Saturday Evening Post #83 :Nothing in Art must look Accidental

Many years ago, a lifetime in cat years in-fact, I was visiting a friend who invited me to view a portfolio of photographic prints that he had been given.

“What do you think?” he asked.

When I look at someone else’s work, I like to take the time to ‘live’ with the images. To let the visuals ‘ooze’ down into me and see them with the intent of the maker.
Now these were substantial prints. The smallest would have been about 20×24″ (50x65cm).

So I began to turn them over. After three or four of them, I was struck with the singular feeling from each one.
They were all landscapes, and more ‘Land” than “Scape”.  Small details of rock, or tree, branch or pool, edge or small surface.
Let it be known, I’m a minimalist at the best of times, and such an approach to line, form, shape, tone, pattern are a preferred photo hunting ground from me.

Yet, as I continued to turn the prints over, it became clear to me, that what I was looking at were, if nothing else, simply technical exercises. No intent to involve the viewer. Just segments of something.

“So?” I was asked.

Taking a deep breath, I said, “I think there is very little of the maker to be seen in any of these shots.”  “Most are a jumble of visual elements that don’t hold in a cohesive way, allowing me as a viewer to be part of the experience.” “I can’t determine how the maker felt, did they like or dislike the scene, was it a happy time or a strain.”  “The maker certainly has put a lot of time into the making, and I’m not sure if they made the prints or had a lab produce them, so it is quite a time and monetary investment, but I’m struggling for the ‘Why”.

Freeman Patterson, once said at a seminar, “Nobody can ever hide behind the camera. Accept the fact that when you make a picture you are revealing a little about yourself. For us most subjects have a symbolic importance.”
And I guess that is what I missed in the portfolio, the symbolic importance.

I’ve worked a range of genre over the years.  Even spent a week as a horse photographer. But I moved on from that quickly when I discovered how smart horses are.

I also worked for awhile photographing classic cars for car-mags.  Having an inherent interest in the subject, I found that it was much more than a technical exercise of showing off the car, or the working parts.  Classics are put together, sometimes over many years by enthusiasts, and I enjoyed being able to find those special little touches the maker had put into the vehicle, and bringing those for others to share and delight in.

Content and style need to work together to covey feelings and ideas for the viewer to experience.

I really enjoy exploring buildings. Not so much the whole structure, but the little touches that either the builder, architect, or owner has put in to say, “This is what I enjoy”

Where-ever I’ve travelled, both in Australia, and overseas, looking for those little moments of bouncing light, or delicate colours or interesting arrangements of elements, that stimulates me to bring the camera to my eye and frame an extension of the makers original vision.

One of my fav lenses for this sort of work is a 70-200mm zoom. The narrower angle forces me to be very specific and include only the absolute essentials.  I’ve often thought that if I had to only have one lens on a desert island, then the 70-200 would be my first choice.  Second would be a wonderful old 105mm macro – a manual focus lens.

While our group was doing the tourist thing a little while back BCV (Before Corona Virus), I took off to walk the side streets and enjoy the smorgasbord of shapes, colours and styles that the owners had on show.

“Nothing in Art must look Accidental” Edgar Degas

 

Little Visits: Grey on Grey

After about a week of really sunny pleasant weather to celebrate our release from restrictions, we were planning a Little Visit to Eynesbury Grey Box Forest.

And

As it turned out, so the weather turned.  So I pulled on my best grey jacket, and we set out under a grey, ashen, sky hoping that the sun might break through a little.

But

When we arrived at the forest, the weather had ‘lowered’ even further, and any chance of well lit photos had disappeared.  However we wanted to look to see if the Flame Robins were in good numbers and set off like adventurers along one of the maintained tracks.

It has been said, either kindly or unkindly, that I have Grey Box sap flowing in my veins.  There is something very soothing to me about stepping off the track and merging into the forest.  The grey might seem bland to some, but there are so many tones, so many rich shapes and such beautiful trees and that I find it a visually exciting environment.

One of the masters of the forest area at Eynesbury is Jacky Winter.

