I opened the car door to a wave of heat. Given that it was only 8am it looked like western Sydney was in for a blistering day. Walking down the slope to Pitt Town Lagoon, I was soon joined by that other sign of summer, Bush Flies. Most of the horde settled on my backpack, leaving a dozen of the more restless to buzz around my face.
A drier than normal spring saw large areas of mud exposed around the edge of the lagoon. Black Fronted Dotterels and Purple Swamphens scooted around the water’s edge, while Great Egrets and Royal Spoonbills stalked the shallows and Australian Pelicans and Little Black Cormorants hunted in the deeper water. Welcome Swallows and Fairy Martins patrolled the sky above, occasionally swooping to the water’s surface to snatch a floating insect.
A long fence runs between the lagoon and adjoining paddocks. A string of Fairy Martins juveniles sat preening on the fence.
They were joined by a small flock of Yellow Rumped Thornbills, which scanned the vicinity for threats before descending to the ground to feed.
The buzzing around my face was relentless, and I was pleased to notice that the Black Fronted Dotterels were feeding on flies. Closer inspection revealed that the masses of flies at the water’s edge weren’t Bush Flies, but another species that seemed to be mating and laying their eggs directly into the water. Whatever the species, they offered an endless supply of food for the darting dotterels.
The following morning the dry heat had transformed to steady rain. The first break from a dry spell is usually great weather for frogs. This time when I opened the car door it was to be greeted by a chorus of croaking.
The callers were Dwarf Tree Frogs, a diminutive frog that grows to no more than 3 cm long. They generally stick to dense vegetation near fresh water, but when in the mood for procreation the males crawl onto a protruding branch to give their voices the best chance of reaching a receptive female. They are highly variable in colour, ranging from gold to bronze to shades of green. When you see one there are often dozens around, making for lots of interesting photographic opportunities.
In two days the weather had run the gauntlet from dry heat to steamy sogginess. The combination of conditions was perfect for flies and frogs, even if they didn’t come together in the classic fashion!