Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Carwoola enters the ancestry fray!

I recently put up a post about the ancestry of folk in Queanbeyan, as revealed by the 2011 Census.  This led me wonder what the situation was for Carwoola, and I have taken a look at the Census data for the area, in contrast with Queanbeyan.  I have tried to make this post self contained but if the topic interests you a look at the former post might be worthwhile.

I have also tried to keep the technical stuff about definitions and concepts to a minimum but can't prevent myself from including a bit of it.  I have coloured those buts in red, so they can be skipped without interfering with the story.

As a first  technical point I am defining "Carwoola" to be as  close as I can get (see red bit at foot of post) to the catchment area of the Stoney Creek Gazette thus covering the State Suburbs of Primrose Valley, Hoskinstown and the Carwoola elements of the City of Queanbeyan and Palerang Shire.  
A second technical issue is that the confidentiality processes used by ABS apply rounding to cells of 1 or 2: some get rounded up to 3 and others down to 0.  Thus some cells shown as zero may actually have 1 or two people in them, and cells of 3 should be interpreted as "very few".  This doesn't affect any rational analysis.

A first major point to emerge is that Carwoola (population 2,048) has representatives of 34 ancestral groups as opposed to 129 ancestral groups in Queanbeyan (population 37,994) . The population size has a major impact on the number of groups in the areas, and with less people in Carwoola there is reduced likelihood of very small ancestral groups (say less than 10 people in Queanbeyan) being represented.  Trying to prove that would make for a very tedious stretch of red text, so just trust me, I'm a statistician.

The second main point to strike me when looking at the Table Builder output from the Census was that the Big 3 reported ancestries are, as with Queanbeyan, English, Australian and Irish. However they occupy a considerably higher proportion of total responses in Carwoola than in Queanbeyan (and I am ignoring the small duplication between the series due to some Carwoola people also being Queanbeyan folk: this ain't rocket science).  Extending that slightly to include the top 5 reported ancestries (and a catch-all 'other' category) in Carwoola and the equivalent percentages in Queanbeyan gives these pie charts,

The most obvious thing here is the larger orange slice for Queanbeyan, representing the 'other' ancestries.  The combination of Blue, Maroon and Green is a bit smaller for Queanbeyan

In the above I referred to 'reported ancestries" since I have excluded the 'not stated' category which amounts to approximately 10% of households in Carwoola rather than 6% in Queanbeyan.  I suspect, but can't prove, that much of the additional non-response is where a questionnaire was not submitted for the household and the higher rate reflects the presence of a number of 'weekenders' in Carwoola which meant the collector was unable to obtain a questionnaire from an apparently occupied dwelling.

The 2 most notable ancestral groups under-represented in Carwoola (when compared with Queanbeyan) are those in which the latter exceeds NSW as a whole: Macedonian and Italian.

People of Chinese and Indian ancestry are both about 1.2% of the Queanbeyan population, which is lower than for NSW as a whole - much lower in the case of Chinese ancestry.  In Carwoola they are both even lower at about 0.2%, equivalent to 3 or 4 people.  

I did contemplate whether the extra capital involved in buying acreage might dissuade them from moving out of the urban area.  While information on wealth is not available I looked at the income distribution for Queanbeyan as a whole and the people of Chinese (457 people) and South Asian  (834 people) ancestry in that city.  Excluding those less than 15 years of age for whom the income question is not applicable, the situation is shown in the following chart.
While there are clearly differences between the three series, they are not statistically significant and I conclude that economic factors don't explain the low numbers of people of these 2 ancestral groups in Carwoola.  So, for these two groups - and possibly others - it appears that the rural acreage lifestyle just doesn't appeal for whatever reason.

There are a number of other ancestral groups represented in Queanbeyan but not in Carwoola but the numbers of people involved are lower and I am not game to try to draw out reasons.  

I have also compared the Carwoola situation with an area in the Wild West of Palerang Shire comparing the State Suburbs of Burra, Royalla and Googong (with a total population of 2,724).
The Western unit has slightly more ancestral groups represented : 37 vs 34.  However, it also has a slightly higher proportion (73% vs 71%) of people classified to English, Australian and Irish.  So I conclude the two areas are quite similar as regards to level of "multiculturality".

