How about some suggestions on something to promote Wildlife Awareness Month this year?
Boodie = Burrowing Bettong.
Marl = Western Barred Bandicoot.
Quenda = Southern Brown Bandicoot
Woylie = Brush-tailed Bettong.
Bilby = Rabbit-eared Bandicoot
In July 2012 I attended the Australian Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Conference in Townsville. Thanks for the mighty push from Brenda that got me there and enjoying the lovely companionship of Denise, Brenda and Lynne. On so many issues this conference [my first] was inspirational. The organisation, the highly motivational and informative presentations, the audio-visual aspects and the carers, etc. from all over Australia united by a common focus – the importance of conserving our unique wildlife.
The presenters ranged from carers, rescuers, vets, through to scientists and researchers. So much that is positive happening. Each presenter had 20 minutes to speak plus 10 minutes question time. Twelve presentations per day. Everything strictly running to time. Wow!! Transcripts of presentations were provided. This allowed us to read ahead. The venue was a large conference room at the Rydges hotel complete with circular tables each seating 8 and 4 very large screens on 3 of the 4 room walls for visual presentations. Beautifully put together visual stories set the tone for each day. The emcee was quite charismatic and introduced humour and inducement to ensure the very tight schedule was adhered to.
Recapping of each day often took place in the evening with room mates or whenever other delegates were at the same place at the same time, the opportunity to talk to other carers and people who have a passion for our wildlife was not to be missed. Approachability of participants and presenters with awe inspiring stories of battles fought on behalf of wildlife carried out by local groups – including :
the re-location of a proposed railway line to ensure preservation of vital koala habitat;
the mass rescue of kangaroos marooned on an island after sudden severe flooding;
rescue, treatment and successful release of turtles stranded in a dry lake;
surveys of areas to establish suitability of habitat as a possible release site for possums;
protection and monitoring of endangered species, eg the beautiful Mahogany Glider;
official research and fieldwork carried out to address diseases decimating some species, eg Chlamydia in koalas [a vaccine has been developed and trialled];
rescue, treatment and data collection about skin diseases in Brush-tailed possums in coastal NSW.
These are a few stories randomly selected –
Reports of the precarious position of some of our better known species, eg Koala, Tasmanian Devil, Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat and scarily, the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and Common Wombat. Falling numbers in the Grey-headed Flying Fox and kangaroos [yes].
Underlying all is the threat of major habitat loss, not just for the above, but, just as seriously for the many, many, many, lesser known or even unknown species of fauna. On the second last night Brenda and I attended a meeting [open to all regarding the formation of a National Wildlife Body – an ongoing issue. It would be very interesting to find out where that move has been developed to as there were two Victorian carers very much involved.
At the end of conference dinner there was a most inspirational speaker John Young presenting ‘100 of My Favourite Images. John has worked on filming projects with Sir David Attenborough. This photographer has located [hopefully] the habitat of the Night Parrot [thought to be extinct], he was so excited by the prospect of obtaining photographic proof that the bird existed that he could barely contain himself during his talk and presentation. As soon as he had finished with us he was heading back to the location, his excitement knew no bounds as he excitedly and occasionally reminded us of his forthcoming adventure [isn’t it great to listen to someone talk about a great passion]. I have watched the media but am yet to see any report. Fingers crossed.
So many determined people achieving positive outcomes for wildlife – not just those at the conference but across Australia.
I couldn’t help thinking of the quietly fantastic work done by those in Bendigo and surrounding districts – well done all of you.
If you possibly can manage to attend, the next conference will be in Hobart in 2014. Let’s do a group trip. I’m sure Denise, Brenda and Lynne will tell you we had a ball. I have the notes from the presentations, or they are available on the website if anyone is interested.
Here’s another angle to the ‘usual’ snake story.
A friend rang me because she had a problem with a large Red-bellied Black Snake in her garage and she needed a snake handler. I discovered she had obtained phone numbers for snake handlers from a lovely, helpful lady called Denise.
