Saturday Evening Post #163 : Stoic by Nature

Spent an afternoon in a Grey Box forest recently.  Not often we get to spend time in a forest.  Yet, once upon a time, in a universe somewhere around the corner, this blog started keeping track of my visits to Woodlands Grey Box forest.
And most of the subjects of the time were bush birds.

However just on 8 years, (my, doesn’t time fly), we moved home to an area that is pretty much bereft of any sort of forest stand and is primarily open Basalt Plains Grasslands.

Gone are the small forest birds like Robins and in their place are numbers of small, but difficult to locate grass dwellers.
At the top of the food chain are the raptors—Kites and Falcons.

Most are nomadic at best, but usually Brown Falcon is local. Working a territory and not travelling too far to follow the food.  Being pretty catholic in diet, they have plenty to choose from in the grasslands.

That’s the thing about Browns.  Hot or Cold.  They are there.
The scorching 40 degree days of summer.  The high windy gale-force days.  The days of incessant, if not persistent rain. No matter what.
Brown sits and waits. It is their nature.

In some respects if we were to anthropomorphise, I’d be inclined to call them Stoic.
But as we don’t anthropomorphise, I won’t. 🙂

One of the tenets of Stoicism was (is?)”in accordance with nature.” Because of this:
the Stoics thought the best indication of an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said but how a person behaved. To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they thought everything was rooted in nature.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

I am convinced that Browns really do understand the nature order around them.  To watch one slip off a branch, and head along the paddock as just a few cms over the ground, dodging branches, bushes and the like is to watch a bird that has ‘plotted’ the area.
The other day, as we were watching with Cassia, of Cinnamon, she suddenly picked up her skirts and moved to a tree about 50m away, but more out in the open. I said to Mr An and EE, but more likely I just said it out loud as commentary, “Brown Falcons, don’t just move from one tree to another for no purpose.  She has moved for her reason and no doubt it we wait a little bit it will become apparent.”  Don’t want to sound like a Falcon prophet or some-such,  but we waited.  Within 5 minutes the Male turned up with lunch.  The more open tree was the perfect place for a quick food exchange.
No doubt she had seen or heard him when he was a long way out and prepared herself to receive the delivery.

During nesting season, it is a little hard not to have sympathy with their main food source of the young.  Cassia, of Cinnamon and her mate, have a likeness for Pipits and Skylarks.  Both of which nest in the grasses on the ground, and must be, for a hovering Falcon, an easy mark. Or for a Falcon with an intimate knowledge fo the area as it scans from a post, or tree—although there are not too many trees on your average grasslands.

Brown’s are not noted for their amazing hovering ability, but given a good breeze, they can make a pretty fair fist of it. And so at present, he is bringing in for the three young fledglings, a pipit or skylark most deliveries.

For their part the hapless grass birds have two advantages.  One they outnumber the falcons.  And they are capable of several nestings a season, so once the urgency of the falcons passes the little birds should be fairly successful.

The falcons presumably will go back to hunting grasshoppers, crickets and the occasional snake.
The young will move off to find their own territories and the exhausted local pair will go back to sitting quietly, watching for the next convenient meal.

And the Pipits can resume sitting on the fence posts without fear.

=

Interludes: Growing Up

We made a trip to Point Cook with Mr An Onymous to have a look at the growing Brown Flacon clutch.

Managed a sunny day, and the young have been out of the nest for a few days and quite adept as flyers.  Also very quickly adopting the Brown Falcon sit and contemplate the world stance as well.

Here are a few from the outing

About to release
Plenty of control as it slides away from the perch
Landing is still a little tricky, but each time the skills improve
The three amigos. How hard it can be to get them together, and all looking in the same direction at the same time.
Cassia, of Cinnamon arrives with a mid-morning snack. Now who is going to get it.
When its your turn, its ok to step on your sibling’s head to get to the front of the queue.
Manners are forgotten and its ok to push their head into the branch.
Mum will still sort out whose turn it is
Thanks Mum
Miffed at missing out this one departed to watch from afar
Food arrives and while the male holds still, Cassia swoops in to collect it.
His job done, he departs for a rest.

Little Journeys: Three to Go

The weather has to coin a phrase, has been less than kind of late.  Cold, windy, rain, overcast and just plain miserable and stay-at-home-able.

