For some reason, birds seem to really like my driveway. I see more birds out there than I do in the back garden where there are more trees and plants.
I happened to glance out the kitchen window on Saturday afternoon and to my surprise, a flock of birds were hopping around in the drive. I dropped what I was doing and hurried to get the camera and fit the long lens.
I didn’t want to open the window and scare them away so I just shot through the glass. I took a lot of photos hoping that I’d get some good ones.
They are European Goldfinches, described in my bird book as a feral species found around towns, farms and settlements in Australia. They gather in large flocks in autumn and winter and feed on seeds. They are quite common, I’ve seen them in the garden before but never a whole flock.
Some of them even hopped closer and started to search for seeds right in front of the window. They stayed quite a while before something startled them and they all took off.
My photos this week were taken with my phone while I was out and about in Geeveston. As I’ve explained before I don’t like to take my camera with me to the Op Shop. I’m afraid that it will end up buried under a pile of stuff never to be seen again. I don’t enjoy using the phone that much but it does take a reasonable photo.
I used to love doing the Which Way Challenge but lately, I don’t get out with my camera much so it’s been hard to find new which ways. This week is no exception. These which ways were taken within 300 metres of my house.
There was an event at the football ground not far from my house. This stretch of the Huon Highway is normally a 100kph zone so these signs were placed near my driveway.
As I walked home later I passed this old abandoned dirt road. When we first moved here in 2002 you could follow this road past some properties and exit on to Scott’s Road but after some time a small bridge over the Kermandie River fell into disrepair and neither the property owner nor the council wanted to fix it so the Huon Highway end of the road was closed. Now you can hardly tell it was ever a road.
As I mentioned in my post about the bushfires we’ve seen a lot of water bombing helicopters around Geeveston recently. On Friday afternoon and into the early evening we had two seaplanes flying over continuously. It seems that they were also firefighting planes.
Usually by the time I get my camera I have missed these flyovers but these guys kept it up for several hours so I even had time to get my 100-300mm zoom lens.
This was apparently routine work. I can promise you that if there had been an increase in danger to my area I would have been busy packing things not taking photos. I don’t often get to see this type of aircraft so I was quite pleased with these photos.
Update: Saturday. It has been a very hot day with temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius and the firefighters are still hard at work keeping track of the spot fires. It has become very smoky and some people south of Geeveston are reporting cold ash falling but so far everything is OK.
The seaplanes are called Air Tractors. Here is a link to their specs.
It’s been about six weeks since the bushfires that threaten the Huon Valley began. Although we are no longer at crisis point the fires are still burning and with a hot weekend ahead there are statewide fire bans and continued warnings to be mindful that the situation could change rapidly.
Things are getting back to normal in the valley, but normal now includes the daily parade of fire vehicles that I see heading south as I wait for my ride to the Op Shop in the mornings. We’ve become used to seeing the helicopters that fly overhead. They are taking infrared pictures to check for hotspots. We also see the waterbombing helicopters and aircraft flying over the valley every day. The helicopters have a landing site near the school so we hear them coming and going from the shop. Yesterday we heard a few explosions as fallen trees which were too dangerous to remove manually were blown up.
The ground crews work hard digging out the hotspots with machinery or by hand. The fires generated such heat that the soil is still hot in the places that were burned. This is a good reminder of why it’s important to be sure a campfire or rubbish fire is really out. I have enlarged a bit of the TFS webpage information as I thought that it might be of interest to see what they do. The PFS is the Parks and Wildlife Service and the STT is Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, the forestry service they have their own firefighting units.
Firefighters continue to extinguish numerous active fire edges today utilising vehicle based teams, remote area teams inserted by helicopters, and walk-in teams. Crews are supported by aircraft providing targeted water drops to mop up hot areas.
TFS, PWS, STT and supporting agencies will aim to contain and extinguish the fires with the highest priority being Riveaux Road to limit impacts on private property, community and commercial assets, community safety and natural, cultural & heritage values, especially the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Tasmanians are being asked to reconsider using fire as the state moves into several days of bad fire weather. A total fire ban has been declared for all southern municipalities on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd March.
Fire agencies and communities have already experienced a very trying bushfire season, and while it may seem that conditions have abated and life is back to normal, the community needs to be aware that we are still battling serious bushfires.
Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation as the current situation may change as warmer weather is forecast.
Areas impacted by fire pose a number of risks and hazards to the public and fire crews. There are still a number of roads closed, and the public must adhere to road closure signage and refrain from entering these areas. Roads impacted by fire remain a significant risk of fallen trees or trees that have potential to fall without notice. Roads may be damaged, have damage to local bridges, and normal roadside warning signs damaged or destroyed. Please slow down and drive to the conditions as emergency service vehicles continue to use these roads.
Apart from the still present risk of fires, our focus is now on recovery. A government services hub has been set up locally to advise people who have lost income due to the fires or have damaged property. People are trying to get back into their normal routines but more than one person I have spoken with has said that it is difficult to do that while the fires are still burning.
Even animals are affected. I see posts on Facebook regarding lost and found pets and for the first few days that I was back at the Op Shop Cindy would howl when I left and I’d hear her howling when I arrived home. Thankfully she has settled down now and instead of being upset, she runs to greet me with her ball when I get home.
Several events are being set up to promote local businesses. January and February are usually our best months for tourism and many operators rely on that money to get through the quieter winter months. A key attraction, The Tahune Airwalk will be out of action for some months while facilities are repaired or replaced.
The other thing that everyone locally is keen to do is to thank the fire service employees and volunteers for the amazing job they have done and are still doing. Fundraisers are being arranged to support the various brigades with new equipment. The firefighters themselves are not allowed to accept money from the public but at least we can let them know how grateful we are for what they do and that they are all heroes.
Since I wrote my last bushfire update things have improved a lot. We had some good rains and that along with some cooler weather enabled the firefighters to do some back burning and mopping up operations, finally dropping Geeveston and the surrounding areas back from “Watch and Act” status to “Advice”.
The fires are still listed as “going” but many of the other areas around the state where there have been fires are now listed as “Patrol” or “being controlled”.
I haven’t said a lot about the fires in other areas because I was telling the story from my own point of view but they were all as serious as the one we were facing and there was some property loss. Also, many hectares of World Heritage listed forests have been burned, Tasmania’s honey industry has taken a major hit due to the loss of leatherwood trees and who knows how much wildlife has been killed. We are extremely fortunate that there was no loss of life and so few homes burned. It could have been much, much worse.
The worst of it is we may find ourselves in this situation again next summer or any summer. This could be our new normal and that is a scary thought.
I am at home. I could have come home a few days ago but I picked today as a good day firstly because it was more convenient for Naomi and secondly because of my trip to the Wooden Boat Festival yesterday.
Apart from smelling a bit stale and needing a good vacuum and dust my house is fine. I will have to get on to the cleaning bit because the real estate agent rang to ask if she could bring a potential buyer to have a look at it on Monday.
A day to laze around at home enjoying my own space would have been nice but it will have to wait, there are dust bunnies to hunt.