Monday, March 28, 2011

Birds of Toowoomba - Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike
(Toowoomba, December 2009)

Thank you to everyone who has shown an interest in this blog and those who have sent e-mails and messages after the March disasters in Japan. Niigata is fairly safe although we remain concerned about the nuclear drama in neighbouring Fukushima and we are still feeling tremors from time to time. (Although most of these are centred hundreds of kilometres eastward in the Pacific Ocean). Sometimes my mobile phone sounds off an alarming alarm to warn me half a minute to a minute before any quakes. (The most recent was when I was crossing a busy road on my way to work this morning).

My main thoughts however, are for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been directly affected by the disaster. The government has said that the number of those needing shelter is now under 200000 but it will take a year to build temporary accommodation. There are several thousand who are in emergency shelters in Niigata and many more thousands have had to spread-out to at least 42 other prefectures.

I am so impressed by the courage of the Japanese people and their ability to carry on with normal lives. Work here is as usual with the only visible signs of strain in Niigata being seen mostly in the stores and supermarkets in the evenings where lights are off or dimmed to conserve power. (Niigata has been kindly spared of black-outs). Shelves at my local supermarket were also empty of bottled water. One shelf stocked full of soda water visibly stuck-out from the surrounding empty shelves. I also found the shelves were either empty or very low with instant noodles and energy/breakfast bars. It looks a little concerning but stocks of most other foods are very good. I am fortunate and haven’t needed to go to the supermarket often. I am not hungry and if I get the blues I can get plenty of ice-cream. I was told that stocks were low for a short time in Toowoomba after the January floods and my thoughts are still with those putting their lives back together there too.

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes are handsome and unobtrusive birds that are fairly common around Toowoomba. I recall that although many other birds such as magpies, currawongs and crows seem to be of common knowledge to everyone, the Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike is the first Australian bird that I identified with the use of a bird book.


Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike
(Greenmount, August 2010)