The problem was the snake and she had co-existed quite happily for a number of years. Very recently she had been in her garage when the snake had appeared causing her to hurriedly jump sideways – as you do. Unfortunately she fell and bumped her head. The decision was made to relocate the snake to a specially chosen site on the property and she needed someone to put it in a box, so she could safely release it in the new surroundings.
I loved the story. What a very special lady. If you have any ‘good news’ stories please write them down and send them in.
JOY is a lovely firm pellet of possum poo from a very small baby. It’s all about the input and the output!
JOY is watching a nestling Tawny Frogmouth being ushered up a very great height to a nest very high in a gum tree. This baby had been found with its sibling and was rescued by a WRIN stalwart. First it was taken for a tour of Mandurang and had had afternoon tea at Sedgwick after falling from quite a height without his parachute. The sibling was very thin and unwell looking and was kept in care.
JOY is watching an echidna make it safely across the road.
JOY is catching sight of a ringtail possum very late one night near to where 2 were released near my home. MAYBE??
JOY is young gums I have planted flowering for the first time. BROWSE ON TAP.
JOY is NOT when a young, in care, possum races across the floor and scales your bare leg. Luckily I live more than a bulls roar from my neighbours.
Next time it is YOUR TURN to share those funny/special moments.
Ed. note : all attempts should be made to return non-fledged birds to their nests, it is always in the best interest of the bird to attempt to replace them rather than artificially raise for our own ego. Frogmouths are one of the species that can almost always be successfully left with parents even when an artificial nest has to be constructed close by. Of course the bird has to be checked for injuries and pronounced perfectly well then monitored for a few nights to ensure parents are still carrying out their parental duties. We have found that most of the people who call regarding the displaced bird are more than happy to either construct a nest then monitor or assist with construction then monitor, the birds often become their special projects and great pride is felt when the job has been successful. A successful artificial nest can be simple to make. First make sure the parent birds are not too far away and are curiously watching you as well as their chick. Choose a branch that is relatively high in the tree but easily accessible to the nest builders. Bird wire or other easily manipulated suitable wire can be moulded into a largish dish shaped nest which is securely attached to the branch in a position which will provide protection from direct rain or strong winds, it needs to be big enough that if the chick moves it won’t fall over the edge as it has done with mum and dads 4 stick job. The wire dish then needs to be thoroughly and thickly covered with suitable ‘bedding’. this can be sticks and thick leaf litter, enough that the wire or litter can’t become a problem for the bird. When you think the nest is good enough, place the chick in the centre, quickly back off and watch the parents from a good distance, they will rarely come to the chick during the day but need to know where it is. The new nest then must be watched to ensure the chick doesn’t wander too close to the edge and that close to or after dark the parents will accept the new situation and feed their baby. This monitoring sometimes needs to continue for several nights.
I was talking to my daughter some time ago while we were both visiting my 91 year old dad at his nursing home. Jo mentioned she had been unable to use the Mercedes for some time, instantly I thought back to the time when the ‘people mover’ had just been purchased and Jo had pulled into the petrol station to fill up, she automatically got the petrol hose and began to fill up. Luckily, before too much petrol had flowed through the hose, she remembered this vehicle needed diesel to keep it running. Thankfully, all that was needed was for the petrol to be siphoned out and then the tank flushed clean. I wondered what might have happened on this occasion but before I could pose the question she laughed and said nothing’s wrong, just pardalotes are nesting in the muffler and I have to wait until they all come out. She finished with a chuckle and said “I’ll probably blow the thing up when I start it as it will be blocked with all sorts of nesting material.”
