Patter Patter Boolcoomatta

Graeme Finlayson
Published 26 Oct 2020 
about  Boolcoomatta Reserve  

Budgerigars.<br/> Budgerigars.
Eagle Rock watering hole.<br/> Eagle Rock watering hole.
The Homestead Dam provides a welcome relief to the warmer weather.<br/> The Homestead Dam provides a welcome relief to the warmer weather.
Inland Dotterals. <br/> Inland Dotterals.
Pop Saltbush – reminds me of childhood games with popping packaging plastic!<br/> Pop Saltbush – reminds me of childhood games with popping packaging plastic!
Swainson Peas litter the plains with vibrant colour.<br/> Swainson Peas litter the plains with vibrant colour.

The words of poet CJ Dennis finally came to fruition after two-and-a-half years of relentless dry weather and dust out at Boolcoomatta, with nearly 100mm of rain falling in the last few weeks. It’s easy to appreciate the saying “just add water” after an event like this!

What were dry, dusty plains are now a vibrant green, covered in fast-growing annual vegetation and what we really want to see, the occasional grass seed head.

The bird life has sprung into top gear, with the metallic song of Brown Songlarks, bright splashes of red and yellow with energetic Crimson and Orange Chats, electric green and yellow Budgerigars strutting their stuff across the skies, the toy trumpet sounds of Zebra Finches ring out at any water and the penetrating screeches of Galahs, Corellas, and Cockatiels all echoing the excitement of what the rain has delivered.

There are already signs of breeding, clumsy young Emu chicks dashing alongside their father’s heel, a fluffy Wedge-tailed Eagle peers longingly over the edge of a strategically placed nest and Inland Dotteral chicks scatter around the plains when hit with the spotlight beam. 

There's something special about a decent rainfall in this part of the world, particularly after the last two years. It’s what it does to all our senses. At first there’s that unique smell of petrichor, that settling of dust and freshness to the air.

The change of colour is a real sight and makes you realise what an amazingly resilient landscape this is... just how does this seedbank stay dormant and survive for so long? Then the splash of colours as daisies, Swainson Peas, numerous flowering eremophilas and wattles are thrown into life, sending out a myriad of colours on to what was up until now a rather drab canvas.

The sounds that have been absent for so long. First the frogs, in that small window of opportunity to find a mate and make sure they continue as a species through that next unknown dry period.

Insects, the hum, the buzz, the annoying mosquito screech. Followed closely by the feeding frenzy by microbats and geckoes that dart across the windows in search of what has been a rare tasty morsal.

Walking across the plains, there’s also the sound of popping as you step on Pop Saltbush that has proliferated and thrown out succulent fruiting bodies that explode on impact.

During the day it’s hard to find a place without bird song, the morning chorus around the homestead, and the further you venture, the more species have found their song. These smells, sights and sounds all make this place so special after rain. There’s a renewed level of excitement, moods swing and it makes you realise just how extraordinary this place is.

The stark contrast in the Boolcoomatta homestead area pre- and post-rain.

The stark contrast in the Boolcoomatta homestead area pre- and post-rain.

 

Budgerigars.<br/> Budgerigars.
Eagle Rock watering hole.<br/> Eagle Rock watering hole.
The Homestead Dam provides a welcome relief to the warmer weather.<br/> The Homestead Dam provides a welcome relief to the warmer weather.
Inland Dotterals. <br/> Inland Dotterals.
Pop Saltbush – reminds me of childhood games with popping packaging plastic!<br/> Pop Saltbush – reminds me of childhood games with popping packaging plastic!
Swainson Peas litter the plains with vibrant colour.<br/> Swainson Peas litter the plains with vibrant colour.