Beltane In Melbourne, Australia - Southern Hemisphere
WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE DURING THIS TIME?
According to the 6-Season Calendar proposed by Alan Reid and modified by Glen Jameson, October is classified as 'True Spring'. This classification continues throughout November, gradually becoming 'High Summer' as December approaches. On the seven-season calendar based on the observation of local wildlife, November is classified as 'Grass-Flowering Season' (see examples below*).
Although we get the occasional downpour and some strong winds, the days are mostly mild, with soft showers and gentle breezes. The temperature can climb into the 30’s or sink as low as 10 degrees Celsius, but it’s more often in the 20’s.
We look North to see Pisces becoming increasingly clear as summer approaches. It actually looks more like a bird than a fish from our hemisphere. Appearing in November and clearly visible in our skies in December, are the constellations of Taurus and Orion. The cluster of seven stars of the Pleiades within the constellation of Taurus is visible only at dusk, in contrast to the Northern Hemisphere where they mark the beginning of the day at Samhuin. Slightly above Taurus is Orion, a statuesque warrior in the Northern Hemisphere but more like a saucepan in our part of the world. Venus is our 'morning star' at Beltane. Visible before the sun rises, she journeys thorugh Libra in November and Scorpio in December.
Indigenous flora and fauna
*Flowering grasses include Kangaroo Grass, Wallaby Grass, Spear Grass, Tussock Grass and the Common Reed. The Narrow-leaved Peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata) flowers from October to January. This tree, which grows up to 30 metres in height, gives off a strong peppermint fragrance, hence the name. It has thin, weeping leaves, white flowers & small cup-shaped fruit. Then beginning in November the Victorian Christmas Mint Bush (Prostanthera lasianthos) exhibits its white flowers, which are spotted with orange and purple. (We have one near our Grove). Blooming through spring to late summer is the Black Wattle, with its pale yellow blossoms and also the Rainforest and Soft Crane's Bill. The Common Raspwort, Astral Brooklime, Yellow Wood-sorrel, Slender Knotweed and Water Pepper flower through to autumn. Tall Lobelias flower from November to March in damp areas. Blanket-leaf daisies flower in November & December and can be seen in cool forest gullies.
Native Broom in Flower
Australia has about seventy-five species of bat. Of those, Victoria has twenty-three, and all except the Grey-headed Flying fox and Little-red Flying Fox are micro bats. Bats, both macro and micro, are fascinating. They are warm-blooded mammals like us but unlike us, their bodies are covered with fur, they hang upside down, and can fly. They give birth to live young, which suckle from their mother, like other mammals (except those enigmatic monotremes). However bats have the ability to delay implantation of the embroyo after mating, so that although mating takes place in autumn and birth in the early part of summer, the actual gestation period is only about 60-80 days. The fertilized embryo is held loose in the uterus until food resources increase in spring, when implantation takes places, and pregnancy resumes. This means that if the pregnancy resumes around the spring equinox, the babies are born during the month of Beltane (November - December). Watch out for tiny bats sheltering in tree hollows and under leaves.
Holes appear as bandicoots dig for grubs and echidnas search for ants.
White-browed scrub-wrens with their harsh, raucous calls can be seen and heard at our local Reserve along with Rufous Whistlers and Crimson Rosellas. Baby rosellas are losing their green birth feathers, as their chests redden. Many birds are moulting. Gangs of cockatoos roam the area. Shortly after the Spring Equinox, the pair of ravens that share our part of the world, bring their babies down from the forest. Then for the remainder of the year, we are entertained with the antics of these youngsters.
Reptiles & Insects
Snakes & skinks are becoming more active.
Imperial white butterflies fly around the mistletoe.
Scarab beetles cluster around the streetlights.
As in days of old, fishermen use the flowering of the Coast Tea-tree in early November to mark the entry of the Snapper into the Bay.
Compiled by Elkie