Ian’s Bird of the Week – (Southern Cassowary) and Solar Eclipse
by Ian Montgomery
It’s unusual for my primary photographic goal on a trip to be other than a bird, but birds this week in northern Queensland have been overshadowed – pun intended – by yesterday’s solar eclipse. Residents of the Townsville district had to face the difficult decision on whether to remain here where the probability of clear skies was great but be satisfied with a 96% eclipse or travel to Cairns where the weather forecast was cloudy but the eclipse was total.
Despite misgivings about the weather, we went to Cairns and in the end it was a close call. We awoke at 5:30am – totality was due at 6:38 – to an unpromising looking sunrise followed by a shower of rain and then headed off to the beach, equipped with solar spectacles and umbrellas. Just before totality, a cloud obscured the sun and the first photo was taken seconds before it was due, at 6:37’37”, according to my iPhone. The suspense was riveting until the cloud moved aside like a slow theatre curtain to reveal a total eclipse in all its glory and all the onlookers cheered. The second photo was taken, not with the iPhone, exactly 40 seconds later.
As well as the corona surrounding the sun, only ever visible from earth during total eclipse, you can see several solar flares between 9 and 10 o’clock and near 12 o’clock. The third photo was taken another 7 seconds later, at 8:38’24”, and the sun is already reappearing producing the ‘diamond ring’ effect. This happens when a relatively tiny portion of the sun – a Baily’s bead – is visible through an irregularity on the surface of the moon – a mountain valley or a crater.
For the photographically-minded, I was unsure what exposure to use and whether automatic exposure would be correct, so I used ‘bracketing’, taking 3 photos with exposures ranging from 1 stop below to 1 above the set exposure and adjusting the set exposure based on the results of the first photos. I got the best results at -2.7 stops, f5.6 at 1/100 and 1/125sec at ISO 100. I used a tripod.
On the way to Cairns we spent a night at Etty Bay on the ‘Cassowary Coast’, the name of the local government region that covers Mission Beach and Innisfail. Etty Bay is, I think, the best place to see Cassowaries, as at least one regular patrols the camping and picnic area looking for scraps of food. The Cassowary Coast has the following logo, and I wanted to take a photo of a Cassowary that emulated the sign (which emulates a Cassowary).
Cassowaries don’t normally frequent beaches, but this one has clearly found that it’s worth checking for scraps.
The one in the second photo might make a good poster for a qualified welcome to the Cassowary Coast!
The Southern Cassowary featured as bird of the week in 2006. Here is one of the photos that I used then, also taken at Etty Bay, for those of you who have joined the list since then.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 firstname.lastname@example.org
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What great photos of the eclipse and the Cassowary to add to the delight. Thanks, Ian.
That second photo is a perfect catch of the Solar Eclipse. Wow!
He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down. (Psalms 104:19 NKJV)
Ian’s Southern Cassowary page for more of his great photos.
Casuariidae – Cassowaries Family
Cassowary – Wikipedia