I find myself enamoured with these delightful little birds that seem both so well adapted and so well suited to the Grey Box area.  They don’t come in a wide range of flashy colours, they are somewhat small and inconspicuous, but they always to make the forest dance and sing when we come across them. Perhaps its their ‘tail wag’ with the leadining white edges of the tail flashing their presence.

We were fortunate enough to locate five pairs during the morning.

Perhaps the most interesting were a pair that had located quite a large grub and it took both of them to subdue it.  Once they had eaten it they were off to a tree for a rest for the awhile.

Enjoy

Brown Treecreeper
Not a resident of Eynesbury but a regular visitor. Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Saturday Evening Post #82: The Encounter

It’s interesting how as photographers we keep striving to make improvements to our vision or style. Finding a better way to approach a subject, explore new lighting options, wrestle with buying that ‘new’ lens that will give us a ‘better’ pictures or that new piece of software that will ‘uncover the hidden photograph in your collection’.

Many lightyears ago, in the days of filum, I was a member of a group of working photographers that would get together on an ad-hoc basis every other month or so, and generally we’d meet in a cafe in Lygon Street Fitzroy for a late Friday lunch, well it was a lunch that went late. Sometimes we’d bring along prints or tear-sheets for discussion. The last few times I remember taking the old iPad with a few pictures of recent making.

One of the house rules was it was a discussion on all things photography, from technique, to style, to equipment, processes, other people’s work, and future opportunities. Sometimes it was a bit like a parliamentary debate, other times more like a inspirational speakers session. Just depended on how much ‘red-ned’ was consumed during the course of the afternoon.

But one question, we all had to have an answer to was “Whatchabeendoin” What new image, vision, exploration or direction we had each been travelling in.

One of the group was oft to quote a verse from St. Matthew 6  “Behold, the birds of the air…. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin”
Gotta love that 1611 King Jimmie English.  “Behold”.  Not just make a glancing look or a peek, but drum roll, Behold!

He’d almost always bring it up when someone was lamenting the slow down of business, the ungratefulness of clients, or the problems of marketing a new product. His point was always the same, well, at least as I remember.
Bird’s don’t go to another lecture, another seminar on how to find clients for their song, they just sing. No bird has ever had to attend a month long session with a personal trainer on the benefits of correct nest building. No bird looks at its current situation and laments not having this or that opportunity to expand its business. They just do bird things.

No flower sits worrying about should it move overseas for a better market, change its colour or its style to match the ‘current trend’, nor does a flower seek out a self-help guru to improve its image.  They just continue to make the world a brighter place to live.

It is as Mike Johnson over on TOPS says, “Viewing an expressive photograph has the potential to be an occasion”
Most people see art as a static event. You go to a gallery, the sculpture is the same week in week out, the painting remains inert, the basket-weaving or quilted piece in unchanging. Ready to be reviewed, but never “Beheld”.

Yet as Mike goes on to explain, “It can also be an encounter. The potential to be an event in the viewer’s life”
We are so bombarded these days with visuals, sometimes very graphic visuals, that it all becomes a bit old hat.
Yet for someone who works behind the camera, takes the time to work through post-processing and ponders over the variations on a theme from a photoshot, the occasion of showing a finished piece is a gifting and the viewer’s response is part of that. It is an Encounter.

 

 

Moments: The Little Warrior

This series was shot a couple of years back.
EE and I had been working with a pair of Black-shouldered Kites for over a year, and they had managed two successful nestings.

The nest was at the very top of a small pine tree inside a farm paddock, the birds would often fly out over the roadway where we were parked.

Just about fledging time a troupe of Black Kites moved into the area and took great interest in the young ones sitting high-up out in the open.  This resulted in some great aerial battles by Mum and Dad, yet the Blacks persisted in coming back and getting closer.
Of the three young in the nest, one was obviously a few days ahead of its siblings, and while not a great aeronaut yet, it could fly well enough to look after itself.

On this morning the Black Kites were even more intense on their attack, and swooped right over the remaining nestlings.