This analysis led me to look closely at the map of the state suburbs and found a major daftness.  The Eastern boundary of the State Suburb of Burra is Burra Creek.  This means that the locality of Urila is included in Primrose Valley rather than Burra.  As there is no crossing at the Queanbeyan River, which forms the Eastern boundary of Urila and visible in the map highlighted with red dots, it means that it is not possible to get from one part of Primrose Valley to the other.  This has been raised with ABS.

Monday, 29 June 2015

A visit to Mt Ainslie

It being the last Sunday of the month it was ACT Veterans Athletics Handicap Day.  The courses this month were around Mt Ainslie on the edge of suburban Canberra.

This year I decided to do the short course as my fitness level had dropped off dramatically following:

  1. some travelling;
  2. a bout of sinusitis; and 
  3. a failure to man-up on a few cold and damp days.

I suspect point 3 was the most important, but I was travelling a bit better than the previous month which had set my handicap at a very pleasant level.  Thus I waddled reasonably and even got competitive towards the end when I thought I could see another competitor in front of me and chased her for the last 500m.  Needless to say it was just someone out for a jog and they sailed straight past the finish and I was again first  home: my handicap will become less pleasant for my next run.

Mt Ainslie has also been the recent haunt of Swift Parrots and I thought I would add to science by visiting the site to see if I could spot some.  This involved a drive through the suburb of Ainslie, which I always find bewildering in street pattern..  On Officer Crescent there were a good collection of Cockatoos feeding in the oak leaves - I suspect on fallen acorns.

Leaving the streets and getting in to the bush there was some evidence that the hollow-nesters were seeking out a des res for Spring.  This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo seemed to have chosen its spot and was engaging in a bit of renovation (or possibly was just enjoying ripping up a tree, as is the usual practice of this species).
A pair of Australian Wood Ducks were much less active, merely perched on a branch and honking quietly.
 This billabong is the favoured drinking site of the Swift Parrots, but none were visible there today.
Their favoured feeding site is a flowering Eucalypt (possibly E. leucoxylon) but none were initially evident.
I saw what looked like 4 Swift Parrots fly into the top of the tree but then became worried that all I could see were Noisy Miners.  However patience paid off and eventually I saw the Swifties, but too high and in too dense a lot of foliage for a snap.

I finish with a small puzzle.  On the way in, passing Canberra Airport I saw the flashing lights of a plod-mobile and found that the cops had emerged from their wheels and were uttering harrumphs in the vicinity of a crashed WRX.  On the way back I stopped to snap the scene as I couldn't work out what had happened.
The main puzzle comes about because the car is facing against the direction of traffic.  The car looks a bit old to be something rented to an international visitor who had driven off on the wrong side of the road (and we have all done that, haven't we).  What I have concluded it that the car

  • came a little briskly around a roundabout some 50m to the left of the car's position, 
  • spun out; 
  • went off the road backwards as far as the large traffic sign (explaining the smashed rear of the car); 
  • which duly detached itself from the ground; and
  • landed on the front of the car.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Is Queanbeyan a hotbed of multi-culturalism?

On a recent visit to Aldi in Queanbeyan I was struck by the visible multiculturalism on display.  This led me to wonder whether Queanbeyan was more "diverse' than the rest of NSW or the ACT.  As always the first port of call when visiting such questions is the 2011 Census results, (Although they are getting a bit long in the tooth they are really all that is available.)

I am going to ignore a comment made recently by an American - possibly P J O'Rourke - that diversity means "few Anglos".  He was commenting on places like Washington Heights in Manhattan, where a sign in a shop window saying "bilingual" means they can speak English as well as Spanish.

There are many ways of looking at cultural diversity including country of birth, birthplace of parents, language spoken at home, religion and ancestry (or any combination of them).  Despite my negative issues with ancestry (primarily because it isn't 'fixed' but for many people depends on their thinking at the time they answer the question) I have decided to use that.

