3rd July 2016, and I’ve activated the Theme Affinity.
It gives a super large bird pic on the top of the page, and as they say in marketing. “If you can’t do it good, do it BIG”.
And each of the header images for each new post, will become the same size header image if you click on that page to read the full story.
I’ll also be adding … read more…. to transfer you to the full-page …more often.
Three weeks of Blogging 101 and it time to bid farewell to learning and launch out the barque of blogging on my own.
Have learned a thing or three about the blogging universe, but not sure a lot of it transposes into the page here.
We did “S-tra-ya” day, Mahhte (Australia Day to the uninitiated), yesterday. Instead of the usual burnt snags and fatty chops we had a spit-roast sitdown meal at the Villiage centre. And among other things were entertained by Susie and Mel. These bush poets and songsters took us on a tour-de-force (french on Aussie day mahhhte? )
They have a wonderful way of combining the old of the Banjo, Henry Lawson, The Breaker and other with modern music. Imagine, (if you will), The Man from Snowy River, sung to Morning Town Ride, or Waltzing Matilda, to Ghost Riders in the Sky, And then to top it all off an audience participation number of The Man from Ironbark, with several of the village doing the miming parts of said Man and Barber.
Hilarious. Rolling on the floor funny, and brought the house down, – as they say.
Somehow in this modern rush of life, their way of life and the stories they told are at best no longer relevant. Hard to talk of stock and dry paddocks, and horses and whip cracking to someone glued to their mobile fone, trying to get GPS directions or upload their latest ‘selfie’, or what is the latest You-tube viral nothingness. But, of course I digress.
Another thing that came to me about all this is that they didn’t deal with the deep emotional stuff. There is no connection here like T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land. Nor the cutting insight of Dylan Thomas, nor… and the list goes on. Nor the fine interaction of the universe, sunlight and shadow of the classic Taoist poets. And the old Hebrew rhymers who gave birth to such inspirational works that whole religions grew from them.
Yet. The Bards of the Bush give us an insight into the life and times of a generation or two who lay the foundation of S-tra-ya as it is in its multi-cultural kaleidoscope. And, well, I could go on, but its a photo blog isn’t it.
The Banjo it seems wrote little of the birds of Australia. Much of the human condition as he found it. So I’m going to take a bit of poetic licence with his and other works over the next few weeks. Never know where it will go.
Now when it comes to Bush. Nothing quite says it like Brown Falcon.
These amazing birds so bronzed and upright. Here’s one of the young from the Office. That rich colour of deep brown and brilliant tan are always a winning combination.
Been away for the bulk of this past week. Up at the Family Acres. We stayed at the Murray Downs Resort in Swan Hill. Really nice and quiet, and just a few km out of town.
Like all good resorts, probably enough to do without having to make the tourist mecca trip. And a lovely golfcourse built in.
But, of course not being the sporty type, golf doesn’t mean, clubs, balls and keeping score. It means wide open green areas, water, trees, bushes and … birds.
So each morning we managed to be up at Sparrows call, and walk around the course, before the golfers began their pilgrimages.
In return we got to see among other things, White-winged Choughs, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Pied Butcherbirds and a host of the usual suspects.
With the Goschen Roadside Reserve about 20 minutes away, it should have been a great birding week.
So photography was banned. Well at least frowned on. So I snuck into the deep pockets of my Breakaway jacket, a D810, sans its L Bracket, and in the other pocket, the 300mm f/4 PF with a 1.4 TC attached. Not much help for general photography but at least it covered some of the birds at the golf course.
The White-winged Choughs have adapted quite well, thank you, to the rolling sand hills, saltbush and thin mallee scrub, nestled between the sweeping grassy greens of the golf course. Able to enjoy both the richness of their old habitat and the pleasures of the new.
I managed to spend two sessions, a mid morning, and a late evening with a couple of the families. They are so used to people zooming past in carts, or walking by with bags and clubs that a dude walking quietly with a camera seemed quite harmless. So within a few minutes I was accepted into the family, and they worked around me nonchalantly. Even the ever present “Lookout” bird relaxed enough for closeups.
Blogging 101 was also concentrating on the family of bloggers.
But a lot of it was about branding, id, making themes that people will follow, or seek out and developing a feature to enrich readership, as my eyes glaze over….
So I came to the conclusion “Family Matters”. Those who graciously have clicked the Follow button or come over from another link are welcome here as family, and the time shared is as much important to me as the enjoyment of the birds.
