Interludes: Making Your Own Fun

This is one of those moments that my “Interlude Project” was made for.

One of a pair with cygnets in our local Water Retaining Basin.
It had moved to the far end of the pond for a spot of bathing, cleaning and coot chasing.
Satisfied with its results, it was time to return to the chores of looking after the young.

A quick flight down the pondage and a waterski for the thrill and life could go on.

I know that it’s frowned on to anthropomorphise about them enjoying the  moment, but I really believe that they get a kick out of  the ability to skim the water and make a bit entrance.
And if they don’t, well at least it keeps me smiling.


All flaps down, brushing off speed and readying the landing gear.


Levelling out and a landing spot picked out
Steady for the big Splash
And Touch down
Any one can ski on two, it’s much more fun on one
Folding up the sails
“Mum’s Back” The young came out all excited to see the parent return.

Saturday Evening Post #150 : Reaching Out Visually

I came across the following poem by 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross, titled “A Rabbit Noticed My Condition”

I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field

A rabbit noticed my condition and came near.

It often does not take more than that to help at times—

to just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing
so full of love
that they don’t—

they just gaze with
their marvellous understanding.

Interesting to me, at least as it harmonised well with a chapter of a book I am reading during lockdown, which covers among other thing, the concept of “Mindfulness”.
It has a four step process, with  Mindfulness, Awareness, Visualisation, and Awakening.

Now I feel perfectly qualified to lecture on this subject as true to the Internet Uncle Google tradition, the less I know about something and it’s intricate details the more I am able to pontificate on why my way is the correct view—There is a lot of tongue in cheek in that sentence, I hope it doesn’t get too lost 🙂 .

Mindfulness in the ancient tradition is not so much about the current psyhco-babble feel-good about your body, make contact with your feet on the ground, feel you breathing and all the other paraphernalia that seems to have been attached to it by those who have hijacked it for their own needs and reasons.
Simply defined (the best that a bear with a small brain can handle), is “Focusing on One thing at a Time”  Works for me!

Awareness: Observes the world with both sensory and cognitive perceptions, (There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we’re naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?  -Captain Balbosssa: Pirates of the Caribbean)

My takeaway was that Awareness reaches out to be inclusive and expansive. Not just internally but of the around.
Resonates with me a  lot, as when I’m in the field, I’m not just seeing a bird, but rather there is an interaction as Jon Young describes as “building a rope.”  My birding friends are happy to see the bird and log it in their notebook, and then go search for the next one.
As a photographer, I’m more likely to consider the lighting, angle, the background, the best point of view and what that bird is doing, and likely to do.

As St J. says, being able to interact with “A Creature so Full of Knowing…So Full of Understanding”

Now it turns out, I’m not a logger of species or an inveterate note keeper.  For others, and I applaud them for their skills, it’s a matter of being able to recognise and log various attributes of the bird and build up an interesting database, both for their own use and to share online on ebird, or some other chosen platform.

So awareness is not all that complicated, but as we are in lockdown, its a skill that I find that I’m not able to put into practice. And like all skills, or craft it loses its edge from lack of use.  That’s why artists, writers, sports people and so may other craftspeople are constantly honing the skills. Top tennis players don’t get there by watching another fool-tube video or Uncle googling the best technique.

It’s probably no surprise that I walk my hour’s ‘exercise’ early in the morning. I like the walk the pre-dawn.

And I’ve added an Awareness element to it of late.
I try and notice as many things as possible during the hour out, and then when I come home, over breakfast, I take a sheet of paper and brain-dump all I can remember observing. Not to compare lists or build up a database as such, but rather, just what did I see when I was out today.

After breakfast I toss the paper anyway. As I’ll be fresh tomorrow.

Mind I’m getting a bit tired of logging 17 disposed disposable masks. But I do put down things like the splash of early morning sun on the roofs across the watercourse.   Also what work the council has done on the parklands.  And of course the inevitable, the people that I pass by.  And so it goes.

Not sure where it will lead, but at the moment it adds to the day out and is a beaut distraction from our lockdown blues.

I had need the other day to go out our local medical clinic.  After that I strolled down to see the local Black Swan family, its only a few minutes from the clinic.
I had the previous few days been photographing Welcome Swallows as they begin to prepare nests in the drains under the roadway.
I had wondered if any Fairy Martins had returned, and on this day, I heard the cheery chirping calls, and was glad to see a dozen or so Fairy Martins working over the pond, and zipping through the roadway drains.
This is one of the few that old slow D810 could captured.

From the Ripley Believe it or Not File


My little pond was all quiet when I began my Tai Chi routine this morning.
And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a duck to turn up.