The Census allowed people to provide 2 answers to the ancestry question and 6.45 million people (almost exactly 30% of respondents) did so. Of these 77% had a primary ancestry of British or Irish and the dominant 'second ancestries' were other parts of British (eg English and Scots) Irish or Australian.  It didn't seem to me that including the second responses was going to add sufficiently to information to be worth the added complexity, so I have only used the first answer.

The Census classification is hierarchic and results are available at 1,2 or 4 digit level of the classification.  The 2 digit level seemed to be too broad to show what I was looking for, so what follows is at the 4 digit level.

A first point of interest (OK, of interest to me) was that none of the three areas I was looking at had any respondents classifying themselves to 16 of the 319 available ancestries. (Of course, the appearance of a zero in the cells should be interpreted as "none or very few" as the ABS confidentiality provisions quite reasonable perturb the value of very small cells.)  6 of the groups had no representatives anywhere in Australia!  Following on down the path to nothing, Queanbeyan had no members of 188 ancestral groups and the ACT 63 groups.

Let us move on to the big groups.  The 10 biggest cells for each of the areas are shown in the table below which shows the percentage of the population reporting each ancestry..
ANC1P - 4 Digit Level Queanbeyan (C) New South Wales Australian Capital Territory
English 33.20% 31.05% 32.59%
Australian 26.99% 22.50% 24.33%
Irish 5.98% 5.28% 6.84%
Not stated 6.37% 6.92% 5.41%
Scottish 3.50% 3.18% 3.89%
Chinese 1.19% 5.20% 3.87%
Italian 4.01% 2.93% 2.51%
German 2.28% 1.69% 2.44%
Indian 1.27% 1.84% 2.03%
Macedonian 2.77% 0.48% 0.20%
Lebanese 0.12% 1.84% 0.22%
Vietnamese 0.18% 1.06% 1.00%

A first point is that 'Not stated" gets a fair run, being 3rd highest in Queanbeyan and NSW and 4th highest in the ACT.  Secondly the ancestries English, Australian and Irish are the 3 most reported in all areas.  

Queanbeyan has a relatively large Macedonian community - approximately 5 times the percentage of the population in NSW and 10 times that in Canberra.  The Italian ancestry is also relatively large.

Relative to the proportion in Queanbeyan and the ACT NSW has a high percentage of people of Lebanese ancestry and Chinese ancestry (the latter especially when compared with Queanbeyan).  From personal observation, and noting the over-representation of people aged 20-29 in the ACT census data for this ancestry, I suspect that the proportion of people of Chinese ancestry in the ACT is heavily influenced by those studying at ANU and UC.

Focussing on the ancestries in which NSW has a higher proportion than Queanbeyan shows two groups of ancestries.
  • Asian ancestries - Chinese (see above), Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and Filipino; and
  • Eastern Mediterranean ancestries: Lebanese (see above), Greek, Turkish and Assyrian.
I could suggest that with the Asian ancestries (except Chinese) the major migration streams have occurred in the more recent past when the large city of Sydney has been a magnet for migrants with both more economic opportunity and a pre-existing community of that ancestry,

With regard to the Eastern Mediterranean ancestries, possibly the majority of Lebanese migrants to Australia have been people displaced by the relatively recent turmoil in that country, and thus my remarks about the Asian ancestries also apply to them  With regard to Assyrian ancestry, the community in Sydney is very close knit and may thus have been more likely to provide that as their ancestry (rather than identifying as (eg) "Australian").  For the Italian and Turkish ancestries I can only assume that the migrants arrived at times of high demand for migrant labour in the manufacturing industries found in the rest of NSW but not in the Canberra-Queanbeyan region.  (To support that hypothesis I have had conversations with migrants in South Australia who talked about many migrants coming out as unskilled labour to do shift work in the car and white-goods plants of Adelaide.)

