Fw: Phalarope bonan

To: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>, " >> Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Fw: Phalarope bonan
From: Penny Brockman <>
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2018 12:41:52 +1000
Dear Wim,

Thanks for your update on things Arctic.  I can almost smell the flowers and the cold sea. Here in the east of Oz land, particularly NSW and Queensland, we are suffering an appalling draught and are dreaming of rain, unfortunately still only a dream. Where I live in Gloucester, just north-east of Barrington Tops, we are fortunate in that our rivers run from the Tops hanging swamps and to date (as far as I know) have never run dry. The Gloucester, Barrington and Manning Rivers are all low but still flowing and the river flats are green when shaded from wind and frost by trees and are busy and noisy with birds. Rain is falling but mainly in the south of the continent.

We have had frost in low lying areas nearly every day since mid July, anything from minus 1 to minus 4c., and around Gloucester (100 asl) shrubs and small trees such as syzigiums,  acacias, ficus and some rainforest species planted on the river banks in town have been burnt and look rather sad. Hopefully they will sprout once the days get longer and warmer, although not too warm last year's heights of over 40c.

The most exciting bird event here has been the presence of a juvenile Black-neck Stork.  It has been seen on its own or with a parent or two, feeding in the Avon and Gloucester Valleys many times since January, but I really can't state 100% for sure that it first saw life in our valley as the nest has yet to be found. It is possible the family flew in from the Bulahdelah area (over 60km away and nearer the coast) where storks have bred successfully for many years, but when I first saw the juvenile at a large dam south of Gloucester on 3rd January it had a very fluffy brown neck and looked too young for long distance flight. At my next sighting at the same dam on 26th March its neck was blackish/brown and no longer fluffy. During this sighting it caught 3 eels within 15 minutes, taking 5 minutes each time to catch, minipulate to a suitable state and swallow an eel. After this substantial meal it walked up onto the dam bank and settled down to digest!  Since that time storks have been reported many times either in pairs or singles at dams up and down the valley, and we saw an adult yesterday flying over town.

Higher up in the valleys conditions are happier being sheltered from frosts and drying winds. At Woko National Park on the Little Manning yesterday it was a different world - green grass, no frost damage and busy bird life.  Driving there and back the pasture lands were sere, often grazed flat. Many farmers have reduced or sold all stock and a dry spring is predicted.

With best wishes, Wim, and keep up your interesting and varied reports from the far north.

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