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Letter from Istari - Winter Dry

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

A few light frosts arrived in June and the grass died off. Then came the real frosts. It dropped below zero several days in a row, freezing the hose and leaving a layer of ice on the water bowls left out for the animals.

The trees are looking a bit stressed from the lack of rain. The region is now drought affected but west and south of us is so much worse. They are in terrible drought.

Our winters are typically fairly dry but the last couple of years have been unusually dry, well below average. There are many fires burning across the Clarence Valley, some within ten kilometres of us here. The smoke is pervasive.

Here the wetland is mostly dry, showing the red water plants where the water would have been deepest.

We had a little rain last month but nothing so far in August. Many springs and smaller streams have ceased flowing.

The swamphens were constantly amorous, chasing each other like something from Benny Hill but now seems to have settled down a little. Their wet areas are decreasing. There is competition between groups as the wetlands dry.

The red-necked wallabies are regulars, particularly Mos who turns up most morning and evening for a nibble of the chook grain.

Even though the nights are cold the days have been really warm, with the goannas even venturing out on the warmest days.

Noisy friar bird feeding on the coastal banksia flowers

The wattle birds and noisy friar birds have been indeed noisy in the banksias surrounding the house. They are blooming at the moment. There can be literally dozens of birds here at a time.

The noisy friar birds are unusual looking birds with no feathers on the scalp and a distinctive bump on the beak.

Listen to the evening chorus of the friar birds along with the red wattle birds and our rooster couldn't help but get involved too.

As the winter progresses, the wattles are beginning to bloom, putting on a wonderful display. We have a stand of wattles including Rupps wattle, an endangered species, and acacia baeuererlenii. Check them out flowering.

We had a wonderful visit from John and Pat Edwards from the Clarence Environment Centre to survey Istari for the Land for Wildlife program. We now have our own sign out the front. See more about their visit here

Thanks to John and Pat we now have a plant species list of over 300. Check out our new list, with three endangered plants and other rare and protected plants.

We were fortunate enough to see a very healthy koala just up the road from here. It was just crossing the road ahead of us so we pulled over and managed to get some great shots of him as it at first seemed to stand upright and wave its little arms in the air at us in defiance. It then turned and went up the tree.

Koala about to climb the tree

The koala photos are loaded up here.

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