So there is not going to be a ‘sustainable purely personal blog of random musings benefitting from a hint of structure.. ” here anytime in the foreseeable future.
Just me sharing our best time with the birds and hoping you enjoy it as much.
New week, and I’m away from home for the week. Travelled up to the family acres. This is an exercise of sitting in a fast moving car and waiting while the miles, (kilometres) roll by. Long straight roads with not much else to see but the road, and the horizon, and the blue sky. Didn’t we already pass that 105 km post?
And today’s Blogging exercise is to find a prompt (Bloggsville provides them), and so we come to Now you see me, now you Don’t. Thought it was appropriate for being on the road again.
Stopped as is our want at The Eaglehawk Bakery to enjoy a “Mulga Bill’s” Pie for lunch. One thing I guess that has changed a bit over .the past twelve months or so it that I’ve had to reduce my diet from pies, and all those lovely carbs, and concentrate on ‘healthy’ food. But, hey its a long road to the family acres and a pie is just the right thing. Also picked up a Banana milkshake. This is starting to sound like a Facebook foodaholic journal.
The days before we left, we were watching a pair of White-plumed Honeyeaters. This clever pair had built a nest among the leaves over the river.
It’s funny as I’ve written to this before, just recently, about now you see me now you don’t. While EE was busy working with a Wagtail pair, (and I stay away as it doesn’t need two humans in their space), I was watching a White-plumed Honeyeaters. Something about the extra intensity of their actions said, “They have a nest somewhere.” And while I looked here, and there and over there too, no sign did I see of their location. The following day had us at the same spot, and this time I moved about 50m down the river. Again time passed. The Honeyeaters passed and the mystery deepened, Finally I got a glimpse of them moving back and forth from a branch stretching over the river and it was even more obvious that is where they were working. And down at the end of some leaves over the water, tightly fitted in among the reeds was their deliciously wound, spider web and grass globe. But so far out over the water as to be very safe from most prying eyes. And being in the leaves, it was really impossible to get a good view.
So, I waited. And as the pair moved back and forth with food, I was able to get at least a look at the opening and occasionally as it all swung back and forth in the breeze a glimpse of little heads inside.
Then the mystery deepened, or more accurately my observations became more detailed. She had sited the nest opening in such a way that a leaf was being used as a ‘trapdoor’ to conceal the opening.
Here was a bird with a super sense of security. The older leaf lay perfectly over the nest opening and made it almost impossible to see that there was a nest down there.
Then she would fly in, push the leaf to one side, feed the young, and then on leaving she would pick the leaf up and place it back over the hole! If both birds arrived at about the same time, the last one leaving would cover over the nest.
Now you see me. Now you don’t. How appropriate.
Several days later the first of the brood had clambered out of the nest and was clinging tightly to the top of the nest. And while we were watching a second one also made its first tentative ventures out of the nest.
By the time we get back, they will be well on the wing.
The assignement is to add links to blogs I follow. To be blunt, I never thought of that before! So, it opens up who I have been following and what blogs I enjoy. So now instead of reducing the stuff on the Sidebar, it has Gotten BIGGER!!!
I’ve been able to add a section that has links to some blogs that I follow. You might find a gem or two in there.
A few will know I’ve been working on “Children of the Wind“. An idea born out of some Jon Young directions, but mostly an exploration of how as photographers we seek, find and enjoy new subjects, or new takes on old ones, or revisiting themes and styles from previous years, or looking at learning from, leaning on the masters of the past and how they in the ‘minds-eye’ expressed their feel to a subject.
You can see why its not going to be something I’m going to expand on too far or fast. Still.
I’ve always been fascinated by the way light melds across a subject. I’ve been know to drive 100’s kms to catch an early morning sun-rise or to sit for hours waiting for the evening light to throw across the stage and enhance the main subject with its golden goodness.
So just for this time, here is a change from birds.
Impressionist, Pictorialist, opportunistic or just too late.
Yesterday after a spin around the block, I came upon the site Hoof Beats and Foot Prints and today Emily has posted a few shots and a bit of musing on “Impressionistic” results. When sometimes the wrong settings are the right settings. See Here A Friends Filters
Which is as it turns out fortuitous as today’s Blogging 101 assignment was to write a post on thoughts that linked from yesterday’s visits. As coindicene goes, I’d put this picture of a Black Falcon in flight up on Flickr.
