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Old 01-02-2020, 06:19 AM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Coming in late on this thread, but thank you all so much for your good thoughts and wishes! The fires are burning and growing and amalgamating in some places to form 'megablazes', the size of which have never been recorded before. I live in Newcastle, NSW, at the mouth of the Hunter River. One of the longest-burning fires is the Wollemi National Park fire, which is sightly to the west and north of us. The Wollemi National Park contains the only known stand of Wollemi Pine, a living fossil discovered in 1994. It's related to the Monkeypuzzle and Norfolk Island 'Pine' trees and the location of the small canyon where the trees were found has been kept secret for all these years in an effort to protect them from thieves. Looks like Mother Nature has other ideas. The Wollemi pines could well be one of the species extinguished this year.

The koalas are a huge worry! They're very specific in where and how they live: you can't just pick one up and put it somewhere else for safety. This means that whole areas have been stripped entirely of their wildlife, most notably the slow-moving ones like the koalas and other smaller marsupials. There's a koala-bearing area just north of where I live and it's been thankfully spared from burning so far, having burned a few years ago during the last local drought. The sight of the burned and wounded koalas being helped by wildlife carers is absolutely heartbreaking and a staggering number have been injured or killed. So far.

While most of the huge fires are further inland, the smoke and ash is being sucked/blown down the river valleys to the coast. This means that places like Newcastle and Sydney haven't seen the sky in weeks because of the thick smoke. It's awful! I wound up spending a day in hospital because of asthma brought on by the bad air quality. It hasn't improved and neither has my asthma. The sun and moon hang in the sky like big baleful red eyes ('eye of Sauron'), coloured by the fire-smoke. It'll be a relief when the sky goes back to normal again and we can see clouds and flying birds.

For now, I'm keeping strictly indoors and keeping the doors and windows closed against the smoke. My birds are sweltering in the heat and we're working very hard to keep them as cool and as comfortable as we can. I've resorted to draping wet bedsheets over the cages and filling the water containers with ice (which lasts about twenty minutes in the forty degree heat). The wild birds are sitting very, very still in the daytime with feathers pressed hard against their sides, wings raised, beaks open and not flying about much. I've got four bird baths situated about my yard and the birds are certainly using them. I'd put up a sprinkler for them, but water usage is severely restricted at the moment owing to the drought. I'm breaking the law every day when I mist my birds with the garden hose during the heat!

If you do nothing else, please pray or beg the Universe for heavy rain over the whole of Australia! We need it desperately!

PS. Forgot to add: our native vegetation is adapted (though not completely evolved) to cope with a 'fire ecology'. That means many species are adapted to conserve water, to recover from burning, even to set seed or germinate only after burning. Our eucalpytus trees are 'sclerophyllous', which means the leaves are coated with a waxy layer that reduces water loss and protects against sunburn. The leaves hang edge-on to the sun rather than offering their faces to be burned and the heartwood is protected by a deep layer of tissue which allows 'epicormic shooting' to occur after damage (like burning). This is why you can visit a burned area just a few weeks after it was charred and see a wealth of green shooting and renewing the bush. BUT! The heat and extend of these fires is so great, it seems they're burning all the living tissue in the trees to the extent that we may not see the re-shooting phenomenon when the embers have cooled and gone out! The extreme flammability of the eucalyptus oil doesn't help either: once an old man gum tree ignites, the whoosh of exploding fuel can be deafening and it sucks all the oxygen away from the ground, funnelling it upward to feed the resulting flames. This is why Australian fires burn so much more intensely than fires elsewhere.

Fires are threatening Kosciusko National Park (our only alpine area) and the unique plant species found there are under serious threat of extinction. If they burn, they won't regenerate. Another unique ecosystem is the southern temperate rainforest, which occurs in tiny pockets down the east coast. These contain many as-yet-unidentified species which are also at extreme risk of extinction if they burn. One such area is the place where my hubby and I spent our honeymoon (Upper Allyn State Forest). This forest contains an enchanting area of native orchids comprising many species. I've spent many happy hours wandering among the ancient trees and sketching or photographing the orchids - the thought of them burning just breaks my heart!

