It has been hot and dry. Nature can demonstrate signs which may be accurately interpreted as predicting when the weather will change. A few weeks ago there were dragonflies in small numbers one day, then much larger numbers the next. We carefully documented this observation, and then waited for the rain. It did come, two days later.
The brief rain causes a miraculous change in the lichen common in the local bush. During dry hot weather it crunches underfoot. After only a small shower the lichen rehydrates and becomes thick, soft and spongy, and very bright in colour.
Walking in the bush in the early morning to beat the heat, we have observed other natural responses to the ongoing hot dry weather. Meat ants are particularly active. The nests seem to be multiplying and getting much bigger. An area we visit has an old track on the border of a paddock and the bush, with six enormous nests in a space of less than 100 metres. Many trees have dropped their seed onto the ground.
“Nature Notes” has often referred to our bird bath and its many visitors. One very hot morning something unusual was sighted taking advantage of it. A full grown sand goanna was lolling about in the water. It didn’t stay long enough for us to get a photograph but certainly seemed to enjoy the dip.
Many trees have been totally skeletonised by cup moth larvae. Large patches of bush are looking like there has been a bushfire. Once the larvae finish one tree they need to move on. We have encountered numbers of these larvae on stony ground between defoliated trees.
Observing our natural environment continues to be a satisfying pastime even though the weather has been challenging.
Article and photos by Annette Robertson, Wedderburn Conservation Management Network "Observers”
Figure 1: Sand Goanna
Figure 2: Cup moth larvae (genus Doratifera)