This isn’t the first time Jo has had to re-organise her garage during nesting season as a few years ago willie wagtails nested on the handlebars of husband Gregs bike, so for several weeks Greg had to train using Jo’s triathlon/long distance bike and she wasn’t really amused. Son Steve is also a bit of a softy at times, years ago he decided to move a pile of dirt and before much had been moved from the pile, he realised he’d dug straight into a nest – yes, pardalotes once again. After a quick phone call we decided to try a terra-cotta plant pot on its side jammed into the hole with part of the top [now the side] of the pot covered then the pot covered over with dirt with the babies placed into the pot. Luckily it was another success.
The Barking Owl is an aggressive hunter taking a wide range of prey. As they hunt earlier in the evening and later in the morning than any other Australian owl species, their diet includes a wider range of diurnal birds. Prey recorded includes House Sparrow, White Winged Chough, Kookaburra, Magpie-lark, Magpie, Red-rumped Parrot and Tawny Frogmouth. Mammals such as small possums, bats and gliders are also taken but the introduced rabbit is now the major source of food in southern Australia. As with other Ninox Owls [hawk owls] they also take insects such as beetles and crickets particularly in the non-breeding season.
Barking Owls’ nest in a large hollow in the trunk or large limb of a tree. Dead hollow spouts are also used, the nest may be up to 30metres above the ground but is usually much lower. No nest is made, the eggs being laid directly onto the floor of the hollow.
There are usually 2 or 3 eggs that, as with most hollow nesting species, are white. Incubation takes about 35 days and the fledglings leave the nest about 35 days later still being downy as are all other young members of the Genus Ninox although none are still showing as much down as the Barking Owl.
The size of a Barking Owl can vary between 35cm and 45cm and the wingspan between 85cm and 100cm. The colour of the head varies from dark to light sandy brown, the upper wings and back are brown with large white spots and the uppertail is inconspicuously barred brown; breast and belly are white heavily streaked brown; eyes are large with a large yellow iris. The large yellow eyes and large white spots on the upper surface are usually enough to identify this species, but, if the dog-like call is heard this would confirm identification. This species is also responsible for the ‘screaming woman’ call. it is described as being very much like a terrified woman and quite capable of making your hair stand on end on a dark night if you’re out by yourself.
The Barking Owl is a species that, in Victoria, is considered to be endangered. There are only a small number of known breeding pairs mainly restricted to the dryer forests of Central Victoria. Severe bushfires over the last few years have burnt many of the large hollow bearing trees used by the Barking Owl as well as other species, the fires have also reduced the availability of food. After the fires the owls were seen coming back to their territories in burnt areas, the loss of their habitat as well as food meant they did not stay.
Ideal habitat is open country with a choice of large trees for roosting and nesting. In Northern Australia where this species is more common the favoured habitat is paperbark swamps; in southern districts it chooses creeks and rivers that are lined with River Red Gums, isolated stands of large trees and open woodland. In Victoria much of its preferred habitat would now be confined to private property or creeks and rivers running through private property.
My first encounter with this species was in October, 1982, when Brenda and I travelled from Melbourne to Chiltern especially to see them. I had been given a detailed map by a friend that showed me exactly where to look for the birds. We spent 3 days bird watching in the area seeing a total of 125 species. A trip one night to the area marked on my map added the Barking Owl to the list of birds we had seen. At first the birds’ were heard calling their unmistakable dog-like double bark ‘wuf-wuf’ or ‘wuk-wuk’. After hearing the call I could understand why they are known as Barking Owls, the call being remarkably like a barking dog. Later that evening we were to see the pair in the spotlight. Unlike their smaller cousin the Boobook Owl, whose mopoke call may go on for hours, the Barking Owl call usually only lasts several minutes at a time making it much harder to locate.
My encounters with these owls have been mostly very few, my second sighting 11 years later when in 1993 I found a single bird roosting in a River Red Gum at Laanecoorie Reservoir not far from home. Four years later in February 1997 whilst spotlighting for mammals and nocturnal birds in open forest of Broad-leaf Peppermint, Manna Gum and Blue Gum near Bogong village in north eastern Victoria, I had good views of a single bird for a few minutes then three weeks later Brenda received an injured bird from Baringhup making a total of 5 birds seen in over 40 years of bird watching.