Just as well.


A few minutes into my routine, a flurry of feathers went by my head and “Sploosh, Sploosh” I suddenly had two Pacific Black Ducks in the pond, just in front of my feet.
Quite took me back. I didn’t quite know how to react and as my fone was just out of reach on the ground, I simply stood and watched.
They paddled about, and began a pretty energetic feeding routine, so I took the chance to ease of over, grab the fone and here is a short piece of video.
Short of upgdrading my wordpress, this link will have to do for today

Saturday Evening Post #149: Gratitude

It is funny, as in complicated, how some things just keep rolling around about the same time, but always seem to have some link.

The word “Gratitude” has been at the head of the pack for me this week.

A Chinese Proverb says, “When you drink water, spare a thought for the source”
As it turns out, I’ve been taking the time, and the energy, and the obsession I normally reserve for things in the birding world and doing a bit of research and investigation into some of the more esoteric aspects of Tai Chi.

The ancients divided the “elements” of the world into Five parts.  Won’t bore you with the examination, but essentially they are Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire.   Each is linked to a season of the year, and there are so many health, hygiene, meditation and spiritual elements to it all that has so far escaped my attention, but it has given me a new area to explore during the current catastrophe that is upon us. At least it’s a distraction.  🙂

I take my hour of exercise first thing in the morning.  As a photographer, I walk a little in the pre-dawn and then turn for home just about on sunrise.  On a good day, and today was one such day, the crisp blue sky gives way to the brilliance of the sunshine skating low beams of light across the local wetlands and slowly but surely the shapes emerge, the colour glow, and the world seems to me to be in harmony for that 30 minutes or so that I walk home.

I also stop by a little secluded, off the track location that I’ve discovered and make it a practice to add some Tai Chi routines to my enjoyment of that morning light.

It’s only a little pond, I am thinking of calling it “My Beautiful Spot”.
And this morning as I was settling into the routine, a flurry of wings sped by my head and with a ‘splossssh,’ a Pacific Black Duck landed on the water in front of me. Completely oblivious to my presence, it paddled about the pond, came to a spot near where I was standing and stepped out of the water for a bit of wing stretch and preen. I had to slow down my Tai Chi so as not to put it to wing.
Eventually it paddled back to the far side of the pond, and lifted vertically out of the water and was gone.

My beautiful spot took on quite an awe of optimism. For just a few moments.  I had a friend. 🙂

I managed to sneak a photo of duck, poor quality as the sun was still a sleepy-head, but hey, it was the best encounter, I’ve had this week.

During the week, I drove down to the end of my 5km radius to see how the Black Swan Family were doing.

And another touch of sunshine and some healthy looking young cygnets also lifted my heart.

Remain Safe

From: The Fortress: The Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit.


Saturday Evening Post: #148.1 Humbled by Onion Grass

Not often I add an addendum to a post, but the wonderful responses to last Saturday’s Onion Grass, really reached out to me.

Thanks to all those who commented and opened up a little about their thoughts on creativity, awareness and the emotions that flowers have across a range of cultures and communities.

Always good to have a touch of feedback that gives me a little tug on the old heart.

And humbling in the way that Lao Tzu would say,

See others as yourself. See families as your family. See towns as your town. See countries as your country. See worlds as your world.

Who would have thought a tiny little unpresuming splash of purple among the vastness of the sedges and weeds at the local water basin would reach to touch so many of us.

Thank you again for taking the time to ponder and rejoice.

Saturday Evening Post #148″ Ode to the Humble Onion Grass

If you are an avid gardener, and particularly if you are fastidious about your pristine lawn, then:  Warning!  Click away now. Nothing here to see.

Hey, were did they all go???

Onion grass (Romulea rosea) Do a Google search and the first 1,200,000 hits are all about eradicating it from your lawn.

I like Onion Grass, well at the least the flower and there is a back story.

Many many years, ago, when as it turns I was less then half as old as as I am now, I had what at the time was described as a “medical incident”, details aren’t important, but I ended up in hospital, undergowing life-saving surgery that in itself was brutal enough to bring many people down.
I don’t recall any of it, as I remained sedated for quite the week or so. I’m told on good authority that the first two nights the night-shift nurse sat by my bed and held(squeezed) my hand most of the night to keep me focused.  Must have worked. 🙂
I never did get to meet her, or to offer a simple “Thank You”.

More weeks in hospital, mostly putting weight back on I seem to recall, and eventually I was able to sit up, and a few days later I was discharged, and then spent more weeks at home mostly in bed, just recovering.
—Stick with it,  We’re getting to the Good Bit 🙂

Finally I was able to get out of bed and shuffle about the room, then the house, and by now I could longingly look out the window.
The timing of all this was the middle of winter,  June, July August.  Just about this time of the year. Slowly both the weather and I began to improve.