Mum and Dad flew frantic missions to see them off, but were not having much success.
It must have gotten all to much for the Little Warrior, as it burst out of the trees and joined in the foray.  Dad then had a new problem, and that was to hunt the young one away from the far more skillful Black Kites.

However the young warrior was not having a bar of that and continued to press attacks against the larger birds. What the big birds thought of it would have been interesting.  But it tired quickly, and needed to drop down on to the tree for a rest, followed very closely by one aggressive Black Kite. Fortunately nothing came of the attack, and the bigger birds became bored and like teenagers in a shopping mall, moved on to see what else they could find.

Dad flew out and caught a mouse, and quickly returned to reward his Little Warrior.

Black Kite over the nest.
Leave my family alone.
The big birds would not take NO for an answer.
Dad doing his best to keep the young one away from the bigger birds
Swinging in past Dad, and heading for an attack
Well if noise was enough to intimidate the Blacks, the young one certainly gave its best shot.
Defending upside down and Dad watches for other danger.
After a few minutes in the air, the young Warrior needed a rest, but the big birds did not stop their pursuit.
As a reward Dad arrived with a nice fresh snack to reward his Little Warrior.

Saturday Evening Post #81 : On Stranger Tides

“In the rush to return to normal,
use this time to consider
which parts of normal
are worth rushing back to.” – Dave Hollis

Greetings from, The Doona Hermit Headquarters.

Title is a take from a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. (Tells you I’ve had little to do with my Lock-Down time;-) )

We all sit twiddling our self-isolated thumbs awaiting our fate. 
Mind, just as well today, as we literally have had about 10 seasons in the one day.  I walked early, and got wet, then the sun came out. Then it rained. And, as I write, the rain is pelting down on the patio, looks more like small hail as it scatters over the tiles. It must be bad, as Tai Chi pigeon, and friend, are sitting under the patio table to keep out of the wind and the rain.  EE and I often measure the severity of the weather by how many doves fit under the table.  “Oh, it’s a real three pigeon-under-the-table storm out there.” etc.

I have, it seems just about run out of current photos for sharing. I’m sure someone is going to say, “If I see another Black-shouldered Kite with mouse shot…”

In a bid of desperation, and to find something to do, I went on-line and purchased a new iPad Air the other week. My old, old, old, version 1 model 1 iPad hasn’t been able to keep up with the technology changes for several years, and I had sort of retired it to reading magazines, books and checking the weather.
I remember well the day, as I proudly opened the package, when it first arrived. 
I’d ordered one as soon as they were announced way back in 2010, BCV   (Before Corona Virus)
Mind, I had been sold on the idea since a keynote speech Steve Jobs had delivered nearly 10 years before, saying, :

What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … and we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.” 

You’d have loved to have had the frequent flyer points my little iPad racked up.  EE used it for client presentations to magazine editors, I even wrote a few articles with it, I used it to teach at Box Hill TAFE for awhile, and it even at one stage using an app called ImageSmith, talked to the Lightroom database to access images. But, technology moved on, and without the bells and bluetooth whistles, it will now be another paperweight on an already crowded desk.
I started this blog on the new Air, and then moved back to the desktop to retrieve the Falcon shot. Haven’t had time to set it all up to sync properly yet.  More to do.

A few exciting reports have come in from people who’ve had good views of Flame and Scarlet Robins in various places, so it might be that the bush birds have indeed had a good summer breeding session and we might have some opportunities soon to get to know them.  The fine wet weather will have enriched the favoured moss beds which should be in good condition and well stocked with food I expect. Also prolific this year seems to be a small salt-bush that has rich red berries.   The insects feeding on the carotene laden fruit will no doubt provide plenty of bright red feather material for the robins.

So, we wait for what shall indeed seem “Stranger Tides”, to take us back into the field.

Here is one of the last views we had of the young Brown Falcon from Cassia-of Cinnamon’s clutch.
It had been sitting on the fence in the open, and flew up the fenceline among the surrounding bracken, to find a thermal that was rising from an open sandy area.—I don’t think it was an accidental discovery, I’m sure it knew exactly where the air was rising.

