After so long without decent rain, the seemingly perpetual heatwave and the horrific bushfires across Australia, the weekend rain was very welcome. I’m not sure how much we got here, but it was great and made a huge difference to the grounds at work (I’m the Head Gardener). More of course is needed, but it was a most welcome start to ending the drought – which hopefully will be the case.
It was the official first day of Spring here in Australia. However, Spring has really been with us here for quite some weeks now, given the very warm days and bushfires we have already experienced. In fact August 2009 was the hottest on record.
Given that it is Spring it is time for a new season of new growth in the gardens and of new birth in the surrounding wildlife here in Tea Gardens (though it isn’t that clear cut obviously) and there is plenty of wildlife here.
On the way home from work today I was swooped by a Magpie – several times. The Magpie does this in its breeding season to drive off potential threats to its nest and young. Recently I have also been savagely swooped by the local plovers, which attack with even more ferocity than the Magpie.
The plovers had been defending their nest for some weeks prior to their eggs hatching. Their nest was beside the artificial lake in the centre of the village where I work at Tea Gardens Grange. The nest is just a small spot on the ground on which the eggs are laid. In this case their were four. They seemed to sit on the eggs for between 4 and 6 weeks before the young were hatched – swooping the entire time if you ventured too close, as well as making plenty of noise. One of the adults sometimes seemed to pretend to have a bad leg as it hobbled away from the nest in an attempt to get any threats to follow it.
At the moment there are two remaining chicks that are growing fairly rapidly now. The parents are still defending their young with menace.
On Friday I was visiting the Bulahdelah Cemetery in order to photograph headstones for my family history research. I decided to go up to Bulahdelah after work, it being only a short journey from Tea Gardens.
What I had noticed over the last week or so was that as the temperature had begun to rise so the number of bushfires and controlled burns had increased around the area dramatically. In fact, there have been quite a lot of bushfires burning around the area. Though this photo was taken on Friday, bushfires are continuing to burn around the place, driven by the very strong winds and dry conditions that currently exist. There is a massive fire burning over toward Nelson Bay by the look of it, as there are huge plumes of smoke in that direction.
This photo was taken from the Bulahdelah Cemetery toward Alum Mountain, where the fire was burning. The air throughout the area, from Tea Gardens to Bulahdelah, was full of smoke and there was a thick smoke haze. I wouldn’t say the air was choking, but every breath certainly had the taste of summer upon it.