Friday, December 17, 2010

Summer Storms

 With the summer warming rainfall has been at record levels all over the eastern states of Australia.
On Wednesday night at around 8Pm a huge rolling front passed over South Eastern NSW.
Approaching at about 40Km/h, it could be heard when still 5Km away like a jet engine as  hail and torrential rain fell at the lip of formation.
The Photo below has no colour adjustment and was taken minutes before its arrival.
Needless to say the cloud was extremely charged and produced a number 
of huge lightning strikes and sheets  that spanned the sky.
The photo below reminds me of a shot I've seen showing the discharge of electricity 
in a charged plastic sheet. Those who have seen such a  shot will notice the similarity.
The charge is passing over to another cloud, and not to the ground, balancing with the potential at the seaboard.

The aftermath saw hail at a maximum of around 1 cm, with the shot below 
giving an idea of the gusting strength.
The mist is not a dirty lens :) it lay directly behind the front and was heavily charged 
also producing continuous flashing in the sky.

 

All in all one of the most violent storms I have experienced.
Being a bit of a storm chaser, it was nice to bring the work home for a change.
I was made aware recently that storms, worldwide, are becoming more charged as time progresses.
I would not be surprised if this was linked to increased solar output and interactions 
of charged with the magnetosphere .
A study on the regularity and intensity of Northern/Southern lights
 in relation to lightning activity could be interesting.
This link on the magnetosphere makes an interesting read also.
26.10.10
This link has a interesting study on Solar flares and interactions with the Troposphere.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The rain continues

 A good amount of rain has fallen in our area since late November.
Last night it was accompanied by unusual lightning in the form of "bursts" within the clouds that seemed quite limited in area lit though very charged.
Strong wind gusts accompanied this storm and it was this wind that afforded me the following two shots.
They are of a hive of European Bees that were living within a hollow branch.
Although the weather was still quite cool, there were 100 or so "sentries" keeping a cloud around the immediate area. 
I am trying to get the swarm collected by resident apiarists and have yet to get a reply at the time of this post..




The last two weeks have been damp enough to allow the emergence of  fungi, some of which I have pictured below.
This lovely yellow bracket type is quite small and was growing from an old wagon wheel.



 Immediately above is a type of Puff Ball measuring around 3cm diameter.

The cup like fungi pictured below I have seen in the rain forests of the Southern Highlands, though was a new find for me here on the far south coast.

















These small Puff Balls started brownish, though quickly went orange, as in the next shot, deflating as the slightest sunlight and warmth approached.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dedication to Orchids

There are mere mortals and then there are those who breed Orchids,
showing Dedication and care for the chance of viable seed and a new variety.
These plants are just a few of the impressive collection once owned by Dr Seaton.
His passion for these exotic plants saw many new varieties emerge.
Sadly, at his passing, many of the names of the varieties he produced have been lost.
Orchids everywhere have had a great flowing season, the plant pictured immediately below having flowered for the first time for its new guardian.
  

Wishing Denis Wilson, an Orchid Enthusiast, a very Happy Birthday.
Without your introduction to this wonderful plant, they would remain just a flower.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spring Storms

The passage of Spring into summer has provided some great electrical storms to photograph this year.
This front passed through last week, with the photo below showing  its intensity after a hot day.


This still from a video of the storm shows the ferocity of the electrical discharges.


The storm passed and indicated another clear day tomorrow.
Many I have talked too feel these events to be more like weather patterns observed at this time 
of year some 25- 30 years ago.




Reptiles are out of hibernation and the first cicada have been heard.
Whether we get a hot summer or a cool one, a wet or a dry one is still up for grabs.
Either way the garden is loving it and so, sadly, is the lawn.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stars in their eyes

Well today is Blog Action Day again.
This year the subject is water and a worthwhile subject indeed.
Scientists have stated that liquid water is one of the vital ingredients for life on other worlds and, one imagines, the continuance of life here.
Yet much of humanity gets little or none, with the few who have it doing lots of squandering and misusing.
The great Artesian Basin is a perfect example of misusing a limited resource.
With open cut Uranium mines planned for WA, SA and NT, more water than ever will be pumped from the basin in an attempt to slow down the radioactive dust that will blow with westerlies over the eastern states.
You can find out more by watching David Bradbury's recent film for the ETU starring Austen Tayshus "When the dust settles".
Though that is another story that you can catch here:
http://www.andrew-melville-smith.com.au/Videos/whenthedustsettl.html

