Wildlife Emergency

Bushfires burn our mountain property

A thunderstorm on December 10th produced no rain. Bolts of lightning struck the ground and 4 fires started instead. Twelve days on, 2 bushfires are still blazing with no sign of when they’ll be put out. It might be months.

The closest fire, 4 km to the east, has burnt out 1622 hectares, or 6.26 square miles. In the north, a small bushfire that’s been dormant for a week spread out in strong winds. It has razed 236 hectares, but nestled in dense eucalypt forest it could become dangerous. From 7 km away we see the bright red glow of a raging bushfire each night. My husband calls it our Christmas lights. The land is an inaccessible mountain range of native vegetation that has never been cleared.

Sunrise 7 am 23/12/19

There’s been a smoke haze over the farm for 7 weeks, but not so thick as when fires started past our boundary fences. Over 11 days the fire and smoke haze is greater while the air quality has lessened. Stinging eyes and a rasping sore throat is the least of it. You can’t see far and it’s hard to breathe.

A chronic asthmatic from 3 years old, I wouldn’t survive a day without medication. Twice this week I’ve woken at 4 am with asthma attacks.

Sitting up wheezing in the dark hours and trying to medicate while coughing is tough. When my throat constricts and chest gets tight, I wonder if I’m about to take my last breath. Fine now with the new medication, there are days when I can’t go outside.

Finches are cheeping, staging a rebellion about the dry birdbath.

I get death stares from the Firetails through the window. There is just too much smoke for me to go outside.

All the birds are angry.

They have dry throats from smoke too.

The only access to groundwater for almost 2 km around is found at our house.

A heatwave has meant daytime temperatures from 36 to 42 degrees C, or 96 to 108 Fahrenheit.

This morning, 24/12/19 at 10 am, 30 degrees already.

My husband and brother-in-law, neighbours and volunteers are still battling a steep mountain bushfire that just won’t die.

A Rosella makes a rasping noise to let me know it’s not happy.

The weather is so extreme it makes all the birds and beasts suffer.

There’s been no rain for months, only air pollution from over 100 fires burning constantly around New South Wales since spring.

Birds aren’t the only hot, thirsty ones. Three days ago we saw 2 Brushtail Possums for the first time in years. One baby and one adult.

There are 8 regular wallabies and wallaroos, including a joey I named Peepo that come to my doorstep for water.

Desperate for food this joey chews on a dead grass runner.

We see 6 monitor lizards each day drinking, fighting, glaring or…mating.

These 2 huge monitors had a bloody battle lasting half an hour. Both beasts were exhausted as they crashed down my cliff side garden; there was no clear winner when neither could go on brawling.

The 42 degree temperatures are too hot for anyone to fight fires in.

Friday, December 13th, the bushfire was taking off in heatwave conditions.

From 4 km away it seemed like low lying clouds, until you looked closer.

Scorching days with out of control fire made a curtain of smoke.

Individual fires joined together to create a giant band of grey that went along the ridge for over a km.

A fire-breathing dragon ruled for 13 days and nights.

Heat and haze knock everything around.

Three Peaceful Doves who couldn’t see where they were flying smashed into windows.

It’s soul-destroying, especially at Christmas. Good people are working hard to protect rural homes, people and property. Besides making sure the wildlife get a drink, there isn’t much else I can do.

This is a cruel summer of climate change.

Every living thing needs water to survive.

My job is to make sure the wildlife get it.

The finches are quite pleased with their infinity pool. My daughter put water in there at 8 am. Overnight the Wallabies drink so deeply it is drained again each morning. The birds let me know, then fly in for a quick splash and drink the moment it is filled.

The roos have eaten my garden to have something in their bellies. Nearly 50 rose bushes went to a good kangaroo home. They are welcome to it; I was never much good at gardening anyway. My husband says I can always buy more plants when the drought and the fires are over next autumn.

Living things are more important.

The blanket of fire-smoke blocked out the blue of the sky and brought on asthma attacks.

I don’t want to see this any more; not at Christmas.

Eight at night, when smoke clears you can see flames licking the high country.

Turning 100 year old trees into blackened skeletons.

Despite constant work to contain it, this blaze won’t go away for weeks.

Here’s the only Christmas tree we’ll have this year. It’s a natural one decorated differently each hour. Two white angel Cockatoos in 41-degree heat.

Better than a partridge in a pear tree any day.

Have a happy Christmas everybody.

Writing about the real life, farm life, reading life, birdlife, wildlife, pet life and school life I have in my life. My blog: birdlifesaving.blogspot.com