Readers’ wildlife photos

August 20, 2022 • 8:00 am

Do send in your photo lest this feature become extinct.  We have two disparate contributions today: astronomy and flying foxes.  IDs and captions are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

First, astronomy photos by Terry Platt:

Here are some more Hydrogen-alpha images that I recorded recently. Late Summer is an excellent time for H-a nebulosity, as a bright part of the Milky Way is overhead, and this is very hydrogen rich.

All these objects are in the constellation of Cygnus (the Swan).

NGC 6888 – often called the ‘Crescent nebula’. This is a nebula of ejected gas from the bright Wolf-Rayet star WR 136. Wolf-Rayets are giant stars with short lifetimes and WR 136 is in the late stages of ejecting a large part of its outer atmosphere. Much of the gas is highly excited and emits X-rays, along with Hydrogen-alpha etc. The nebula is about 5000 light years from Earth.

IC 1318 – the ‘Sadr nebula’ (Sadr is a nearby bright star –Gamma Cygni). A complex region of bright hydrogen and dark dust, about 4,900 light years away:
IC 5067 – part of the ‘Pelican nebula’, near Deneb, the brightest star of Cygnus. This nebula consists of a bright ‘shock front’ with embedded Herbig-Haro objects. These H-H objects are where new stars are condensing from the nebula, and form tube-like structures in the gas. The large one, near the centre, is called Herbig-Haro 555. This nebula is about 1,800 light years from Earth:

Flying foxes (“fruit bats”) from Hugh in Australia:

The morning hullabaloo starts. Spectacled flying foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) congregate on the branches of a giant cluster fig (Ficus variegata), above the labs of the AUSTROP Research Station in CapeTribulation, Far North Queensland in Australia:

These megabats are now considered endangered as a result of climate change and their population has seriously declined due to major heat stress events, as well as loss of colony sites to urbanisation.

Flying foxes are quite vagile – and can often change roosting locations which rather complicates doing research  on them. Flying foxes are not strictly nocturnal – they have a basically cat-like daily pattern, fly out, feed, snooze, fly to another feeing site, snooze, and fly back to the main colony site (which may be many kilometres away) in the early morning and spend the day alternately snoozing and socialising (very noisily).

Flying foxes are critical long distance pollinators of a number of forest species (mainly Myrtaceae) and distributors of larger seeds, as they grab a fruit, fly off, eat it and drop the seed. They can’t swallow solids, so only really tiny seeds such as fig seeds get swallowed (and shat out). We are hoping that this region will only get wetter, but not hotter – so it will be a sanctuary
for the species.

7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Hello Hugh! Thank you for everything you do for bats. I visited your colony for injured flying foxes in 1989, and it was unforgettable to be clambered all over by these remarkable animals. I also remember your admonition to never park a car underneath a bat roosting tree, especially when the bats have been eating figs 🙂

  2. Thank you! I love bats so very excited to see this tree of bats. Quite a sight.
    That last photo of the closeup of the bats is amazing. The claws and how they hang on
    is fascinating. It looks like a weird human hand that claws and doesn’t grip the limb.

  3. 5000 light years, 4900 light years, 1800 light years away. They’re kinda very close neighbours on the scale of the Universe, well within our own Milky Way scale, it seems.
    Great photos though.

  4. Great astro photos again. Such wonderful detail and lack of noise. The area around Deneb and Sadr is my favorite part of the night sky. It was directly overhead much of the night last month in the dry clear deserts of California, where I traveled to try to take pictures of it. But it rained every day! Very bad luck. There was one clear night, and I got one marginal stacked image of that Sadr nebula (with the Crescent Nebula making a surprise appearance in one corner) using the opposite technique of yours: full spectrum imaging (IR + vis + a little UV) instead of narrow band. My goal is to see what colors they “really” are. But I’ve got a long way to go. Your work inspires me .

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