Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week Ending 14 February 2016

What a week! I know we were busy but I'm struggling to remember all that we did since adrenaline rushes muddle my memory and I'm still recovering from a big rush a few hours ago when we were shaken by a large 5.7 earthquake. Not as much damage to the city as the big quakes in 2010-2011 but still the all too familiar story of liquefaction in places, some power outages, burst water mains, lots of public buildings evacuated and closed until they get an engineer's report, plus some cliff faces near the sea crumbled and collapsed. And the ongoing small aftershocks. No major injuries thank goodness. Our place was fine - just a few things knocked off the shelves - but it took my heart ages to return to normal. I don't handle earthquakes well. Miss 15 doesn't seem to mind them too much but then again she can't remember daily life without them. She was just nine when this big series began! Poor Miss 21 was at work at a supermarket. The owners told them to just clean up and stay open - this despite a lengthy crack opening up in the floor - presumably (hopefully) cosmetic and not structural damage. She said they were crazy busy for the rest of the day with lots of panic buying - people stocking up on anything and everything in case a big quake strikes.

I do recall that the academics went well. Basically Miss 15 just  continued what she was working on last week with lots of additions for her ornithology course. First up was some detailed observation from the albatross cam.

It was all very quiet when we were observing - a good lesson in life as a field scientist. Hours watching and no guarantee anything interesting will happen! We'll probably try some different sampling and observation techniques this coming week if time permits. Earlier in the week we went on a short field trip to the local university where they are attempting to deal with their pigeon problem ("whitewashing" of the buildings among other things) by flying a falcon to scare and disperse the birds rather than actually hunt them. It was interesting to see the falcon up close, and to watch him and his handler at work.

Over the weekend we assisted on a large all-bird count at a local lake. We were really pleased with the section we got (not too much walking!)  and Miss 15 ended up as the team leader - deciding how to further sub-divide our section and ensuring everybody got to participate and no birds got missed etc. Counting every single bird - more than 700 of one duck species alone- is tedious but important to gain and maintain good accurate data so we always make the effort to volunteer. The following day we spent an hour counting birds in our backyard as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count. That count only officially requires 15 minutes but we our country does a Garden Bird Survey in June and the organiser of that requested participants follow his protocol so that the data sets would be comparable. An hour is a long time to survey a suburban garden that doesn't have much in the way of bird life! I'm so glad we don't have to worry about counting hours for a transcript since I have no idea what I would 'count' and what I wouldn't. Would it be ethical to count things we would do even if she wasn't officially doing an ornithology course?

Mr 18 went on a short road trip with a friend of his this week. They covered a lot of ground in just a few days and he got to parts of the country I've never yet visited. A good way to spend some time before they both start tertiary studies next week.

The other highlight of the week was a family visit to a Noodle Night Market - basically a large Asian food fair. It's the first time this event has been held and there were a few problems - long queues being the main one. I love Asian food so hopefully the market  will return next year. Just with more stalls spaced further apart so the queues are a little more manageable. I'd like to have tried more food but the length of the queues prevented it.

Tonight Miss 15 and I were supposed to attend a performance of Hamlet. It's outdoors so probably still going ahead. However I've postponed it. I'm hoping that tomorrow is more settled and we'll go then.

Linking up with Kris's Weekly Wrap-Up.


  1. I heard about the earthquake! I'm so sorry! Cliffs falling into the sea! I do hope the earth settles; what a lot of stress to live with.

    1. Big though it was I'm surprised it made internaional news.

  2. My kids and I remember the front page news (our local newspaper here in the middle-west of the US) about your big one five years ago! Hope you're feeling a little more settled now.