Rain at Last

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeets

South Australia – along with many other parts of the country – has been suffering terribly through an extended period of drought over the last few years. The land is parched dry and the flora – and probably the fauna as well – has been suffering.

Over the last three days however, the state has received its best rain in over four months. Here where we live in Murray Bridge it’s the best rain we’ve had in over eight months. In fact, except for a few showers a few weeks ago, this is this only rain we’ve had this year.  And the weather people are forecasting more of the same over the coming days.

It is about now that grain farmers (mainly wheat and barley) are preparing to sow their seed for the coming season. This is perfect timing for them. Now we wait for good follow up rains over the next six months or so.

I have been interested to note that most birds have been relatively quiet today. Mind you, they’ve probably been sheltering from the heavy rain.

I don’t have a photo of the rain. Instead I’ve included a photo of two Rainbow Lorikeets.

Special Note: Today is Australia’s most sacred non-religious day: ANZAC DAY. On this day we stop to remember those who served in war.

For my special tribute, go to my writing blog.


Birding while doing the washing

I think I might have commented on this before, but I can’t remember where. With over 800 blog posts it would take a while to find the reference to it.

Hang on a minute: this blog has a search facility. Doh.

A few second’s search brought up this post about seeing a Peregrine Falcon while I was hanging out the washing one day last year. And the search box at the top of each page on this blog will bring you to a list of articles from the archives that help you find what you are looking for. More articles about birds I’ve seen while hanging out the clothes can be found here.

Now – back to my original reason for writing this post.

On Tuesday morning I was hanging out the washing. Nothing unusual about that; I do it most Mondays except that we’ve now changed to Tuesdays because of our university studies, but that’s another story.

In the quietness of the morning I was suddenly aware of a splashing noise. I glanced over the fence at our neighbour’s bird bath. Water was spraying everywhere, as if they had a small sprinkler going on the lawn. Now here in South Australia we haven’t been allowed to use sprinklers for several years due to the water restrictions during the current drought. What’s more, it wasn’t one of the designated watering days anyway.

On closer inspection – I didn’t have a clear view of the bird bath – I discovered two White-winged Choughs having a glorious bath, water flying in all directions. It was a warm morning and they were taking full advantage of the water provided. Of course I didn’t have my camera on me.

You can read more articles about White-winged Choughs here.

The River Murray is collapsing

Warning: This post has nothing to do with birds or birding. Since first posting this article one of my regular readers left a comment that spurred me on to add the last few paragraphs.

Many people acknowledge that the River Murray and the Lower Lakes are in desperate trouble. Levels are at the lowest in many decades, the flow is almost non existent and we have little idea of where the much needed water to keep it alive is coming from.

This desperate situation has been brought about by severe drought in the catchment area over the last three (or more) years plus decades of overuse and over allocation to irrigators upstream. The states upstream have almost totally ignored the needs of South Australia.

Something happened yesterday on the river bank right here in my home town of Murray Bridge that is symptomatic of this disaster happening in front of our eyes.

An 80 metre stretch of the river bank suddenly collapsed into the river, taking at least three cars with it. You can read about it and see a photo here. I can’t go down there and take my own photos because the area is now a restricted zone.

The bank collapse was at a local marina. The photo below was taken a few months ago at Swanport Reserve, about a kilometre south of the marina.

Without good, widespread above average rainfall right across the Murray-Darling basin over the next 2 years, plus well above rainfall in the Adelaide Hills this coming winter-spring, I fear Adelaide will run out of water sooner rather than later, possibly next summer. It is that serious from a human viewpoint. Economically many orchardists and dairy farmers are already going to the wall and many more are well on the way.

Beyond that, however, the long term environmental issues are potentially catastrophic – it may have already reached the point of no return. We may well be seeing the early death throes of the river and lower lakes. The implications for the bird life of the whole river system are frightening; they are threatened too.

Low river level at Swanport Reserve, Murray Bridge

Low river level at Swanport Reserve, Murray Bridge