At this point I returned to the question forming the subject of this post and thought it should be answered in the negative.  The main issue seems to be the drawing power of the big city- or cities, giving Woolongong and Newcastle a go.  (The same issue applies to New York City where everyone wants to try their luck (as would this author if he had the required folding stuff). ) 

So I then decided to compare, quickly, Queanbeyan with another city of broadly similar size (~40,000) and climate.  Wagga (aka Wagga Wagga, at ~60,000 population) was nominated for this role.  A couple of quick points:
  • The two areas have very similar number of ancestry-groups at ~130; but
  • In Wagga the three big ancestries (English Australian and Irish) account for 80% of the population while in Queanbeyan they cover 66%.
I thus modify my initial conclusion to say that while Queanbeyan isn't as ethnically diverse as NSW as a total it does punch above its weight as measured by population.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

ANPS causes rain to avoid Wanniassa Ridge

In fact we pretty much scared it away from the ACT!  That is shown by this image from the BoM website showing rain accumulation since 9am.
 It was however rather cloudy for most of the day ...
 ...  but the 9 bold members who turned out were all warm and dry throughout.

The main attraction for the walk was the flowering of Leucopogon attenuatus
 Here is one of several large 'drifts' encountered on the Ridge.
 This is just a snap with a spike of Leucopogon with a Eucalyptus bridgesiana behind it.
 Cryptandra sp. Floriferous was also in flower.
The objective of this shot was to contrast the colours of the Cryptandra in the foreground and the Leucopogon in the background.  I am unsure how well that has worked but trust me, the distinction is obvious in the field.
These are the buds of Eucalyptus nortonii.  The key attributes are the glaucous nature and lack of stalks.
 From buds to fruits.  The first offering is Persoonia rigida.
Next a rather sad Styphelia triflora.
 Some more flowers: Leucochrysum albicans tricolor.
 Vittadinia cuneata
 Hovea heterophylla: an early bean.
A mistletoe, Muellerina eucalyptoides growing on E. polyanthemos.  This was a new species for us a couple of years ago but is turning up quite frequently.  I think this is an increase of our observational skill rather than the species going for world domination.
 We found several Acacias in flower.  The first was A melanoxylon.
 A ulicifolia.
 A dealbata
 A really seriously naff image of A. gunnii, but it does show in a blurry way the leaf shape to distinguish it from A ulicifolia.  Which is all it has to do, not win a photography prize!
 Cheilanthes distans - a much smaller plant than the usual C austrotenuifolia.
  A diagnostic for C distans is the white tuft at the tip of the leaf.
 A bracket fungus ...
   and a dark brown one that I have not (yet) been able to ID.
I am fairly sure Julie showed us a nest of an Australian Raven.  Shortly afterwards this potential owner turned up ...
 .. and gave close attention to some potential material.
 This nest was much larger with heavier sticks.  I am confident it is a Wedge-tailed Eagle nest, and as it is increasing in size may well get used later this year.
Finally I noticed this quite early in the walk.  I find it surprising that a broken bottle can hang around for close to 60 years.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Frosty and froggies

It has been a bit cool out here in the mornings with a number of days scoring no better than -5oC.  This some rather picturesque views of the Hoskinstown Plain on Sunday morning.
 A horse looked very cold silhouetted against the hills of Tallaganda.
 On the Monday we toured to Northern part of our block which was rather white.
At least it made the Kunzea ericoides look pretty.
On several mornings I have felt that the male Tawny Frogmouth actually had his wing over the female to keep her warm.  (That is probably a contender for Anthropomorphism of The Decade.)
The photo shows that his wing is a bit lifted and she is certainly pressed in against him.  In my monitoring of them I describe this as "snuggled".  In Summer afternoons, when the temperature is closer to 30oC than 30oF they will sit about a metre apart and move closer together again as the temperature falls.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Early flowers

I posted a few days back about early flowering Acacia dealbata.  On our dog-walk this morning I noticed that buds were bursting on several specimens of this common species.  As we waded round ANBG on Wednesday I noticed that Acacia genistifolia was in full bloom there - but that is an early flowering species so not a great surprise.

