Spring comes to Lord Howe Island

Subject: Spring comes to Lord Howe Island
From: (Syd Curtis)
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 21:04:08 +1000
        De Spring is sprung, de grass is riz;
        I wonder where de flowers iz?
        The boid is on de wing ... but dat's absoid:
        I always toit de wing was on de boid.


Lord Howe is now as green and lovely as it was hot and parched last December.

With plenty of fresh water about, the "marine" ducks (Black Duck and/or
Mallard) have reverted to being "frsh-water" ducks, dabbling in the ponds
instead of the coral Lagoon.

The first Sooty Tern egg was laid on Mt Eliza by Thursday Sept.17 (none
there the previous weekend, according to Senior Ranger Mencke).  No eggs in
the Kikuyu paddock near Ned's Beach, but large numbers of Sooties wheeling
around and filling the air with their pleasant "wide-awake" calls.

The first of the Flesh-footed Shearwaters, back from their tour of the
northern Pacific, were cleaning out their burrows in the Ned's Beach
rainforest.  And everyone's friends, the White Terns, are fluttering among
the Araucarias and engaging in their little shuffling nuptual dances along
the branches.  Soon there will be solitary eggs precariously  balanced on
those branches?

A month or two yet before the Red-tailed Tropicbirds put on their
spectacular aerobatic displays along the Malabar cliffs, but already a
dozen or so are back soaring up and down above the blue waters.

The Golden Whistlers proclaim their territories and I saw one female
building her nest (almost complete on Sept. 18) in a Cassinia bush only a
metre above the ground - ideal for photographs, but alas I won't be there
to watch progress.

Fine fat blackbirds are singing well and obviously getting good pickings
from the Islanders' Kikuyu lawns.  The pied Blackbird near Thompson's Store
thrives - and the presence of some others with white spots suggests that it
has passed on some genes.

Song Thrush song noticeably increased in volume over the week (13-20 Sept).
They were remarkably quiet last December; no doubt finding it too
difficult to get a feed in the drought to have time for singing.

'Bush Orchids' in full flower are a common sight at present (an endemic
subspecies, _howeanum_, of _Dendrobium macropus_)  and I was lucky to find
one plant of the beautiful pure white _D. moorei_ still flowering at the
end of their normal season.

Spring has arrived at the world's most beautiful island.

LHI must be one of the best cared for World Heritage sites we have in
Australia.  Years ago when the airstrip was constructed, ending at Lagoon
Beach, a break-water was built using basalt boulders from the intertidal
zone at the foot of Mt Lidgbird, as far south as one can take a vehicle.
Boulders and stones of all sizes are so plentiful there, one cannot tell
where the break-water material was taken.

Immediately to the north of the airstrip, the sea threatens to remove part
of the only north-south road.  Re-alignment and construction of a much
larger breakwater are now essential.  And are they taking more boulders
from the intertidal zone?  No, all the material is coming from New Zealand.

Yes, from New Zealand!  It arrives by ship and is lifted to the site by a
HUGE helicopter.  The NZ company Fulton Hogan has the contract.

LHI is part of NSW.  I don't know whether the State or the Commonwealth or
both are funding the operation, but I reckon congratulations are in order
for such environmental responsibility.

Syd Curtis

H Syd Curtis

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