01 April, 2012

Night Moves

Both for reasons of convenience and safety, it is not often that I spend a significant amount of time around the river in darkness, however it is something I would like to spend more time doing as the Barwon is quite a different place after dark. Last night I had the opportunity to go for a short wander, suitably accompanied by the family, along the in town stretch of the river.
James Harrison Bridge after dark
Our purpose on this occasion was to get out of the house and avoid using our electrical appliances for the duration of Earth Hour - which for anyone who doesn't know is a global initiative which aims to raise awareness of and promote action to combat the effects of global warming. Earth Hour originated in Sydney, Australia where the World Wide Fund for Nature teamed up with the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007 to encourage all households and businesses in Sydney to turn off their non-essential electrical appliances for an hour on the last Saturday in March. 2.2 million Sydney residents took part. Since then, Earth Hour has grown to the point where this year, 150 countries and territories including over over 6,500 cities and towns participated - including us.
As in previous years, the weather was mild, so we headed down to Landy Field and wandered up towards town. Even during Earth Hour, this section of the river is rather well lit so we didn't need torches to find our way. The lights were rather pretty and the river certainly seems a different place at night, however it does pose some difficulties when it comes to photography as my little camera struggles without adequate light.
Lights reflecting on the Barwon River
The creatures which frequent the river at this time are of course somewhat different to those seen during daylight hours. I did see one seagull which was up well past its bedtime and heard a couple of water birds calling, but otherwise birds were absent. No doubt were I to investigate some of the more remote sections of the river, I might well find some of the night birds which I have discussed before. Nankeen Night Herons in particular don't seem too fussy about fishing during daylight hours so presumably they would be in evidence at night also.
As we headed up the path near Barwon Grange to cross over on the footbridge, we were immediately assailed by the screeching bats - well, more properly Grey-headed Flying Foxes which are a species of native Australian megabat. These not-so-little creatures of the night hang out in various places around town during the day (the Eastern Gardens has been a favourite spot for a while) and then head out at dusk looking for dinner which consists of pollen, nectar and fruit.
They are relatively easy to spot against the night sky, having a wingspan of up to a metre and even easier to hear, but in the dark they are rather tricky to photograph, hence my efforts last night were completely unsuccessful.
There was one little critter however who was more than happy to sit still and pose for the camera - this little Ringtail Possum (I think, although I am not a marsupial expert).
Ringtail Possum
As we headed back to Landy Field, just past the boat sheds, I spotted him (or her) in one of the gum trees next to the river and with the light from a handy iPhone, managed to get a few shots - one of which was in focus.
With any luck, I will be able to head out again over the next few nights and snap a few more shots of the local nightlife.

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