Saturday Evening Post #65 : The Gift of our Very Personal Now.

Simple one tonight.
Mostly because I couldn’t have said it better.

Here is a quote from “The Online Photographer”, A Postcard from Peter

“The gift of seeing, feeling, and the joy of response!

“We live in a world full of immense challenges—often personal and maybe more often, generalized challenges to the spirit presented by the major forces at play all around us—politics, economics, ideology, attitudes, and environmental realities. In the midst of all of this—among the daily blessings and joys that offer so much amazing life in the present moment—is the opportunity to go out, and use one’s eyes, heart, movement, and presence to not only see, but to feel, and respond by registering with a camera, our very personal now. For many of us, it is not only photography, but more importantly, this opportunity to exist and live in the present among all that life can offer daily, that is an essential nourishment for the soul. And, it all starts by simply being out, present, and alive, by seeing and feeling. This opportunity is such a blessing for us all.”

—Peter Turnley

Original contents copyright 2020 by Peter Turnley. All Rights Reserved.

Mike at Online Photographer also features a photo by Peter. But courtesy means I won’t republish it here, without permission.

Peter Turnley is a photojournalist and has had many magazine covers over his career.

I have often pondered in quieter moments, that if I’d have not taken a turn to commercial photography, that PJ would have been my pursuit.
So to that end, much of my current bird photography is not about exotic, or more species, but simply to record the goings on of the lives on birds that I come in contact with.

Its my own gift of the Very Personal Now.

Enjoy.

 

Saturday Evening Post #64: A Special Conjunction

Art is the demonstration that the Ordinary is Extra-ordinary—A. Ozenfant

Been away for the past week(end) up at the family acres.  EE’s sister’s Wedding to be precise. Right on the edge of the fire zone in the north of the state.  How close, well, the reception was held in the local Fire Refuge Shelter-the hall was booked before the current crisis. At other times, it’s the local football club building. Go Tigers!

Had the chance to relive some of my early history, as I was called on to ‘do the wedding photos’.  Talk about dragging an old warhorse out for another canter round the circuit.

So armed with the trusty D810, and  brace of SB-600 flashunits, I did, indeed, set off. Add a good short zoom, 24-70 would have been the choice, and I’ve got inside groups and closeup intimate portraits covered.

And as it all came flooding back, like learning to ride a bike, I recalled why I really like to use strobe flash.  A touch here, a shadow fill there, a rosco gel on that one, change up the white-balance, bounce it, fill it, wind down the power for a rich backdrop, and so on, and on.
I also recalled why we went down the Nikon path back when we went digital full time:—Their superior (at the time) flash control. Joy to use and control the power and balance, without lots of cables, and light control gizmos.

Reminded me of a quote from Tom Ang, is his photography book.  “The joy and delight photographers take in their experience of light. It may, then, be a sharing of the experience of life itself. It is our good fortune as photographers to have a particular awareness of light’s harmony with life. For the special conjunction of a certain quality of light with the stream of life creates a ‘significance of meaning‘ that we turn into a photograph. Light always leads the way.
The wise photographer learns to be taken up by light—not to contemplate it too deeply.”

Working on the Magnificent Magpie project, I was suddenly aware that while I was walking around Maggie checking out the angle, the light the backdrop, the point of view, Maggie was evaluating me too. What a great two way communication.

I ended up sitting on the grass while Maggie hunted across a large lawn lit by streams of light against dark shadows.

And then Maggie stepped out of the shade, into the light, and the conjunction happened.

Just like working with strobes and getting harmony and balance through the electronic flash, Maggie worked with the available moment, and all I had to do was play my part.
Press the shutter button.

Tom Ang again, “The Tao of effective lighting is to let the subject and the light work it out for themselves. Letting be: that is how to be effective without working.”

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.

 

Saturday Evening Post #58 : A Step Closer

Continuing with the story of Brown Falcon at nest, and working inside the bird’s comfort zone.

She had been fed by the male. Looks like  a pipit. We were standing quite a bit far back from the action, when she took the food, landed on a tree nearby the nest and began to eat her fill.  The male stayed around and sort of ran interference against the marauding Black Kites, and she was so confident of his ability she didn’t pause from her food.

