Trippin’ to Ballarat

Had to go up to Ballarat for a family gig.  Spent a couple of days, and survived the most dreadful hail/rain/wind storm.  The damage around the place was bordering on the apocalyptic. Don’t you just love those big words that get so overused that any meaning they might have had is now lost in the banal. Still the damage was significant in some places.

Had a break in the morning from the family do dah, and went down to the lake to look for birds.  They, (whoever they is/are) have done a great job of getting the park around near the gardens and tram area accessible for both birds and people.  Little islands linked by bridges and walk ways allows you to wander about quite close to the bird activity.  And there was plenty.

We found a couple of cygnets pulled up on the grass for a rest and a nibble on the grass, Mum was super protective, but the one good thing about the birds and people being this close is that they have become a bit peopled out, and don’t seem to mind close approaches.  So much so that when a nosey neighbour swan came by for a look at her clutch, Mum swan reared up and a great pursuit followed. The hapless bird headed straight for me and stood on the other side away from Mum all reared up.  Poking its head around my legs, it seemed to say “Nah nah”. Mum calmed down, the little ones piped up “Congratulations Mum for being such a good defender of us helpless little things” and everything returned to normal. My new “friend” had a bit of a preen, then shipped to the water,  and paddled away in the other direction.

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Can I be your friend? This swan was chased off by an irate parent. The birds are so people conscious it had no concern about running around behind me and then peeking out at the angry parent.

I also spent a few minutes photographing the cygnets.  They must be among some of the most helpless and defenceless  creatures on the planet.  Everything seems to be such an effort.  I’m amazed the species survives and thrives.

Cygnets at rest
Cygnets at rest
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When they are this stage of a moult the young swans amuse me with their appearance. This one popped its head out of the water in front of me, with the water dripping down, and a tight crop, it take on a new look.

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Gotta admit, I loved the lighting, loved the angle, loved the D2x for getting the focus, and the exposure. Was mortified that I clipped the bottom wing.

I’ve been breaking in a new (New to me) camera.  Got a second hand Nikon D2x.  The focus and exposure are really great. But like all things needs some practice to get the right feel.  The flight of White Ibis into and out of the small rookery was just what I needed to run through the 3,000 combinations of settings. Well it felt like that many. As they came over the little island I was standing on, the light was directly above and behind them, so it gave fabulous shots of the outspread wings.  The best one of course I muffed.  Managed to clip of the lower wing tip. Thinking seriously about the old photoshop on that one.  Or perhaps just going back for more practice.  This is with the old reliable, dependable, fun to use, most useful lens I own, pinsharp, fast focus, super duper all round good thing, my 300 f/4. And it likes the D2x I can tell.

With some many birds, its a great place to just practice technique, and the chance to see a few really interesting birds closeup, rather than having to point out,  “yep, that little spot over there in the trees is the kingfisher!!!!”

 

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