And one of the comments from Peter pointed out that sometimes we do indeed become over emphatic about getting the clinical result. I follow Ming Thein, and he too from time to time explores out beyond the formal result.
My thoughts on gaining an impressionistic feel or a “pictorial” atmosphere is that its just as difficult to get a great artistic alternative, as it is to make the clinical shot.
Sometimes even more difficult as we have balance, subject movement, shutter speed selection, composition, lighting and exposure. It’s why it’s easier to stick it into ‘photoshop’ and mess with the controls there. Or look through the blurry shots destined for the waste bin and rescue one, tart-it up and try and pass it off as really a Strong storytelling impression of the movement and mood.
Or plan for it!
One of the elements I always think make it work is it approximates what we would have seen had we been standing there. The motion. That fleeting glimpse of the bird as it passes.
Further pondering lead to really thinking of two possible opportunities. One is panning with the bird. At least part of the bird should be sharp, and depending on the shutter speed, the backdrop should be streaky to milk smooth.
The other is the bird movement. And again the street smarts would say that part of the subject area should be sharp to highlight for the eye the impression of movement.
Well my Black Falcon doesn’t fall into much of any of that. The ugly truth is that we were simply too late, too late too late.
Had we entered the WTP in our usual way from Paradise Road, we’d have encountered the birds, the harvesting, and the right evening light. I’d have had a bit of a chance to work out the bird’s movements, where they turn with the tractor, where they perch between flights, and would have set up to get the best from that. But, we were too late.
The sun was setting as we drove by. Birds were all over the sky, Black Kites, Whistling Kites and one lone solitary aerial speedster.
“A Black Kite” she called. “Yes,” said I, slamming on the brakes and opening the door and grabbing the camera and trying to find the streaking black dot in the gloom.
Oh, 1/50th at ISO 400. Who am I kidding?
It sped past, dropped onto a branch nearby, and glared at some Black Kites. Slowly I advanced, knowing it was futile. But. I wanted at least one record shot to show that Black Falcon is in WTP over the summer.
So did it make the waste bin? It is just a dolled up average shot. Or does it give an impression of the beauty of this bird of speed.
Over to you.
Another photographer who has struggled and succeeded with the impressionist approach is William Neill check out his work here.
Checking out the Neighbourhood!
So says the assignment. So I got to take a bit of a spin around the blog (block) and dropped by a few sights (sites).
First up is a look at some of the architecture and bird locations in Perth.
Try Here. Somewhere42
Then a bit of a stretch of the legs in the Seven League Boots to find a spot on Chesapeake Bay. (Every since I was a little taker, the scenery and people of Chesapeake have been a bit of a magnet to me. I’ve never been there, but have enjoyed many fine stories and photos from the area.
Next stop is Blue Note Photos. A Musician who has a skill with the camera and enjoys those moments of creative expression. Stuff we’d probably all like to explore, and here it is happening. Blue Note Photos. Enjoy
And after all that energy, some relaxation with Perry Battles who shares some fine thoughts on Tai Chi Practice for tranquility.
and just to finish off.
Here is shot from last evening of a Silver Gull ‘walking’ on water. It was using its wings to ‘hover in position’, and then step from wave to wave as the water rolled underneath. They are the masters of the air.
For the Technically ept. Shot with the D7100 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a TC1.7 converter. I’ve set the crop size to 1.3x in camera, as I’m experimenting with what the new focus system on (my) new D500 might be like with the focus points spread over more of the viewfinder area. I wouldn’t normally bother, rather cropping from a full sized image, but its intriguing to think the focusing mechanism will do with the focus points right to the edge on the new D500.
Today we have been challenged with looking at the theme for the blog and trying out several other themes from the 100s that WordPress has to offer.
Well, I’m passing on this too.
Long term, suffering Bloggettes will know that I’ve tried a number over the past few months and not one has given me the options that the old “redundant” ithemes site Id been using to display the picture stories.
So straight to the story.
House Renovation. Cormorant style.
We visited Balyang Sanctuary in Geelong, and found that the Cormorants and a few Darters were still at work on nesting.
One particular pair of enterprising Little Black Cormorants had taken over an abandoned nest and were in the process of adding a new floor, kitchen, dining room and baby room. Well not really, but they were adding branches to the already large nest.
I guess she stays at home and straightens things out, while he goes out to Bunnings and shops for new additions. Well it all worked well for him, until he secured a large branch, which he ended up with in the water, still clutching. Simple, flap the wings, run a bit and take off.
