Aurora

I enjoy taking photographs of the night sky. I have to apologise that these photographs have been changed from my 35mmdigital RAW format to JPEG and have lost some of the definition in the process. I am very fortunate to live in the far south of Tasmania and when the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights as they are also known. The Aurora has been very quiet for quite some time. So I thought I would share with you some photographs I have taken back on the 1st of May 2019 , 01/05/2019. This was a wonderful night and the Lady Aurora was resplendent in her colours.

What causes an Aurora, be it the Aurora Australis/Southern Lights or the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights?
Charged particles are the “ammunition” of an aurora. The short answer to how the aurora happens is that energetic electrically charged particles (mostly electrons) accelerate along the magnetic field lines into the upper atmosphere, where they collide with gas atoms, causing the atoms to give off light.Jun 19, 2001www.exploratorium.edu › learning_studio › auroras › happen
My understanding is the different gases that are in the atmosphere give off different colors when gas atoms collide with these electrically charged particles.

The lights are seen around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. Auroras that occur in the northern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Borealis‘ or ‘northern lights’ and auroras that occur in the southern hempishere are called ‘Aurora Australis‘ or ‘southern lights’.

Aurora Australis Huon Valley Tasmania.

The above photograph is interesting as it shows a formation in the Aurora known as a picket fence. The orange light to the right of the screen is a column.

Aurora Australis Huon Valley Tasmania

Here You can see the beams and when I am taking these shots and review them you can see the beams swirling as the move across the sky.

More beams and the beautiful colour, with swirling beams and bright colours.

Many people get quite confused as here in Tasmania due to not being as far south it is very unusual to actually be able to see the Aurora Australis with only your eyes. When you are fortunate to see it with only your eyes it is usually more like grey to greenish movements or columns in the sky. If you are looking south and you see a glow like there is town and you know there is no town it could very well be an Aurora.

There are many aurora forecasting apps out there.
The photographs you see are taken on long exposures usually with Digital 35mm cameras. Though some mobile phones can take photographs of the Aurora.
You also really need to have a tripod or some sort of support, to keep the camera from moving, no matter how you believe you can hold your camera steady for 30+ seconds you can’t.

Here in Tasmania is not the only location in Australia you may be fortunate to see an Aurora Australis. Last Year there was an Aurora and we were clouded in almost all over Tasmania. Yet people in Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria were getting a wonderful display.

People often ask me if they can come with me. I have to explain that sometimes when an aurora is forecast, it might be hours that I am out there and it might not be quite as good as predicted. Or I might just get out there because I woke at 2am to go to the toilet and noticed a brighter look in the sky to my south. I got in my car and just went to a friends paddock and set up. Sure enough the lady was visiting. She only stayed for a brief time. I was home in bed again by 3:30am

I may just go and it might only last for half an hour. Or as the last time I was out I was out from 10pm until sunrise. Sometimes I have driven to one of my spots only to find I have missed the show. I have sat hoping that she may start up again, but no.

It is why we call it Aurora hunting. We are fortunate that we have good night skies. I have seen wonderful photographs taken from the north of the state the midlands, cradle mountain, Bicheno, Swansea,Frecyinate , Port Arthur area. Of course New Zealand also has great views for Aurora Australis as to the Antartic.

Here in Tasmania in summertime when we do have Aurora because of daylight saving time it is very late when it gets dark. After 8;30pm at present, but in December it is almost 10pm before it is dark.
In winter the cold is a problem and fog, sea mist, and again clouds. But it is all what makes the hunt so fantastic when You do get great shots.

Again I am so fortunate, to have this natural wonder occurring in my backyard.

I am so thankful to have experienced this wonderful display numerous times, and hope that some time in the near future the sun will again be having flares that will instigate the possibility of more opportunities for me and others to photograph the Lady Aurora.

blessing to you all Tazzie

A little day out




I was heading to Cygnet to catch up with a friend at the bakery. Great food and coffee. Wonderful croissants. Local fruit ice cream and sorbets so delicious made on the premises too. It was Friday, and the Cygnet Folk Festival would be starting in the afternoon. Yet the town was already busy as organisational stuff and food trucks, venues and staging were all happening all the place.
My friend and I enjoyed people watching. I had my dogs with me. They were petted and commented on by lots of people.

