lowest annual amount recorded since 1984.  In terms of Year-to-Date rainfall we are currently at 48.4% of average.  

It is now 21 months since this dry period began.  The next 2 charts focus on a rolling 21 month period.  Going back to the start of our community records in 1984 shows a pattern of booms and busts.  The most recent boom was the biggest and - perhaps from a sense of balance - the current bust is also the most extreme.
Focusing on the most recent 'bust' cycle -   which I have eyeballed as starting in March 2011 - clearly shows the downwards trend.
It probably doesn't matter that we don't have a paddle, as the Creek isn't flowing!

Temperatures

For reasons covered in the past this section is restricted to the period since 2010.

The month was a mixture of warm days and cool nights.  There is no significant trend through the month in any of the series

Maximum Temperatures

The average maximum through the month was close to average and close to 20178.
 Focusing on the series for the month of September there appears to have been a cooling trend for a few years with the last two showing a slight upturn.

Minimum temperatures

The average minimum temperature was well below the average since 2010 and the value for 2017.  This is probably a function of the relatively dry conditions with little overnight cloud to act as a blanket.
 Looking at average minima since 2010 we have a cross section of the Alps!  No significant trend.
My "extra" area of interest in the cold months is the number of frosts.  In September 2018 we had an above average number of light frosts (below 2oC equivalent to 0oC at ground level) but slightly below average (7 nights, with the average being 7.9 nights) hard frosts (below 0oC in the air at screen level).
It isn't clear to me what this means: 

Average temperatures.

The best way of indicating what is going on with average temperatures is to illustrate the difference between the average temperature for the current month and the long term mean average for that month.  I have two ways of assessing the mean: 
  1. the actual average as recorded by my weather station since 2013; and
  2. estimating the average as (max temp+ min temp)/2, which is available since 2010.
The first method is more accurate but I have shown both in following chart.
The estimation method (#2 above) is probably best viewed as indicating the seasonal bias of that method!  However both methods suggest that September 2018 was not, on average, warmer than recent Septembers.

Humidity

As would be expected from the low rainfall a pretty arid month.
Looking at these daily values the most striking feature is the very low values for some of the 0900 hrs readings.  I tend to regard rH values below 40% as low for the 1500hrs readings, let alone 0900 (which is on average 20-30 percentage points higher).

This led me to generate a NEW!!! EXCITING!!! chart of 0900 Relative Humidity comparing this year with last year and the average since 2014. Overall this year is a little below average (and the trend line) but a little above last year.
Much the same comments apply to the 1500hrs chart which I have usually shown.
The two trendlines are close to parallel with the monthly differences being about 30 percentage points in the hotter months and 20 points in winter.

Wind

Subject to the usual caveats, last month was close to normal draughtiness for September and a lot less than last year (which as shown, was unusually blustery).