In 2010 and 2011 I took part in a survey to assess the population of owls and arboreal mammals after severe bushfires in the Goulburn Broken Catchment area. Recorded calls of the owls’ were played at night at approximately 50 sites covering a large area east of Kilmore and extending almost to Jamieson, as high as Alexandra and a little further south than Healesville. Surveys of the areas had also taken place in 1996. The Barking Owl was not found on any site during the 2010 and 2011 surveys. Two other Ninox owls were recorded on some sites, they were Southern Boobook and Powerful Owl. Two Tyto owl species were also recorded on some sites, they were Sooty Owl and Masked Owl. The Masked Owl record is of calling only and on a single occasion. Tawny Frogmouths and Owlet Nightjars were also recorded.
Arboreal mammals seen were Mountain Brushtail Possum which showed a decline over the 3 surveys particularly on the burnt areas; Common Brushtail Possum; Common Ringtail Possum which has shown a steep decline over the 3 survey periods on both burnt and unburnt areas; Leadbeater’s Possum [a single record of call only]; Greater Glider, according to the previous surveys, this species has suffered a steep decline since 1996, especially on burnt sites; Sugar Glider, the trend for this small glider appears to be a small increase over the survey periods; Yellow-bellied Glider, there were few sightings of this species on any of the three surveys but it appears to have had a very slight increase on burnt sites but little change on unburnt sites; Feathertail Glider, this tiny glider was not recorded on any sites during any of the 3 survey periods, it was seen off-site in unburnt forest on one occasion in 2010; Koala, all records of this species during all surveys was in unburnt areas only.
Other mammals recorded on sites were species of micro bats; Black Wallaby; Common Wombat; Cat; European Rabbit and Sambar Deer. A number of frog species were also recorded including Brown Toadlet [endangered] and Dendy’s Toadlet [data deficient] found 10kms farther west than previously recorded.
Close to midnight on Friday 5th October, 2012, the phone rang. “We’ve just picked up a joey, mum was dead on the road.” The usual questions including how big is the joey, does it have fur, is it warm/cold, do you think mum has been dead long? The answers were, the joey is getting fur, it is warm and mum is still warm.
The caller and her very angry mother had brought in a 3.9kg male joey a little after 5pm two months earlier, mum had been shot but not killed. The joey had been found about 4.30pm in the afternoon the day after the previous nights shooting spree along with the bodies of several other dead animals, some of which also had pouch joeys. It appeared from the markings around the bodies, most had not died for some time, some had died well away from the killing zone. All but one of the pouch joeys had already died. This joey was tiny, icy cold and moribund and died shortly after arrival. Time of the shootings was known as the caller had gone to a nearby house to check if anyone had any information.
The finder and her mother had spent considerable time with us talking about wildlife and its required care on their first visit so, after some discussion, it was decided the caller could cope with this new joey until the following morning when she had to be in Maryborough just after 6.30am for work. Detailed instructions were given but only about one and a half hours had passed before the phone rang again to say the joey wouldn’t settle, it was constantly calling and never remained still. All processes discussed had been followed and I explained what was happening was often normal with new joeys but the caller asked if she could bring it out straight away instead of waiting till early morning, she refused Garry’s offer of meeting part way saying she was more than happy to drive it the full distance. By the time she arrived about an hour later everything was prepared including a variety of pouches warming in the heated hanging pouch, all had been weighed so it would be a simple matter to place the joey in the most appropriate pouch and set it on the scales without having to waste time. The joey weighed 638gm and a magnifier must have been used to find the fur which could not be felt but the normal shiny pink skin of ‘pinkies’ was just turning to the much paler, non shiny, hue which means fur isn’t too far away. The joey was placed into the warmed pouch and very quickly settled and slept. Of course by the time the finder left it wasn’t too many hours to normal get up time so I decided not to go back to bed. And, it was the day of the October WRIN meeting and I’d be missing out again.