It is nearly Summer, but here we are with the heaters turned on and thick clothes, shivering in the cold.

We had decided to go to the River and have another look for the elusive Sacred Kingfishers.   It has become a task that rivals the search for Tutankhamen’s Tomb.

As we travelled to make yet another morning attempt, we decided at the last moment to abandon the project for the day, and instead travel on to see how Cassia, of Cinnamon’s young were doing.

At first sight of the nest we could only see one little rich ginger brown head bobbing about.  Then, looking further over the tree, right at the very top stood the other two young.  Looking very confident, and balancing precariously on the top most fronds of the pine tree.  No mean feat for a well developed bird I would have thought.

While we were there we managed to see two food exchanges and a number of wing-flap trails by the young birds.  No doubt they will be on the wing in the next few days.

Here is a small selection from the morning

 

A food exchange as Cassia slips aside to prepare the meal
The male moves on for a quick rest before heading out again
All prepared and now to deliver to hungry mouths.
Is there any for me!
Rested and ready to hunt again, the male heads out. He is a much lighter marked bird.
Just a little too cheeky.
Cassia had found the nest of either a Wattlebird or perhaps even a Magpie. But she was hunted off very quickly by the local Neighbourhood Watch.
While they wait for the next round of food, there is plenty of time for some wing exercises.
I found this series interesting as it shows the ‘rowing’ action that is typical of Brown Falcon flight. No doubt by our next visit they will be on the move.

 

Saturday Evening Post #159:

I’ve spent the past couple of days mentoring a young, beginner bird photographer.

It’s funny, I think, if you ask someone what they do, you might get I am (was) a Chemist, or perhaps and Accountant, or Motor Mechanic, Banker, or School Teacher.
But
Say “I’m a Photographer’, and its well, kind of ho-hum, yeah, but what do (did) you do for a living.
Anyone  with a mobile fone can be ‘a photographer’.

I usually answer these days, “By (pause), Training and Background, (pause), I’m a Photographer.
Not Iphoneography in there to confuse.
Still, it does lead to some interesting side discussions.

Bruce Barnbaum in his book The Essence of Photography, tells the story of two art teachers.
The first looks at the stick figure drawings of a child and asks, “Oh is that your Mum, or Sister or is it You?”  A question bound to enhance the creative expression of the budding artist.
The other will ask, much more bluntly, “Is your family really green?” And there goes creativity.

I personally can speak loudly to that, as an art teacher, in my year 8, dismissed my attempt, at a subject, as it did not fit the template or paradigm she had set.  But, I still think it was creative.  However that was, as they say, the end of my budding art career. 🙂

One of my Tai Chi masters says of learning the various forms, “Art is always changing and growing. If not, its dead”  He is quite ‘hot’ on not just completing the form the same way, each time, but allowing room for personal expression.

I’ve said here before, get a bunch of photographers together and very soon the discussion will turn to “Whatchabeendoinlately?”

And it’s not just about what work/client or style.
It usually enters into the area of what new ideas have you been exploring.

In his book, The Art Spirit Robert Heri says, A tree growing out of the ground is as wonderful today as it ever was. It does not need to adopt new and startling methods”

Flowers it has been said, don’t get all bent out of shape, and go off to seek their personal freedom.  They don’t plan to move to another location for better opportunities or bewail the climate where they are growing. They simply get on with the task.

Which leads, me hopefully to the point of the moment with Cassia, of Cinnamon.
One of the challenges I often face is getting correct exposure for a light bird on a dark backdrop or a dark bird on a light background.   Or an inflight, where the bird moves from light to shadow and the poor old camera meter just can’t keep up.
One of the reasons I shoot such work with the camera in “M”anual. There are of course a number of ways to hold that exposure, but I’ve adopted the “M” method.

Yet working with my young friend, and not wishing to ask are his birds really green (or over or under exposed), we have been discussing and practicing ways to keep exposures under control.  You may laugh, but I’ve had him shooting Aperture priority, JPEG for the past few days. It offers less room for error, keeps him behind the camera and doesn’t wander into the fantasy of the ‘digital darkroom’.

Too much light. Make corrections.
Too little light.  Make corrections.

The next few weeks will find him reaching further into the crayon box and finding he can select a colour other than green. !