Last edited by Betrisher; 01-02-2020 at 06:37 AM. Reason: addenda
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 01-02-2020, 10:56 AM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Quote: Originally Posted by Noahs_Birds View Post
When the fires were only just over the hill, around 12kms away, the amount of new species of birds and koalas and other animals that have taken sanctuary on our property is astounding
Red browed Firetails that we have never had before were scared out from the fire, and now have taken residence and enjoy eating all the leftover seed from all the birds so much, they have started to breed
We are very lucky to have a small pocket of koalas on our land, that have all survived from the fires which is nice to see
Thanks
Noah Till
Noah, I am so glad to hear you are safe. I'm also glad that the poor displaced animals and birds have found sanctuary on your property.

Quote: Originally Posted by Betrisher View Post
Coming in late on this thread, but thank you all so much for your good thoughts and wishes! The fires are burning and growing and amalgamating in some places to form 'megablazes', the size of which have never been recorded before. I live in Newcastle, NSW, at the mouth of the Hunter River. One of the longest-burning fires is the Wollemi National Park fire, which is sightly to the west and north of us. The Wollemi National Park contains the only known stand of Wollemi Pine, a living fossil discovered in 1994. It's related to the Monkeypuzzle and Norfolk Island 'Pine' trees and the location of the small canyon where the trees were found has been kept secret for all these years in an effort to protect them from thieves. Looks like Mother Nature has other ideas. The Wollemi pines could well be one of the species extinguished this year.

The koalas are a huge worry! They're very specific in where and how they live: you can't just pick one up and put it somewhere else for safety. This means that whole areas have been stripped entirely of their wildlife, most notably the slow-moving ones like the koalas and other smaller marsupials. There's a koala-bearing area just north of where I live and it's been thankfully spared from burning so far, having burned a few years ago during the last local drought. The sight of the burned and wounded koalas being helped by wildlife carers is absolutely heartbreaking and a staggering number have been injured or killed. So far.

While most of the huge fires are further inland, the smoke and ash is being sucked/blown down the river valleys to the coast. This means that places like Newcastle and Sydney haven't seen the sky in weeks because of the thick smoke. It's awful! I wound up spending a day in hospital because of asthma brought on by the bad air quality. It hasn't improved and neither has my asthma. The sun and moon hang in the sky like big baleful red eyes ('eye of Sauron'), coloured by the fire-smoke. It'll be a relief when the sky goes back to normal again and we can see clouds and flying birds.

For now, I'm keeping strictly indoors and keeping the doors and windows closed against the smoke. My birds are sweltering in the heat and we're working very hard to keep them as cool and as comfortable as we can. I've resorted to draping wet bedsheets over the cages and filling the water containers with ice (which lasts about twenty minutes in the forty degree heat). The wild birds are sitting very, very still in the daytime with feathers pressed hard against their sides, wings raised, beaks open and not flying about much. I've got four bird baths situated about my yard and the birds are certainly using them. I'd put up a sprinkler for them, but water usage is severely restricted at the moment owing to the drought. I'm breaking the law every day when I mist my birds with the garden hose during the heat!

If you do nothing else, please pray or beg the Universe for heavy rain over the whole of Australia! We need it desperately!

PS. Forgot to add: our native vegetation is adapted (though not completely evolved) to cope with a 'fire ecology'. That means many species are adapted to conserve water, to recover from burning, even to set seed or germinate only after burning. Our eucalpytus trees are 'sclerophyllous', which means the leaves are coated with a waxy layer that reduces water loss and protects against sunburn. The leaves hang edge-on to the sun rather than offering their faces to be burned and the heartwood is protected by a deep layer of tissue which allows 'epicormic shooting' to occur after damage (like burning). This is why you can visit a burned area just a few weeks after it was charred and see a wealth of green shooting and renewing the bush. BUT! The heat and extend of these fires is so great, it seems they're burning all the living tissue in the trees to the extent that we may not see the re-shooting phenomenon when the embers have cooled and gone out! The extreme flammability of the eucalyptus oil doesn't help either: once an old man gum tree ignites, the whoosh of exploding fuel can be deafening and it sucks all the oxygen away from the ground, funnelling it upward to feed the resulting flames. This is why Australian fires burn so much more intensely than fires elsewhere.