Red Velvet Lounge Vegetarian/Vegan cafe with banner
Busby chilling at the Bakery
Food vendor
Folk Festival crew putting out recycling bins
Bakery (wood fired oven in curved bit, ) seating hay bales
Friday afternoon and the town and park getting busy

A walk around town was an interesting experience, even though the festival has not officially started there are lots of people about and some really strange things to see

Local volunteer fire fighter checking the fire

I am not really sure what the idea of this really is but as far as contraptions go it was quite exceptional. A piano that when played light flames and smokes. I might see it at night when I imagine it will be even more awesome. My friend is playing it and one of my neighbours (the fire fighter tshirt) is looking at it. (you can see joyfully for me rain clouds forming, not so good for the festival.

food van
playing the weird piano,
a friends 17 year old dog
A wary local
great decorations in this house,
same garden a very personal collection
a moment to meditate by the creek

My dogs and I went down to a lovely dog friendly spot down on the bay, and Miss Treacle and Busby had fun racing about sniffing and marking, as I took some photos. I was sitting watching some swans and cranes landing. As well as the sun slowly sinking behind the hills.

Miss Treacle by the bay
Sun setting
a look at the bay
The colours of the timber under the bark on this eucalyptus was eye catching in the sunlight
sitting waiting for me
Normally a Reserve this area is full of campers and campervans for the festival weekend

As the dogs were running around I was listening to some music coming from across the bay. I could hear beating drums and a beautiful voice. Looking back towards town (photo above )you can see white amongst the trees, tents and campervans fill the reserve and sadly access is not permitted to the locals who walk through it ever day or go to take their kids to the play area for the weekend. Or to see the birds in the bird sanctuary. It is only one weekend a year I guess. People pay to camp here about $40 for the weekend three nights .

Glamping accommodation

To the left you can see the white tents, these are for Glamping accommodation at the festival

Two photos below are looking down over the main st.

Main street
looking over Cygnet

the valley of Cygnet
driving home

It is a pretty valley and the township is settled adjacent to a lovely bay. Mindy you being an Island it is not hard to have water near you.

The end to the day was a little similar to the beginning in that we came across another native critter on the road. This time a wallaby eating grass on the side of the road. I stopped to let it get away without any danger from my car.

It is less than three seconds it moved and got away. They can be so hard to avoid on our roads, which is why I try to travel at 40km p/h especially during dawn and dusk but also at night when they are about.

I do apologise for the quality of these photos in this post. I had to change them from a SLR camera setting to a JPEg and it seems to have made a huge difference to the shots.

I do find that in among a lot of noise and people something I once enjoyed, I no longer do. I find myself enjoying the periphery of things. After walking through Cygnet today and listening to the music and the noise, traffic and smells. I was needing to get away from it. So I was really chuffed that there was no one else down on the point where the dogs and I spent a lovely time. My CPTSD does impact me greatly sometimes. I know I am better than I have been in quite a long time. I do come home from this sort of thing exhausted and just basically spend the next 24 hours in a semi immobile state. Hard to explain to people who have not experienced it. I do feel sometimes, that it is the after effects of going out and being part of the world/community place I live, is often what stops me. My progress here is that I now know this. I now accept this is me and my life in the present time. Instead of pushing myself and doing the expected I dont anymore. That in itself is a wonderful difference. Knowing my limits, and retreating. One of my favourite things is saying I am content with the discontent.

Tazzie

Why I love Echidnas!

I love Echidnas! (also known as Spiny ant Eaters colloquially ). I have Echidnas who live and visit my garden and in the surrounding bush. I wanted to share what makes these animals so awesome.

The Long beaked (nose) Echidna found in the Highlands of New Guinea, Indonesian Papua, and the Short beaked (nose)found in Australia. Even though some people call them Spiny ant Eaters they are not related to them at all! Nor to Hedgehogs, Porcupines or Pangolins.

Long Beaked Echidna. are in danger even as they are eaten by indigenous people in the hills of New Guinea and Papua, They are also in danger from deforestation.

The western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni), The eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), Sir David Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) is one of the three species of the genus Zaglossus. (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-five-species-of-monotremes-living-today.html) If you wish to know more about the Long Beaked Echidna please look up the link above.

@Echidna Home 2019

The Short Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is the smaller of the two. In Tasmania you can often see them especially by the edges of the roads and even crossing the roads. Sadly as they move slowly they do get hit by cars.

I am very fortunate to have at least one living in and about my property. I will go into more about their territory and life in another post.

