About Me

My photo
This blog started when we lived in a Carwoola, a rural residential area close to Canberra. We are moving to a split lifestyle with an apartment in Civic in Canberra and a larger house at Mallacoota in Victoria. Posts about the new residences will start when we complete the moves.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Starting up in Civic

This is just to start some posts about our move to an apartment in Civic. Or Canberra City or 'City" or Canberra - I really can't determine what the area is called, but it the centre of Canberra on the Northern side of Lake Burley Griffin.

This first image puts the building in the neighbourhood context.
 The second gives an idea of the views to the West and North.
  • Point 1 is Mount Coree;
  • Point 2 is (I think) One Tree Hill; and
  • Point 3 is the northern end of Mt Majura.
  • Home (ie former home at Carwoola) is not visible although from some angles Taliesin Ridge, immediately behind it, is.
The distant view of the area between the purple lines is blocked, mainly by Black Mountain, but with an assist to the NE by the high rise across Akuna street.  Distant views to the ENE (roughly a line from the house to Point 3) are also blocked in this case by Mounts Ainslie and Majura.

This view looks across North Canberra and Gungahlin to One Tree Hill.
The large lump on the rhs is Black Mountain, with Mt Coree adjacent to it, and the Brindabellas running South from there..  We could have some nice views of snow in the Winter.
Thinking more about the weather this flag on a crane shows the direction (here, Easterly) and indicates the strength of the breeze.  I consider it unAustralian of the CFMEU to have given up on the Eureka flag!
I have no idea what the middle flag in this set represents.  It  isn't quite right for an historic English Red Ensign, and the current British Red Ensign has the Union Jack in place of the red cross in a white canton.
Thanks to friends Rob and Carol I now know the middle flag is that of Tonga.  I might take myself for a walk to find out why that flag is on a building site in the middle of Canberra!

The following view is about the least appealing aspect from our window.  The roof top carpark of Target.  To get a feel for the sort of person that parks there, note the donut!  (It says something about the quality of our double glazing that (or our tiredness recently) we didn't hear this being laid.
A representation of the perpetrator
A wide angle sunset.
A tighter sunset, with crane!
This may reflect the work of the donut merchant but I am puzzled how they got it up there!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Back to Kellys Swamp

Needing a break from stuffing books into boxes I took myself back to Kelly's swamp this morning.

There were still Australasian Grebe chicks around (although some seem to have vanished).
 One Latham's Snipe was enduring the heat out of the shade.
 Several orange-legged Australasian Shovelers were in various positions around the Swamp.
 Two Royal Spoonbills were sifting through the mud ...
 ..  and their plumage.
 Bird of the day was a Little Egret.  Some other birders expressed surprise at seeing it in a tree.

 After the Little Egret left the tree to into the Typha beds something scared the birds out of the reeds.  This included a Great Egret: this image shows the size of the two species directly.  (Probably click on the image to see the birds better.)
 Alterbnatively compare the size to a Pelican.  Great Egret.
 Little Egret
 A White-faced Heron also turned up.
 And became reflected

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

2018 Weather Report

This a brief summary of the weather observed in Carwoola in 2018.  The dominating feature has been the dryness of the year up to November as reflected by both rainfall and humidity.  Temperatures were close to average, with a slightly colder Winter, and a sting of heat in late December.


For those who can't remember this is water that allegedly falls from clouds.  We had snow on two occasions in early August.  

This first chart shows the annual total rainfall from 1985, and the number of days with >=0.2mm from 1993, to date.

 The "number of days" series shows the gradual decline since 2011 that has been evident in my series of rolling accumulations up to 24 months.

As with BoM my minimum fall is 0.2mm, which can be achieved with condensation from a heavy fog, so I have also compiled a series of # days with more than 5mm.  The chart below shows that to be more variable (RSE for the >5mm series 21% vs 16%) but also emphasises the drop in the past two years.
I calculated the average cumulative proportion of annual fall and used that to give a pro-rata estimate of the annual total.  As shown in this next chart for most of 2018 it seemed we were going to record the lowest ever annual fall , somewhat below 400 mm.  However a series of heavy thunderstorms on 13-14 December delivered 87 mm and got us to 429 mm for the year.
As a final look at the rainfall, I compared the actual fall each month in 2018 with two forms of average.  The first of these is the mean (add them up and divide by the number of observations) and the second the median (the amount which exceeds 50% of observations).
We only had above mean rainfall in December and only February and November also got above the median.  In summary a very dry year.  I am intrigued that the values for mean and median track closely from July to December but are more distant for other months.  It suggests that the unusually heavy falls from storms occur in the first 6 months of the year (raising the mean but having little effect on the median) but I have no idea why that should be so.


Maximum Temperatures

I have looked at three ways of assessing the warm end of the temperature scale: average daily maximum temperature over the year (right scale) ; highest temperature in the year; and number of days over 30oC (both left scale).
While the average maximum is a little down, the number of days over 30oC is a little up and the highest temperature is quite stable.  Thus I would say that over all it was a relatively normal year for hot days.

I also assessed the average maximum x month against the average (since 2010).
My overall impression is that it was a relatively mild year with only two months noticeably above average.

Minimum temperatures

Again I used three measures: average minimum; lowest temperature for the year and number of days with minimum below 0oC.
 It was a bit difficult to present this from a scaling view but neither of the thermal scale measures show any great deviation from 'normal', while the number of hard frosts is very erratic.  My conclusion is "about normal".

That is also my conclusion in examining the average minimum x month  for 2018 and the period since 2010. If pushed I might say a colder Winter (no cloud to keep temperatures up over night).


I have recently been compiling data for both 0900 and 1500 hrs.  As both series are relatively short I have not shown annual averages but instead compare the values for 2018 and average for both times for each month.
The information is fairly clear, with the patterns for the two times very similar and in both cases the 2018 values below average until October - December where it approaches or exceeds the average.