This blog subject looks a little into the past, just before the space race.
After the conclusion of WW2, as things were getting back to normality, the US wanted to bestow a gift on humanity. They had just saved the world (again) and were feeling powerful and benevolent.
Many ideas were proposed and, amongst the many, one shone out as a great humanitarian act.
It was proposed that water should be in good supply for those who had little or none, with the third world squarely in their sights.
Many great projects were conceived that would supply this precious resource to those in need.
Sadly those great works were never carried out, as it was deemed a project that would neither capture the public imagination nor get the sort of worldwide prestige that a working space organisation would.
So, with heads raised and gazing skyward, we moved forward into an age where the haves had more and the have-nots had less and less.
Don't misunderstand me, great things have come from those endeavors with greater things yet to come.
We stand on the brink of something big.
We wont get there until we are united.
This doesn't have to mean a world government. It can be as simple as making sure we all have enough food and water and showing that we are all on one team.
It is doable. It is also necessary so that we might take the next step.
Lets clean up the house before we go out.
Time to get things in order here.
Lets start with good drinking water for all.
Then lets consider the root issue. A sustainable world population.

Stephan Pastis " Pearls Before Swine



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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Feeding The Rays

Its been a long time since I visited Bendalong and was glad to see that over 25 years large black rays are still coming in for a feed.
I last experienced this phenomenon with my Daughter Rhiannon, some 8 years ago,and was happy to see that it has not gone the way various Dolphin and Penguin visitations have.
It remains an encounter.
Having said that, lets try to keep it that way.
It is true to say that encounters with large black Rays are common around many boat ramps along the southern NSW coastline, though I find the greeting at Bendalong the most rewarding.
This Video is of some of that day and I have tied to capture the experience in going face to face with a large and alien being.
I bought some Pilchards to wave in the water so a to attract a few Rays, though it is debatable if the Pilchards played a part at all. I noticed if you stamped your foot in the sand under water they came more readily.
They are brought in by the fishing boats, presumably called by the thump of the engines. Perhaps we are associated with low wave concussive sound-forms, food being a reward to tolerate incessant patting.
The eyes of this creature will survey you from above the waterline, just to get good look, and will spot a floating pilchard go by as you will see.
My mate Marvin bravely went face to face for the vid.
This was of no great risk. Rays are gentle, though potentially dangerous, creatures.
Just as with a horse, you keep distance of the back end.

video

A fitting post for the 4Th anniversary of this blog.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Ant Power

When in Northern Queensland I was able to get shots of some very interesting creatures.
These Green Ants are building a nest.
By using brut strength and numbers they curl the leaves and fix them with excretions.
The resultant nest is waterproof and strong.
Although they have a nasty bite, they are quite tolerant - which is good, as they are found in vast numbers throughout rainforest areas.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A feast of forms

After traveling over 7000Km up to Cape Tribulation on the Queensland North Coast and back over the last month, I was able to collect a variety of creatures some of which are shown below.
This Star Fish was shot at Arlie beach, surfacing from the sand with the influx of the tide.


These birds inhabit the far north in profusion and nest overnight in the branches overnight.
Unafraid of people, they scour the campsites for morsels without fear.

Salt Water Crocs prowl the waters, this specimen over 3 metres in length and over 70 years old.

This Rino Beetle was quite big and aggressive, having bit my finger whilst I attempted to photograph it.

Preying Mantis were in abundance, and as curious as ever.

This Manta Ray was off the beach at Fraser Island, crusing the shallows for crabs.

Kookaburras provided a loud waking call in the early morning chorus.

A Kadadid hunts at night.

This Jeweled Spider was a long way north of those I photographed years back in the Southern Highlands of NSW.
Honey eaters were many and varied.


The Goanna seen in Queensland were smaller than their southern relatives

This Gecko was out for the hunt one night for moths at Wonga Beach near Daintree Rainforest.

Fraser Island had many species of fish, these captured in shallow waters of the Champagne Pools on Fraser Island.

Dingos also prowl the Island, and are to be walked warily amongst.

This unusual bird was photographed Near Emerald Qld.

A Fascinating Holiday with many shots taken of scenery and wildlife in abundance.
I hope to post more as they are processed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is there a doctor in the house?

I have been fishing with my father since I was 5.
Occasionally we would find what he called "Doctors".
These strange creatures often lived with the gill space of a fish.
I was always led to believe that they were parasitic, though helpful, to their host.
Below is pictured the creature in question.


