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Welcome Everybody

Hello - Welcome. The purpose of this site is to document my experiences photographing wildlife and nature throughout Australia and abroad.  I hope you find the content interesting and educational, and the images  cause you to reflect on how important it is preserve natural places and their inhabitants.

All wildife has been photographed in the wild and animals are NOT captive or living in enclosures.

For me photography of the natural world is more than just pretty settings and cuddly animal photos. It's a concern for the environment and the earth all living creatures must share.

Note that images appearing in journal posts are often not optimally processed due to time constraints.

You are welcome to comment on any post.

 

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Conservation Matters.....

Entries in Tasmania (16)

Thursday
Jan192017

Spring and Summer is Flower Season in Tasmania

Spring and summer in Tasmania is flower season and the diversity of flowers, indigenous or introduced, is staggering. 

LEFT:  Tiger Lily (Lilium) showing pollen abundant stamens and sticky pistil (click to enlarge).

The Tiger Lily (Lilium) grows from a bulb and has large prominent flowers.  It is endemic to the temperate zone in the northern hemisphere, where it can be found woodland, grassland and montane habitats.  The flowers are large, often fragrant, and come in a range of colours including whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds and purples. Markings include spots and brush strokes.

Pollination

Lilys are pollinated primarily by butterflies and bees, which are attracted to the bright colours of the flower pedals (modified leaves that have evolved specially to aid in the pollination of the plant).  The insects move between flowers anciently rubbing themselves on the large and well developed stamens; pollen easily attaches to the body of the insect and is then transported from one plant to the next where it becomes attached to the sticky pistil.  From the pistil, the pollen works its way down the style and into the ovary. There, seeds are formed within a small pod.

Odour

Plants tend to have their scent output at maximal levels only when the flowers are ready for pollination and when its potential pollinators are active. Plants that maximize their output during the day are primarily pollinated by bees or butterflies, whereas those that release their fragrance mostly at night are pollinated by moths and bats.

Glossary

Ovary Female reproductive organ of the flower.

Pedals - Petals are modified leaves that surround the reproductive parts of flowers.

Stamens - The portion of the flower that carries the pollen.

Style - The part of a flower stalk where the parts of the flower are attached.

Pistil - The female reproductive part of the flower, usually centrally positioned leading to the style, ovary and other internal parts of the flower.

Sunday
Jun022013

Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) Tasmania

Saturday evening there was the chance that an Aurora maybe visible from high latitudes due to a coronal mass ejection (CME).  A CME is an ejection of a large amount of solar plasma (mostly protons and electrons) and magnetic fields from the Sun. Most CMEs are ejected into space nowhere near the Earth. Those that do impact Earth can disturb the Earth's magnetic field and lead to a subsequent disruption of the ionosphere which is observed as an Aurora.

LEFT:  Image showing coronal mass ejections from the sun (copyright Rollin Bishop)

In the southern hemisphere an Aurora is called the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) and in the northern hemisphere the same event is called the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

Although this Aurora wasn't particularly intense, it was still worth the short drive from Hobart.

Friday
Aug192011

Tasmanian Devil Babies - Tasmania

During June and July the female Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harrisii ) aren't very active and finding them can be difficult.  The reason for their slumber is that most are heavily pregnant or have given birth to young.  Amazingly up to 50 young can be born and the joeys must race a distance of about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) from the birth canal to the mother’s rear-facing pouch, where they compete to attach themselves to one of only four available teats. Only those four will then have a chance to grow and survive.

LEFT:  A female Tasmania Devil ((Sarcophilus harrisii) rests on her back revealing three large joeys.

August is the time when the devils are beginning to develop fur and their eyes are opening; for the most part the joeys are still attached to the teats.  At this stage of development, the youngsters are growing rapidly and depending upon the number of young in the pouch, it maybe difficult for the mother devil to accommodate them all.  The mother devil will scavenge and hunt prey during this time while carrying the babies in the rear-facing pouch attached to her nipples.

LEFT:  A large heathy male devil baby, guard hairs reflecting in the sun, suckles. 

During this time, mother devils attempt to keep beneath the radar as much as possible, as protecting their infants is their prime responsibility and concern.  Other devils (male and female) but particularly male devils may try and kill the youngsters The reasons for this are varied but include :protecting food resources (less food to share), reducing rival male devil's DNA by killing the rival's young, and causing the female to become receptive again.

When the young finally are too large, they emerge from the pouch and often ride on their mother’s back, like young koalas or possums, or are dragged along underneath her, still attached to her nipples. After about six months, the young are weaned, leaving the mother to live alone in the bush by late December until the following march when courtship and mating begins again.

To read more Tasmanian devils posts

Friday
Mar112011

March is Breeding Time for Tasmanian Devils

Many of you know that I spend quite a bit of time seeking out Tasmanian Devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) attempting to gain suitable photographs of nocturnal devils for the Devil Task Force, the branch of the Tasmania Government assigned with the task of protecting and conserving the devil.

Whilst there is never a perfect photograph, my collection of devil photographs is slowing increasing as I spend many of my evenings in the field.  I thought I’d quickly share with you one of the latest images of a night-time devil.