In the end, the Kites took the hint and moved away.

Next the story becomes interesting, as she took the remains of the pipit, and flew further out, beyond where we were standing, meaning we were between her and nest. Something she has not done previously.
After some more feeding, she picked up the pipit and flew around past us, and landed on a closer tree. Then she repeated the process again, landing just beyond where we were standing.

A look about to make sure all was safe and she launched, dropped to the deck, and swung past us about head height or so. Then with a few wing beats, she flew up toward the nest and landed on a branch nearby.
“She has a young one to feed”, was the obvious answer.

Regrettably, or on purpose, take you pick, she landed so the food transfer occurred behind the main tree trunk, and after a few minutes she flew out to land on a close tree-top and began her preening again.

We took the close flyby without aggression as a sign she has decided we are harmless to her cause and she’ll carry on around us. Hopefully she will allow us to share in the growth of the young one(s).

We’ll see.

Saturday Evening Post #57 : Nature Gives and Takes

Firstly a pause for to comprehend the massive destruction, “Cataclysmic, Apocalyptic, Total, Tragic, Devestating, Violent, and Undescribable” are words that have been used to describe the bushfires sweeping along the New South Wales and Queensland countryside as I write.

My heart goes out to all those who have suffered and lost and are bewildered if not overwhelmed by the speed and severity of the fires.  Heartfelt gratidue to all those brave volunteers who’ve put their lives on hold and on the line in so many ways to help and defend where possible. The task truly does seem overwhelming.
As a little, little tacker growing up on an orchard in a fire prone area, I remember my Dad being away for over a week or more a couple of times each summer to fight local blazes. In those days the major weapon was a small metal knapsack that held probably 20 litres of water.  Mum had several of them around the outside of the house and while they were very attractive and interesting to a small growing boy, they were not to be touched under any circumstance.

I hope that a weather change brings some relief to the drama.

But nature also gives; even at a very small level.

I’ve featured a nest branch of a pair of Little Lorikeet both here and on Flickr, and the other day, while we were looking for returning Sacred Kingfisher I took a little while to drop by the nest area, and at first it was quiet and I assumed they had flown the young. Back to the Kingfishers, and not long afterward I heard the distinct calls of the Loris and went back for a second look.
To my suprise both adults were on the top of the branch, and a little head kept popping up out of the hole. However in the time I was there it did not venture out, and eventually mumn and dad flew off to feed, and it tucked itself back into the nest.

May peace come on healing wings.

Saturday Evening Post #56 : Street

When I was a much much younger photographer, and life was quite simpler in so many ways, I used to enjoy wandering the streets of a small country town with a camera, roll of film and the only lens I owned. Well it was a fixed focus, fixed lens so a brace of interchangeable lenses was not even on my ‘must have’ horizon.
And try as I might, I just couldn’t match the power, quality and story of photos that I saw in books by Henri Cartier Bresson or W Eugene Smith, that I could look at in my local library. But I was much too young to be introspective, so just kept click’n away recording the goings on in a town.

No one really took much notice of a ‘kid with a camera’, so most times my meager lens was sufficient. It certainly matched my limited vision. But I guess I did learn a thing or seven about making dark moody prints that epitomized the moment.

As I grew older and moved to the ‘big smoke’, I was able to rub shoulders so to speak with a number of photographer who excelled in making the most of street, and to hone to a fine tune, the art of ‘the decisive moment’. One Michael J. Hill springs to mind,  I guess I mention Michael, as I have a half baked blog that he features in, but still have to add the polishing touches.

I love following on Flickr a range of Street Photographers, and still mentor under David DuChemin from time to time.

EE and I were travelling the Bellarine Peninsula and had arrived at Drysdale. It is one of those charming towns the writers always say, “nestled in the…”  As if all charming villages nestle.  The same writers have ‘bubbling streams’, and ‘astonishing vistas’, along with ‘constant changing panoramas’, and the like.

