About Me

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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cicada Update

This is an unscheduled posting, prompted by an observation in Nowra again over the weekend. A few weeks ago I discussed cicadas here, after a previous visit there when the dominant - indeed only evident - species there was the hyper-abundant Redeye.

This time I found what appears to be the beginning of the emergence of another species, the magnificent Double Drummer Thopha saccata. I am tempted to use the term 'fearsome' because the volume of sound produced by this one is startling, even relative to the massed choirs of Redeyes. In an area of dry forest my eardrums literally seemed to be vibrating with the sound (well fair enough though, I guess that's what eardrums do!).

My cicada book, M.S. Moulds' Australian Cicadas 1990, describes the song as "Particularly loud... When populations are large the noise is almost unbearable to be near... On very hot days singing continues for many minutes with only occasional momentary breaks." I certainly don't feel inclined to dispute any of that; bird watching was nearly impossible, as I was pretty much unable to hear their calls.
Double Drummer.

The choir gathers; the Redeyes still have the numbers, but two Double Drummers can be seen at the bottom, and a couple more higher up. Soon enough they'll have the majority.
As I've said before though, I can't really begrudge them, as they've only got four weeks to eat, drink, sing and otherwise make merry.


1 comment:

Susan said...

Holy cow! That is a lot of cicadas, and the Double Drummer looks fab.