One aspect which is a little different is the rear leg held upright with the pad exposed. At the time when I took the photograph I didn't notice this.

ABOVE:  Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).  The yawn or open mouth is NOT an aggressive threat posture, but a warning signal that either I or another devil is getting too close - it's a way for the animal to communicate “keep your distance” without entering into an actual fight. 

At some stage, I'll write a post outlining how I photograph the devils at night.  It isn't as straight forward as you may think and it's taken considerable time to perfect my technique using multiple flash units.

Breeding Season

At the moment the devils are a little skittish as we are entering into the mating season.  Many sexually mature female devils are deep within the confines of a den involved in other nocturnal affairs.  During the breeding season, males will fight over females in an attempt to gain individual mating rights, and in an attempt to ensure their mate’s infidelity (and maintain his genetic line), keep their chosen female in custody within the den.   Often you will observe a male devil literally dragging a female along with him as he leaves the den to drink or eat.  Copulation is not a “do and run” deed with devils and often can take five days to complete.  The reason for this lengthy period of time is that the female  devil ovulates up to three times in a 21 day period.    Devils are not monogamous and females may mate with several males if left unprotected, fighting off younger “lesser” males in an attempt to only allow the stronger male to reproduce with her.

Time is Always lacking...

It seems there’s always a shortage of time for everybody these days and unfortunately I’m not an exception; not as many images as I’d like to, get uploaded to the website or to stock.

To read more on the Tasmanian Devil - read my earlier post.

Tuesday
Apr202010

Tasmanian Wildlife Carer Rehabilitates Australian Short-beaked Echidna 

Recently I was asked to photograph a small Australian Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) that been found alongside a walkway in southern Tasmania.  The young orphan had been discarded by its mother for some reason and a “good samaritan” had found the nymph and passed it along to “wildlife carers” to nurture and hopefully rehabilitate to the wild. 

Observing let along photographing an echidna this young is uncommon; usually they are still in the mother’s pouch (actually a fold of skin) or are left in the burrow whilst mother is out and about searching for food.  To see a very young echidna usually means that the mother has been killed or has “dumped” the baby for some reason.  Echidnas frequently are killed by vehicles along roads and by farming practices (farming ploughs often dig up mother echidnas and their young), but in this case the mother was nowhere to be found.  Why the youngster was ousted from the pouch so early and what happened to the mother are questions that were to remain unanswered. 

LEFT:  Australian Short-beaked Echidna & wildlife carer pose for the camera - meet "Young Quills"

The wildlife carer cared for the baby echidna for several weeks feeding the young urchin every 2-3 days with a specially brewed high protein, high fat milk which replicated, as much as possible, the milk that would have been supplied by the mother.  The milk is administered to the infant by a micro pipet usually used in chemistry classes to deliver defined and accurate volumes of whatever to a test tube.   The echidna, nicknamed “young quills” lapped up the rich liquid with his exceptionally long and sticky tongue; only becoming less active when his full was taken.  After the 10-15 feeding it was time to return to a long sleep to digest the liquid meal.

To house the echidna, a special basket was used that was lined with soft loose material.  The basket was kept in a specially heated room in an attempt to replicate the warmth of the mother’s pouch or burrow, and had a lid to ensure the inside was in more or less perpetual darkness.  The only time Quills was allowed to exit the pseudo pouch was for feeding.  Young Quills grew quickly and put on substantial weight and his fluffy fur was soon to be replaced with more defined fur along with the beginnings of the many spines that this critter is known for.  

All seemed well for Quills and the next stage of the rehabilitation was being put in place.  It was planned that after reaching a certain size, Quills would leave his initial wildlife carer to be relocated to another carer whose task was to teach the young Quills how to search for and eat ants; the favoured food of the echidna.  Usually this would be done by the mother echidna (obviously), however, in this case a carer would have to act as a surrogate mother.  After a month or so of teaching, Quills would have then been released into the wild to fend for himself.

LEFT: The claws of Australian Short-beaked Echidnas are exceptionally sharp and strong.  Echidnas have the ability to burrow quickly beaneth the ground.

However, this was not to be!  Quills died in the early morning.  The reason behind his death was unknown; the carer had done everything in her power to look after Quills.  As baby echidnas are uncommon, the reasons for Quill’s death were important so that carers could learn from the event.  An autopsy was performed by a Government Veterinarian in an attempt to determine the reason for Quills’ untimely departure from the natural world.  Although nothing definite could be established, adhesions around the heart were found.  Whether this may have been a cause for the animal to be discarded from the mother is unknown. 

Wildlife Carers are located in all Australian states and donate their time to care for native animals in distress; often when food and medical supplies are low they dig deep into their own pockets to purchase essential items.  

LEFT:  Juvinile Australian Short-beaked Echidnas lack the basic survival skills until taught my the mother.

If you discover a lost or injured native animal, don’t ignore it.  Carefully remove the animal from danger (road, etc) and place it in either a darkened sack or a box with a lid.  It’s important to ensure the animal is kept warm, quiet and in darkness, as this will lessen the stress for the animal.

To contact a wildlife carer in Tasmania (Australia), call the Injured and Orphaned Wildlife Programme on (03) 6233 6556.  Feel free to make comments on this post in the comments section below.