Ballaratt Grebe

We had to take a trip to Ballaratt on important business, that involved laying down money, (well credit card numbers to be more exact). Was only going to take 5 minutes, and EE suggested that Mr An Onymous might like a trip out for the day.
So let’s see.
Let’s choose the hottest day of the week for the hour or so  journey, and let’s go late morning to be sure we get the maximum benefit from the heat.
EE had allowed us at least a few minutes to ‘cool off by the lake’, and who knows we might find something to photograph.
‘Nuff Said.

Clever as, she also arranged a nice stop over for coffee at Ballan on the way up.  And wouldn’t you know it. How Do these things happen?  There was a fine looking clothing and jewellery store right next to said Coffee Shop, called the “Tin Plate” (here’s a link) for any who might want to follow in the tracks of such adventure. So while Mr A and I lamented over the fact that all the vanilla slice had been sold for the day, and an empty plate where a slice might have been wasn’t going to make up for it, EE was just a shop away shopping.

On to Ballaratt. It does seem somewhat incongruous to leave Melbourne in a pleasant 26C and head off into 37C, to Ballaratt. The place most folk would have on their list of cold places to visit. But there you go. Outside temp was well on the way, as were we.  Gotta love GPS and Sat Nav. Punch in the address and think no more about it.  Found myself on the way into the city, going, “If I was going to Dublin, I wouldn’t be starting from here,” but in the end circuitous or not we arrived.

The original plan had been lunch by the lake, but what with the heat, and that we were just around the corner from Wendouree Village, the lure of an air-conditioned sandwich bar was too much to resist.
But, by the time we’d lunched and chatted, and discussed the merits of Nikon AF focus, and how to use the old ‘Sunny 16 Rule’ of long-gone-bye filum days, the weather had changed to severely overcast, and the said rule was not going to be much help.
At the lakeside it was a distinct murky grey, (but still hot- now the clouds were keeping the heat in), and we’d dropped about 4-5 stops of light.

And most of the usual suspects were there.  We quickly located the pair of Great Crested Grebe, and one immediately took off down the lake to places far from human interference.  The other just lolled about snoozing among the reeds and grasses.

Here’s a selection from its activities.  Played a bit with the mono style as both the day and the surrounds had that sort of mood about them.

And if case anyone is wondering, the temp dropped about 15 degrees on the way home, and we arrived in pleasant cool(ish) conditions.
Enjoy

Is this my best side?
Awesome reflections needed just the right positioning, and it was rewarding to have the Grebe choose the best spots.
It was good to have a cooperative subject that offered so many interesting poses, moods and settings.
In the end, with so many interesting settings, what was going to be a few minutes lasted near an hour
Mighty mono to Selenium tone to set a cool mood
It is so tiring snoozing it makes you yawn.
When they tuck up like this and bob up and down they remind me of a little kid’s toy boat.
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Trippin’ to Ballarat

Had to go up to Ballarat for a family gig.  Spent a couple of days, and survived the most dreadful hail/rain/wind storm.  The damage around the place was bordering on the apocalyptic. Don’t you just love those big words that get so overused that any meaning they might have had is now lost in the banal. Still the damage was significant in some places.

Had a break in the morning from the family do dah, and went down to the lake to look for birds.  They, (whoever they is/are) have done a great job of getting the park around near the gardens and tram area accessible for both birds and people.  Little islands linked by bridges and walk ways allows you to wander about quite close to the bird activity.  And there was plenty.

We found a couple of cygnets pulled up on the grass for a rest and a nibble on the grass, Mum was super protective, but the one good thing about the birds and people being this close is that they have become a bit peopled out, and don’t seem to mind close approaches.  So much so that when a nosey neighbour swan came by for a look at her clutch, Mum swan reared up and a great pursuit followed. The hapless bird headed straight for me and stood on the other side away from Mum all reared up.  Poking its head around my legs, it seemed to say “Nah nah”. Mum calmed down, the little ones piped up “Congratulations Mum for being such a good defender of us helpless little things” and everything returned to normal. My new “friend” had a bit of a preen, then shipped to the water,  and paddled away in the other direction.

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Can I be your friend? This swan was chased off by an irate parent. The birds are so people conscious it had no concern about running around behind me and then peeking out at the angry parent.

I also spent a few minutes photographing the cygnets.  They must be among some of the most helpless and defenceless  creatures on the planet.  Everything seems to be such an effort.  I’m amazed the species survives and thrives.

Cygnets at rest
Cygnets at rest
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When they are this stage of a moult the young swans amuse me with their appearance. This one popped its head out of the water in front of me, with the water dripping down, and a tight crop, it take on a new look.

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Gotta admit, I loved the lighting, loved the angle, loved the D2x for getting the focus, and the exposure. Was mortified that I clipped the bottom wing.

I’ve been breaking in a new (New to me) camera.  Got a second hand Nikon D2x.  The focus and exposure are really great. But like all things needs some practice to get the right feel.  The flight of White Ibis into and out of the small rookery was just what I needed to run through the 3,000 combinations of settings. Well it felt like that many. As they came over the little island I was standing on, the light was directly above and behind them, so it gave fabulous shots of the outspread wings.  The best one of course I muffed.  Managed to clip of the lower wing tip. Thinking seriously about the old photoshop on that one.  Or perhaps just going back for more practice.  This is with the old reliable, dependable, fun to use, most useful lens I own, pinsharp, fast focus, super duper all round good thing, my 300 f/4. And it likes the D2x I can tell.

With some many birds, its a great place to just practice technique, and the chance to see a few really interesting birds closeup, rather than having to point out,  “yep, that little spot over there in the trees is the kingfisher!!!!”