It swung round, picked up speed and gradually began to rise. 

This might look like a tight hardworking turn, but in reality its probably not using any energy at all, as the thermal is doing all the work over the wings.
I waited until it made the circle, and then turned in my direction, I wanted the sunlight running over the face and the body, and it straightened out just a little at the right moment.
It gained height very quickly and then sailed away across the paddock to disappear in the distance.

Time will tell if it is still hunting in the area.

I hope you’ve all been safe over the past few weeks. Also hope that the time has given you a chance to refuel the creative batteries and as D Hollis suggests, are ready to ‘rush back to things worthwhile.’

Remain

One of Scomo’s Donna Hermits.

For the technically ept, this was shot on the D500 with the Auto-Area autofocus selected. Canon—Automatic AF Point Selection. It’s the “point and shoot” mode really.  Mostly ignored by those of us with scorn for such things automatic.
I’d been messing with the setting a few times the past few trips, and find that it can indeed pick out an inflight bird against the sky first time, everytime.  Not so hot among the scrub and trees, but, I was working on that.

 

 

 

Saturday Evening Post #80: We Bounce

Greetings all my Fellow Scomo Doona Hermits!

Been cold, wet and utterly miserable weather here today, and probably has has some impact on my approach to life in general. Too cold to go out, and no where to go anyway. 🙂

“We Bounce”, is a term, that a mentor, David DuChemin coined after an accident sidelined him for 18 months or so back in 2011.
He was leading photo-tour in Italy, and was standing on a 12m high wall explaining the variations of light, form, tone, texture, viewpoint, lens selection and vision, when he misplaced a foot, and fell to the bottom of the wall. Legs, ankles and pelvis were broken, and required much surgery to repair, and even more to get right. As David tells, he was fortunate; as three or four people had fallen from the same wall the previous year, and all had died.

A year on, and he was able to walk, mostly with the aid of a cane. “The human spirit is a remarkable force,” he says.

We can’t all have perfect health, perfect bodies, perfect lives, and perfect photos… But we can chose to endure, to perservere, to take the courage to keep going, to sleep off the venom, (a reference to Honeybadgers—part of his post) to Bounce Back.

And, when bouncing isn’t enough, as David remarks, the truly blessed also have friends. And he then goes on to give thanks for all those who followed his trials that year.

So, this, is a post to say, “Thanks, Thank you to all who’ve been following along the ramblings of a Saturday evening, when we both could be wasting time watching tv, or out and about with family and friends.”
“Thank You, to all those who have tirelessly worked to bring us some stability in the dreadful condition we find ourselves embroilled, so many risking so much for so many.”

“Thank you” to our governement leaders for their forthright and determined decisions that have given us a glimmer of hope for some relief.  I only have to look at the world sats to see how fortunate we have been. Tough, yes, but we’ll Bounce Back.
It turned my head to realise that the United States now have lost more people in three months than battle casualites during the Vietnam Conflict. (58,220  1964-1975)

One good thing from being at home is that many tutors, trainers and artists have setup online access to some of their materials.
I’ve mentioned Jon Young and his “What the Robin Knows”, book before, and he has an hour or so long seminar Discover the Hidden World of the Animal Through Bird Language. In the webinar, Jon, Kristi, and Dan shared some truly fun stories and tips today that can help you tune into Nature through the voices of the birds.  It was 5:00am here, but a replay is much more convenient.
PS, its long and rambling as these sort of discussions are, so make sure you’ve a cup of the Earl’s finest, or whatever takes your fancy, if you settle to watch it. But the Nuggets fall quickly and are worth searching out.

You can view the webinar replay here.

And my  Wordpress Friend, Ashley, over at Aussiebirder.com, his blog is here
Ashley has just published a new Edition of his book What Birds Teach Us   so good luck with the publication.

