Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Kiah sculpture

 An alert reader will notice that this post doesn't directly show anything about weather, wildlife or Mallacoota but I think it is close enough. We stopped at the Kiah store on the way back from Eden to fill up my car with diesel: it was 216.7 c/l, compared with  237.9 c/l in Mallacoota.  

There was a very good bit of sculpture beside the driveway, which does reference the 2019/20 fire, so that justifies the inclusion.

On checking Jesse's website I found that "2020 Vision" was installed at Jindabynes Lakelight Sculpture Competition in 2021 as well as Sculpture Bermagui where it won Peoples Choice Award in both competitons!"

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Orchids a squillion, Cuckoo-Doves nil.

 Feeling somewhat less disease-ridden on 6 August I decided to go for a snuffle at Gipsy Point to checkout the greenhood orchid and Brown Cuckoo-Dove situations.  My expectations were positive for the former and less optimistic for the latter.

And so it was.  The majority of the orchids seen were on the roadside heading down to the Lodge boat ramp.  (There may have been other species present which I didn't identify.)

Pterostylis nutans: Nodding Greenhood

One of the many clumps of noddies.
Pterostylis curta: I saw these on the visit on 6/8, but didn't photograph them until calling in again on 8/8.  I didn't get a good image of the diagnostic twisted labellum, but did see that feature.

Pterostylis pedunculata: Maroonhood.  Not in such large numbers as the previous species but still a good crop.
I'm reasonably sure this Pterostylis concinna: one large clump towards the lower part of the track.  Much smaller than the noddies (as well as the flower not nodding).
Only one patch but lots of them!
One specimen from the Tall Greenhood group: Pterostylis melagramma.
Although the sought-after Dove was not evident there were quite a few birds around the relevant site.  The red Camellia was particularly popular with Little Wattlebirds.

Satin Bowerbirds were also common, including this very spiffy adult male.  It seemed to play "peek-a-boo" around the mobile chook pen!
The female/immatures watched on from a distance.
There has been some discussion on another FB Group about a Handsome Rooster seen at a campsite in Northern NSW.  This looks to be a very similar bird.  Do they migrate?
Parrots were also evident.


Saturday, 6 August 2022

Weather of early August

 My monitoring of daily extreme temperatures (ie daily minimum and maximum) has been very interesting for the first 5 days of August 2022.  On all 5 days both measures have been well above the long term average for the date.

Following discussion on a weather chat group a simple way of summarising temperatures is to compare the current values of the average temperature with a longer term mean value of the average temperature.  As most sources quote the daily extreme temperatures rather than the average daily temperature an indicator of average temperature is calculated by  (current daily max + current daily min) / 2.  A similar bit of arithmetic - but obviously with more periods involved - is used to calculated the longer term mean.

So I calculated the average temperature for the period 1-5 August 2022 as 14.03C.  The average for the first 5 days of August for all years since 2001 was 10.82C, 3.1C lower.  Plotting the average for each year gives the following.

Clearly early August 2022 has been unusually warm (but not as much so as August 2011.

The other interesting aspect of the weather this year has been the rainfall.  We are now up to 883mm for year, and thus just over the median annual rainfall despite only being 218 days into the year.  My prorata estimate suggests that if things carry on as they have we'll score 1477 mm for the year.  Should that happen it would be our wettest year since records began here in 1975 (~30mm more than the current record of 1442mm in 1985).

Monday, 1 August 2022

A few snaps from the vicinity of Broome St

A few days ago I was told of a sighting of Lewin's Rail.  As this was about the 5th sighting of the species in the area I thought it worth a twitch.  As it was a flat 300m walk I reckoned I could make it there.

On my first visit (30 July) I thought I had one brief glimpse of the Rail, and couple of possible calls, but not enough to claim the bird.  On 31 July I tried again and got a clear enough view to make the claim, but no photo.  What follows is of my visit on 1 August where I staked the site out for an hour.

I parked at Fisheries Jetty and walked along the boardwalk to the end of the scrub, where I erected my folding chair.

This is the area of interest.  On each visit the bird has bolted across the area of very shallow water.  On one occasion it went from L to R and on the other it went from L to R.  The vegetation on the right is very dense an there is no chance of seeing the bird once it is in there.  I suspect that sometimes when the bird crosses to the left it goes through the very thin layer of bush and into a very heavily overgrown grassy swamp.  Again it will never be seen  if it stays at ground level.
On 1 August it decided to tease me bolting across the water in either direction about ever 15 minutes.  My guess it was generally in view for less than 2 seconds (and covering 3 metres in 2 seconds implies a speed of about 6 kph which is quite feasible).  That is very much of an ask to get a photo: get the camera out of hibernation; zoom in to the area; shutter lag; incompetence.