We don't have the latter species on our block, but there are some Acacia gunnii, the other Winter flowering species.  Perhaps I should say "have been" rather than 'are' since I couldn't find any specimens of A gunnii when taking a prowl on the 20th.

So I took some pictures of the jonquils that are flowering in the garden.  Something cheerful for the Winter solstice.

The first few are rather short and have thus copped some bouncing mud from the recent rain.

 The others are much taller ....
 .. and thus not splattered.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

eBird and other birding data

I approach the comparison of Bird Atlas vs eBird with trepidation.  However here goes with a few points from my perspective, following comments on birding-aus about unexpected species appearing in eBird listings.  What follows starts off there but gets a good but broader than that, covering a number of thoughts I have had about eBird and other birding data systems. 

Unexpected species in an area.

The appearance of strange species in a small area is also evident from time to time in the Atlas.  When I used to refer to that for output (see below for an explanation of why I use the past tense) I found such things as Black Currawong reported from Goulburn NSW.  An obvious mistype for Pied (or Grey) Currawong but it had got into the data..  Ditto Red-winged Parrot in the same area instead of Red-rumped Parrot.  I have made the latter mistake myself.  Accessing the Birdata (ie Atlas) checklist for postcode 2620 as at 1600 hrs on 18 June 2015 presented a list that included:

  • Red-winged Parrot
  • White-browed Treecreeper
  • Yellow-throated Scrubwren
  • Red-browed Pardalote
All of these are impossible in that area.  There were also a bunch of species (eg White-fronted Honeyeater, Beautiful Firetail) that I have never heard of being in postcode 2620, but may have been reported elsewhere in the ACT once or twice.

I suspect that many of the aberrations in eBird people have reported in the birding-aus thread have been overseas birders making “honest mistakes”.  At least they are entering their lists which I would bet many of the casual visitors would never do under the Atlas approach.  I will confess to making such an error on eBird myself – and received a very polite query from a moderator which cleaned the matter up rather quickly.

As well as direct action by the moderators eBird contains a series of queries so that if a bird is unusual in an area (not sure of the definition of that) or the numbers are unusual for the area and season a prompt is activated seeking supporting information.  To strain a metaphor, not only is the driver awake, but auto pilot is also engaged.  (By way of example if I try to enter Banded Stilt for a site on the South Coast of NSW I have to activate the "rarity list" and then get a prompt to add details.) I’m not sure how the aberrations sneak through this system, if they are errors.

Data capture

In the past I put the majority of my sightings into the Atlas through the COG reporting system, or for sites further from home, BirdInfo.  The demise of the latter facility was what led me to use eBird as a data capture tool and I have been very happy entering from dead trees (aka pen and paper) through a laptop.  In the last two months I have started using BirdLog and found it rather good – but I have still had a pen and paper in my pocket as back-up.  From a first glance the eBird app looks just as useful and the notebook is probably on borrowed time

Data for analysis

 I stopped considering Birdata as a source of material for my analysis or trip planning when I read the message from Paul Sullivan referred to earlier in the thread about how the maps were broken and wouldn’t be fixed as work was going into the new portal (I am surprised the word ‘exciting’ wasn’t in there somewhere).  “If its broke don’t fix it but develop something else! “  Before reading the message I had tried to find out why a bunch of my observations over about 5 years were not showing up on the maps and this seemed to be the explanation.

I now use eBird almost exclusively as my source of data.  If I’m after a species it will tell me a list of broad areas, or Hotspots, where it has been seen, highlighting recent  records.  If I want an area around some town anywhere in the world, using Google Earth and the eBird polygon tool I can generate a list for the precise area I am interested in, not a bland geo-coordinate-based rectangle.  All of which is available at no cost and instantly available.  OK, I might have to express a little surprise at some of the species suggested but any output from a huge dataset is going to contain  a few outliers and has to be looked at critically.


A recent message on birding-aus referred to the use of Hotspots. 

