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Humpty Doo | Litchfield Shire | Darwin Rural Area | Northern Territory | Australia

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High Water Mark

February 15, 2017

 

The Lakwood Lagoon waters are high.

Higher than I thought they would be.

Higher than I have seen them at Rakhi.

The monsoon rain has been steady and at times heavy for weeks now.

200mm in a day a few weekends back.

Heavy rains bring temporary shallow creeks into existence that follow gravity to the lagoon.

The tannin browns of lagoon mix with the clay greys of the new run off. 

The rising waters pick up all manner of dry season discarded vegetable matter and the prevailing wind collects it along the Rakhi causeway where it will eventually become saturated and sink to become part of the fertility of the place. 

It does not seem to bother the resident water monitors who emerge from the waters wearing a cloak of leaf fragments.

The path to the hide requires a few ankle deep steps.

Perhaps a little old school track work with the off cut paperbark logs will create a dry walk to the hide but this high level does not usually last long.

We have had Rakhi for 5 years now and the height is a new record.

I have owned next door for over a decade and so have a better data set for seasonal water levels there;

A canoe inspection to the tree house amidst the paperbarks, black wattles and Lophostomon established that water level is at the peak achieved in wet seasons around the turn of the decade.

The water is spilling out over the culvert past Redgum Rd into the Howard River and the next ecological phase of the seasonal cycle has begun.

The arthropod and tadpole haven has ended and the fish will be feasting and breeding.

I have seen two species so far;

Perhaps small rainbow fish at night by torch light and a small grunter from the canoe while paddling the lagoon.

Fish species identification is far from my area of expertise although I do have NT field nat app.

I do not expect the waters to rise much further.

The level comes up with the rain now, roughly twice the depth of rainfall which equates to a saturated catchment roughly twice the area of the lagoon, but it then drops over a day or so as the increased height rapidly increases the flat bottomed spill way volume.

The houses are safe by a few meters although we paddled the canoe to a friend's house across the lagoon and moored at the steps of what we have christened the boat house.

 

The cane toads were singing again over the weekend.

Unlike the native frogs who have a few representatives singing on any night that follows a little rain, the cane toads do not seem to sing after all rains early in the wet. After the first heavy rains established some standing water they have been quiet until this past monsoon burst brought the lagoon to full height

In the years we have lived at Rakhi I have prevented them from breeding in the early waters inside the dam by hunting down all singers (an a few others) but this has not been possible the past few years renting it out of now we are  infrequently there.

The local population has increased.

Given the volume and diversity of native frogs breeding early in the wet at Rakhi i think the effort required to keep the cane toads out of the early standing water is at least a subtle tweak of the local ecology in a more biodiverse direction.

Six were not able to breed on Saturday night and the causeway declared cane toad free but the effort was perhaps futile as they continued to sing deeper in the lagoon, perched on the floating fallen logs of paperbark killed in fires a few years ago.

 

And so goes the general and specific of the seasons.

The rhythmic pulse sometime weak this time strong.

This year the pied butcher birds seem a little less present

Other species like the orioles to occupy a more prominent space.

The whistling ducks that visited regularly in large numbers a few years ago when the standing water was first established have been absent this year

Previously unobserved Pygmy geese are regular residents .

Part of me is tempted to quantify this data and search of mathematical patterns with clues to some deeper understanding.

But more of me is content to simply be absorbed in the myriad of beauty that Rakhi provides each day for the discerning eye.

 

 

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