This specimen was the largest I had ever seen, measuring over 25mm head to tail.
The multitude of appendages makes it most unusual indeed.


It was found within the innards of its host, a Leather-jacket, whilst I was cleaning my catch from a fishing trip.


I would welcome any input on this strange creature.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goannas of Cuttagee

video

In relation to my previous post on Goannas , Here is a short vid of one.

This reptile measured over 2 Metres in length.

Many are to be found in the surrounds of lakes and rivers in the NSW South Coast.

This one would like to eat a dog that belongs to friends of mine, though keeps itself busy around the area foraging for scraps and is welcome for the interest and diversity it affords to the bushland surroundings it shares with its human neighbours.

It was not worried at all by my videoing it and it was obvious that any further encroachment on its space would be challenged.

A good example of one of Australias largest reptiles.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Big storms on the far south coast

A Picture says a thousand words.
This shot, down the south coast of NSW, gives an idea of the ferocity of the storms of the last few days.



A little further south we had the power off for 2 days, due to fallen trees like this one.
While there was less rain than the storm experienced in February, the wind was much stronger.
A dense low pressure system was responsible for the havoc that saw disruption over more than 200Km of coastal towns.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Dangerous Dance

Although the weather has cooled somewhat, there is a mass of insect life around - in sizes ranging from mosquitoes to dragonflies.
This could be partially due to the massive rains recieved earlier.

Welcome Swallows buzz the nearby dam in flocks approaching fifty in mumber, showing that lavae of all sorts are there for the taking.

Our resident spider species have been taking advantage of this fact also, catching masses of small annoying insects before they gain entry to our home.

There has even been a little time for them to do one of the most dangerous dances of all for a spider - the act of mating.
These two are engaged in that dance.
"Palps" of the male spider, the smaller of the two in the foreground, place sperm into openings in the female while, at least with this species, they face to face as though locked in some mortal combat.
The female spider often eats the male after mating, and sometimes during the act, dependant on the species and how quick the male can make a run for it afterwards.
A danerous dance indeed.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Port Jackson Sharks

This strange form is the egg case from the Port Jackson Shark.
It forms this twisted spiraling shape once dried.
The juvenile shark escapes from the far end, leaving an opening in the top


I found a number of them on Blenheim Beach (Marine Bay), located near Jarvis Bay area within the marine park.
Pictured with the fine white sand as a backdrop below


The area is located just south of Nowra on the south coast of NSW, Australia.
A map of the surrounds, and the area visited shown here.

The beach has a small creek running to it, with temperate coastal rainforest at its fringes.

The Marine Park was established some time ago, as the area was recognized as a significant bio-diverse region warranting protection.


Along with the casings found, a number of sea slugs were found nearby amongst sea weed and a dragonfly nymph located in the fresh water of the creek within 25 meters of the surf.
While we enjoyed the surf, a pod of dolphins cruised close by.
A very pleasant and diverse place indeed.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Adaptation of Design

Arachnids never cease to amaze me.
I photographed this orb spiders web the other day with a strange adaptation.


The center of the web is inline with the wire, thus giving the spider some cover from the prying eyes of predators.
In case you might feel this has a degree of chance involved, the web is fixed to the wire only at the center point, with the rest of the intersection floating freely so as to catch prey.
This design would offer both protection and stability of the web.
An example of evolution at work through design adaptation.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kookaburra on the hunt

It was with some degree of relief that I heard a number of Kookaburra calling last week. Since then they have been making their world famous call each morning and evening.

A bird that I remember well from my youth ( I cared for one once while its wing healed), it has been sadly lacking in numbers over the years following.
Many bird species are on the decline due to a number of factors and I recall a recent report stating that the beloved Kookaburra was on that list.


A few posts ago I photographed a young Red Bellied Black snake in my backyard. This is not the only one I have seen. It seems that this years breeding season was a good one for snakes. Hot and dry.

It also seems that the Kookaburra, who are fond of snake for dinner, are aware of the fact.
.


A shot of a Black Snake being swallowed whole is on my wish list.

Next time you see an inoffensive snake on its way, remember that a bird song we associate with all things Australian depends largely on snake populations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fun time for Fungi

All the rain we have had over the last month has seen an explosion in the number of fungi of late.



Fields that were inundated have seen a number of forms sprout forth.

While the variation is nothing like the profusion I have seen at places like the Robertson Reserve, with many species per metre squared, I feel it worth documenting nonetheless.

The local bushland may have further groups to photograph as cooler, damper and darker conditions lead us into Autumn.