On one of those hand-picked rich warm sunny August days, when the wind was low, the sun was bright and the whole creation seemed to sing, I looked out the back door at the dear old welcoming green lawn, opened the door boldly and tentatively stepped out.  No earthquake, no general swaying and lurching, and the warm sunshine was, well so inviting.  I, like Neil Armstrong before me, took one more step from a man, and one giant leap for … me!  I stepped off the footpath on to the grass.

As I looked down to enjoy the greener view, and also coincidentally just to check that I had my feet the right way round and I wasn’t falling over, I noted a tiny small purple flower just ahead of me in the grass.  I shuffled over for a closer look.  It was the first spring Onion Grass flower.  I looked about for more, but if they were there, they were outside of my view.
So I settled on the one I could see.

There it sat.  No concern for being in the wrong place—the right place for me! Just humbly doing its job of soaking up the sun, full of life and promise for its species.
And well, ya gotta remember I ain’t been out for a couple of months.  That little purple splash and I bonded.

So much so that just about ever spring wherever I am, and I come across the richness of that purple among the green, it’s enough to stop me in my tracks and be very happy to enjoy the memory of that encounter so long ago.

Fast forward to the present. I was walking among the sprawling sedges and reed beds in our local wetlands the other day. It’s not even a wet lands,  simply a water retaining basin to protect the local housing development areas from storm water, cleverly disguised to look like a wetland. Mostly, as its requires a lot of rain, it’s dry.
Hard to find birds there at the best of times, even Australasian Purple Swamphens use it as an access to somewhere more suitable.

And as I meandered along, out of the corner of my eye, a splash of purple.  There is an ancient Bible text that says, “..’I must turn aside and see this marvellous sight,…
And so I did.

There quietly waving in the breeze, the little purple flower declared to the world, “Here I am”, and me, well I was delighted at the find, as it means Spring is well and truly on the way.

New Life always has such promise.

Interludes: Of Tooth and Claw

Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
In Memoriam;
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Welcome to Interludes:
We had been monitoring a pair of Black-shouldered Kites for the past several months, in between lockdowns, and had come to the conclusion that perhaps they had abandoned the project due to the cold weather.
However a couple of weeks ago things seemed to change, the male began to bring in food and took to sitting on a tree close to where we thought the nest might be.  Plaintive cries from a hungry female confirmed it.

But, the nest tree was cleverly located behind a huge chainwire fence at the Treatment Plant and access and a close approach was out of the question. So in between weeks at home and bad weather we just had to wait.

Then, the weather opened up one morning to sunshine and we journeyed out for a looksee.

Can’t be sure, but it is pretty clear that the young had emerged from the nest, and at least one of them has made a few tentative flights.
Set up, settle in, see what happens.

One of the young took to the air, but its direction and control skills needed much more development.  Eventually after much loud calling it landed a bit down range in the next tree.

Unfortunately, the tree was already inhabited by a nesting Australian Magpie.

And Maggie has a zero tolerance for visitor. Enraged and highly defensive, the little Kite would be no match for Maggies sustained attack.

There are no First Warnings!
We have a NO Visitors Policy
Not on MY tree you don’t
Ouch, That Hurt!
Pressing home its attack
Safely back on the Nest: We didn’t see it again for the afternoon
The Cavalry Arrives. But after several half-hearted swoops on the enraged Magpie, Dad gave up.

Saturday Evening Post #147: Introducing Interludes

I’ve been working on a personal project of late. Independent of any C19 lockdowns, just happens to coincide tonight.

Astute and long term reader that you are, you might have already picked up on a few of the vibes, every so often sections get added to the blog, and somethings just fade away due to lack of interest on the part of the scribe. has over the years changed, developed, and waned sometimes depending on my various activities.

Originally set up in the early 1990s it was by invitation only, to a blog that was part of the Apple Mac program, and I had a full .Mac account at the time. But, Apple, decided that running servers for people was not in their core business and it was terminated.   The blog at the time was not so much about birds, but formed part of visual poetry class I was involved with. Someone in the class challenged me about making bird images that demoed some of the visual poetry skills we were working on, and so birdsaspoetry was born. And lived again, mostly by invite on a Bigpond server.  Around the same time, the college I was teaching at introduced a programme for students to work on line with a ‘free’ service on the Edu-blog server. (Another WordPress imprint).
And I moved the blog to there and opened it up.  By then I was photographing at Woodlands Historic Park on pretty much a weekly, sometimes daily basis, and the blog was dominated by the comings and goings of the various birds out there, but, mostly as I settled in to understand the Red-capped Robin, and Scarlet Robin populations and the winter visits of the Rose and Flame and Pink Robins, and later the families of Eastern Yellow Robins that lived in the sugar gum area, the blog took on a much more intimate view into their lives.  Interludes.

