In realestate they say that position is everything.
We’ve been away the past week or so with the rellies on the family acres. So, not much birding to be done, let alone photography—if you bypass the usual family happy snaps.
We passed by a dam yesterday, and the eagle-eyed among us cried, “White-necked Heron”. But with the traffic and the icecream melting in the back, there was no stopping for such a rare event. Interestingly the day before that, we’d spied two White-necked Herons in a local water-retaining basin that was drying out. (But that’s another story)
Had it go back out past the dam this morning to get to the shopping centre, so loaded up the camera this time, well, you know. Just in case.
As I headed for home I noted on a comms tower at the end of the old road where we’d been photographing Black-shouldered Kites, (and we always look, just in case one might return), sitting on said tower was a Nankeen Kestrel, and with no icecream to worry about, I went for the looksee.
Looking very relaxed it was, and I moved up the little hillside for a better angle and view. Suddenly the air was filled, (as they say in the classics), with the lovely quivering sound of Kestrel talk. And a second one swung in, intent it seemed to unseat the present incumbent and take control of the tower.
And when the fanfare, the party favours, the streamers, and the cheering all die down, its time to face reality.
Number 200 will be the last regular Saturday Evening Post. I’ve decided to call it quits, like many who stop while there is still a glow to the process.
When I first started Saturday Evening Post about four years back, my intent was to publish a photo from the week and explain where, and why i was highlighing it.
Then came covid and in particular the lockdowns. Melbourne ended up enduring the longest lockdown of any city in the world. (As the Ombudsman said in a report on why Victorians were not allowed to return home, “It was hard not to agree with the complainant that such requests were ‘beyond unreasonable… very intrusive and unkind, it’s inhuman actually’. …. But the effect of a complex and constrained bureaucracy meant some outcomes were downright unjust, even inhumane.” See here )
So I turned to the blog as an outlet to the frustration of not being able to travel about. And so the style of the blog changed and we began to cover photographic topics, the work of great photographers and my own recollections of a young lad in a country town with a passion for making images.
But, as insightful readers will have noted, its been harder and harder keep up the flow of that sort of material, and I also began to add a few ”stream of conciousness’ posts along the way. Easy to follow if you were aware of where I was coming from, or even going to, but as a reader explained to me, “It’s to complex and I just click the photo and move on.” That should, I suppose, have been a warning. So it seems that its perhaps better to step of the treadmill of grinding out a page simply to fit a deadline.
But by then the magic of #200 was looming on the horizon and here it is.
So what to expect. Well the normal sections of the blog will continue on their own ad-hoc basis as they are posting now. I am hoping to be able to photograph birds in such a way as to bring an insight into their lives, in a single story. Little Visits and Pages from the Field Note Book, should be regular in an irregular sort of way, and perhaps even an occassional Saturday Evening Post, (perhaps).
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. I have. Thanks to everyone who has commented, added additional information or insights and generally made the blog a bit larger than just my ramblings. I have truly appreciated all the various interactions.
Thanks again, and as Crobie Morrison used to say, “I hope to catch you Along the Track, somewhere soon.”
We were out the other day around the Altona area and had arrived at the Maddox Street Boatsheds area where the Paisley Drain and the Kororoit Creek empty into the Bay.
The Environmental Team of Hobson’s Bay Council have carried out significant works in the area developing it for walking and bird watching. My good friend, Andrew Webster is part of that team and they have made up special signs to help id birds in the area. One of those signs has been erected at the Boatshed area and as I walked through the bush toward it I was pretty thrilled to see a painting repro of a Nankeen Kestrel. Instantly I knew the source of the picture.
It was one from a series of Kestrels that I made out at Woodlands Homestead several years ago. Hard not to recognise the wing angle and pose of the bird as I see the photo every day as it’s a wall print next to the computer. Pretty chuffed (not Choughed) to see it and it was good to recall the memory of the time with those birds and also that it can go on to help other who are beginning bird observers.
I know, the think global, act local is all the rage in some politically correct circles.
We have been thinking locally the past week or so. Partly because of the weather— finally getting the rain we desperately need. And also strong winds, which we could do without. 85kph gusts the other day. Seriously, if you can’t stand up in it why go out.
EE and I have had need to visit the local medical area at Werribee Hospital precinct. As it turns out, my Flickr mate David Nice, has several good areas mapped out in the area. With Kestrels, Brown Falcon, and Little Eagles, and ‘alleged’ Black-shouldered Kites.;-)
So after the serious stuff, and the coffee in the cafe area, to recover, we’ve been sitting in the car along a couple of the roads by the local paddocks to see what is happening. Now tis true we don’t have the bird Karma of David N. but I do have EE, and that is about the best advantage I can offer.
