Birdfinder

Some suggestions from the book The Great Australian Birdfinder, Michael Morcombe , and fromother sources

 

LAND OF DROUGHTS & FLOODING RAINS

As I write this there's news of another tropical cyclone bearing down on the coast of north-western Australia, expected to cross the coast then curve to the south-east, bringing torrential rains across a vast region of semi-arid spinifex and mulga country which already over the past few months of summer has experienced several such cyclonic disturbances. This should make 2006 a wonderful year for the arid regions, and indeed most of Western Australia. There will no doubt have been autumn breeding of many species, and again in spring.

While these tropical cyclones receive most publicity for the damage their strong winds bring to coastal towns, as they move inland these winds generally abate. They move into central desert country where, as rain-bearing depressions, they can bring flooding rains across huge areas. Those that cross the north-west coast, and into the top half of Western Australia, generally travel south-east, and may bring rain to central deserts of Western Australia (including, depending on the path taken, the Nullarbor), the Great Victoria Desert, and the Nullabor. Further east, the rain may extend through into South Australia and even further to the south-east.

The birdlife of the normally dry, often drought-stricken heartlands of Australia, has adapted to the erratic climate. While some species keep to the 'traditional' spring nesting season, a great many take the opportunity to breed, so that they have their young in the nest and as fledglings, through the following months of lush greenery that clothes the normally harsh barren landscape. At this time also the desertwildflowers appear, some species en masse, carpeting the plains in colour. Later, shrubs with nectar-bearing flowers, and also the abundant insect life that feed upong plants and nectar, and in turn support theis burgeoning birdlife. Often, if these lush conditions continue, the small birds will rear two broods over several months. Others, the finches and other seed-eaters, wait till the grasses, especially the spinifex, has set seed.

While the nesting of birds may not be of great interest to many birdwatchers, it is rather the enhanced level of activity, the far greater bird numbers and level of song, that makes the right timing so rewarding. And then also the landscape also is so much more attractive, pools of water in creeks (attracting birds) and and the veil of green and the wildflowers making the whole birding environment, whether camping or passing through, so much more attractive.

If the rains have fallen over part rather than most of arid Australia, great numbers of nomadic birds move into such extremly favourable areas.

This explosion of bird life can make such places, in such times, among Australia's greatest birding experiences. The sheer number of birds, not so much in flocks, but rather, scattered across the landscape. This great variety of birds, and their singing, makes this a well worth while birding experience.

To visit the same place, in a year when, as so often the case, no worthwhile rain has fallen for six months, or a year, or five years;

This is the key to seeing any part of the vast interior of Australia at its best, while thse regions in drought are likely to give far fewer birds. A study of rainfall maps showing the distribution and intensity of rain over a periods of three to four of five months prior to intended trip dates, should be an essential part of the preparation for any birding trips into the normally arid regions of Australia. These are readily available on the internet vial a search on weather, rainfall, beauro of meteorology, where maps for desired regions and dates can be found

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