For over six months, we had the opportunity to work with a single Grey Butcherbird, it has become quite confident at our presence. Now, I know that anyone who has Butcherbirds in their local patch will find that pretty ordinary, as Butcherbirds quickly assimilate.
However the last few sessions we had, Butch came out into our area on its own accord.  The featured two shots, are a result of the bird flying directly over my shoulder. Close encounter.
Had to do vertical, as I couldn’t fit it all in on horizontal. Just about full frame. Close.
Jon talks about such encounters as   Connection, Not Conflict     As awareness grows, so appreciation grows, so, empathy grows.

We bounce, but its usually a matter of choice, in life, in art, in photography.

Keep takin’ pictures, we do.

 

Remain

 

Davyyd.

Studio Werkz: A Step back in Time

For those new readers, Studio Werkz, was the proposed name of a ‘Studio Alliance”, by a group of photographers ever-so-long ago. I’ve blogged here about the formation and dissolution, (all in 24hours), so won’t belabour here.

However everytime I get the chance to make a portrait of a bird, I find myself pondering why studio offers so many opportunities to bring out the character of the subject.

It is about lighting, it is about backdrop and it is about the magic moment when the subject no longer is “having a portrait taken”, but allows an insight into their life. A sparkle in the eye, a wry grin, leaning forward, turning the body everso slightly, and there is the magic moment.

It’s like as one of my early mentors would say, “Like eavesdropping on a special moment. Developing a real sensitivity for a feeling that says so much. The lens, the camera, the lighting all are forgotten, it is the reaction that speaks visually.”

On my very first ever trip to the Western Treatment Plant many years back, I’d been travelling about the Plant with a very experienced birdo who graciously gave me a wonderful introduction to the area—so much so that I registered for access the following morning.

However, I hadn’t managed to achieve any significant pictures during our day, as we had little time to work with the birds.

After I picked up my car and was driving along 29 Mile Road on the way home, I spied this Brown Falcon sitting on the post in the late evening sunshine. Hesitantly I parked, and eased out of the vehicle, 500mm lens and beanbag.
Would Brown stay?

Now the falcons in the area are pretty used to vehicles speeding past, or even stopping, and have at least a passing tolerance for the human condition. Although what they really think of us is debatable.  Three things they they do give credit for, are lovely well spaced perching spaces, mice and rabbits.

Brown held.

And so I began to move about to get the best light, angle, and backdrop.  And for a brief moment it took me all in.
That was the going home shot.

Not more than a minute later, a vehicle approached and Brown felt the pressure and sniffing a light breeze turned and was gone.

Enjoy

Remain

Davyyd.

One of my most published bird photos

Saturday Evening Post #79: A Day, Like No Other

Today is ANZAC Day, 2020.  Normally, at least, there would be assemblies of people around the country, honouring the memory of our fallen defense forces.

A dawn service at 6:00am is a tradition that came to the day because of its military heritage. Not unusual for whole families, grandies to grandkids, and great greats, to be gathered together in the quiet of pre-dawn.  One day a year. The clink of medals well earned, the comrades in arms catching up a few ‘hellos’ in hushed words.  The ringing of Laurence Binyon’s immortal words. “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.”

Then the trumpet call to “Reveille” and “The Last Post”. A minute of Silence.

Next, in most locations a march through the city of those that remain. More greetings, more community gatherings and more shared stories.
Twoup games, and Football.

This year, we found ourselves at the end of the driveway, in the cool of the morning, candles, and lights along the street, people hushed and reverent, and the Last Post rolling down the street from various sound systems.

I like first light. Some might be wary of it, but to me it has always been a comforting, protective time. Enveloped in the darkness, I watch as the first glimmers of light rolls up the day.

A new phase.  Deng Ming-Tao, writes, “As we enter a new phase of our lives, the parameters change. We need to revamp ourselves according to our situations. The continuing act of creativity keeps us going.
Learning is the fountain of youth,
No matter how old you are,
You mustn’t stop growing.”

I’d picked this image to follow the one of Mr. Mighty last week. I wonder if you picked why?

It’s a visual thing.  The branch this lass is perched on, is the same one Mr. Mighty was made on last week.