But when we moved away in 2014, again all that changed and I began to report our various trips about.

However the new project is a bit of a mix of the past interludes and the challenges of our current on again off again local travels.

Interludes is in fact a personal book project I’ve been working on this year.

It is a picture book, a two page spread, much like the old photojournalism magazines.
Each double page will have as the planning proceeds 6-8 photos and little if any text, of the time we spend with a single bird, or family at a given time (interlude).
It is not a for sale book, simply a portfolio I’m assembling.  Not tonight to talk of the details of how its being assemebled, else I’ve having nothing to write about next week. 🙂

The triptych I revealed last week is a only a rough mock of the front page. Nothing is settled on the picture content.

So, where does the blog fit in.  Well, after all that waffling introduction, you probably saw the first of the connections when I put up, “On the Road Again” during the week.

I’m planning to bring each of the events over to the blog as an in-depth look at a bird, or family and the actions of that day.  Expect some closeups, some action, and a few birds on stick, or inflights.

In a way it revolves the blog back to its roots of the early Woodlands Robins series.

So expect to see short stories, with a number of related photos.
My challenge of course is to keep to the course. 🙂

In the meantime,

Lecky blanket: Check
Doona: Check
Door Locked: Check
Blinds wound down: Check
Welcome to The Fortress: The Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit.
Remain Safe,  Stay Positive—(but Covid Negative)
A Callout from a Fantail Cuckoo to all those in 14 day isolation. Thank You. You are doing us all Proud.

Interludes: “On The Road Again…”

Well then, time to don the old spotted ‘kerchief, pull down the weather beaten widebrimmed hat, tune up the ole guitar and climb aboard the VW Microbus for another round of Willie Nelson singin’  “On the Road Again”. Now Willie may not be my fav entertainer, but I do as an aside, get a bit lumpy of throat everytime I hear his “Blue eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.”
Wipes moisture off keyboard continues typing.

Yep.  She’s back on the Road.  Well, more particularly out and about in the field with camera at the ready.

A few more weeks, and the old EE will be back to full form I’d be thinking. Goodby to #Kneetoo it seems.

How many Australian Hobbies would you normally expect to see in a morning? Most of us would be hard to agree to One, and then think it lucky
Two?  Stretching it Mate.
Three? EE

Now for bonus points, how many of those Hobbies would be carefully ensconced in a tree happily feeding away on a recent take?
One, oh, ok, I’ll give you that.
Two? Well that is why you should turn up the music louder. She’s back on the road.  🙂

We were working on a couple of recently fledged Black-shouldered Kites, when the conversation changed to,
“I think a Hobby with a meal just landed in a tree back there.”

We look, well at least I did.  Dark in there, lots of thick branches and leaves.  Searching.
Click, click, click.  She’s spotted it.
And there was the Hobby with what was the remains of a House Sparrow.  Way up there, in among all that clutter.  Amazing.

Suitably  photographed, we left it to its devices and headed back to iAmGrey for a cuppa.

Midway through, the conversation changed.

“I think there is a second Hobby with a meal in that tree at the end of the roadway!”

Abandoning the warm Earl of Grey to its own devices, we move to the other side of the parking area.
Now this one wasn’t so hard, out in the open, on a branch, looking very uncomfortable trying to eat on a sloping branch.
Click, click.

Job done we relocated to a second pair of kites.  Another Interlude story for next time.

Just as EE got out of the iAmGrey, a Hobby flew pretty much head height over her. ”
Click Click. Click.

I can still hear the guitars, and,”The Life I love is making photos with my friend, I’m so glad that we’re back in the field again!!”

Young Black-shouldered Kites mock battle
Only recently fledgded, but already quite the adept aviator
Hobby Number One. Once under the tree, it was easier to see among the foliage
A fresh catch that needed cleaning up for table presentation
Hobby Number Two. A rather awkward perch to work on.
Hobby Number Two. Eventually moved to a more suitable branch in the open. 
However this was the home of a pair of Willie Wagtails, and visitors were not welcome.
There is only so much harasssment it could take. FInished the meal, and time to leave.
Young Black-shouldered Kite. It seems this clutch flew two young.
They have been moved a few hundred metres from the nesting area. Perhaps the food is better on that side of the highway.