Babbler area in drought (picture Louis O’Neill)

Babbler and zebra finch fieldwork is underway at Fowlers Gap again in what is shaping up to be the worst drought since our work began out there in 2004. The long-term average amount of annual rainfall at Fowlers is 235mm. Since September 2016, there has been a total of 181mm across 23 months. In 2017 there was a total of just 77mm which makes it the second driest year from the 60 years for which data is available (Data from Bureau of Meteorology). So far, 2018 is looking even worse, with less than 3mm of rain recorded in the first seven months of the year.

As illustrated above, the environment is already looking extremely dry and the heat is just starting to pick up in the late winter, which will further dry the environment and challenge the animals and plants at the research station. Not surprisingly, in the work to date, there is no evidence that any of the birds are starting to breed, and the whole landscape is in urgent need of a drink.

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