Start of Spring: Dormant creatures twitch

August 17th, 2012
by Jo Law

One may interpret seasonal changes through a number of avenues: temperature fluctuations, hours of sunlight, precipitation and other weather events. Behaviour of living things contribute to the experience of spring. As budding new shoots make their appearance through the soil or on bare branches, those higher on the food web may sense that the time of plenty is drawing near. ‘Dormant creatures twitch’; some may come to the conclusion that it is a good time to breed. Thus, for many species, the reproduction cycle begins.

In an earlier pentad, aggression between the males in the wood duck population at the university’s Wollongong campus was observed. In this pentad, I sighted a clutch of ducklings, the first group this spring. The parents were escorting 12 juveniles grazing on the grass outside the Creative Arts building, attracting passing students to stop momentarily to wonder at the sight (and take photographs on their smart phones).

At the end of this pentad, we ceased an opportunity to take a break from our work production cycles and visited the Sydney Biennale. A firm believer in the 10-minute-nap-after-midday, my experience tells me that productive work seems to also fall into cycles. When the mind becomes dull, the only solution is to take a break. The effects felt after this momentary suspension have a physiological basis. Recent research studies at the University of California confirms that downtime is needed for new neural networks to form in the brain, capturing new experiences.

Downtime has also been experienced in our fixed telephone line (and by association, our internet connection). Faults to our telecommunication seem to always occur in spring. Could the seasonal strong wind gusts of previous days damaged the wires? Could seasonal recurring weather be responsible for causing temporal disruption to this online almanac? (The answer is less poetic: a simple lack of communication between our various service providers. It later transpired that in putting in a new pole, the power company cut our phone line seemingly without seeing the need to inform the telephone company, leaving us disconnected for almost a week – endowing us with a break from being wired.)

Weather statistics and astronomical information for August 2012

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