Things went really well for 2 or 3 weeks then one morning I noticed the joey had a tiny dot of muck in the corner of her left eye. Looked like the start of conjunctivitis so after some consideration decided to begin treatment for this condition. I called my vet as soon as I knew the clinic would be open but the answering machine prompted my memory that it was a holiday. Later I contacted the vet at home and explained the situation where the conjunctivitis was confirmed as the probable problem an to continue with the medication being used.
Two days later there was no improvement, now both eyes were looking sore and the left eye looked swollen so a visit to the clinic was made. Several tests were done and nothing unusual found, it was decided to change the medication to a combination of 2 other antibiotics, one a stronger medication, to be used alternately 4 times a day and also to put the joey onto oral antibiotics as an added precaution. The eyes appeared marginally dry. The eye swelling was soft tissue around the eye and not the eye ball protruding which may have indicated a problem behind the eye. Another couple of days and the problem was still not improving. By this time the joeys eyes were partly closed and she was clearly distressed, no doubt more by the regularity and timing of the medication rather than pain as she was also being given pain relief. After considerable thought I made the decision to alter the medication prior to contacting the clinic as, again, it was after hours. Overnight the eyes appeared to improve a little, they seemed to be more shiny and more open. Again I spoke to the vet and reminded him of a joey from many years earlier who had arrived with eye problems, after several medications had been tried she had eventually been put onto a much stronger antibiotic as a last resort when nothing else worked. I remember my vet saying at the time it is very expensive and a final resort. It had worked so I requested the same medication again. My vet suggested one more treatment before beginning the treatment I requested as he had discussed the case with a colleague. After 2-3 days of the new medication I gave up and once more began using the medication I had used on her twice before after no difference had been seen using the other antibiotics.
The following morning the eyes appeared to be a little wider open. I called the clinic and arranged for a vet to come to see the joey and bring the medication I had requested which had been ordered and arrived the previous evening. On arrival, the eyes were again tested with nothing specific found although they were not producing the normal amount of tears, surprisingly the swollen eye was working better than the normal sized right eye. There was still no sign of damage to the eyeballs. The new medication was started straight away, as it was only a twice daily medication I would be able to alter the entire medication/feeding regime which hopefully would ease the joeys stress each feed time – she would eagerly take her bottle, sit well for stimulating but then begin to throw her hands out trying to keep me from going near her face. The new medication would be needed for a period of 2 – 3 weeks, it may cause irritation and if so would have to stop immediately and probably call it quits on this beautiful little animal although we could once again go back to the medications already tried for a final time, my criteria would be had I caused enough stress already.
At the time of writing this [5th Dec 2012] we are into her last chance of a successful outcome. She now weighs in at 1234gm, a disappointing gain as it is a little less than what would be the norm with a strong healthy joey, no doubt due to some stress occurring because of having to have the eyes treated so often. The use of pain relief took away the physical discomfort and organising the feeding and treatments in particular ways avoided much of the psychological worries, at least that was my hope. Surprisingly during her first 3 days in care she had lost 53gms, this was rapidly regained and by the end of her 7th day had regained those lost grams and added 35gm more for a total gain of 88gm over 7 days. Fingers are firmly crossed that at her next eye test we will see success.
December 28th. The best news is the treatment worked. After several days of the new antibiotic the vet checked and suggested I stop using it as her eyes were mostly closed and she seemed distressed when she thought her face was to be touched. I decided not to follow this advice, I had dealt with this joeys problem for a long time and considered her demeanour was more likely to be psychological than physical and a few more days were well worth trying.