I think she might be the matriarch of the travelling party that season.  It’s only anecdotal, but it seems to me that a female kept the group focused and moving.  A few calls from her and the main group would move on to the next location. The males play little part in it, as they are quiet until its time to return back to the high country and take up summer territories.

The year I took this, (2011), she was looking after a flock of around 15-20. 4 males, 5-6 females and 10 or so young birds, in various stages of moulting into their new dress.

To all my fellow stay-at-homers, I hope all is well, you’re still creative, and still finding new ways of learning and acting.

Remain

 

Davyyd

Saturday Evening Post #78 : Brightening up a Cold Dreary Day

I first met this bird and his good lady, while I was working the Backpaddock at Woodlands Historic Park.
In those days I’d often bump into a birding friend, Ray, somewhere along the track.
Ray had been walking the Woodlands area for quite a number of years and knew just about every honeyeater spot, robin territory, Brown Falcon feeding area, and eagle’s lair over the park. I used to think that a White-throated Treecreeper announced his presence in the area.
He graciously shared his wide knowledge of the park, and most of what I knew about the various robins at Woodlands was handed to me by Ray.

We would occasionally catch up at the gate entrance to the enclosed Backpaddock—this is in the days before it became the infamous “Bandicoot Hilton”— and its usefulness to the birds waned; what I learned from that is that is if you mess with one part of the ecology to satisfy one species, don’t be surprised if things go out of kilter elsewhere.

As we stood near the little map shelter talking, Mr. Mighty would come and sit on one of the close branches, and listen so it seemed, to our discussions.  He would turn his head, fly closer, walk along a branch to get nearer and occasionally add a cheery, “drrrt, drrrt, drrrt”, call to the conversation.

His territory extended from near the gateway some 50-60 metres into the open Grey Box forest beyond. It was not unusual to sit on a log in the area and within a few minutes Mr. Mighty would drop by for a visit. So over several good seasons I managed some interesting moments with him, and the good lady, and their offspring. It wasn’t unusual for her to build 3-5 nest sites and pretend to be working on them all, mostly I guess to kept predatory ravens, magpies and cuckoo-shrikes confused.
She would, however, lose several nestings to these relentless marauders. Perhaps as many as 5 clutches would be started, but only one or possibly two would be successful.

Those who go back to the days of Bird Observers and Conservation Australia, (BOCA) might remember seeing this shot as the penultimate cover of Bird Observer (Aug 2011, No. 870) the quarterly magazine of BOCA just before the merger to form BIrdLife Australia.

During the past week, I’ve been rebuilding my photo database and among other surprises managed to find a folio of Mr. Mighty.  Put a smile on my face.

Enjoy

Remain

Davyyd.

Mr. Mighty
The little white facial cheek feather is the best id marker. (Apart from his confiding nature) When this was published, it was reversed,

Little Visits: The Earmuff Tern

Around November-December, a flock of Terns visits the Western Treatment Plant and stays over a few months, begin to colour up for breeding, before heading northwards for their territories somewhere in Eurasia.

One of their most endearing markings is a bar of black feathers across the back of the neck, that looks like Earmuffs.

They used to be called “White-winged Black Terns”. Useful name, as when coloured up for breeding they have jet black bodies and white wings.  Simples.
Not so for the namers of names, now they are called, much more usefully, you’d agree, “White-winged Tern”.

The numbers have been consistent over the few years I’ve been following them, and 30-40 birds are not unusual. They are a little smaller than Whiskered Terns, and they do seem to flock with their similarly usefully-named cousins. The WTP is some 10,000 hectares, so trying to locate 30 or so birds can be the needle-in-the-haystack kind of proposition, but as they mostly favour the ponds nearer the beach areas, the challenge is reduced at least a bit.

This year for some reason, the numbers were down, and it was obvious that we weren’t going to see the range of colouring occuring as in past years.  Then to make the job, “Roll down the Shutters, and turn off the Lights”, the WTP was closed for visitors when the ‘Until Further Notice” notice was added to the gates and the locks changed.  Got the message.

