Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Nature's Weather Indicators: Watching Animals and Plants

There is so much you can tell about the weather and what's to come by watching the animals around you. I trust these natural indicators and take heed in how I manage my permaculture system. I also share these observations with my children, and we delight in seeing what we can observe each day.

We've been watching a dangling possum tail out of this hollow old tree. Can you see it in the picture? This particular tree is just beside my parents house so we see it throughout the day. We've noticed that she sticks her tail out when the temperature goes over 30 degrees celsius. On a mild day, she's all tucked in. We call it the possum tail thermometer!

I love living an indoor/outdoor connected life and noticing the changes that are taking place around me - in animal and insect behaviour, in sounds, in smells, in the look of clouds, the look of the lake, the colour of the sky.... observing the patterns in nature.

At home in Crystal Waters I know to look to the south to see what weather is coming - typically this is where storm clouds build and now after years of watching I can tell what type of storm by the type of clouds. And when the sky is green, I expect hail.

A corroboree of kookaburras cackling between 10 am and 2 pm indicates rain is on it's way

I've been living at the same place for almost 20 years now and there's quite a few things I've noticed:

  • A corroboree of kookaburras cackling between 10 am and 2 pm indicates rain is on it's way
  • The arrival of the koel's (rain birds/storm birds) on their annual migration indicates that the wet season is about to begin. 
  • Little black ants come into the house en-masse  when rain is on its way.
  • Seeing a Mary River Turtle in the garden also means big rain is on its way.
  • Low flying birds indicate the wind is about to blow strongly
  • When a storm is coming, flocks of birds fly to the hills behind us, making a huge racket. The kangaroos head up with them.
  • There's a smell of rich soil/compost before a storm. (plants excrete their waste during a low-pressure change that leads to rain).
The koel (rainbird) has a distinttve call - they tell me when the rains are about to come. 

Animals feel the changes before we do. They are more sensitive to natural changes in the weather and will seek shelter in case of violent weather.

I also observe the changes in me too. An obvious thing is that my hair goes frizzy when there's very high humidity and rain is coming.

I remember reading an interesting book when I first moved to Crystal Waters - it helped to guide me on what sort of things to look for. It was Nature's Weather Watch : A Guide to Forecasting the Weather by Observing Animal and Plant Life by John, Glenda.

I love being able to bring up my kids in close connection to nature and to share with them my love of the world of which we are an interconnected part. For them, watching nature, being in nature, feeling connected to nature is normal. I notice now that wherever we go they are always observing - even in middle of the city - and as a parent I smile a deep inner smile.


  1. I chuckled when I read that your hair goes frizzy in humid weather, Morag. So does mine!

  2. I vividly remember growing up in the heat of Gympie, hearing the storm bird calling and we would always get a bad storm with heavy rain, Gympie was like that, it always seemed to get extreme weather. Now the storm bird calls and we seldom get the storm or rain that the storm bird thinks we are going to have. We live on the Redcliffe peninsula and seem to miss out on a lot of rain, I get so excited when rain is predicted (storm bird or BOM) and then very disappointed when we miss out again! Fickle weather!

  3. Great points & indicators to watch out for. If only the human species also had the intelligence to commune with nature then we'd be so much more advanced than we are.