Sunday, 1 January 2017

A review of 2016

I thought it best to wait until 2016 had finished before reviewing it.  Something good might have happened involving the Trumpster, but apparently not, so that hope will carry forward into 2017!

I've pretty much covered the year as it went so I won't bother you for too long.  The biggest ticket item is that the family is all well.  Myself and Frances are looking at the big Seven Zero in 2017 which is a little awesome.  If my arithmetic is correct (trust me, I used to work for the organisation that brought you Census 2016) Ingrid will hit a number that makes her 10 times the age of Arabella.

In terms of exercise, my efforts were a little down on 2015, doing the equivalent of 1450kms in 2016, including the running equivalent of daily exercise walks (3km = 1km running)  and cycling (6km = 1km running).
Birding also occupied a lot of my time, as usual.  I recorded 298 species for the year with two additions (Baillons Crake and Channel-billed Cuckoo) coming on 29 December!    Those two managed to get my total species seen in the year in NSW to equal that for Queensland at 182.  Since I spent 5 weeks in Queensland and about 44 in NSW that could be seen as a commentary on the quality of birding in Queensland.  Victoria (about 3 weeks and 135 species) just trailed the ACT (also 44 weeks, but not every day) where I tallied 141 species.  A single day trip to Adelaide recorded 35 species in that State.

Best bird of the year is a bit tricky to call but I think Double-eyed Fig-Parrot from Yungaburra gets the individual award ...
.. as it was a lifer and spiffy.  The fact that I only saw it on one day despite looking everyone of the 28 days we were in that very fair village adds to its mystique.

In the flock category it is a tie between the 800 Brolgas just outside Mazeppa NP in Queensland
 ... and the 5,000 Plumed Whistling Ducks at Hasties Swamp just outside Atherton.
Locally the gong goes to the Whiskered Terns breeding on the Hoskinstown Plain.

I have continued to play Bird-a-Day.  The first effort, starting on January 1, ended up on 23 June (175 species).  This was a little better than I had previously managed.  I started up again on July 1 and - largely due to the assist of a 6 week trip to Northern NSW and Queensland - I am still going.  When I came across a species in the second half of the year I "topped up"my Bird-a-Day record finishing with 239 species.  It looks like 4 punters - all from the USA - will complete the year.  I'll be doing a special post on this later.

My enjoyment of birding has increased markedly due to getting a new Swarovski telescope.  Towards the end of the year that got further kicked up by the purchase of an adapter to enable me to take photos on my iPhone through the scope.

Needless to say getting all these birds took some driving. We covered ~27,700 kilometres in the Pajero (about 10k of which had the camper on the back) and ~11,800 in the Jetta.  Despite the latter being used pretty much exclusively for trips less than 100km it has averaged 5.58 litres/100km (or 50.17mpg).  On a trip to Sydney and back - sitting on the speed limit on freeways for most of the distance -  it averaged somewhere around 60mpg!  The Pajero is a good bit more thirsty giving 11.2 l/100k or 25.1 mpg - but it had a lot more work to do.  The camper seems to add about 2 l/100km to the economy when not towing.

Plants have taken a bit of a back seat in my life at the moment although we still have an interest in orchids and whatever is in flower.  I did a little research into links between the flowering of a couple of species of orchid and the weather around our block this year.  With that project only having 3 years of records it was a pretty limited analysis: hopefully a 4th year will boost things a bit.

Having mentioned weather, I will comment that Winter here was very wet. and Spring was pretty cool.  December has been damn hot!  A full review of the year's weather will appear some time in January 2017.

I cannot avoid politics but will try to be be brief.  The very good news was the re-election of Mike Kelly as our local Federal Member.  One could include the doings of the Nick Xenophon team as good news, but it is balanced by the election of several members of (what would in the UK be called) the Raving Monster Loony Party.  In our case the role of Screaming Lord Sutch is being reprised by the Lovely Pauline as Leader of One Nation which has disintegrated slightly faster than the Palmer United Party!!

Probably also good news was the merger of Queanbeyan and Palerang Councils.

Between those two levels in Australia we have the State Governments: in our case (NSW) it appears the Shooters and Fishers Party (aka the Gun Nuts) are taking on the role that Pauline is fiilling at the National level.  May your favourite Deity help us.

Actually favourite Deities are probably girding their loins for action where it is really needed, such as and for example Pennsylvania Avenue.  Doings at that address are probably the main reason why all the media seem to be saying that 2016 was one of the worst years on record.

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