The weight of the leaves and branches in the water was more than his lifting ability. Time to rethink the strategy.
Run faster, flap more often and get the branch caught in your wing, and sink back into the water. But. Don’t let go of the branch.
Well, that didn’t work, and don’t think your average Cormorant isn’t on to this. Next plan. Run faster, flap faster and deeper, jump into the air and bounce like a springboard along the water. That should do it.
Time to rethink the strategy.
Swim in circles a few times, just so everyone thinks you are in control. Also think that during that time there was a bit of adjustment to the grasping of the branch. Letting go of the branch is no longer an option. If he has to stay there till midnight, that branch is not going to get out of his possession. No siree Bob.
New plan. Face into the wind. Wait for the strongest wind, run faster, jump up a lot, flap twice as hard, bounce on the water, spring into the air, get those branches out of the water to reduce drag…
You could almost see the smile on his face as he furiously flapped and jumped and gradually rose into the air. Once airborne it was all a piece of cake to fly into the nest and proudly display his latest acquisition.
What about wide-screen TV in the corner, he chortled.
Well at least that is what the assignment says. And as this is not for profit, not political, not competitive, and essentially about the birds, the process of audience profile, identification, and finding the niche in the market, leaves me just a bit blah, and pretty much over Blogging 101.
Still its always nice to be prompted to look at things from another perspective. Keeps us fresh.
I practice Tai Chi, (there a new factoid), and one of the reasons is an awareness of the constantly changing orientation of the body, its parts relative to each other and to the surroundings. And funnily enough when I get to the bush, the same kinds of awareness helps to appreciate the birds and their surrounds. (maybe I’m just getting old and mellow?)
Parenting in the You Yangs
We, EE and I, have been working for several months now, with a delightful pair of Eastern Yellow Robins as they accept the challenge of adding their little bit to the gene pool.
As EE has adopted this pair, I’ve been a bit reluctant to pursue them as well. Figuring that parenting a young Eastern Yellow Robin is difficult enough. For the un-initiated, she sits on the eggs for around two weeks, then they feed the young, (usually two, but this pair had one) for about two weeks.
Then it jumps from the nest, flutters to the ground and spend the next 3-4 weeks hiding in the leaflitter. Barely able to fly as it has no real flight feathers at this stage, it must surely be among some of the most vulnerable of birds. But, the process works.
So, finding this well disguised and cleverly marked tiny bird is typical needle in haystack stuff. See point above about awareness and you’ll begin to grasp what goes on at the location. Not that we are chasing the bird. Far from it. Sometimes I really just want to know where it is, so we don’t inadvertently stand on it. Or more probably flush it to a new location. Bad for it, stressful for the parents, and against my work ethic. See border box.
We have pretty much been unable to distinguish the female from the male, so really not much point, as Jack Sparrow (should be a Cap’n in there somewhere) says, Naming fingers and pointing names.
Now as the young bird is much more mobile, it has become somewhat easier to sit, wait and opportunistically, it will fly by and sit. And it did.
I knew where it was pretty much from the moment we got off the track and into the scrub. See point on Awareness above. How? Well let’s just say Mum told me.
After bringing it down for us to admire, and then feeding it a great big grub, she decided that was sufficient activity for the moment and a big sleep would do wonders for the little bird.
After much body language, and a really interesting ‘fluffed up’ head, the little dude took off the the undergrowth for a sleep. And this is where I reckon it gets really interesting.
Not just anywhere out of sight and hidden, but in the bush next to where I’d been sitting.
The distance measured by the camera through the bushes to the little dude is less than 4 metres. It snuggled up on a branch with Dad (?) nearby and Mum (?) on guard on a tree directly above.
Point is, I’m still having the hair on the back of my neck stand up about it. The choice was hers to sit in that close to me. I didn’t move. Jon Young calls it a Rite of Passage, in a world in which “Connection” has to do with the strength of your mobile fone signals; sitting still for the sacred and connected moments brings dramatic benefits. A full-contact nature sport!
Been holding off on this series as I was hoping for a few better days. But, no, seems to fit in here now.
The past few months at The Office a pair of Brown Falcons have been at work on their nest and resulting offspring.
You’ll have met Bernie before on here or Flickr. I only ever see or find the female occasionally. She is a much lighter colour, and I named her Bernice, – easy ah?