Oh, she cries, Black-shouldered Kites, I scan. Nothing. I scan more. Still nothing, I point the Bushnells across the sky. Nothing.
Ok, saith I, Where?
Over there, beyond those trees. What she actually means is in the next suburb! Bushnells finally lock on. Yep, those two insignificant dots, could be Black-shouldered Kites. I retire defeated.
“On the left”, the cry goes up. Turning in my best Tai Chi move, I make a brush knee move to the left, and sure enough, as I swing up the camera, there is David’s friend, ” Georgia” the Kestrel, lining up for a hunt. So we spent the next few minutes in the area, and saw her making a number of catches, crickets or the like, I suspect.
She then lucked out with a mouse, then another, which she stashed near a rock, and as we were geting ready to move, she flashed by with a third one, to land on the buildings in the medical precinct. Not sure where she went with it after that.
We then moved further south, and found a male Kestrel hunting in the paddocks near the Uni. At one point he was about three metres above the median strip on the roadway, with cars ripping past on both sides. My heart was in my mouth. No luck, so he too moved on.
Found Arthur the Brown Falcon at work in the fields again. Every time he got airborne, the local Magpie squadron took him out, so he was contented to hunt mostly among the tall grasses and roadside.
And just as the light was going to be captured by thick dark clouds, a Little Eagle drifted overhead, and it too moved further over the freeway.
Warning to Birders. This blog is mostly about photography, and lighting techniques and fanning the creative juices. CLICK AWAY NOW! You have been warned.
My current mentor and I have been playing with the thought, “What if you’ve taken your last “GREAT” photograph.” ;-(
Not one that is technically correct. Used the right lens, got the shutterspeed-iso-aperture worked out. The exposure is dead on. The subject is all as it should be. No need for massive post-production. Not that sort of Great.
But, y’know, Great!
And image that purely by subject/time/lighting/emotional appeal reaches out beyond the frame and the viewer “gets it”. The ones that sometimes we bleed over or travel miles for, or just happens to occur when we walk out the door. You, subject, lighting, mood, atmosphere and feeling all make their stamp on the moment and its, “Great”. Not the one that gets more “Likes” on Facebook, or more “Favs” on Flickr. But one that in a timeless manner somehow moves the thought you saw at the moment to the viewer’s mind and they not only identify but also imbibe.
Y’know like McCurry’s Pic of the Green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of Nat Geo. Still get shivers when I recall how I first noticed that photo in the news agents rack when I’d wandered in off the street. It was the only magazine in the entire rack that stole my heart away.
I’ve faced some big lighting challenges over the years. Buildings at first or last light. Vehicles in the moody pre-dawn. Brides and Grooms in the midday sun. Chrome laundry bowls on white gloss metal stand. And in all cases the same principles apply.
I had the good fortune to have been trained at one stage by the best.
Dean Collins. Master of Light. —A title he most justifiably deserved.
“He taught us to not only see the light, but to move it, bend it and most importantly control it, no matter where or when we were creating images” tricolorlabs.com
At one seminar Dean showed a 3 foot by 5 foot print of a portrait of Natalie Wood, taken just before her death. No matter where you stood in the room, her beauty shone from the wall. A truly stunning portrait.
So the other evening when the challenge came, I was fascinated how the various elements came together.
Gotta few minutes?
Here we go.
We’ve been working with a Nankeen Kestrel for about a week or more now. At first it was a casual acquaintance, but like all things after awhile it gets a little easier to predict what an an individual bird will do.
We dropped by on our way home from a day at the You Yangs Park, looking we thought for Robins. Not that we had much luck.
But the sunshine was holding in the evening light and we decided to see how the Kestrel was doing. I have just about concluded that it’s a first year male, who is still in juvenile dress. I might be wrong, but the light tail feathers and lack of barring are a good sign.
Found (him) sitting quietly on a branch over the paddock. So I decided to walk up through the grass and see if I could get closer, and perhaps get a better angle. And he sat.
Huge amounts of supposition going on here, however I am pretty much convinced that as I walked through the grass, mice in the area fled, but toward the Kestrel. Suddenly the head bobbed back and forth, and then he dropped.
A search on the Bureau of Meteorology website, has quite a bit of info on the lack of rain in mid of Australia. See here http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/
At the bottom of the page is a couple of graphs that begin to put it all in perspective.
And as it dries out, it seems, that quite a number of birds are moving south. Or toward the eastern coast.
And we’ve seen quite a change in the numbers of smaller falcons and kites in our area. In the space of a 10 minute drive the other day we saw 14 Nankeen Kestrel.
So we took a trip to the Western Treatment Plant on a sunny morning.