We did manage a couple of days with good light, a day or two with not so good light, and an evening that progressively became unworkable, so I’ve not been able to add substantially to the world’s collection of photos of the “Earmuff Tern”.

Enjoy

Remain

Davyyd.

Saturday Evening Post #77 : The Hound, the Horse and the Turtle Dove

“Hey, I was thinking about you last night!”

Steve is the barista at the nearby coffee shop, “The Global Local”.  Steve and Zoe have managed to keep their business going, but have had to layoff staff.  EE and I have made their coffee an essential part of our essential grocery shopping forays- it is essential for a number of reasons. Steve is also a pastry chef and some of his pies, muffins, banana bread and my fav a Rhubarb and Apple tart— Gluten Free of course—can turn a good morning into a great morning.

“So,” I asked, “What bought that on?”

“I was watching Chicken Run on the tv last night and thought of you trying to sneak out of the village to drop by for a coffee.”  “Have you thought about building an aeroplane?”

It’s stuff like that which builds up a feeling of community, even if in a small way.  In a similar fashion EE and I have been sticking close to the local shops and helping to keep them running.  Small it might be, but hopefully, we are as they say, “all in it together”.

The Global Local has been a regular weekend midmorning meeting place for a number of our village friends, and it would not be unusual for about a dozen or so to be enjoying, the food, the drink, and the camaraderie of joyful conversation.

So while we all do our doona-hermit thing, there are little glimpses of a life beyond the reality of the moment.

Sitting alone, sipping Steve’s best Cappuccino, I turned to another distraction.  Henry Thoreau’s account of two years living at Walden Pond, Walden

I suspect that many of the baby boomers at one time or another read or at least glanced through the book. In my notebook I came across a quote on his work, ““Walden, after all, is a kind of how-to guide, a self-help book for aspiring eremites”, I am regrettably not to sure of the source.

I also suspect that for most readers, his aspiration, he was after all one the early ‘transcendentalists” , hard line would be too much to pursue for a long time. (although, truth be told, I do/did know of a number over the years that threw an attempt at it.) And I also suspect that re-reading it over the years that only the ‘highlights’ were taken on board, and the more difficult thoughts were either misunderstood or ignored, again I speak from experience. 🙂

One quote that was underlined early in my copy is this quote:

I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail. Many are the travelers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to. I have met one or two who have heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

A mystical, if not metaphorical account. It seems our hounds, horses and doves have indeed flown for the moment. There is talk of what it will take to bring our world back.  Perhaps Thoreau was right, we are not the only ones searching for what seems to be lost.

Don’t blame Steve, or his coffee, I managed this all by myself on  a cold blustery day.

Good luck to all my fellow doona-hermits and may peace come on healing wings.

 

 

 

 

There is always another person to share the music with.

Ok, I agree, this has little to do with birds or the like.
But over on The Online Photographer, Mike Johnson brought this to my attention.
Its over a year old, but the philosophy behind the production is even more relevant to the challenges we presently face.

Having loved the song for ever, it was quite moving to see and hear the world-wide montage of various artists all bringing their special feel to the song.
By the way, it also changed my mind about how good a artist Ringo Starr really is.

And as a added bonus, Bob Marley’s house makes a cameo appearance toward the end.

Also in case you missed it. Robbie Robertson wrote the song.

 

 

For bonus points, have a search for the Making of The Weight.

Making the Weight Part 1

Making The Weight Part 2

Hope it puts a humm in your day.

Thanks to Playing for Change for bringing it all together.

Remain

Davyyd.

 

 

 

The Fine Art of Feeding

Over the past few weeks I’ve managed to collect a few Black-shouldered Kite feeding routines.

It always involves the male of the pair doing the hunting. Often times the female will fly out meet him and take it from him in the air.

It seems to me there are at least three techniques used by the birds.

