Thursday, 15 November 2012

Eclipse 2012 - Day 4 - Eclipse Day

I was so excited I could hardly sleep.  I was up from midnight researching weather and writing and thinking about what I would do if the weather was bad for the eclipse at sunrise.  I finally lay down at about 330am and the alarm went off at 430am and we packed food for the kids, the cameras, beach towels and headed down to Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas, which is directly east facing.

Of course, we weren't the only ones with that idea.

The beach was full of people but there was pleny of space for everyone.  The tide was coming in as well, so we kept ourselves way back from the water, as we watched the horizon for sunrise.

Stay away clouds!  Looking promising...
Sunrise and first contact - extremely hard to see in top left because of cloud distortion
Oh no no no, you are not going up into those clouds...

God damn it!  Get out of those clouds!
My children oblivious to me getting agitated at the sun behind the clouds
Approaching totality behind the clouds... CRAP!
Minutes before totality... get OUT from those clouds!
The beginning of totality occurred behind a cloud.  The sky darkened, the stars became visible and it got cold.  I whooped even though I was disappointed that I was going to miss the eclipse because of stupid CLOUDS, because the whole experience, with everyone screaming in excitement around you was pretty awesome.  But then, halfway through totality, lady luck shone on our side and the sun began to move out from behind the cloud... (I wish I could gif this)

Yay out from the clouds!

This is a picture of the corona and you can see the solar flares

Diamond ring effect as totality ends
And back behind the clouds again
 So exciting!  So lucky!  I was thrilled, and the kids even got to see the black sun.  I think they were fascinated by totality even though they didn't understand it - hubby was explaining it to E and she remembers that the sun was black and it looked like a moon.

After the thrill of that wore off, my tiredness caught up with me.  But I'm never too tired to take pictures of birds - here are pics of a bar-shouldered dove and a pied imperial pigeon that I saw on the way back home.

We headed out to Mossman Gorge to have a look - there are some walking trails and you can also swim in the water there - crocodile free!

Spectacled monarch in nest
Australian brush turkey walking nonchalantly past all the tourists
After that long walk and letting the kids play in the water up to their ankles, we went on a bird tour with Del Richards of Fine Feather tours which I admit I was a bit concerned because of the kids!  How were we going to keep them quiet?  What about walking?  I am not carrying the kids... sigh, if it was just me and hubby and Uncle S, then we could go on longer walks.  Anyway it turns out we just get driven everywhere in a 4WD and just hop in and hop out of the car.  Much easier!  Except the kids got cranky and restless and noisy during the trip, though were often pacified by drinks, cruskits, rice crackers and chocolate.

Here are some of the best shots of the birds we saw today on that tour.  It was pretty cool, we got to see a fair few birds, ones I never thought I would see!
 Bush stone-curlew and chesnut breasted mannekin

 Collared sparrowhawk (take my word for it!), double barred finch and red browed finch

 Double eyed fig parrot and forest kingfisher

 Greater bowerbird and his bower (nest)

 Peaceful dove and bar shouldered dove, and red winged parrots
 Silvereye and yellow spotted honeyeater

 Spangled drongo

Other birds we saw that I didn't get pictures of included Australasian Grebe, Royal Spoonbill (boy was I excited to see that flying past us!), Pacific Black Ducks, Blue billed ducks, Little black cormorants, Figbird (hubby saw that, I didn't), Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Magpie Goose and Brown honeyeater.

Del took us to see platypus!  My favourite animal!  I was thrilled to see them, and it was hard work keeping the kids quiet, and we got to see them a few times before the kids were too noisy and scared them off - it was actually in someone's backyard lagoon which fed into the streams!  I would love to have platypus in my backyard!  We saw some agile wallabies as well (pictured) and a red-legged pademelon (wallaby).

We were buggered after that.  Hot, sweaty, sticky, covered in dried sunscreen and insect repellant - I was looking forward to getting home and having a nice hot shower.  We had mexican for dinner and I put the kids to bed and crashed... until midnight.  Now I'm up again!  Tomorrow we will be doing the cable car and steam train ride (a very kid friendly day, unlike today!).


  1. Excellent pictures! You got great eclipse pictures. You must have used a tripod. I'm guessing you've a digital. I haven't been doing Astronomy lately and when I did, it was all 35mm SLR.

    You also got great bird pictures. I'm horrible at it. If mine came out as good as your sparrowhawk, I'd be happy.

    1. Thanks Kall. I did use a tripod but it is actually not necessary during totality. And you have no idea how many pics I took to get a few decent ones! Thank god for digital.