Subject: Locusts
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 14:57:30 +1100
Hi all,

I already sent a private reply to Maria but as no-one else has posted any
first-hand experiences of birds in a locust plague, I thought I would
repeat here what I wrote to her.

I travelled through a locust plague in South Australia and far western NSW
in May this year and like Maria, wondered about the effects on bird
activity. The only birds I saw which seemed to have any direct connection
with the locusts were fairly frequent small flocks of Little Crows (and
perhaps other corvids), and the occasional Magpie-lark feeding on the
squashed locusts on the road. I was surprised there weren't more birds
attracted to this over-abundant resource. (Of course, there could have been
other birds that I wasn't aware of feeding on the locusts, but I certainly
didn't notice particularly large numbers of anything.) When I was there, I
believe spraying was just about to commence.

The locust swarms basically extended all the way from Hawker to near Broken
Hill, but were worst of all around the town of Peterborough (SA). The
"mini-plague" at Morgan mentioned by Anne Green would have been connected
to all this. For those of you who haven't experienced a plague, imagine
driving through clouds of locusts so dense that you can hardly see where
you're going, for mile after mile. As you drive they appear to zoom towards
you and within no time the windscreen is covered in splatters with barely a
clear patch to look through. They get into every little nook and cranny in
the car - I remember clearing out handfuls from under the bonnet - and the
car had a horrible smell of dead locusts for weeks. Anyone travelling
through a plague is advised to fit a radiator screen otherwise they clog up
the radiator and there can be overheating problems. In Peterborough the
locusts were piled up on the footpaths against walls and shop doorways. I'm
not familiar with normal conditions in that area but many of the paddocks
did look very denuded, and it was also obvious that the swarms were worst
in heavily cleared places.


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