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Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Stormy Petrel on a Stick

Mutton Birds (otherwise known as Sooty Shearwaters) are graceful in flight, soaring and skimming across the sky.

On the ground they are rubbish, they don't land they crash, in messy tumbling heaps. They also sound like evil mutant Kookaburras. I had plenty of time to observe them as I waited near their colony, the only mainland colony of Mutton Birds in Australia, in order to guide my Brother-in-law to our campsite at Port Fairy. Of course, I was waiting in the wrong spot, so I saw a lot more Mutton Birds than I intended. These Mutton Birds (so called because they were so plentiful sailors used them as a food supply, then nearly made them extinct) live in burrows in the sand, and watching them send showers o sand into the sky reexcavating their burrows is an amazing sight.

If you are going to go camping when most of the campsites in Southern Victoria are on fire, then Port Fairy is a good place, a beautiful old port town, it has lots of historic building, miles of fantastic coastline just begging to be walked, fascinating rock pools, lazily stirring kelp beds ... and dark skies.

Not perfect dark skies, the sea spray and the few lights that the town has do conspire a bit against you, but a delightful strand of the Milky way soared above my head on the one night it was clear (Port Fairy is also good for foul weather). I watched Saturn swim into view one night before opposition, marveled at Orions Nebula and renewed my acquaintance with many of my favorite southern clusters. I also took a lot of images for stacking.

I'm currently in Sydney, at the Australian Neuroscience Society conference. When I get back, I'll post some of these images after I've had a play with stacking.

In the meantime, it's back to checking the program to see what I'm going to see next. I don't think I'll have time for live neuroscience blogging, but I'll try and post a summary when I get back too.

I was thinking the same thing as what the sailors did, when you were describing this fowl. Yum yum. Serve up some pics, please.

I'll do so when I get back from the conference on Friday, I can't upload pictures from this public terminal.
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