Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Jottings from the Tropics: 18 February 2015

I thought I heard red-tailed black cockatoos today, but by the time I'd put on my outdoor shoes and headed into the garden the birds had gone. RTBC's have a distinctive call. It's like a sulphur-crested cockatoo playing a bugle. Or what I imagine that would sound like, if only they could manage the embouchure. 

— o O o 

We're between cyclones and it's stopped raining. When I say between cyclones, I mean it in the geographical, not temporal sense. As I write this, Severe Tropical Cyclone Lam is in the Gulf of Carpentaria, heading SW towards Groote Eylandt and Arnhem Land, and the low that will probably be Tropical Cyclone Marcia is in the Coral Sea, on its way to drop rain on the SE Queensland coast. And when I say it's stopped raining, I mean that it is still raining, but not as much as it was. I'm glad I've cleared that up.

— o O o 

I opened a new notebook yesterday and wrote down all the places I wanted to visit before I get too decrepit to travel. I hope someone invents a time machine soon.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Wet Season makes a splash

We've all been complaining about the dreadful heat and lack of rain, so when it started raining at the end of last week, we thought 'send 'er down, Huey'.

By Sunday morning, we were all a little less enthusiastic. So much rain had fallen* in the catchment of the North Johnstone River that the river broke its banks. It cut the Malanda Atherton Road at Malanda Falls and swamped houses and farmland in and around town.

I moved house in the last week of January. I said goodbye to Basil the brush turkey, the belligerent scrubwrens and gerygones, the mob of bush stone-curlews and the agile wallaby that had wandered into the garden one day and settled in, and I shifted to a place on the other side of town. On Sunday the creek, which forms one boundary of the old place, and the North Johnstone River, which runs along the back of the blocks on the other side, both flooded.

There are plenty of photos and videos of the floods, but my limited bandwidth and abysmally low 'broadband' speeds don't allow me to go looking for them. I'll nip into the library later this week and see if I can add some links then.

(We're expecting a bit more rain this weekend.)

* About 300 mm.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Jottings from the Tropics: 31 January 2015

It's election day here in Queensland. Normally, I'd be following it all on the internet, but since I'm now stuck with what the telcos laughingly call mobile 'broadband', my download speed is measured in bytes per second. Occasionally the speed soars into kilobytes/sec and even approaches dial up rates, but that rarely lasts long. I'd like to mention all this on the feedback form that the telco keeps nudging me to complete. Unfortunately, I can't get access to it because of the dire download rates and the form's size. Still, I'm not sure that they really want the sort of feedback I'd provide. 'Renationalize Telstra now' is beyond the scope of the help desk. And to send that sans swears is beyond the scope of this author.

In non-telecommunications news, I have moved most (but not all) of my stuff from the other house. I am taking the day off and will get back into packing, shifting and cleaning tomorrow. That will end, as will this ridiculously hot weather. But at the moment, both seem as if they'll go on forever. 

I hope your day is better than mine!

...And as I try to send this, I find that my mobile broadband won't even connect. But Telstra has sent me with this handy little SMS. With no link. Not that it'd do much good, because no connection. But if I did have a connection, I wouldn't be able to find out how to track usage because no link.

The good-to-go blue light on the USB flickers on just long enough for me to switch to the connect screen, but turns ha-ha-sucker-this-is-Telstra red before I can click the button.

Right. Let's see if this works. 

Friday, 30 January 2015

A Chequered Present

Chequered swallowtail (Papilio demoleus)

Chequered swallowtail
leaves the lush interior
for the arid coast


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

It's raining moths

The evening storms are most welcome, even though they are often accompanied by power outages. Monday's storm brought almost 60 mm of rain and a three hour blackout. The lack of electricity* is not a big problem. But it does create a small problem — the combination of unscreened windows + torches** = your own private cloud of insects.

This trio of moths were among my personal insect menagerie. They are all large, but not as large as the Hercules moth that flew into my head torch in the rainforest at Paluma. It might not have been a Hercules moth. It might have been a Hercules aeroplane.There's a remote chance I said something intemperate at the time, as one is inclined to do when a turboprop-powered saturnid smacks into one's head. These three moths were more polite and fluttered around a bit.

The usual caveat about moth IDs apply. I don't know my moths, so if any/all of these IDs are wrong, please let me know.

Speiredonia spectans (Noctuidae)

Spirama recessa (Noctuidae)

Donuca ?rubropicta (Noctuidae)

* Apart from the lightning

** Flashlights, not flaming brands or welding tools

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Jottings from the Tropics: 21 January 2015

I tried to think of a witty title and I failed.

Up to my neck in packing here. Because I'm moving into a considerably smaller property, I have to downsize (to use a dreadful bit of managerial jargon). So I'm also sorting and donating and chucking and shifting to the 'I'll deal with it later' pile, which is now about to overtake the Great Pyramid of Cholula in size.

And it's hot. Hot and humid like Townsville in November, not mild and humid as it should be in this part of the Atherton Tablelands in January. The monsoon trough made an appearance at the start of the month, but didn't hang around. There's rain to the north and south. There's even enough rain in Central Australia to make the Todd River flow through Alice Springs. But there's not much rain in the Wet Tropics.

I've started a new bird list for 2015. I expect it to plod along for the next eighteen weeks, until I finish these Long Overdue Projects. But then — then! — there'll be birding, invertebrating, photography, inept botanising and roaming the broad, sunlit uplands of creativity like a roamy, creative person who is not above stealing Churchill's words.

Eighteen weeks.

But I'm not counting.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Jottings from the Tropics: 2 Jan 2015

First Dog on the Moon starts the year
Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm have returned.

*Waits for audience applause. Not a sausage*.

Not that I've actually been anywhere. But had I been somewhere, I would have been back. [Ed:–Tenses. How do they work?] [Me:–Yeah. Because grammar is the real problem with that sentence.]


Nothing much has been happening here. I am about to move into a new place, so am in that 'look at this mess how am I ever going to pack it all bugger it I'll just chuck it all out I don't care anymore I'll sleep in a swag and eat instant noodles just like a student not that I did that when I was a student but that's not the point' phase. I'm sure you're familiar with it.

And nothing much will be happening for the next five months. I'll be finishing projects and trying not to start new ones until the end of May. But June onwards is packed — packed, I tell you! — with Doing Stuff. Some of it is even Quite Interesting Stuff involving Scholarly Things! and Travel! More on that closer to the time.

I will try to post regularly. Because I won't be out and about with the camera until *, I'm afraid there'll be a dearth of photos. Sorry about that. But in *, Things will be Different **.

In other news, my resolution to avoid eating lots of old-fashioned chocolate fudge in 2015 is going well. Hope you're as successful with your resolutions.

* June!

**because there'll be Scholarly Things!***

***and Travel!