Monday, 7 January 2019

A visit to Kellys Swamp

There have been a lot of 'good' birds at Kellys Swamp recently so I decided that I would go there on Sunday to see what I could see in the way of the rarities (Australian Figbird; Little Egret; and Black-backed Bittern).  The short answer is "none of the above".

However there were a few interesting birds to be seen. 

A Pacific Balck Duck with 8 very small ducklings was amusing to watch.
 Pink-eared Ducks: these 2 were visible from Ardea hide but 20 more were visible from Cygnus.
There were at least three families of Australasian Grebes in various parts of the Swamp.  It was quite interesting that the chicks (grebelings?) were able to track the adult when it dived.  They were always close to bill (with their own beak opened) when the adults emerged!
 An Australian Spotted Crake made a brief appearance in the middle distance but my photos were not worth reproducing,

Moving to Cygnus hide I was briefly optimistic with the sight of a white bird with black legs,  Much too big for a Little Egret and clearly a second Royal Spoonbill.  The pink arrow indicates a Freckled Duck while the yellow marks a Lathams Snipe
 A second snipe was checking out the sole Pelican at the site.
I ended up writing down 4 snipe, and a flock of 8 Australasian Shovelers dropped in.  The final less common birds were 2 Red-kneed Dotterels.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Skink wars

A couple of days ago I posted a photo of a Cunningham's Skink on our deck.
I knew at that time that one was hanging out in our garage and I assumed it was doing a good job of controlling the flies in there.  However, what goes in must come out:
 This is a typical reptile turd with the white blob of guanine on the tip.  (In Tanzania that was crucial, since it distinguished gecko (= mjusi) crap from rat (=panya kubwa)  poop.)  There was getting to be a fair bit of this around so I decided that Mr Skink had to go.

This image is a mudmap of our garage.  The green line is the route of the rout!
Point 1 is this set of shelves, which are normally full of stuff and set back against the wall.  I knew Mr Skink was behind that so took all the stuff off.  In fact he was right up the top and  when I cleared it off he bolted behind the cupboard visible in the background (point 2).
After shifting the cupboard out a bit The Skink was spotted clinging to the wall about 1.5m off the ground.  On being poked with a pole he bolted under the cupboard.  Removing the kick board let me apply a few more pokes which got him out
Did he go out the open rolladoor?  No Siree, he went under my car (point 3) out the other side and under the freezer (point 4).   He then made a great mistake of turning round so that the tip of his tail poked out.  I grabbed that and when Frances slightly tilted the freezer out came a rather unhappy Cunningham's Skink.  As I got him over a large plastic box.....
.. the tip of his tail broke off,
He still ended up in the box in which he was taken down to a nice rocky area near the Creek.  Hopefully he will stay there and not come back up to the house.

That hope was forlorn.  A couple of weeks later we were sitting in the garage - tidying it up for the removalists - and noticed the small dog displaying great interest in the (laden again) shelving.  Sure enough, there was Mr Skink.  This time he ended up going through a  less than 1 cm high gap and under the house, where he can stay.

Why he came back from a nice rockpile to the garage is a great mystery!  On reflection, the tail was pointy so either:

  • it had regrown in the 15 days  since episode 1; or
  • it was a different skink,

Thursday, 3 January 2019

December 2018 Weather Report

This will be my last monthly weather report from Carwoola as we are leaving on 19 January!


We had some!  Needless to say it fell pretty much in 2 days and flooded the Creek worse than I have ever seen it.  At this point the water would have been we over 1 metre deep going across the ford.

Here are the graphs: well above last year and the month average.
 As shown in this second graph it was the first month of the year in which we got and above average fall.  This did get us above the lowest fall ever recorded in Carwoola (which I will cover in more detail in the Annual report which I will compile soon).
I have continued on my exploration of long cumulative series for rain.  It is now up to 24 months and the trend continues to show a dive..
 However focusing on the end of the original series shows a hook which is exaggerated if the series is restricted to 2018.  Has the series of months with poor rainfall ended?  Who knows - there have been other short upturns that have not been sustained.


I will begin with maxima and minima through the month.
 It will come as little surprise to find that the month started off cool-normal and then developed a sting in the last week, with a maximum above 30oC for 8 days in a row (our  longest run of days over 30oC is 12 - and I suspect that will be broken by the time this episode ends.

Maximum Temperatures

The average maximum temperature for the month was a little higher than average and a fair bit higher than last year.
 I define a heat wave as 3 or more consecutive days over 30oC.  I then count the number of days in such a stream to get heatwave-days per month.  So far this heat year (May 2018 - April 2019) is a little below average, but December was a little higher (11 days rather than 10.4).

 Minimum Temperatures

As is the frequent refrain recently, the minimum temperature was well above average.  It was slightly down on last year

Average temperatures

In view of the above it isn't surprising that the average temperature for December was well above average.
The difference between last month and 'normal' is illustrated by the anomaly, which is strongly positive for series since 2013 (records from my weather station) or 2010, using some approximations based on older records.
Looking in detail at December I calculated the difference between mean temperature month-to-date and the equivalent average using my data.  The shows clearly the cool period mid month and the heat wave later.


My overall conclusion was that the month was normal for humidity.

Looking at the daily readings for relative humidity (rH) shows the considerable variability from day to day, usually with the 9am reading above that for 3pm.
I was struck by the low 9 am reading for 2 December but looking at the hourly readings for that date it shows a consistent pattern.  It also follows a very low reading for 3 pm on the 1st.

Overall the average 9am reading was lower than average and below 2017. 
 For the afternoon reading the value was well below 2017 but a little above average. 


The month was about average for windiness.