Monday, 18 August 2014

"English weather" no good for Son of Bird-a-day?

When I was growing up in Essex a view commonly expressed was that to improve the UK a rope should be attached to Cornwall and the island towed to somewhere with better weather.

I left London Heathrow on 30 March 1970 in a snowstorm.  On arrival in Adelaide there was still a hint of (Australian) summer in the air which meant the odd thunderstorm was apparent.  Every time one of these occurred people commented about this being like the weather in England.  I had to let them know that this was very different to English weather: it was still a good bit warmer and rather than brief thunderstorms the UK gets days of drizzle.

The weather here for the last couple of days has had most of the attributes of "English weather'.

Here is the 128km Canberra radar for 6am on 17 August.  Lotsa rain coming down from the North!
 This is the equivalent doppler showing strong East winds.
It didn't happen.  We just had a miserable day, with the temperature topping out at 8.5oC and 6.4mm of dampness.

About 1am on the 18th some rain was heard during my beauty sleep.  When I got up at 5:15 we'd had 4mm and the radars again suggested more in the offing.
It is now 1000 and we have received another 2.6mm.  The radar image looks very intriguing:
This rain band has moved inland and reduced in size but has got rather more intense, with the yellow node in the middle.  Also when viewed as a time lapse loop this appears to spin - as do cyclones!  The doppler image still shows fairly brisk winds.

Overall the weather being cold, windy and drizzly reminds me very much of what I was very pleased to leave behind in the UK.  

Such weather suggests to me that it would be most unpleasant going out looking for birds for my July start Bird-a-day project.  Indeed as birds are sensible they will all be huddled away hiding from the weather.  So I will probably be writing down another low code-high index species today: an Eastern Rosella is looking the pick at the moment!

About an hour after composing the above the radar image cleared up a bit and some blue sky appeared.  I decided I should man-up and, putting on my wet weather gear, pointed the MTB at the Hoskinstown Plain and specifically an excellent remnant of Eucalyptus pauciflora and E. mannifera.

The weather wasn't that bad as I rode down although the wind was still noticeable.  At one point when it was more or less side-on I was hoping it didn't stop suddenly because I was canted over at about 60 degrees leaning into it.  My target site was in the lee of a hill so not too foul.

What about birds?  The site wasn't as busy as it was in Spring last year, but there were plenty of vocal small birds around.  The Magpies all got very vocal when a juvenile Little Eagle flew in.  I then looked at the Hirundines flying around the E mannifera in a nearby paddock and while most of them were the expected Welcome Swallows at least a couple were Tree Martins (migrants, arriving back right on time).  Looking at my index scores, the Little Eagle gets a nod as Bird of the Day!

5km from home, just at the start of 3km of grinding uphill the rain started.  Thank goodness for Gor-tex!

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