I recently tried to access (using the Microsoft program of that name) data from another source for a popular site in the Canberra area.  Knowing that there was no standard name for the site I did a general search for 2 key words.  To my astonishment this generated 41 site names all of which clearly related to part or all of the site in which I was interested.  Some of the differences were as simple as adding an ‘s’ to one of the words which others used a synonym for one word.  In the past I have found apostrophes are a particular nuisance in causing multiple names to appear for one location.

At least as eBird is implemented in Australia there is moderation of site (ie Hotspot) names making the use of data a little less difficult.

Single Repository

My final point is to beg for some form of agreement on a single repository (there is no need for “an exciting new portal”) through which records of birds and other aspects of the Australian environment can be accessed at a reasonable cost.  

At present I could list at least 6 data sources that should be accessed for information about birds in NSW.  I am quite sure that the average person preparing (eg) an EIS is only going to refer to the data source they have been using for the past x years (or if they are a shonky developer, the one which best suits their interests).  In view of its breadth of coverage of the whole of natural phenomena the Atlas of Living Australia would seem to be the best candidate.  That should be quite independent of how data is collected.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

COG goes silhouette at ANBG

Silhouette is a French term which sounds somewhat appropriately like "silly or wet".  "Silly and wet" would be even more appropriate on this day.  

The weather forecast had been very variable both between and within forecasting sites.  On the weekend one site had shown heavy overnight rain but with a fairly dry morning; the BoM rain forecast had been about 2-5mm for the day.  When I looked at the radar at 6am it suggested rain for the next hour and then isolated showers.  Now - 1 pm - the BoM forecast for the day is 15-40mm and my weather station has just ticked over 31mm since midnight.

It was drizzling to murky when I got the Gardens at about 8:45.
9 intrepid members gathered under the shelter of the Visitors Centre for a visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens.  This was sheltered, and chosen  to avoid the sign-on sheet dissolving as it did at Gigerline start-debacle.  The weather was very promising for drought stricken farmers, and I hope they have got a serve out of this.  It was less positive for birders with the rain varying between steady and heavy the whole time.  As a result it was the shortest Wednesday outing I can recall.

Few photos were taken to avoid my camera proving that it was not waterproof (as an earlier one did at the London Bridge finish-debacle about 4 years ago).  

We walked up the Western side of the Rainforest Gully, noting a tall eucalypt which had fallen across the gully.  
Superb Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren and Brown Thornbill were the only birds seen or heard.  Emerging on to the main track we followed it up to the top of the gardens.  and down to the CSIRO fence.  2 Eastern Yellow Robins were seen perched on a fence near the Red Centre Garden
and various small, silent and generally unidentifiable silhouettes were seen in the canopy.​  Quite a few plants were in flower, and a Eucalyptus mannifera (Brittle Gum) had interesting rain streaks.
Once down at the lower levels, where many Banksias were flowering, there were good numbers of New Holland Honeyeaters and a couple of Red Wattlebirds.  We had also recorded White-eared Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebills in a few spots.

Walking back past the original Powl site in the Gardens there was a bit of runoff evident.
All up, we recorded 13 species in 83 minutes.  
  Laughing Kookaburra 
  Superb Fairy-wren 
  Eastern Spinebill 
  White-eared Honeyeater 
  Red Wattlebird 
  New Holland Honeyeater 
  White-browed Scrubwren 
  Brown Thornbill 
  Australian Magpie 
  Pied Currawong 
  Golden Whistler 
  Australian Raven 
  Eastern Yellow Robin 
There were a number of surprising missing birds: the absence of Crimson Rosella, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, ​and ​Gang-gang were commented on.  There weren't even any White-winged Choughs hanging out at the cafe (nor were there any punters supping coffee therein).

On getting home the BoM radar suggested dryness was not going to be immediately available:
The state of our lawn, and a couple of the local 'roos, suggested it had been as wet here as at ANBG.
Unfortunately the adult roo decided it didn't like the scent of the fork and departed, rather than digging a few metres of garden!

The ford over Whiskers Creek was running rather well:
A large flock (about 50 birds) of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos screeched across our block, with a few of them stopping for some plumage maintenance en route.