@Echidna Home 2019
@Echidna Home 2019.

They are amazing and fascinating animals.

Mammals are a diverse group, but all mammals-

  • produce milk to feed their young
  • have hair or fur
  • have a unique jaw structure
  • are warm-blooded

Echidnas are mammals? Yes.

But they have spines (which are actually tough hair folicles). Yes but they also have fur to keep them insulated so in colder regions you will see that Echidnas have longer fur covering some of their spines. If you compare my local Echidna with the picture below of an Echidna from NSW with a warmer climates you can see that it has less fur covering its back. So yes they have fur. Check. You can see more of it in the curled up photo on the right below.

(Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Image: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum
A Short Beaked Echidna is pictured with its snout to the surface of a wet rock. Its spines are yellow with a black tip, whilst its snout appears to be a bluish-brown colour. The echidna is an oval shape, with a ball-like appearance.
Image: Kathy Atkinson
© Australian Museum

Mammals are warm blooded, yep Echidnas are warm blooded.

Echidnas and Platypus are Monotremes, they lay eggs and their babies hatch.

Echidnas breed in Winter. Now the mother doesn’t have a pouch all the time. It is pretty amazing how she creates one; she does this by contracting her abdominal muscles which then forms a fold which is secure enough to hold the egg and puggle after hatching. (WIRES Northern Rivers. http://www.wires.org.au) and a single soft shelled egg is laid (like birds and reptiles).

The puggle (a baby Echidna) hatches out of the egg after about 10 days. As it is developing the puggle will grow a tooth structure, like chicks have, known as a ‘egg tooth’ a small sharp structure on a chicks beak to help it break the shell and hatch. Watch the video (below) of a puggle hatching and see if you can spot its egg tooth. Puggles are born blind with no spines or fur and it will be about the size of a jelly bean 1.45cms and can weigh in at as little as 380milligms/0.0134041ozs! (https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/echidnas)

Echidna pouch after loss of egg or small puggle
@Leoni Byron-Jackson http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html
A one month old puggle. It will stay in its mother’s pouch for about two months, spending all of its time lapping up milk and sleeping
© Chris Eastland/ZooBorns 

Since there is no nipple for the puggle to cling too it will cling to its mothers fur about her belly with its front legs that are incredibly developed and strong. but clings with its well developed front legs to the hairs on the mother’s belly.

Mammals feed their young milk. Check.

Whilst most mammals have nipples Monotremes do not. Instead in Echidnas the mother produces milk and it is excreted through the milk patches. Areas of the mothers stomach flat skin on either side of the pouch about where you would find teats or nipples on other mammals. The milk is excreted and the puggle will suckle at the patches not lick them. Patches are located on either side of the pouch approximately where one would expect a teat or a nipple to be.

Image result for how do  echidna puggles drink from their mothers
Newman has been reared, with keepers feeding him a milk mixture
out of the palm of their hands. Credit: News Corp Australia, Taronga Zoo

The young laps at the milk patches, it does not suckle. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005

@Image by Sharon McGrigor
69 day old Puggle being raised at Western Australia’s Perth Zoo.. This is of an age where it would no longer be living in its mother pouch. You can see its ear fold an the spines beginning to develop @Perth Zoo Western Australia.

The puggle stays in the pouch for a further approximately 50 days until it starts to develop its spines, at which time mum will dig a nursery burrow in which she will leave the puggle. http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html The Puggle suddenly finds itself no longer clinging to its mother feeding when ever it desires warm snug and safe in its nestled in its mothers pouch. It now finds itself alone in a much cooler place where its mother will only return to feed it once every five days and it will only be with the puggle for a few hours. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005 (Rismiller 1999; Rismiller and McKelvey 2009)

It goes from clinging to the belly of its mother and having access to the milk patch at all times to being left alone in a cool (15 – 18°C) chamber .

@Taronga Zoo Sydney NSW AU, 2016

Many of us have had encounters with these animals in the garden, where they may dig them selves in to the ground, if this happens it is due to the animal being frightened, leave it alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. We can not relocate an echidna, they are solitary animals and have a territory, and if removed from this territory they will make every effort to return, crossing unfamiliar territory, also as we do not know if it is a male or female it could have a puggle waiting in a hollow for the next feed. wires.org.au

If you are interested in reading more about Echidnas and their lives I will be posting more on these endearing unique animals.

Tazzie

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