January She now has beautiful wide open shiny eyes and loves nothing more than exploring around the lounge and kitchen and, despite being the youngest, is most often the last back to bed after a feed. It is thought her eye problems possibly began with a bacterial infection behind the eyes perhaps the first sign of this was the 53gm weight loss on her first days after arrival. It may have been caused by dust, dirt, grit, etc getting under the eye lids while still in her dead mums pouch. On 14th January she weighed in at 1854gm, an appropriate weight for her age estimated at around 7.5 months. She is a glorious animal. But, aren’t they all!
UNLESS YOU ARE TOTALLY FAMILIAR WITH EYE PROBLEMS AND TREATMENTS IT IS VITAL THAT NOTHING OTHER THAN SALINE OR STERILE WATER IS PUT INTO THE EYES OF ANY SPECIES WITHOUT THE ADVICE OF A VET OR TRAINED PERSON. IF YOU USE THE WRONG TREATMENT YOU MAY CAUSE PERMANENT DAMAGE WHICH WILL MEAN DEATH FOR SOMETHING THAT MAY OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN SIMPLY AND SUCCESSFULLY TREATED. THE SAME APPLIES TO ANY MEDICATIONS OFFERED WHEN THE PROBLEM HAS NOT BEEN DIAGNOSED.
Garry and I often receive calls regarding burning off on public or private land. The Government department responsible for conducting ‘controlled’ burns will carry on regardless of concerns of the public. However, if given the chance to offer suggestions to Government departments or private individuals who may wish to conduct burns on their land, the following may be suggested – but don’t expect miracles.
Burn areas with a dense under-storey during the cooler months when birds, or other species, won’t be breeding. If spring burning needs/has to be done, preference is to burn areas that have little under-storey. Please check the area for nests prior to burning.
Burn areas in small blocks, ie in a mosaic pattern, this will retain habitat for species present.
Cool burns are preferred, they will do less damage to wildlife and will almost always leave some habitat, eg grass tussocks, leaf litter, etc which small animals such as lizards and invertebrates can shelter in.
Raking around hollow stumps, coppice growth, hollow logs, etc before burning will help retain habitat for species present in the area. Some voluntary help eg scouts, locals interested in their forests and various other groups may be available to help with raking if enough warning is given.
Remember, some ‘controlled’ burns end up uncontrolled.
In 2009 budgies in their thousand’s fell from the sky – dead – totally covering the brown earth with bright green. Another heat wave in Western Australia.
In 2010 at a golf course in southern Western Australia an entire flock of endangered Carnaby’s Cockatoo’s literally cooked where they were roosting when the temperature reached 48 degrees.
These are only 2 examples of what is happening to our wildlife and its environment as our weather patterns change. The Bureau of Meteorology formed 100 years ago has recorded all weather patterns since then. The following is a 100 year weather check from the bureau records.
There are almost 800 weather stations across Australia with more than 500 fully automated. Twelve sites have data going back far enough and accurate enough to use as part of the 100 year record. Data from all stations is automatically fed back to the National Weather Bureau in Melbourne. There are 22 IT ‘slaves’ [people] working 24hrs a day in this very special area of the computerised record room.
Snow depth measures have been taken every week since 1954 at Spencer’s Creek at the Snowy Hydro scheme. In 60 years there has been a total loss of one third of snow cover. The snow season begins as normal about July but drops off by September and by October is noticeably less, ie spring is coming earlier. Thaw is now 2 weeks earlier than in the 1960’s. The snow line has also moved from 1500mt from sea level to 1600mts.
Graphs show extreme heat days have doubled the extreme cold days. There are more and more of the weather stations breaking extreme heat days over the last 100 years and in the last 10 years the extreme heat records have doubled those breaking extreme cold days, extreme heat days are much more common. There are fewer records breaking the extreme cold days and there are fewer frosty nights.
Records from grape growers in Australia’s south show grapes are ripening on average 20 days earlier than in 1985. Companies are having to move further south, into Tasmania.
Now the chance of one month having above average temperatures is one in two. This means the chance of the next months average temp being above average becomes one in four. The following month it becomes one in eight. Since February 1984 we have had 330 months in a row of above average temperatures.
