“There are more nights”: Spotlight Beginner’s Guide | Australian Lifestyle

I was about 10 years old when I first locked my eyes with sugar gliders. Our breath was shining in the fog that was wiped across the torch. It’s small and soft, and as the name implies, it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

My dad remembers walking the Black Mountains led by a ranger. Canberra Winter nights are a little different, “I think we didn’t see anything.”

Imagine if the sugar glider is real – after hours of pondering Field Guide to Australian Mammals – It left a lasting impression. As an adult, there is little more thrilling than sneaking into the bushes and looking for animals at night.

He was embarrassed when I told my husband about the spotlight. An American, he pointed out the madness of trying to find animals at night. Going out with a torch in Yosemite or Smoky Mountains can end up in a shred.

In Australia he spoils me. Watch the Wombat family on the road to Glowworm Glen in Bundanoon and spend hours watching the playground drama between the bully brushtail possum and the timid and charming Bandicoot in Ben Boyd National Park. rice field.

In most cases, nothing will be displayed. I’m not very good at spotlights.

A common brushtail possum on a tree at night at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Photo: Manuel Romanis / Getty Images

I was trapped and ran out of kicks, so I wondered if I could bring my hobby into the urban environment. Interview with Dr. Andy Fly, a scientist at the Menzies Institute of Medicine in Hobert, who spent a year shining a torch towards Hyena, Kenya. “If you want to experience the wilderness nearby, nights are probably the best time to do it,” he says.

But how can you do it well?

The importance of eye shine

“”If you’re looking for wildlife at night, you’re looking for eyes, “says a fly working on a vaccine for Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease. “If you see a little flashing light, it’s probably an eye. It’s a little exciting to notice that you caught the eye of this animal, and that’s what you were seeing too.”

Andrew Omera, who has been educating and outreaching at the Capital Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and leading many night walks around the Mulligans Flats in the Australian Capital Territory, is seen by experienced spotwriters. From the brilliance of the eyes, they say they can understand the types of animals they have. “The brushtail possum has an orange-eyed glow,” he says. “Beton is yellow.”

Shine your eyes from bandicoots and brushtail possums under the park bench
Glitter from bandicoots and brushtail possums under the park benches of Ben Boyd National Park on the south coast of New South Wales. Photo: Alyx Gorman / The Guardian

Location is also important. If you find a flash on a tree, “it will be a possum or a sugar glider.”

“There can be a lot of animals on the ground. If they are jumping up and down, they can be betons or kangaroos. If it is a kind of amble, it can be a possum.

“Predators have a really bright eye glow, a kind of bluish color.”

stand up

You don’t need that much to get started in the spotlight, says O’Meara. “Honestly, any torch works fine.”

He says that even a phone light can make your eyes shine – “if you have it properly.”

“When you illuminate the phone across the grass field in the summer, the spider’s eyes come back.”

Flies say the easiest option is to get a powerful headlamp: “You can see so many things with them.”

Woman with headlamps
Headlamps are a good tool for beginner spotlights, but torches held around eye level provide more control. Photo: Caban Image / Alami

When using a torch, O’Meara recommends holding the torch at shoulder height and casting a beam around you for best results.

Spotlight etiquette

Be careful when using lights that are too bright, as they can affect the animal’s night vision.

Experience has shown that the same is true for humans. Do not illuminate the torch on the face of a companion in the spotlight.

There are several ways to work around this issue. As O’Meara suggests, if you find something, you can move the beam away from the animal, so it’s only illuminated by ambient light.

“Or you can get a red light filter that blunts the light of animals,” he said, confirming that red cellophane serves this purpose. Many headlamps have a red light setting for longer observations.

“No matter how comfortable the animal is around you, stay away from it,” Omera adds. “It’s much better to see them.”

Spot scouting

Flying fox
Flying foxes – common sights at dawn and dusk in many Australian cities. “I could easily imagine them as terrorist tyres,” says the fly. Photo: burroblando / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Flies and Omera say they are more likely to find animals at night wherever there are trees. “If you take the time to go out into the backyard … you’ll find something right there,” says Flies. “When you sit in the park, you’ll probably see possums running around. They’re territory and they’re always fighting.”

In a patch of urban green space, you might find “nocturnal birds kicking around,” Omera says. “And those animals we call Synanthrope – What works really well in an urban environment. “

It’s strange to flies to realize that there are “wild animals that survive at night” even in the city. “If you kick me out in the middle of the field in five days, I’ll die,” he says.

When it comes to night time to go, Fly says it depends on what you’re looking for. Many animals are active during transitions such as dawn and dusk, but some creatures (such as the devil he is studying) “seem to be active late at night.”

Still or moving?

Before walking around with the torch, Flies said, “It’s a good idea to go out, in the dark … and quietly use other sensations. You’ll be amazed at how much you’re around. Let’s-wait quietly, and when you hear something you shed light on them. “

O’Meara agrees, “Just sit down and be amazed at what’s going on.” But he warns, “You need to be nice and still.”

Sugar gliders in Crater Lakes National Park on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland
Sugar gliders in Crater Lakes National Park on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland. Photo: Sae Yamamoto / Alami

If silence and tranquility aren’t possible for you-say you’re with an overly excited 10-year-old who has sugar gliders in the brain-Omera takes the opposite approach and as much as possible Suggest to try to cover the ground.

“The more movement you have, the better the results. The longer you walk in the park, the more you can pick up things that you haven’t escaped yet.”

Additional credit

Once you’ve tasted the spotlight, you can easily dig deeper. O’Meara is one great way to do this, logging what you see and how animals behave, especially when uploading that information to a citizen science database. Is called. “You may see animals doing things they have never seen before.”

He recommends Canberra Nature Map, This allows users to upload GPS coordinates of animal sightings and see what others have found. The geographical range of the app goes far beyond Canberra.

Flies are recommended iNaturalist An app to understand what you have just seen. By uploading photos to apps and image recognition software, you can get advice from your peers to understand what plants and animals are and contribute to scientific research.

Animals tend to follow certain patterns, so if you have space in the garden, you can also buy a motion-activated, relatively inexpensive trail camera … look at it and see what time it is. [an animal] It will come out, “the fly suggests. Then, the next night, you can signal an adventure outside the time the camera was triggered.

Midnight gardening can be a bit of a surprise, says Fries. Alongside discoveries like luminescent bacteria, “Another thing that always surprises me is that when you start flipping the soil in your backyard, you’ll find things. Most people are in the garden during the day, When the soil fills up at night, you’ll probably see something you’ve never seen that day. “

“Night is a place that is fundamentally different from humans for animals. There are many more places at night.”

“There are more nights”: Spotlight Beginner’s Guide | Australian Lifestyle

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