The local Scrubwrens were more cooperative.  

I hoped that their presence might persuade the Rail it was safe to stop for a pose in the middle.  After an hour that was almost the case.  I think this indicates enough to support my sighting,
That is very far from my worst effort at photographing a bird.  When we lived in New York I went for a prowl in Central Park one day and another, camera-free, bird had identified an Ashy-throated Flycatcher which would be a first for the Park.  It was a very active and my camera was not cooperating so the other bloke to off to bring an expert from the mob about 300m away watching the famous Red-tailed Hawks on 5th Avenue.  Needless to say the bird was well gone by the time they returned.  I had taken a couple of snaps but all they showed was a gray (noting the location) blur.  NYC Audubon were reluctant that they could not accept the sighting.  That was my worst effort.

2 weeks later a specimen of the species was seen and acceptably photographed some 200km North, become the first record in the Great State of Connecticut. 

July 2022 Weather Report

 I have completed my initial work on the Census, but am now afflicted with a revolting cold and finding it best to lie in bed rather than sit at a keyboard.  So this will be a very brief summary of what has happened, weatherwise.  

I am tempted to say the month was looking towards a return of La Nina: damp and a little warmer than average for the month.


For my weather station (WS) overall 105.6 mm of rain fell, amounting to 153% of the median fall for July.  The BoM Mallacoota site recorded 96.6 mm (130.4% of average) while Gabo Island was at 85.0 mm (114.7% of average). 

Of the 42 Julys for which I have records (BoM Mallacoota prior to 2019) only 9 had higher rainfall.  

That has ended, at 2, the run of months in a row of below median rainfall.  Hanrahan should be resuming his seat.


The anomaly (difference between current average temperature and long term mean) was +0.08C.  Effectively saying that on average it was about normal.  However days with an above average minimum and below average maximum were well over-represented in the mix.  This was the net effect of a warm start to the month followed by a cool patch from 11 -21 June with a brief return to warm before a cood conclusion.  This is illustrated by a chart of BoM data.

The mean daily minimum temperature at the BoM was 7.38C compared to a long term average minimum for July of 6.3C.  The lowest temperature recorded there  was 2.1C on the 31st.  For my WS the daily average minimum was lower, at 7.07C with a monthly low of 2.8C on the 20th.  In terms of impact on our activities there were a few mornings where the temperature was low enough to make the wooden boardwalks along the Lake treacherous

The mean daily maximum temperature at the BoM was 14.13C compared to a long term average maximum for July of 15.0C.  The highest temperature recorded there was 19.2C on the 17th.  For my WS the daily average maximum was a tad lower, at 13.87C with the same monthly high of 19.2C on the 17th.

Overall the two data series correlate well with R2 values of 77% for Minimum and 95% for Maximum.  It was surprising to find BoM higher than my WS by ~3C on a few  mornings: I attribute this to a warm(er) sea breeze than the air emerging from the Narrows and impacting my WS.


My WS has recorded average humidities for the month at 0900 hrs of 86.2% and at 1500 hrs of 77.5%.  For both times these values are above June 2019 and the average for the 3 earlier years for which I have records (BoM doesn't have free access to historic humidity data).  This is not surprising considering the well above median rainfall.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

July 2022 Bird Report

I'm afraid this report will be pretty brief as I have a revolting cold and will be returning to my bed asap!

Note also: After my initial post I  found out there was a Pelagic from Eden into Victorian waters on 30 July.  That led me to check eBird again and I added 8 species to the July list and 3 to the all-time Mallacoota District List.  They are highlighted in yellow on the Google Sheet.
There may be a second trip on 31 July so more goodies my be delivered

A pretty good report for July, which is usually the quietest month for birds.  We totalled 127 species for the month which is a high 72.6% of species ever seen in the month (the highest managed for any month).  This was 7 species more than July 2022, and there may be other species lurking in eBird for this year which I have not yet found (because eBird - unlike Birdata - does not allow extraction of data from custom areas).


Picking Bird of the Month was quite easy.  A Brown Cuckoo-Dove was seen at Gipsy Point and attracted a lot of attention by birders.  A big “Thank you” to the residents of Gipsy Point who were very helpful in assisting folk to find the bird in their yards!  (If only this observer had been able to spot the beast.)  It’s the second year in a row it has been seen here at this time of year.

Close behind was a report of a Lewin's Rail in a swampy area near the Broome St boardwalk.  This is not far from Fisheries Jetty where I saw the species in 2021.  There have now been 5 sightings of the species in the District and an expert has suggested that they may be much more common than thought but their habit of lurking in dense marshy vegetation means they are rarely seen.