In Tasmania fishermen are seeing and catching fish never seen so far south before. About 2010 a fisherman saw and caught Yellow-tailed Kingfish, a species found further north in warmer waters. New fish and sea creatures are being seen regularly including Green Sea-turtles. A total [in 2010] of 45 new species have been found around Tasmania that are normally found further north around NSW.
WHY : The sea is warmer. Since 1900 around Australia the sea temperature has risen about 1 degree. The sea around our east coast is warmer than along the west coast. There are hot spots between Victoria and Tasmania with a sea temperature rise of 2.28 degrees. This is about 4 times the global average.
At Cottesloe [Rottnest WA] on February 28, 2011 the water temperature hit 26.4, it killed the coral. It was the biggest heat wave to hit Australian waters ever [CSIRO report]. Heated water arrived first just north of Ningaloo reef, the effect was described as being like a pot of boiling oil. Up to 80% of what was there is now gone – dead, covered in algae. The heated water travelled 1200km south reaching the southernmost tip of WA [Albany]. Whale sharks were seen off Albany. They are moving south to find cooler water and food. This warm water phenomena lasted 5 months and is the most extreme hot water event on record. Changes in ocean temperatures impact on the type of weather we see – warmer water = expect more rainfall.
SEA LEVEL : At Fremantle, WA, records show there has been a 1.5mm rise in tide levels per year since 1900, over 100 years that equals 17cm.
In 1841 at Port Arthur, Tasmania, a storekeeper put a tidemark in the water, it is the oldest scientific tide marker in the country. The original records were rediscovered a decade ago. The sea level here has risen 17cm since 1897, the same as for Fremantle.
A rise in sea level of 10cm triples flood events. Double that rise to 20cm and increase in flood events becomes 9 times.
SEA LEVEL READINGS SINCE 1993 [satellite readings] : Sea level has risen right around Australia but more around the north of Australia and less around the South.
RAINFALL : From September 2010 – March 2012 : more rainfall in this period of 24 months than ever been recorded in our historical records.
CAUSE : Record sea surface temperature rises around Australia.
An exception to flooding was south west WA, the Karri tree forests. Underground at the Jewel Caves the water line in the caves from the late 1960’s where the underground lakes were showed water was almost 3 feet deep. Gradually all the water drained away. It had disappeared altogether by 2000. It was the same story around the entire region. All the Margaret river caves no longer have their underground lakes and streams.
Land use changes have compounded the problem but it is a symptom of chronic lack of water.
April – November rainfall in the last 15 years, particularly in the SE of the Continent has shown a 10-20% reduction. In the west it shows the same but has been occurring since 1970 – much less rainfall.
SUMMARY : In the last 100 years:
- wetter in the tropics
- drier in the south, particularly SW of WA
- sea levels are increasing right around Australia
- temperature has risen by approximately 1 degree
- we have less cold weather and more heat
- some areas are heating more than others – the Centre and WA
Overall Australia’s core minimum and maximum temperature has risen point 9 of a degree. Melbourne’s record temperature has risen 4.6 degrees over the last 50 years. The recorded temperature for Melbourne on Black Saturday was 46.5. On that day Hopetoun recorded 48 degrees.
Every parcel of air, ocean current and weather system is approximately 1 degree warmer.
One degree warmer across our planet means much more energy added to the climate system. What happens with each extra degree?
On the same subject, did anyone notice the abundance of Common Brown butterflies this season, clearly the wetter weather of the last couple of years coupled with the heat provided an abundance of food plants for this [and other species]. It has been noted that the Common Brown butterfly now emerges from the chrysalis stage 2 weeks earlier than it did in 1940 – the temperature is point 7 of a degree hotter, our seasons are starting earlier.
Ed. note – see Issue 48 for a piece on climate change affecting many bird sp. Issue 41 for threats to penguin sp. Issue 40, amphibians and Issue 37, Mountain Pygmy Possum.