Since the Covid restrictions and working from home I’ve been doing a lot more running on the local trails. While running down by Middle Harbour river in the winter months some days the water boils and churns like there’s something very large thrashing about down there! It’s happened on many occasions but it’s only been once or twice that it’s been close enough to get a decent look at. The thrashing covers a patch of water approximately 3×3 meters and is usually close to the shore. It can stop and start over a period of a few minutes, each time lasts between 5 and 20 seconds.
I’ve still not been able to catch a glimpse of what is causing it but seeing the splashes from closer up it looks like it’s a school of large to medium fish rather than one large thing.
These are the only photos I’ve been able to get. They are taken from a long distance away. Now that it’s summer it’s stopped. I’ll try to get some better pictures next Winter
Even though the Channel-billed Cuckoo only visits northern and eastern Australia from around August to March I’m surprised not to have taken note of it earlier. It’s a distinctive looking bird, quite large with a huge beak and red eyes. In flight it looks sleek and almost hawk like. The other birds don’t take a liking to it ( and for good reason! ) and can be seen chasing and harassing it.
As well as their distinctive appearance Channel-billed Cuckoos have an unmistakable screeching call. Commonly heard in the early morning and evening they sometimes go off in the middle of the night, I’ve been woken a few times.
Channel-billed Cuckoos are brood parasites which means they lay their eggs in the ready made nests of other birds. The Cuckoos don’t hang around and leave it up to the host parents to feed and raise their young along with their own chicks. Sadly for the host family the strength and aggressiveness of the Cuckoo means that the host young are out competed for food and most often do not survive. No wonder the local birds don’t take a liking to them!
I’d like to get a photo of one in flight, I’ll post an update if I do.
“A small spreading tree usually 4-10m high with handsome foliage and distinctive pale bare sheeny bark”NPOS p. 371
The water gum is a common tree found on the east coat of Australia from the Brisbane River in Queensland through NSW down to Gippsland region of Victoria. It flowers in summer with groups of small yellow flowers with 5 rounded petals.
The water gum is also a common street plant in Sydney and indeed we have one growing out on our nature strip! I confirmed on old Google street view images that it was there 11 years ago when we moved in. It’s a very slow grower and today it’s not much taller than it was back then. The photos are from one of several in the front yard, I didn’t pay attention when we moved in but I think they’ve been there all along as well. The ones in the garden look like they’re self seeded along with most of our garden plants. The yellow flowers are said to have a strong distinctive smell but when I took a whiff up close there was only the slight hint of a pleasant lemony floral aroma.
I’ve recently updated the Sydney temperature, sea level and rainfall pages to include the latest data available from the BOM. In case you’ve not seen these before a quick explanation:
The BOM provides long term weather observations for the Observatory Hill weather station going back as far as 1859. It’s an amazing resource, when graphed over time you start to see some cool trends emerge. I’ve set it up so you can graph the raw observations or select to see moving averages from 6 months up to 30 years. For the shorter time periods the observations can be all over the place, even the 10 year averages fluctuate up and down but selecting the 30 year averages show clear trends. Except for rainfall! In Sydney at least it’s all over the place with no clear trend over the last 160 years, there are 10yr or so patterns that i think correspond to El Nino and La Nina events.