April 19, VIRUS 2020

EPA approves logging without looking at koala impacts after bushfires. SMH

Non-peer reviewed study from Stanford found rate of virus may be 50 to 85 times higher than official figures. Guardian

Don’t bet on vaccine to protect us from Covid-19, says world health expert. Guardian

Eos, Valla

I drive down carefully, no sign of life.
A tube of light rests on the horizon.
Rain is dropping sporadic drops,
the moon is briefly released. It is
the ephemeral that is tantalising,
Eos, tides, weather, the presence of birds.

Moon over sun shadow

In the dimness, golden corn cobs
of Coastal Banksia shake over
the pale seam of land and water,
too dark to see the birds.

White-faced Heron

A White-faced Heron flies in, grunting
to let you know his presence
lowering his legs and running a few
delicate steps from the momentum
until coming to a stop and looking back
at me. I try to catch it landing
but the camera is on a two second delay,
from taking slow exposures from rock
stranded in the water. Artists know
you can’t recover what you have lost.

Fishing boat in red

The Osprey flies north on his commute
the raindrops create perfect circles
widening on the river skin, and fish
hatch heavier interference patterns.

The sun makes a brief bow,
a fishing boat looks lost
on a map painted over in red.

Sunrise Valla with Old Man’s Hat

I walk up the track looking for the koala seen here yesterday, hear a couple of Glossies fly over, no sighting through the canopy.

View from Valla Nature Reserve of Miilba estuary and footbridge

The eyes trace the limbs, resting briefly on any forks, wandering through the maze, coming upon many fat, brown koalas disguised at termite nests. Some have repaired the holes the kingfishers make to nest in.

Thud of a roo or wallaby just over the track’s lip, I wait camera ready. Nothing appears (but wrens and Grey Fantails). I go back and get Wyn to help, her eyes are better than mine. She was a star tracker on safari in Africa.

A ring of Galahs

We walk up and down the hill together and venture a couple of bush bashes into the forest.

Track through Valla Nature Reserve down to the estuary

Pod of Dolphins, hunting back and forth, Valla

No koalas, but when we reach the bright blue bottom, a pod of dolphins. About a dozen back and forth just north of the mouth. Occasional tail flip and splashing means the hunt is on.

Hardly any litter. I used to take a bag to collect plastics but don’t bother these days.

We stop for a chat with Gwen (about five feet), one of Australia’s leading experts in rainforest flora out for a walk .

A police car cruises past, have never seen down at the estuary before. They are monitoring the lockdown, we are only allowed out to exercise.

~

I write and send my resignation letter.

The author, no sign of the Koala, feeling very pissed off at logging starting at the nearby State Forest

Before this year’s bushfire crisis, koala populations in NSW and Queensland had already dropped by 42% between 1990 and 2010, according to the Federal Threatened Species Scientific Committee. They look to be heading for extinction. So, what do we do?

At the 30 Jan meeting, Nambucca Valley Council (NVC) voted to:

– deny Clr Jenvey’s motion to support neighbouring councils in calling on the State Government to declare an immediate moratorium on logging until an assessment of the damage from the bushfires to Koala habit and population; and

– postpone Clr Jenvey’s motion for Council to support the economic study to assess the costs and benefits of the proposed Great Koala National Park.  

In a radio interview to promote KAD I said: ‘Headlines of catastrophic climate change and bushfires tend to numb us, whereas green solutions, like strategic planting of food trees, can inspire the community to get involved, and feel they can contribute and to a greener future.’

Now I have heard that Nambucca State Forest is being logged right now, I feel numb. I have just spent two hours this morning looking for a solitary Koala, seen yesterday on the track down to Deep Creek estuary. I could not find it. I have seen one there in ten years.

As chair of a VBCA working group, I have been working very hard to help organise Nambucca Valley Council’s Koala Action Day (KAD) and tree planting day in coordination with Landcare. I ask myself, what is the point if key Koala habitat across the Mid North Coast is being destroyed and NV Council does nothing to help prevent this. . .

~

Peacock spiders are a unique group of tiny, colourful, dancing spiders native to Australia . . .  Even when they’re active, they can be difficult to come across unless weather conditions are ideal. Not too cold. Not too rainy. Not too hot. Not too sunny. Not too shady. Not too windy. As you can imagine, it’s largely a game of luck. Joseph Schubert [1]

I have been writing a poem which mentions Stick Insects, haven’t seen one for a while. They are nocturnal so I head down into the garden at dusk with the torch and start the hunt. Eyes follow the beam, groping through the miniature world, looking for the best camouflage – a stick in the complexities of foliage. I pick up the webs of orb spinners and tiny flower spiders, was searching for a deafening cricket under my feet when a shape flies past my ear in anechoic silence. The bird lands on a tree in the driveway, a young Tawny Frogmouth!

Young Tawny Frogmouth in the garden

A murmur, a haunting running to a rumble
snatched by lightning ripping the Eastern night.
Jagged waves shining on an edge of infinity,
changing the air, a leathered excitement.

 

[1] Joseph Schubert, ‘I travelled Australia looking for peacock spiders, and collected seven new species’, The Conversation, 19 April