Cassia was waiting for the next food delivery.  Impatiently, if Falcons do such an emotion.  She flew from one perch in the open, to another in the shade. From front lighting to backlighting and all the way through.

As Bruce  says, “Its not about technical ideas and methods… nor about making images simply because you can with the tools and apps at your disposal… It’s about, because you love photography,  putting in the time and effort necessary. ”
(In Tai Chi we call that Kung-it refers to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete)

 

Interludes: Let’s Be Careful Out There

The title is a quote from a tv show of the 1980s.

The Duty Sergeant would remind his team as they left the daily briefing, ‘Let’s be Careful Out There.”

In these days of rampant pandemic it still seems like good advice.

However being careful out there applies to some birds as much as it did to the police in “Hill Street Blues

Longer term readers may recall that two years ago we spent quite a bit of time with a Brown Falcon pair as they nested.  Cassia, of Cinnamon, provided us with some excellent insight into the nesting and feeding habits of their lives.
Unfortunately we were unable to follow up with them last season due to travel restrictions.

However with a change in limitations we have now been able to revisit the park, and after a couple of futile attempts,  EE pulled the proverbial Brown Falcon Nest out of a Hat.
He had been hunting close into the nest in the open paddocks and seemed to be having some success, however we missed the food exchanges and were unable to determine a possible nest site.
It was not only us that were taking an interest in the falcon’s presence.  Australian Magpies took them as ‘easy’ targets and each time one of the birds flew, a flotilla of maggies were in hot pursuit.
Mostly the magpies are fast enough, and the falcons don’t put in that much effort to get away, but today it was quite obvious that the falcons were not going to broach harassment, and each time the magpies drew in close, the falcons put effort into the wing strokes and powered away. Not something I usually see.

Cassia does indeed, Need to be Careful Out There.

Here is a small selection of the morning’s activity.

This is the male, he is lighter in colour. He is doing his best to hover over the grasses
Action TIme. A quick drop on to some prey below
Mouse delivery. Unlike Black-shouldered Kites, he carries the prey in his beak.
The male: Time for a scratch on the wing.
Sitting waiting for an opportunity to pounce. His yellow cere and eye ring are noticeable id markings. HANZAB notes that yellow cere may be a sign of age and is more prevalent in males. This bird might be at least 15 years old as we’ve seen him over a number of seasons.
Heading out for another catch
This is Cassia, of Cinnamon and her nest with at least two young. They are only recently hatched, perhaps in the past few days.
The magpies decided that Cassia was not going to sit quietly anywhere in their territory.
Maggie closing in.
She is well aware of the challenge, and is about to power away.
This is the first time I’ve seen a falcon put in the effort to evade the charging magpies. I think she has the better of them in a vertical climb
Stretching out. The magpies might have the advantage on a downhill run or across a level field, but in this case she just lifted up faster than the magpie could manage.
The male avoiding two enraged Little Ravens

Little Journeys: A Morning at The Plant

Now that Melbourne has emerged from its fifth covid lockdown its time for the Doona Hermit to shed his old worn doona and venture out in to the real, (no definitions please) world.

#kneetoo and I had a little local journey planned, with a stop off along the way to look at a pair of Black-shouldered Kites and their young(?)

But as I pulled back said doona and checked the weather app, it looked like a beaut, clear, cold morning.
We had planned to do our quick visit and then be home by mid-morning for a relaxing morning tea, so I was not planning to load Earl of Grey into the thermos or grab a bikkie or two for the journey.
But.

On a whim, we decided that a morning driving around part of the Werribee Treatment Plant birding area would make the most of the weather, and who knows when if, ever, we’d have such a chance.  Fix snacxks, load cameras, dress warmly and we were on the way.

As it turned out much of the area where we visited was pretty bereft of birds, but what we lacked in quantity we made up for in birds we’d not had the pleasure of seeing for quite awhile

Here’s a small selection.

The dancing fisherman.
The Little Egrets make such delicate moves as they follow the fish through the water
Where did that fish go?
Napping out of the wind. PIed Oystercatcher
A Swamp Harrier on patrol
Crested Tern rolling over for a fishing plunge
Swamp Harrier on a turn
A beaut find, Blue-winged Parrots feeding in the saltbush. We probably saw 15 or more
Blue-winged Parrot. One of the most delightful little parrots we photograph
Pied Oystercacther powering past
One of a number of white chested Brown Falcons we found during the morning/
This one was in no hurry to move and in the end, a Whistling Kite approaching finally put it to air.
When I first came across this bird, it didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave. At first I thought it was working out the moves for its next meal. Closer inspection shows it must have only recently eaten and was resting for digestion.