1. Scary:  He hangs motionless in the air with the mouse presented on an extended foot.  She sweeps in at a great speed, flips upside down, claws out, and takes the mouse. The stress on his leg must be quite large as this a non-stop movement.
2. Dainty:  Again he hangs midair, she lines up from underneath and plucks the mouse with her beak.  She is practically motionless at the point of contact.
3.  Easy, but under pressure.  This is always a branch transfer. The main reason I think is that it might be easier on the male, but most times its because of prying eyes circling about to see what chance they have of taking off with a free lunch. Usually once it has been transferred she will sit mantling the food until she feels safe to deal with it.

When the young are very small, Mum will prepare the food, and then go to the nest and feed small pieces to each of the youngsters.  As they grow, she delivers, but they feed, and before fledgling Dad will deliver straight to the nest. The young will share the meal.

Once they are on the wing, some feeding takes place on the nest, and as they grow more confident in the air, the male will hang the mouse down and give the young a chance to hone their flying skills.  It has to be said that a hungry young one is more enthusiasm than skill, but that improves rapidly. In the end they can gracefully take it from his dangling claw.

So let’s illustrate some of those techniques.

Lining up for an approach

All systems Go!

Precision

And away

 

Another mid-air claw to beak transfer.

Transfering from a branch. She has rushed in and nearly knocks him from the branch.

The female, mantling over a mouse as a squadron of Black Kites waits for an opportunity to help themselves.

With no flight skills to speak of this is not going to go well for the young one.

Juvenile, “Hold still Dad, I’ve got it.”

Missed by… That much…

Turning back for a second run

You can’t fly through Dad to get to the mouse

All wings, legs and loud voice, but the angle of attack is all wrong

Sailing past, but no mouse.

Monday Morning Musing: Surprise!

Funny how somethings just catch up on you, when you least it expect it.

A few days ago, I’d left the Black-shouldered Kite nesting area with a few shots of the two just-fledged juveniles sitting on top of a tree.  Also had the feeling that it would be the last we’d see of them due to the travel restrictions and the like that were about to settle in.

However as  EE had not been out for the week, I had need to do both grocery shopping and also we were both in need of some well earned ‘exercise’, and we decided to combine both activities into the one trip.

We thought the local park to crowded and restricted, so to relieve the pressure on that location we motored on a little further.
I must admit to feeling much more secure in the middle of a 40 acre paddock than pushing a shopping trolley around a bustling supermarket.
No one at the carpark on our arrival, so we set off through the scrub.

Well, fancy that. What a surprise; we were in the area of the nesting Black-shouldered Kites.  🙂

What was even more astounding, and taking tongue-out-of-cheek for a few seconds, was that there sitting in the tree together, enjoying the morning sunshine, was not two juveniles, but three!

The one on the left in this shot, seems much darker and richer brown, so I suspect it is a couple of days behind the others, as they have already begun to lose some of that lovely ginger colour.

So clever mum had not only survived all the heavy rain, hail, strong winds and cold snap, but had hatched three young ones for her trouble.
We waited a few minutes before moving on, and one of the older ones took to the air.  Bonus.

It made our journey home a much more enjoyable time, and I quickly dashed through the Woolies lines—that’s why I pick Woolies.  🙂
and we were home in isolation in no time.

I recently came across, a link to the benefits of “Forest Bathing”, shinrin-yoku (Japanese) 

Here’s a quote:

This is not  hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge.
By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

And if someone should challenge you here is a detailed scientific study on the benefits to the body.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/

Jon Young’s “Sit Spot”, is another example of such a practice.

I am not disputing the Government’s current stance, as firm action is needed, but a touch of wonderful chlorophyl generated good-will makes the heart sing.

A proverb I read somewhere said, “A merry heart does good like a medicine”.

May your time of isolation bring you harmony and the opportunity to enjoy the small things in your around.

Remain

Davyyd

The wonderful rich ginger colours will fade so quickly, but so good to see them on the wing.

Hard to pick from a single image but this one is practicing hovering.

Tricky stuff for the over enthusiastic but clumsy flying young one. In the end, dad took the mouse back to the nest for safe and easier transfer.