Namena's air

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Tod delighted in photographing birds. And there were many to choose among.

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Banded rail; Pacific starling; unidentified little bird; spotted dove.

Around the bures we saw banded rails including three fuzzy black chicks, swifts, white-collared kingfishers, orange-breasted mylomeza (honey catchers), Fiji white-eyes, Pacific starlings, spotted doves, friendly ground doves, and the pesky mynahs that migrated from a passing ship and are eating all the white-eye eggs.

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Red-footed booby; masked booby; baby booby; white-tailed tropicbird.

Over the sea we watched frigate birds chasing the boobies. There are red-footed boobies, masked boobies and brown boobies nesting on Namena. Terns skimmed the water and a reef heron appeared on the rocky shores from time to time. A magnificent white-tailed tropicbird flew around our bure.

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At sunset we watched for the green flash and for the flying foxes. These beautiful bats have a wingspan of about a meter. They are huge and they feast on fruits.

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Looking towards Scorpius and Corona Australis.

After the birds and bats had gone to bed, the stars appeared. Only one night of our stay was perfectly clear, but we took good advantage of it. After dinner we carried the camera, tripod, start charts and laser pointer to the beach for some fun. The Milky Way was bright across the sky. I saw nine shooting stars in the two hours we were on the beach.

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The stars move quite a bit in 30 minutes!

I was so excited to see the southern constellations for the first time. We didn't stay up late enough (or get up early enough) to see the Southern Cross, but I identified Grus, Pavo, Eridanus, Horogulum, Triangulum Australe, Scorpius, and Corona Australis. We took one 30 minute exposure (too long really, as it's too bright) to capture the star trails around Scorpius.

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The Magellanic clouds.

I was perplexed by two hazy patches due south. They weren't part of the Milky Way and they weren't clouds in the sky. A little research revealed that they are the Magellanic Clouds--galaxies in our own astronomical neighborhood.

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