Fires are threatening Kosciusko National Park (our only alpine area) and the unique plant species found there are under serious threat of extinction. If they burn, they won't regenerate. Another unique ecosystem is the southern temperate rainforest, which occurs in tiny pockets down the east coast. These contain many as-yet-unidentified species which are also at extreme risk of extinction if they burn. One such area is the place where my hubby and I spent our honeymoon (Upper Allyn State Forest). This forest contains an enchanting area of native orchids comprising many species. I've spent many happy hours wandering among the ancient trees and sketching or photographing the orchids - the thought of them burning just breaks my heart!
Trish, I can't even imagine how terrible the smoke is there, and pray you don't have another asthma attack. One can only imagine the terrible impact that the smoke will have on the wild birds who survive in the long run. Bless you for making sure they have water available, I'm sure that has helped keep them alive, and not suffering from dehydration.
Sending prayers that you stay safe, and that this nightmare is over soon.
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 01-02-2020, 04:41 PM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Quote: Originally Posted by Laurasea View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by LaManuka View Post
Oh Terry seriously I would drop dead just from the heat of fighting a fire while wearing all that protective gear, not to mention the sheer terror of it all, these firies are superhuman! Theyíve been working so very hard for so long itís unbelievable.

Our national broadcaster has just reported that itís estimated the death toll for our wildlife is something like 400 million individuals, with some whole species lost. Itís just too awful.
Oh man! How catastrophic! Had no idea...
Neither did I. Thank you for bringing it our attention. I'm going to look it up now. How awful! Sending my prayers as well.
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 01-02-2020, 06:13 PM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Stay safe tomorrow everyone, another horrible day coming
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 01-02-2020, 08:35 PM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

I am seriously considering getting right into breeding our most threatened species of bird life after this fire, and put the bird breeding skills to good use, because it's the bird breeders that will be able to keep them going as a species, because the zoos are too bloody busy with the 'international endangered animals', rather than the animals on our wide brown (we'll.... black) land
Species on my list include:
Red Browed Firetail subspecies
Southern Black throats
Turquoise Parrots
Native button quail species
As well as others
It may well be after these fires are all over, aviculturalists may as well have the last strong holds of species in their collections
We have already lost the Paradise Parrot through ignorance
Thanks
Noah Till

Last edited by Noahs_Birds; 01-02-2020 at 08:37 PM.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 01-02-2020, 11:27 PM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Quote: Originally Posted by Noahs_Birds View Post
I am seriously considering getting right into breeding our most threatened species of bird life after this fire, and put the bird breeding skills to good use, because it's the bird breeders that will be able to keep them going as a species, because the zoos are too bloody busy with the 'international endangered animals', rather than the animals on our wide brown (we'll.... black) land
Species on my list include:
Red Browed Firetail subspecies
Southern Black throats
Turquoise Parrots
Native button quail species
As well as others
It may well be after these fires are all over, aviculturalists may as well have the last strong holds of species in their collections
We have already lost the Paradise Parrot through ignorance
Thanks
Noah Till
I truly shudder to contemplate the world your generation will inherit. You are destined to be the savior to so many neglected and assaulted species.
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2020, 02:48 AM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Quote: Originally Posted by Scott View Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Noahs_Birds View Post
I am seriously considering getting right into breeding our most threatened species of bird life after this fire, and put the bird breeding skills to good use, because it's the bird breeders that will be able to keep them going as a species, because the zoos are too bloody busy with the 'international endangered animals', rather than the animals on our wide brown (we'll.... black) land
Species on my list include:
Red Browed Firetail subspecies
Southern Black throats
Turquoise Parrots
Native button quail species
As well as others
It may well be after these fires are all over, aviculturalists may as well have the last strong holds of species in their collections
We have already lost the Paradise Parrot through ignorance
Thanks
Noah Till
I truly shudder to contemplate the world your generation will inherit. You are destined to be the savior to so many neglected and assaulted species.
Thanks Scott, lot of hard work but as long as they are still alive as a species, it's worth more than anything to myself
Thanks
Noah Till
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2020, 10:11 AM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

My prayers go out to everyone affected by the terrible fires raging through Australia. Trish, I'm so sorry to hear that you were hospitalized due to that air quality. I worry for you, my friend, and pray that relief comes in the form of rain very soon.

And to think of all the species lost, or in danger of being lost, out there. It's heartbreaking. Sending hugs to all of our Australian members.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2020, 01:01 PM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Trish, you've weaved a magnificently descriptive tapestry of the horror and all that is at survivalist level in your beloved Australia. Stay safe and committed to doing your part to assist wildlife.
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2020, 01:59 PM
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Re: Thinking of our Australian members

Everyone stay safe where you are! There is not much i can say at this point since most of it has been said and expressed. But please everyone be safe.
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