Saturday Evening Post: #144 :Brown Falcon Dreaming

Hello all my felllow-lockdownees, and others.
The Doona Hermit has crawled out from under the covers here at the Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit.

Not much to see in our street, so I’ll move on to other things.

Best wishes to all the Sydney-siders.  So many of them stood with us in solidarity last year as our lockdowns dragged on and on. We know your pain, we know how hard it is with just about everybody doing the right thing and then… what are those people doin!!!
Concentrate on the good ones.  Those who are working on the front-line, in the backrooms, calling, delivering, offering comfort, and all the other other genuine human things we are so capable of in crisis.
Goodonya

Meanwhile Victoria is again in the firing line with a nominal, “Five Day Circuit Breaker”, but I doubt if there is a single Victorian who even dares to image that come next Tuesday evening we’ll be relieved.  The smart money seems to be on an extension of some duration.

The ‘We allwannagotothefooty” mantra has meant that those few selfish (and this blog doesn’t usually call it a it is!) had their couple of hours of ‘pleasure’ and now we all suffer.
Years ago in the Sun New Pictorial newspaper, columnist  Keith Dunstan (OAM) established the Anti-Football League (AFL)
I’d be happy to be a subscribing member at the moment 🙂

Draw a line


I watched part of the David Attenborough series “LIFE IN COLOR“, can’t find much of a link anywhere, but will keep trying.  The part that is of interest here to your scribe was the segment on the Fiddler crab and its ability to use polarised light to find a mate, and to avoid predators.

As a photographer I’ve been interested in the use of polarised light and its characteristics for a long time.  Numerous polarising filters, filter sheet, and polarising materials laying around the work area will attest to the ongoing investigations.
Even helped me on several jobs, particularly when we were working for car mags, and also the excursion into interiors for home-improvement clients.

I wish I could find some details of how the production team worked with all this, how they determined it worked and how they then built the special gear to bring it to screen.  A few voice-over sentences hardly does it justice.

The interesting one for me was that if said crab turned its attentions and its special skills to the skies, what it would ‘see’ was a blank, white canvas. Any movement, say a predator gull, or large hungry seabird, would be picked up as a black shape against the white, no distractions, and as quick as you can say, disappear, it was down in its hole, safe and secure.

No doubt, and I hypothesize, (you get to do that a lot hidden under the doona), that the creature also had some shape recognition, much like the plane and boat recognition shapes that were used by spotters during WWII.
Which of course led to the next hypothesis.

If it works for your clever and well equipped Fiddler crab, might it not have some similar application in other creatures.

Long-term readers will know I have a theory. No, I didn’t borrow this one from Mr An Onymous, this is pure Doona Hermit land.

I’ve sat and watch Brown Falcon’s for many an hour.  Not your ‘Oh, there’s a Brown Falcon on the fence’ move on” sort of stuff, but sitting a respectful distance from Brown and watching it watch.

I’m convinced they have the area ‘mapped’. Somehow. Each scan of the scene reinforces the last scan, or reveals something new to be added to the ‘map’.  Such as.
That skink just came out from under the leaves.  There is a snake working through the bracken.  The crickets are gathering near the little water soak. Each can then be evaluated as to the risk-management of pursing the prey.  Once they know where the opportunities exist, they don’t have to immediately take off and chase, they can plan and take action at a time that suits them.

Flying there is usually, low and fast through the grasses and bushes not even being able to see where the quarry is, but knowing if they stick to the map, weave here, turn there, zig left, they will arrive, like a shopper in a supermarket, at the right aisle, for the prize.

Now if I combine that with the polarised light Attenborough segment, I am wondering if Brown’s have some similar ability.  Looking out they see a blank canvas, and anything that moves across that landscape is ‘red-hot’ in contrast, and easily mapped and evaluated.
Such is the theory.

In the meantime this Brown was sitting high on his territory.  It is a fav perch, right alongside a major, busy road, with wide open paddocks all around.
On this particular frosty morning, he’d taken the opportunity to warm up in the struggling sunlight and was in no hurry to move on.
The scanning process was obvious.

