Thursday, 27 October 2011

Small Miracles

Red-backed Fairy-Wren male
 Upper Lockyer, Queensland, August 28, 2011

Michael Atzeni showed me around the Murphys Creek and Upper Lockyer area on August 28, 2011. It was my first visit since the devastating floods of January 10th. Can't believe we were birding there exactly a week before the disaster. I left for Japan on January 9th and learned about it when I finished my journey and put on CNN and the BBC and of course, the internet.

I have visited a property there many times in recent years and I was shocked to see the damage that had been done.  Watch this Youtube video of the the actual flood there.

There was a terrible loss of human life in the surrounding areas and irreparable damage done to homes and properties but when I saw this video my thoughts were for the Platypus that I'd seen and photographed just last year. It was such a peaceful little stream (creek) and I thought for sure they couldn't have survived the force of the waters. 

Lace Monitor
The photos above and below are from a couple of years ago. Looking down to the stream behind the goanna.

This is a cottage at the property before the floods.
Photograph by Michael Atzeni

Looking down to the creek. The flood well underway.
Photograph by Michael Atzeni

The flood increases..
Photograph by Michael Atzeni

..and increases.
Photograph by Michael Atzeni

The cottage survived. Right on the edge.

 Above and below: Aerial photographs by Michael Atzeni of the scars.

The cottage right in the centre.

In the centre of this photograph you can see the stairs that once were surrounded by trees and shrubs. Even the colours have been washed away..
Photograph by me on August 28, 2011

More photos taken on August 28, 2011 below:

Grey Fantail
August 28, 2011
 Even with so much damage to the surrounding landscape there were plenty of birds. Some small miracles..

Yellow-rumped Thornbill
and below:

Jacky Winter
ID'd by Michael Atzeni

Scarlet Honeyeater
(want a better pic of one of these)

Buff-rumped Thornbill
and below gathering nesting materials and applying them into the side of a tree..

August 28, 2011

It was great to see all of these beautiful birds there but the most exciting sights for the day were not just one,... but two (2) Platypus!!! The first time they had been seen since the disaster.

Let's hope things can heal...

Friday, 21 October 2011

Food for Thought

Brown Falcon
Hovering at Felton, Queensland, August 18, 2011

It seems that after centuries of gathering knowledge, we have decided to cut the planet into pieces and sell it.

When I was a school student I was ‘educated’ that the Darling Downs region west of Toowoomba was one of the most important agricultural regions in Australia. Nowdays however, farmers and communities are being removed for coal and gas mining. You can see signs of the battle in some farming areas, such as Felton south-west of Toowoomba (Queensland, Australia).

The Australian governments have a savage hunger to get money for Australian dirt.

I guess it's already more than 15 years ago now that I went to a talk about Australian forests. By then we'd cleared 90% of the forests in NSW. It was then claimed by the government that only 10% of the forests were being logged. What they didn't say is that they were logging 10% of the remaining 10% of forests. Interestingly most of the cleared land had become farmland.

I don’t know if the mining boom is related to the massive spending on the infrastructure of the state’s capital, Brisbane. It seems every time I have to visit things have been redeveloped. When I was there in August they opened a new billion dollar bus terminal that cuts 10 minutes off travel time to the local University. I guess that's the one the Queensland lawmakers come from.

A bit off the track, I want A brief WHINGE ABOUT BRISBANE: In 2009 after we travelled from Cairns to Brisbane by train we rented a car (in Brisbane), drove around south-east Queensland before eventually heading across the Gateway Bridge to get to Brisbane airport. It had been years since I crossed the bridge and I was delighted to find that the toll gates had been removed. Anyway once we crossed it we forgot about it, dropped off our rented car and flew to back to Cairns and on to Tokyo. Two months later we got a letter from the car rental company to tell us that our credit card had been docked thirty odd dollars due to our failure to pay for the bridges toll. Somehow we were supposed to know beforehand to call a phone number and pay via credit card for crossing the bridge. Outraged I researched the matter over the internet, tried to make calls from Japan and sent e-mails to several Brisbane City Council offices and received zip in response. Eventually I complained to the Brisbane car rental office that they should advise visitors to Brisbane of such a toll system. Even though they had taken our money and I was using my name in the e-mail, they needed my customer ID number to respond. I then had to ask my wife as she’s the one who manages such paper work and she told me to just forget about it.

My Japanese is terrible but I’ve never had such troubles in Tokyo (An urban area ten times bigger).

Brisbane must make buckets from unsuspecting visitors. I guess they just don’t think there are any overseas or bush visitors. 

There are no direct flights between Brisbane and Tokyo.

Spotted Harrier
Between Toowoomba and Wyreema
August 18, 2011

Black Falcon (above and below)
A few minutes after the harrier at Wyreema
August 18, 2011
....appears to have caught something.  I kind of find these often enough but I'm never quick enough or it's too cloudy to get good shots.

Australian Kestrel
Between Felton and Greenmount
August 18, 2011
and another below in the same area.

Brown Falcon
Almost at Greenmount
August 18, 2011

It was an Australian Prime Minister who said "Australia is the arse end of the world". 
Australia's biggest weakness has been its leaders. They just never had any respect for it.