A full list of species seen in the month is here.

The next chart shows the distribution of species across broad categories.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Cap'n Ahab was here?

 A dead white whale (only 10m long so not really that great, by whale standards) was reported on the Mallacoota Facebook page, as located about 1km past the mouth to the East.  It has been getting a fair bit of media coverage including the ABC (which seems to be the way the community finds out about these things.

I took myself to Bastion Point this morning and took some snaps.  The whale isn't obvious in the first one.

With the naked eye a blip on the beach is the whale, although without knowing there was a dead whale there, it could have been a rock or a washed-up tree or ....  Looking at Google Earth my guess is that it was about 2km from the steps at Bastion.

The zoom lever is your friend!  As was my telescope!
Some passing neighbours had a squizz through the scope and told me about the condition of the nearby Tip Beach.  So I went for a look myself.
The neighbours estimated the height of the bank at 11 feet, and as they climbed it they are well positioned to know!  I would not disagree with thier estimate.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

Once more unto the poo-pits..

 I have tried to make a practice of going to the Waste Water Treatment Plant (aka the poo pits) at least once a month.  This reflects it being the only large and reliable body of fresh water in the Mallacoota District.  

Access require some consideration due to the forestry works on the 'old' way in, but the back gate is available as back up.  No work was happening today (40mm of rain in the last 24 hours and a weekend suggested that would be the case).

The outing caused me to remember the words of a motorbike-riding Swedish friend.  He commented along the lines of "Rain always lasts long enough for you to get soaked and then put on your wet weather gear.  Then it stops."  Today it waited until I got to point 1 to start raining.  I was a bit sheltered by the bush (although the trees leaked) until I got back to the totally open area where it pissed down until I got back to the car.

There were several good Mallacoota birds around today.  5 (at least) Scarlet Robins which can be uncommon but are everywhere this year.  20 Hardhead (this is the only spot in Mallacoota but they are easy to find in Canberra).  2 Australasian Shovelers (ditto).  My choice was Australian Shelduck: while they are always here (and occasionally at Genoa) they are uncommon in Canberra.  I counted 16 of them today (but no ducklings yet).
They also get a good score under the spiffy rule.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Cormorants etc (mainly)

 Recently I have been finding very few Great Cormorants and surprising numbers of Little Pied Cormorants.  

On the other hand I haven't been having much trouble finding a Nankeen Night Heron or two at Bucklands.  (I suspect the one opposite the Bakery in town has moved on as the Shire has massacred the Pittosporum in which it used to roost.  Vandals!

So today I thought I would go and nail the Night Heron for BirdADay (BAD).  On getting to Bucklands I soon found the Heron in one of its favourite spots.

It then decided to hide in the foliage.  It is rather hard to hide if you forget your lurid yellow legs.
After spotting the NNH I heard the distinctive call of a Darter and saw an adult male of that species heading off across the water.  After checking a few other spots for this and also that - neither of which were around I found a great Cormorant and a female Darter sitting in the big dead tree.  
Yet another Darter.  I suspect this is an immature male just coming in to adult plumage,
Driving back home the jetty near Mullet Creek was replete with Cormorants.  I recorded 32 Little Pied, 18 Little Black and 2 Great Cormorants.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

The Far Side

 With apologies to Larson!

On 5 July we met up with the Footmobiles for a visit to the Marshmead campus near Howe Flat.  The route was 66 km from home with the final 20 km or so on a fair quality dirt road.  We noted that the Maxwell's Rainforest Walk is still in a distressingly abandoned condition (with no evidence of it ever being rehabilitated).  We stopped to morning tea at the Mallacoota Lookout, marked as X in the map.

We did indeed look out over Mallacoota.  Note the small open area just on this side of the Inlet.
A closer view of the Inlet.  The extent of sand of the Goodwins is quite obvious.
A close up view of the open area, showing the cabins of Marshmead.
After signing in to Marshmead as visitors we walked through the settlement to the jetty noting a spiffy male Satin Bowerbird.  There were a lot (I guesstimated 10) of green birds around.
.... where lunch was taken.  An Azure Kingfisher was seen (not by me).

Returning to the cars we then headed off to the rainforest walk.
A view of the forest alongside the open approach area.
The track went under a canopy of tree ferns.  I think there were two species present: a few Dicksonia antarctica but mainly Cyathea australis.  I didn't notice any Cyathea leichardtiana a few specimens of which were present in Maxwell's rainforest when we last visited (before the Black Summer fire.
A few interesting fungi.