Little Visits: Enjoying the Morning Sunshine

Funny old weather Melbourne.  Biting cold for days, then, such a tiny break of stable weather.  Frost on the ground, breathing out ‘steam’, and calm winds. Ideal.

So. I, as the Banjo wrote, “Sent him a email, which I had for want of better knowledge sent to his mail address, in case he was home.
Just on Spec, titled as follows, “A trip to Point Cook is in the offing”.
And an answer came directed in a manner I expected.  “Mr An Onymous will meet you there”.

So, as #kneetoo is on the move, but not willing to venture too far at the moment, I went.

As the weather icon ladies had predicted, the morning was crisp, still and sunny. Ideal.

After the usual “G’days” and, the like, we set off for a walk through the pines.

We’d not walked more than a few hundred metres when I turned to glance a Brown Falcon that had set itself up in a sheltered, warm spot in the sunshine. Had I kept going, he’d have stayed I’m guessing, but too much activity too close, and he unfurled the big brown sails and was gone.

Next the call of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos rang across the frosty grass, and there on the other side of the paddock we say around 6-8 descend on the large pines. To be followed in quick succession by a second group of more than 20, and then another smaller mob of about 10. By the time we’d arrived close up, they were well in to their feast of the young cones in what can only be described as an open area dining area.

 

 

Then one of the young ones, crying, caught my attention and we managed a view of it being fed.  Beak to beak.

Onward for a cuppa of the Earl’s best and a sit by the water’s edge.  The moon was pulling in a high, high tide and the still waters lapped and laughed as they kissed the sand, and retreated, having enjoyed the moment so much to quickly repeat the performance.
Sometimes, just slowing down, and watching the small things, like small child exploring the beach, not over-awed by the expanse of sand and water, but rather inspecting the grains of sand on its fingers.

A Greater Crested Tern was fishing, and I missed the head shake as it came out of the water.   Then a White-faced Heron again standing perfectly still.

Several young Pacific Gulls were paddling in the clear waters, and an adult was doing its best Otis Redding impersonation of “Watchin’ the Tide Roll Away…”

We could have stayed all day, but each of us had other things family to attend to, and we retreated to the vehicles and a local coffee shop.
Great day for birds, relaxing and a bit of a natter.

As we left the beach an Australian Pelican beat its way along the water’s edge, flying low to make the most of the lift of the water.

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

Moment: Getting that Old De Javu Feeling—Again

Yogi Berra, a baseball coach for the New York Mets was famous for his ‘apparent’ contradictive language. Malapropisms and the like
“It ain’t over till it’s over”.
Giving directions on how to travel to a location, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
“You can observe a lot, by watching.”

And “It’s Like Deja Vu all over again!”

We were down near the old nest site of Cassia-of Cinammon, and her young, now long abandoned, as the young have been on the wing the best of three months.

When on a sudden across the paddock a brown form came ‘rowing’ toward us.

What makes this memorable moment, is not that it’s a Brown Falcon, nor that it’s about to take off, nor that I managed some sunlight, nor get about the right exposure.

No.

It’s probably going to go down a one of my most heartwarming shots of the year, and so it has more to do with the moment than simply pressing the shutter.

The bird was one of the young Browns from the season. While Mum and Dad seem to have moved their winter territories, this young one has stayed on in the area.  Those who bravely follow the blog will have seen several shots of the bird as it’s been growing up.

What made it special for me is that the bird landed on the top of a tree, and not just any tree.

A tree that Cassia had used repeatedly over the season. From this tree she could keep a lookout over her nest, and its special inhabitants.

Seeing her strong young gun sitting on the same tree, gazing, as Browns do, just like its mother, made me think of Yogi’s Deja Vu quote.

Now, with a full set of tail feathers and much of the orange of youth has been replaced by more common straw.  It sat on the tree for a few minutes, and then because of the strong wind, it simply raised the wings and drifted off the tree and dived through the scrub and was away at a fearsome pace.  Low level, stealth-fighter like.

Enjoy.  I did.

 

Saturday Evening Post #61: Like a Wraith

Still working my way though Deng Ming-Doa’s 365 Meditations

“All things in this life depend on direction. In our world all is oriented toward the sun. The planets revolve around it, the seasons depend on it, and our very concept of day and night is tied to the the sun’s rising and setting. The sun is the dominant element in our lives.”

