Minor Cold: Wild geese reutrn to northern home

July 11th, 2012
by Jo Law

The solar term of Minor Cold began with slightly warmer weather in the northern Illawarra. In general, days began with an overcast sky – a promise of a rather dull day, then unexpectedly the sun made a belated appearance and brightened up the general outlook. The late winter warm sun has a surprisingly fierceness to its warmth.

In the next 5 pentads of the 2 remaining solar terms before the Start of Spring, the Chinese Almanac focuses on the behaviours of birds as markers of the season’s end. In phenology, sightings and movements of migratory animals often provide clue to the progression of seasonal changes.

Animal species that migrate to and from Australian lands and waters include birds, sharks, whales, seals, sea lions, dophins, dugongs, and marine turtles. These animals whose paths transverse from the temperate zone in the northern hemisphere to the tip of the southern hemisphere, travel for food, to breed, and to raise their youngs. Many of these species are under the protection of international bilateral conventions and agreements with our northern Asian neighbours whose territories share the flyways, migratory paths and habitats of these animals.

Winter is the time when humpback whales migrate from the cold Antarctic waters to the warmer Australian east coast and their sightings from the Illawarra coast are not uncommon. Many water birds visit the shores of the Illawarra on their annual migratory routes including, albatrosses, petrals, sea-eagles and terns. The diverse landforms of the Illawarra, ranging from rocky seashores, grassy woodlands to subtropical rainforests, also provide varied habitats for year-round residents, contributing much to the biodiversity of the region. The Illawarra Bird Observers Club recommends 14 walks where many different avian species can be sighted. Keen bird-watchers can join in their monthly organised mid-week walks and outings.

Up in Asquith Street, we are frequently visited by a number of permanent birds-in-residence: rainbow lorikeets, king parrots, crimson rosellas, bow birds, yellow-tufted honeyeaters, pied currawongs, and, of course, sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Hollis added the raucous bird call of this last species to his repertoire of animal noises.

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