Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wet & Wild

Our front drive gradually succumbing to the relentless rain.

Allen Road is wet.

Well, actually, that could be construed as a blatant understatement. Allen Road is more or less saturated. So much rain has fallen over the past few weeks –culminating in recent deluges- that the land cannot take any more so consequently the water now lies on the surface creating potential hazards for the unsuspecting. To make matters worse, a couple of dams, both on the north side of the road, have burst their banks and the ensuing overflows have run into the totally inadequate roadside ditch. Mud and an assortment of gravel and cinder chips have spewed out into the road.

Over the past few days we have noted at least three vehicles bogged in their owners’ driveways. Other driveways are clearly unusable.

Yesterday [Sunday 09 January 2011] alone our rain gauge registered 102.5mm and at times that came down in furious bucketfuls.

In a number of instances the excess rain has caused more than simple inconvenience. I bogged the new Subaru Forester [all-wheel drive] on Friday; yesterday we managed to bog Fay’s Toyota [4-wheel drive]. We are effectively isolated on Allen Road. The Subaru is useable but requires urgent work to re-balance the wheels. Fay’s vehicle will have to remain stuck until the weather eases up a little.

Even with vehicles, we remain prisoners at the moment. From 63 Allen Road we have two options in reaching the township of Nanango. At the front gate we can turn right to the T-junction with the Nanango-Maidenwell Road, bear left to the T-junction with the D’Aguilar Highway and reach town along this route. Only the bridge into town has the infuriating habit of going under water and the road is blocked off. Back at our front gate we can bear left to the T-junction with Andrews Road which eventually sweeps into Major Road. At its T-junction with the Nanango-Brooklands Road we could turn right and follow that road through to town. Only the Nanango-Brooklands Road has been closed off [road damage ahead]. It is possible to ignore the “Road Closed” signs but it could entail a $300 fine and negates your insurance in the event of an accident.

We’ve found ourselves marooned on two occasions in the past week.

Birding is restricted. We watch from the three verandahs [north, east and south] and occasionally, in between rain squalls, stroll down to inspect the dam, birding as we go. It’s limited. It’s frustrating.

Not that birding is altogether impossible. The feeders help – and please don’t write to tell us we shouldn’t be feeding wild birds, a la BA advice. We know. We tend to disagree with BA on this point. Put it down to the Pommie in our souls.

We have a theory. More birds foregather at a feeder following, or indeed during, heavy rain periods. Our Allen Road records go back to April 2001 and clearly show that on average we attract a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus on most occasions. During average rain spells the numbers can increase to four, occasionally as high as six. Over the past fortnight we have recorded up to 20, spread out across three feeders.

The Galahs Eolophus roseicapillus have followed a similar pattern, from humble showings of fewer than half a dozen specimens at any one feeding session to recent highs of 17 and 19.

Some species appear to have remained numerically stable, getting on with their lives.. The Torresian Crows Curvus orru are still feeding their squawking youngster. Until a few days ago the Australian Magpies Cracticus tibicen had two juveniles to feed; we assume they have now fledged and gone out into the world to seek their own fortunes. The Magpie-larks Grallina cyanoleuca, having successfully fledged one brood, lost a second nest in a too-conspicuous setting, appear to have been successful with their third nest; we continue to observe nest duty changeovers.

The male Crested Pigeons Ocyphaps lophotes continue to strut their egos, fan their tails and generally attempt to convince females of the species that they would make potent mates, provide top offspring in return for the energy expended in the copulation. The Grey-crowned Babblers Pomatostomus temporalis simply practice nest-building, seemingly on any pretext.

The obverse side of the rainy coin is, of course, that the dam is fuller than we have ever known it. It has almost doubled in size since 2001.

It’s wet, it’s muddy and slippery underfoot but life goes on. All the very best to everyone [non-borders as well as birders] during 2011. Happy New Year.

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