Weekly words – Rethinking national parks

National and conservation parks, and wilderness protection areas, make up about 25% of the 4500 square kilometres of Kangaroo Island’s land mass. It’s not hard to see that protecting, maintaining or improving their biodiversity is beyond the capacity of the too few staff ‘in charge’ of these fabulous areas.

Please consider this Ken Eastwood article, Should we rethink national parks? published in Australian Geographic.

Me and my favourite bird

Wedge-tailed Eagles are my favourite bird and I’ve now been able to tell one, close up.

Yes I'm happy happy but she's taking Nellie away from me
Yes I’m happy happy but she’s taking Nellie away from me

They are found across the Australian continent outside urban areas, and on Kangaroo Island they are quite common and often seen. I should be getting blasé about them but I doubt that will ever happen.

I’ve had two close encounters before, one on Kangaroo Island when my friend Mark and I were driving along the two-wheeled track named Jump Off Road out west on the north coast. We didn’t see the eagle which must have been feeding on the side of the track. And it can’t have noticed us until the last minute. It flew up over the bonnet and its body and wings covered the windscreen for an instant – and left a lasting impression.

At the Palmer Sculpture Biennial, west of Adelaide, up near the highest point an eagle hovered only about 2 or 3 metres above us possibly on the updrafts from the nearby cliffs. It was close enough to see the feathers and the patterns on the underwings.

I’ve scared off eagles feasting on road-kill carcasses on Kangaroo Island and avoided them as they lumber away with a full belly. But I’ve never been able to just get a good look close up. So when Raptor Domain offered me the chance to hold the adolescent Nellie for a mere 10 bucks, I was there.

Wedgies get darker as they age. Old bird are practically black. Nellie is about 18 months old. I was captivated by her fabulous array of neck feathers. What an experience. Thanks Raptor Domain – it’s always a fabulous show. And thanks Sue Carson for the photos.

Tourism Australia has a beautiful video of a Wedge-tailed Eagle pair with indescribably gorgeous chick (thanks Janine Mackintosh for the link). Have a look!

Weekly Words – Rabbit hole

Inspired by the delightful people at Croft Garden – Gardening in a gale, I’m starting Weekly Words, a link to a good read written by someone who has a masterful grasp of word use.

First up is The rabbit-hole rabbit hole by Kathryn Schulz, from The New Yorker (thanks to The Ed’s Up for the heads up). We may not (mercifully) have rabbits on Kangaroo Island but it is a natural wonderland and can be pretty bloody weird as well.

D’Estrees stroll

I’m recovering today after our planned 3-4 hour walk along D’Estrees Bay turned into an 8-hour marathon.

Kathie living life close to the edge
Kathie living life close to the edge. Photo: Scott Hartshorne

But what a glorious day – calm weather, blue seas, humpback whales, crazy rock formations, peregrine falcons and plenty of other birds, no weeds, and, quite scarily, far too many species of plants flowering (e.g. Correa, Leucopogon, Scaevola, Goodenia, Olearia, a yellow daisy) at the start of winter.

The coastal heath Leucopogon parviflorus is still mercifully abundant on Kangaroo Island but has all but disappeared from the Adelaide coastline
Petrified trees roots emerge from the cliffs on D'Estrees Bay
Petrified trees roots emerge from the cliffs on D’Estrees Bay

Rain’s coming

It’s about to rain. It’s about to rain a lot.

Already in the outback it’s been bucketing down and the cell is moving south.

Rain9jan2015blogFor every mainland state, severe weather warnings and flood watches are posted on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

And it’s suddenly cold, not yet 17 degrees C, when it was 40C two days ago.

Crazy weather. The average rainfall for Penneshaw, where I live, from 1911 to 1999 was 503.3 mm. Since I have been keeping records (6 years only) the annual rainfall has varied from 477.5 mm in 2009 to 671.5 mm in 2013. Last year we scored 489 mm, 57% of it in May to July. Yes, they are the usual wet months but so is spring, and October and November brought a grand total of 13.5 mm to my gauge.

December was about average but could not make up for 4 dry months. All it gave us was ‘green drought’ – a weather term describing a period of enough rain to keep shallow-rooted plants alive, although the watertable continues to recede (gardenweb.com). Things look OK on the green top but below it’s a dry argument.

rainfallchart2014Of the 671.5 mm in 2013, 68% fell in May to August, and 74 mm on one day in June.

The more episodic nature of our weather is a scary trend. Dry soil can’t take up enough of a torrent of water to do any lasting good. Here, the earth that has dried out over the past 5 months is about to be subjected to a torrent that will deliver acres of soil into the ocean to the detriment of both land and sea.




Who am I?

I’m Kathie Stove.
I am a writer and editor by profession and by inclination.
I am an introvert by nature.
I am a scientist by training.
I am a Kangaroo Island resident by choice.
I am an arts lover by preference.
I am an environmentalist by necessity.
I am a blogger by impulse.
I am a cycling fan by recognition.
I am a reader by interest.