Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Fires: The Australian Bush Recovers

Everyone is aware that Australia was literally on fire this summer. Many parts of  the country had multiple fires at the same time. At one point New South Wales and Victoria had 40 fires burning simultaneously.

In early March we were in Canberra and had the opportunity to visit the south coast in the region of Bateman's Bay. At the time there was an appeal for Canberra people to visit the coast and help revive businesses that had suffered because the fires had isolated them from the usual summer tourists. Bateman's Bay itself was overflowing with visitors on Canberra Day and the various businesses were most grateful. This was before the present coronavirus scare which is isolating the holiday destination yet again..

Since the fires the entire region had drought-breaking rains that not only put out all the remaining fires but also helped to rejuvenate the land. In just a few months, it was astounding to see the regrowth.

Eucalyptus and many other Australian plants have adapted to fires. Even though the fires were very "hot" if the trees were not too "cooked" they remained alive and with the rains, regrowth commenced.

Here are a few photos that illustrated the remarkable resilience of the Australian flora.


 Duras North, New South Wales, north of Bateman's Bay. Note the regeneration, especially along the bole of the trees. Also of note is the absence of understory shrubbery. The fires were so hot that they were burned out.
 Most of the undergrowth is gone but some regrowth is occurring. Bracken and introduced weeds may eventually take over.  Some of the old trees have fallen creating habitats for many creatures.

 Bawley Point, about 30 km north of Bateman's Bay. The fires went right down to the water consuming the shrubby acacias.

Bawley Point with burnt shrubs in the foreground.
 Bawley Point, New South Wales.  Fire swept through the coastal forests removing all of the shrubby growth and almost all the leaf litter. But just across the road from the conflagration, the houses were untouched. This was largely due to the intervention of the local volunteer fire department (Australians call their local volunteer fire people the "firies"). Not a single house in Bawley Point was lost even though the fires came very close because of the interdiction of the firies.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Something Nice: Some Pretty Local Moths

In these dark times, it is nice to know the beauty of nature still exists.

To order the book (and it's a good one and great value) see:

 Agathia pisina male
 Antitrygodes parvimacula 
 Hyposada hydrocampata Noctuidae
 Lacalma albirufalis Pyralidae
 Lyclene pyraula
 Lyclene reticulata 
 Lyclene reticulata
 Pingasa angulifera
 Polyeucta callimorpha 
 Stemorrhages amphitritalis
 Agathia prasinopsis male 
 Donuca rubropicta
 Erebus crepuscularis underside 
 Erebus crepuscularis upperside 
Cosmostola nereidaria 
 Cosmostola leucomerata 
 Conogethes sp
 Comostola pyrrhogona 
 Maurilia iconica Nolidae
 Maruca vitrata
 Palpita annulata 
 Parotis sp 
 Perimeceta niphospila Crambidae 
 Phazaca mutans Uraniidae 
 Asota orbona Aganidae 
 Syntherata janetta
 Syntherata janetta
 Pleuroptya balteata 
 Epiplema coeruleotincta 
 Meroctena staintonii 

Friday, 20 March 2020

Vale: Peter Shanahan

"Last night (Friday 13 March) at 7.45 pm our friend Peter Shanahan passed away. He had been ill for some time and was finally overtaken by cancer.

"Peter is survived by a number of caring local relatives and friends. His cousin, Anthony and his wife Julia, were at his side most of the time and have been living in Peter’s house for more than 9 weeks looking after his menagerie and providing care for him.

"Peter requested that there be no funeral. He did agree to a gathering of friends at the Cairns Botanical Gardens in the future. The Friends of the Botanic Gardens will host this occasion and a special tree, attractive to butterflies, will be planted in his honour. We will keep you informed as to time and date.

"Peter was known to hundreds of local people. The display of his insect collection annually at the Carnival on Collins and other public events was viewed and appreciated by thousands. Peter also attended many schools each year to show his collection and related to the children the importance of insects to their lives. His collection was augmented by his “microscope” because he felt the many children might never have the chance to see an insect or a bird’s feather under magnification. In addition, Peter led many groups of visitors around the gardens relating the interactions of plants and animals. In all these activities, Peter will be sorely missed.

"David Rentz, Patron, Friends of the Botanic Gardens Cairns"