Droughts, deluges and birds

To: "terrypacey" <>, "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Droughts, deluges and birds
From: Alexandra Appleman <>
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000 07:41:57 +1000
At 05:29 PM 21/11/00 +1000, terrypacey wrote:
>Sometime earlier this year, some of the subscribers to Birding-Aus
expressed their surprise at how dry Southeast Queensland was after
listening to media reports that the big dry was over.
>Well it has happened again.  Despite all the reports to the contrary, the
drought is still on in most of the inland areas of SE Qld.  The Darling
Downs and many of the nearby areas are still in the grip of one of the
driest years ever recorded.
Terry, we've got your rainfall in North and Central Queensland. Nominally
the "Golden Gumboot Belt" aka the 'Wet Tropics' begins at Ingham, 110 km to
the north of Townsville, which has an average annual rainfall of 2 metres.
Townsville has just exceeded the 2 metre mark for only the sixth time since
records were kept (1871). Our average is 1130 mm.

>In other times, such a drought has seen huge increases of western birds
into the Darling Downs and even coastal areas.  Whether this will happen
when the droughted area is surrounded by wet areas remains to be seen.
During the 'El Nino' years Townsville recorded all kinds of exciting birds
within 20 kms of the city, flocks of budgies, letter-winged-kites - forced
to the coast by drought conditions. The interesting thing about 'La Nina'
is the pelagics. On 12 November I called by a friend's place and he showed
me photos of an Albatross taken at Keeper Reef, 40 km NE of Townsville,
just 19 degrees south of the Equator, on 16 October. I borrowed them and
scanned them in to send to Paul Walbridge (Brisbane), David James
(Townsville) and Tony Palliser (Sydney) all of whom confirmed it was a Shy
Albatross and Paul likened to the one seen off Southport on 16 September.

I reported back to my friend (a commercial fisherman) who said 'there's
another albatross turned up at Yeppoon' [just north of Rockhampton]. This
one (another Shy Albatross) was found in front of 'Mitre 10' last Friday by
staff, collected by council workers and handed to QPWS officers who
arranged for it to be airlifted down to 'Seaworld'. 

Presumably the bird had been forced on land by bad weather and sheer
exhaustion: Mackay to the north had 300 mm of rain dumped on it that day -
and I don't think even the Darling Downs would appreciate that at the moment. 



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