I still can’t believe it happened.
And that I didn’t get a bright sunny day to go with it, is not nearly so important as being at the right spot.
EE and I had left home amid some bright afternoon sunshine and stopped for a coffee at the Highway Lounge at the Caltex Servo on the road out of Werribee. By the time we’d sipped one of Gerry’s best brews, and stepped back outside the cloud was thickening up to biblical proportions. Mind I’m not sure what separates biblical proportions from ordinary thick grey cloud, but..
We took ourselves to 145W Outlet at the Treatment Plant. Mostly with hopes of seeing the last of the waders before they travel, but, they too had travelled. We took a tea break and wondered our next move— home!
Just before we go, I decided to change the 300mm PF from the D7100 to the D810, just to have a lighter rig for the trip back down Paradise Road. Got as far as getting the lens off the D7100.
A Bloke pulls up in the 4bee. Been down the eastern end, and had spotted among other things, the Orange-bellied Parrot? — no not really. But had seen a number of raptors including a Peregrine Falcon.
Oh, says I.
And with that breath, Adams quote became a reality as a dark shape swept in off the sea, and attached itself to the only high point around. The old beacon at 145W, not more than about 30m from me.
Probably a Raven, I suspected, and turned to listen to his enthralling tale of the raptors along the coast further up.
But, something was not right, strange behaviour for a Raven. “scuse me while I get the binos, mate”. Looks.
It’s a Peregrine Falcon, I declare. Your Peregrine Falcon.
He is out of the 4bee before I can say, ‘Don’t slam the door’.
EE makes an appearance like some wraith conjured up by a long forgotten Ansel Adams spell, camera at the ready and the first frames already warming up the memory card.
Well, I’ve got to find somewhere to put the binos, and open the car door and extract the D810 and the 300mm f/2.8 TC 2.0 combo and point it toward the beacon. Remember, I was in the business about 45 years ago, in Falcon time, of changing the lenses.
Brown bird on grey porridge, oh this will exciting. Still, looking down the lens at those huge eyes looking back at me, and seeing the power and the strength of the leg muscles attaching those gi-normous claws to the top of the pole, makes my blood go a funny temperature.
One time in my life I wish I was on Multi-burst.
Get off the first couple of shots, make a quick EV adjustment, run off a few more. Still the bird sets.
Settle, and do so many calculations as the average astronaut has to make on re-entry. Which way will it throw? Will it go up, or toss away down to gain speed. Can I move around to get a better angle, do I need another EV adjustment. Oh, no, the shutter speed is only sitting around 1/250th. I’ll never be able to handhold. Can I crank up the ISO in time, and somewhere in that 45 years, the bird, took a glimpse down the coast.
Spotting ducks and waders it had already made its calculations.
Away, and behind. Oh.
Nice tail shot. If it had been sharp.
The heavy-duty wind coming from behind us meant it pulled around toward us, into the wind. Those scythes that are wings going a zillion beats a second. Almost matched my heart rate.
Calm, hold on the head, take the shots, one, two, three. Avoid distractions of people running around, mind focused on the job. Oh, that is the bird, cold and calculating. I’m with the running around group.
A locked gaze down the coast, about 500-600m away, and a duck or swamphen was now the target. I don’t know how many calculations it has to make to get the height, speed, approach and departure worked out, but those steel eyes were locked on and it was away.
The last I saw was a flurry of duck, swan, gull and wader, coming over the beachside bushes. The Falcon was gone.
I retire to the car, just thankful I’d not had time to change to the PF, the bigger artillery paid off. From landing to last frame, 87 Seconds. which is about 45 years in Falcon time.
The markings indicate a first year bird, and one of my Flickr folk believes it to be a female.
What I do know is it’s a unbanded bird. No leg jewellery. A truly free bird. I like that.