And on the evening before the Summer Solstice (in Southern Hemisphere), I thought, the sun is also the dominant element in my photography.

I talked recently about the “Sun over your left shoulder, Dear”.

Front light: Pure, direct, making our subjects brim with colour. Little shadow depth, a strong, harsh, rich light.
Side Light:  The angular light the gives us rich detail, with texture and form. The light of inspection, depth and tone. Running from brilliant highlights, to melding soothing form and tone, through to rich deep shadows.
Back Light: The light of Drama.  Subjects in rim light, highlights displaying the complexity of the shape. Long running shadows that have a mood and rich mystery. Lacking in colour, detail and texture, but making up for it in deep mystery and mysticism.

Light is the center of our camera settings.  I choose a fast or slow shutter speed depending on the light, and the intent of time perception. Light, I choose a large aperture for subject isolation with narrow depth of field, or a smaller aperture for greater depth of field and sharp detail across the frame depending on the light. Too much light and I drop the ISO, or I raise it for low light subjects.  I shoot with Neutral density or polarising filters to control my vision of the moment.  I add flash for fill-in or main light effects. Reflectors and gobos in the studio. And I try to find such effects when I’m in the field.

Light: The dominant element in my photo graphos, life. (photos-Light, graphos,-of writing) Who’d have thought.

I was waiting next to a melaleuca bush. In front of me was the large pine that Cassia’s nest is situated.  I can just see the two young bobbing back and forth occasionally.
To my immediate left, (and why I’m standing where I am) is a tallish young pine that the pair have been using for food exchange.  30m further away a larger tree with a huge pinecone cluster on top. Ideal for preparing food. And 50m further on, and opposite the nest, one of her fav perches, and a launching spot toward the nest.
In the distance in the paddock 2 isolated pines, both with excellent views over the paddocks and again favoured for inspections of the territory.

But. No Cassia.

Behind me and the bush, about 100m away is a line of very old pines, probably date to the 1870s when the homestead in the area was established.  About a week before she had been sitting among the pines and had made a direct run across the paddock, over the melaleuca bush and past my head at a couple of metres.  Not a defensive move. I reckon, she did it to keep me awake.  EE is still laughing.

The distinctive magpie call. “Falcon in flight. Let’s go”, alerted me this time.  I peeked around the bush, and like a wraith out of the darkness of the trees, sweeping over at fern top height I saw her running directly toward my position.
Light, just right. Soft, overcast, kept the backdrop moody, yet enough to separate her shape and form, and show her intention.
I think I spoiled her game this time:-)

As in the last few yards, she slewed to the left, and went by without looking.  You can’t hide from a Brown Falcon.

 

Little Visits: Cassia’s Secrets are Out!

For the best part of three months, Cassia—of Cinnamon, and her mate have been working on their annual nesting project.

Best I can determine, she took just over a month for incubation, and then another 30-35 days for the young to start to move about the nest and branches and then a few more days to fly.  We checked on Friday, and they were clambering about, then on Monday, the secrets are out.

How confident is this bird. She was relaxed enough to do close flybys without aggression.
Still in baby down, but wanting to see the wide world
Starting to get a few real feathers
Just starting to see the Apricot wash coming on
That famous Brown Falcon stare starts early
And then there were two.
I’ve no way of knowing, but based on previous experiences, I would predict the older, larger is a female.
Out and about. Probably second day on the wing
Now let’s see if I remember. Tail up, head down, wings out and…
Tail up, head down, wings out, …
Oh, yes, Tail down, head up, wings up, Let Go.!
Yah!

 

OK you go me our here, how do I stop this thing.
Landing skills need a bit more practice
Study in concentration as it goes through the landing routine.

Moments: Hunting Sea Eagles

“Tis a Sea-eagle,” EE cried.

Her response to the question “Where?” was, “Down there along the beach”.

Now truth be told, I reckoned the beach to be at near enough to  one kilometre to the south of us.

Don’t ask how EE can see that far, its inherit in her name.

About 1/10th of a second later, a brown shadow rushed past us just overhead.  Cassia, who’d been sitting on a branch behind us, too, had spotted said Sea-eagle.
Now you know.  EE is faster on the eyeball than a Brown Falcon. By at least 1/10th of a second. Explains it all really.

