Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chill felt by big and small

The last week or so has been markedly cooler in the South Eastern states.
Antarctic air flows associated with strong low pressure systems have been lowering temps and producing wind gusts up to 125Km/h.
This has had effects ranging from the vast dust clouds experienced last week to the increase of snowfall in the Alps.
It has also had an effect on many creatures expecting the early warming of spring to continue.

I was working in the garden the other day, planting spring vegetables in an optimistic expectation of nature continuing its seasons in a somewhat normal fashion, when I observed these ants carrying larvae back underground.

Their nest had been disturbed by my pulling a few weeds.
Although rain is not expected, their larvae were positioned very close to the surface.
Perhaps this was to regulate their temperature.
With the last few weeks being cold, larvae positioned just under the surface would be afforded some warmth

The cold weather did not slow their activity, and a few bites were received for my trouble to get these shots.

These common black ants measure up at around 4mm in length.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Paint it Black

The skies have been otherworldly with the dust storms across NSW of late.
Although red during the day, as afternoon turned to dusk, I was able to capture this image below.

Bereft of colour, the view was a monochromatic display with the sun hanging pale in the sky.
Living far south of Sydney, the amount of dust we received was limited though enough to bring twilight many hours before the sun actually set.

The storms have not stopped the spread of the Black Swans as the weather warms.

While some remain in larger lake systems over winter, they spread to the many smaller systems during spring into summer, their numbers swelling into the thousands as they cross the sky in vast formations.

The warming weather has also seen the return of the Red Bellied Black Snake.
The photo below showing a sight all too common .
These males were in a sparring match that got carried a little to close to the traffic.

Care is required around this time as many reptiles are coming to grief in such a manner.
I was forced to dispatch the snake on the lower right, as its back was broken and was living still.
While repellent or a source of fear to some, their part in Australia's ecosystem makes them worth avoiding if possible. They eat the much more dangerous, and aggressive, Eastern Brown Snake.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Spring thaw at the Australian Alps

Spring is underway, be it slowly, at the Snowy Mountains.

Like a view springing from the Serengeti, the roof of Australia was under snow as the surrounds basked in warm, dry, Savannah.
I wanted to photograph some of the new spring flowers that pop through the snow in the melt.
After the unseasonal warm weather I thought I may have a chance, though the high country plays by its own rules.

The snow has retreated somewhat, with Perisher having enough of the white stuff to have a happy season for a little while yet.
Below that point the cover is scattered.

Areas of melt produce some amazing scenes, like the ones below.

This temporary pond (below) plays host to alpine frog species that wait for just such times.
The Eco system is incredibly fragile and scenes like this leave me to wonder as to the pressure that lack of snow, through global warming, may have on such tenuous relationships between species and their environmental habitats.

At higher altitudes the snow was still thick on the ground.

These alpine gums hang on to the boulders, their forms twisted and stunted by high altitude and the elements.

Winter hasn't given up hold of the high country just yet, with more snow on the way.

My hunt for wildflowers of the Australian Alps with have to wait a few more weeks.