By Gill Baker, Wangaratta Sustainability Network
Are your bulbs behaving promiscuously? Have alien birds been visiting your patch? Is your Manchurian Pear confused?
When you have lived in the same patch for nearly 40 years you can’t help but develop a certain connectedness to other species that live there too, and you notice changes in their behaviour. Some variations are expected, they coincide with variations in the weather, changes in land use, food availability and so on. But during the last decade or so there have been some very marked changes around our patch, and when talking to friends, it seems the same is happening to theirs.
Let’s start with the almond trees. When we first moved to North East Victoria, locals told us that the almond trees always bloomed in the third week of August, this year they were in full bloom during first week of August. Then my Manchurian Pear blossomed in April, and is having another go in August. My bulbs are sending up their spikes and beginning to bloom earlier and earlier, and the flocks of swallows, not expected until spring, are gathering and swooping in the winter sunshine.
A decade or so ago we had our first visit from Yellow Rosellas, (also called Murrumbidgee Lowry), adding to the eighty or so species of birds already recorded here, and I wondered then if drought further north had caused them to search for food and water more widely, however they stayed, in ever increasing numbers, as did the King Parrots. Again I suspected something as simple as the extra food our growing trees were providing was the cause, and maybe it was, but I’m not totally convinced. Especially as Bower Birds, never seen here until a just few years back, are taking up residence in our yard and along the creek. Even a Pelican (Percy) arrived in a local water hole for the first time, and has taken to perching in the same old tree that Darcy the Darter uses to hang his wings out to dry.
Finally the grass! Most years serious spring mowing begins in September, this year we’ve hardly stopped since autumn, and farmers round about are stacking up piles of those huge round hay bales.
Possibly all coincidental, but it would be very interesting to hear other’s experiences. Perhaps we could track changes occasionally through this column?
Additional note: WATCH (Wodonga and Albury Toward Climate Health) co-ordinates a database of climate impacts in our area and record observations such as those noted by Gill in this article.
For more information or to report your observations email email@example.com.