Cassia hauled across the paddock not gaining height, just rocketing along toward the beach.  Her mate was on a diagonal line from further down the paddock bent on the same target.   I don’t know how this works in Falcon speak, but there was no cackling, just pure energy converted to motion.

The line they were on would get them both to the same tall tree on the beach line at roughly the same time.  Without any foto-finish cameras and the like, I be putting my money on Cassia arriving just a wing flap ahead of the male.

Brown Falcon surveillance time. Both sat watching.

The Sea Eagle had slipped behind a line of trees on the beach, and had no doubt gone to invite some duck or gull home for lunch.  A plethora of ducks, coots, gulls, cormorants and several white-faced herons darkened the sky as they rose in one squawking mass.

“We need to be down there”, she said.  Fleet of foot we’re not, so it was going to a few minutes before we appeared on the scene.

In the meantime both falcons had made a noisy run down along the beach and back.

Then as we approached, they both made another swing along the beach, but the trees blocked our view.

We made it to the scrub along the beach and now had to work out, was the action to the left or right.  The bird groups on our left seem quite settled so the guess would be “To the Right”.  Good guess.

But look along the beach, and our view (and coincidentally of course for anything further along the beach—think big white-bellied…. ) the beach curved around and our view was blocked by the saltbush and other scrub.

Not to worry, Cassia and the male had made another screeching run down to the beach, and in response, all the ducks, swans, coots, gulls and two white-faced herons, took to the air.
“That was impressive for two falcons,” I thought.
Then with long slow deliberate wing flaps, the juvenile White-bellied Sea-eagle pulled up over the scrub, followed by two very vocal Brown Falcons.

I’d not be able to get any pictures of the falcon/sea eagle confrontation, because there really wasn’t one.The falcons kept a safe distance, and the eagle just stuck to its job of getting some height and then sailed away up the beach.

The male falcon went back to hunting, Cassia went to check on the kids.

And here is what all the fuss is about.
Number One child, all fledged and learning of Brown Falcon ways.

Enjoy

 

Out to meet the challenge. Cassia gains speed on a downward run
If its too big to scare off at least give it a lecture
She did not risk a close pass but rather turned over the quickly rising Sea Eagle
The interloper
Given the bulk of the Sea Eagle, there was little the small falcons could do for a direct confrontation.
Number One Child.
Fledged since Friday.

Saturday Evening Post #59 : Hot off the Press

Deng Ming-Dao writes in 365 Tao Meditations

Hawk doesn’t think during the hunt.

It does not care for theory or ethics.

All that is does is natural.

Animals live simple lives close to Tao. They do not need to think or reason: They never doubt themselves. When they are hungry, they eat. When they are tired, they sleep. They respond to the cycles of the day according to their intuition.
They mate in the proper season, and the nurture their young according to their understanding.

+===========+

Now I might disagee somewhat with their ‘need to think or reason’, but I think he means its more about calculated risk and designing to be something other than a falcon.

Stop the Presses!
The day has arrived.
Cassia has been hunting further and further out among the paddocks and tree lines, the past couple of visits.
She was almost out of sight way down the paddock, and EE and I took the moment to cross the patio, and have a closer look at her nesting sight.  Half-expecting to be challenged, but she seemed more interested in avoiding the local magpie flotilla and picking small prey from along the edges of the paddock.

And

There it stood.
Big, Bold, Brown and Black.
Perhaps not quite ready to fly, but only days away from stepping off the only place it has known, and moving out into the much wider world.

It sat, perfectly Brown Falcon still, and watched the goings on around the paddock. A vehicle track runs quite close to the nesting area, and at one stage a local fox management vehicle drove past.   It was thoroughly scanned onto the scene, and off again.  I can’t imagine what the young falcon thought of such an event.
Clever Cassia has infact two of these little bundles of joy in the nest it seems but we didn’t get a good look at it.

Eventually tiring of all this learning, it must have rocked back into the nest, settled down and disappeared.

Soon Cassia appeared with a prize meal.

In the next few days, or so, all the theory of flight will come into one small black and buff package as it steps into its own unknown, and is instantly freed from the constraints of doubt. Ready to write its own story of wonder.

Enjoy.