We were going in to look for the young Black-shoudlered Kites and found the two young falcons hunting of the fence line near the road. Only got a brief look and some pretty average pictures, too far away and too much heat haze.
Then the other morning we found one of them on the same fence. But the light was better.
So here is Chip. (as in off the old block).
It has certainly inherited Bernie’s distinguished, handsome looks. We stayed in the car, didn’t want to frighten it, and in the end, it just lifted off the fence and floated away to hunt in the long grass.
Day two Blogging 101
What is the Title and Tagline saying?
When I set up Birds as Poetry on WordPress I bought along with it some already set ideas. One was the title. And I’m still happy with that. Says it all.
The small tagline I added I have to confess simply because in the setup page there was a blank box to be filled in. And its stayed that way till now.
Today’s challenge was to make it part of the blog and help readers gain a snapshot of the blog in 30 words or less.
Well, in reality, I don’t think anyone coming to the sight is going to be affected one way or the other. Let’s face it, you log on, look at the pics, cursorily scan the text,”Maybe this time he said something worthwhile, (we all live in hopes!)”. See a shot or two of some -interesting- birds, and get on with the amazing thing called life.
So I decided seeing as how change is in the air, that I’d update it. First time round a small piece of Haiku from a Chinese master.
Was going to ramble on about a factoid, but decided that “Chip” was the ideal model. What a great looking bird.
I’ve joined a WordPress Challenge to revisit my blog and take some time to make some new discoveries to the things that I write and put up online. So expect to see a few Blogging 101 post over the next few weeks.
Well it wouldn’t be a Birds as Poetry blog if we didn’t feature some birds, so here are few from a recent You Yangs morning. Then we’ll get down to blogging assignment.
I’ve added a black border to the images that matches the look and feel of the blog. I like that sort of co-ordinated feel.
Which Brings us to Blogging 101
One of the challenges is to revisit the reason for the blog in the first place. Bird as Poetry is not the first blog I had been working on. I used to use a wonderful Mac program called iWeb. And it was auto published to another piece of Apple Goodness called MobileMe. But of course Apple moved on and the blog had to have a new home.
Enter Telstra. Bigpond in particular. And they housed my ramblings which at the time included lots of updates of Classic car photos we were making, (and selling!). But, Telstra too decided that charging big bucks for their service didn’t include a website and so Birds As Poetry was lonely again.
With all that background I was over a xmas break looking for nothing in particular in a newsagents and found a “How to make a WordPress Blog” mag, and with little else on over the holiday, snapped it up, proceeded to the computer and began. Which is why the earliest in this blog is about 2012. The rest just wafted off into the ether. Or where ever else stuff goes when you hit the DELETE button.
Finding a “voice” that suited my writing style and the blog I suppose was always a big part of the challenge. Making it tongue in check and introducing some elements from everday life became a part of my process. Think Pie Shops, Coffee Places. interesting characters and places we’ve visited: Think “A Bridge that needed a Jolly Good Walking to”
Around the same time I began collecting a collection of collectable photos of walks around Woodlands Historic Park. Not far from home, and filled with really interesting birds, and as my knowledge of bird photography grew, so did my collection of robins and the like.
I was also teaching a class on visual elements in photography and the concept of visual poetry. A hop step and a really big jump through Haiku poetry lead to Birds as Poetry as a title So it stuck.
I suppose I could have taken a step to extend ‘how to’ articles but let’s face it, google will find you plenty. A scant few of them might in fact be useful, and correct, the rest? Well, mostly just un initiated rambles by people who haven’t done the hard yards behind a camera.
Who dear reader are you? Mostly I think folk that have either found the blog, or have been directed here by either word of mouth or from my Flickr site. Flickr! Gotta talk about that sometime too.
I really wish there was a much better co-ordination between Flickr and WordPress. But not so.
How to measure the success of the site. Well here’s the scoop. Its not a competition. In another part of my life I Tai Chi. A very personal activity that has little that can be measured or passed on to others. So blogging, So birding.
A thought that reverberates with me is “Birding is not a Spectator Sport!”.
I once started a blog that was going to try and see birding as a spectator sport with commentators and scores and all sorts of things. But. I may yet.
I do enjoy the comments that occasionally come my way, and thanks to all those who’ve taken the time to drop me a note about some of the photos. Makes the keyboard experience a little more involving.
So there we are. Well done for persevering to the end of page 1.