Drysdale at present is in the middle of a huge roadworks project that will be a bypass road for traffic along the Bellarine. But, at present the town is somewhat ‘engulfed’ (I had to put that one in) by large heavy duty road making equipment, on the way into town. Which means that lots of little red witches hats and dangling plastic safety marking tape are all over the area.
Just past the guy holding the ‘STOP/SLOW’ sign, I noted a Grey Butcherbird by the side of the road. Totally unconcerned about the changes happening to its landscapes, there it sat making the most use of the strange perches and the opportunities for the food that was being stirred up from time to time.
I pulled off the road, and we watched as Butchy hopped from fence to witches hat to tape and then onto the ground with the big hardware rolling all around.

Cameras out, and I was a kid again. But this time with a much better defined vision, and an interchangeable lens. 🙂
Eventually got the shot I wanted, and on looking at it, thoughts of all those old prints came back, and I thought that a mono approach would bring out the ‘street’ feel.
A quick trip through one of my fav programmes, Silver EFex Pro gave me the desired result.  I also added a small selenium tone just to match the bird’s mood.

Oh, the colour version wasn’t too bad either.

I’m gone.

Saturday Evening Post #55 : A Zest for Life

Due to a turn of circumstances, and a change in the weather, with intense cold together with strong winds, meant I was housebound the other morning.

I kept walking to the window, and pressing my nose up against the pane, but to no effect as the weather just seemed to laugh at my difficulty.

Then, on what can only have been a serendipitous moment, a small brown bird arrived on the fence. Followed by a second, and then a third.
A closely followed by the local backyard Blackbird.  Looking as always dapper in his rich dress.

We’ve known for the past few days, that they had an active nest in one of the bushes in the garden next door, and we had seen occasionally the past few days a young one in flight.  But now it was obvious that the pair had hatched out a fine looking crop of three young ones.

And I should add “Hungry” ones.  They sat on the fence, the garden pots and bushes, calling, calling, calling.  Feed me. I’m here, feed me.

I opened the sliding door to patio and sat down inside on a small stool, with the D500 and the 300mm PF lens.  As there was little light available in our small garden area, I was running into trouble getting sufficient shutter speed, so took a decision, and after all, they only ‘common’ blackbirds, to run the ISO up beyond 3200 and see how good the D500 might be. I also wanted to try out the latest offing from Topaz Labs with their AI DeNoise, although for the present image I didn’t use it.

The small garden area must have been full of good tummy filling food as they stayed for at least an hour or so.  Which gave me a great time to learn of some of the habits of the little birds, and to experience their simple zest for life. Each mouthful was accepted and then the cry went up for more. I began to feel both sorry and develop a respect for the hardworking male.  The female must have been off having a rest, (or gone shopping?)

The small birds cheery chatter among themselves and their calls for more food was a warm feel on a cold day.
Each carrying a new life, each eager to get a great start and each filled with a desire to learn the way of being a blackbird.

Much of the time I just sat and watched, as they skipped back and forth from pot to fence, to the edge of the patio, and eventually running across in front of me.
Not often I can have that much fun looking out my own door. 🙂

No doubt this will not be the only crop the pair will have this year, and soon instead of being their protector and uber food deliverer, Blackie, will chase them out of his territory and they will begin a new chapter of their lives.  Not doubt they will take the same enthusiasm with them.

Enjoy.

Saturday Evening Post #52 :

It started as a fuzzy idea.

We should go to the Treatment Plant on Friday afternoon, said EE.
Looking at the weather maps, well it seemed reasonable 5 days out.
So we planned.
And come Friday afternoon, not only was it a fuzzy idea, but in reality, the weather was fuzzy to say the least.

Still not be deterred a second plan arose.  “Let’s go out to the Highway Lounge for an afternoon coffee and if it’s still raining when we come out, well, take it as a sign, and we’ll come home.
If its not raining, take it as  a sign, and go on down to WTP”.

Can’t argue with that logic, and the coffee would at least be hot.

By the time we had indulged in one of Garry’s finest, the rain had indeed ceased, and lo, but truth be told the wind had dropped off and while overcast, it was at least pleasant.
Mind, I did check for bright lights in the sky and the sounds of heavenly voices when she said. “It’s a sign. Let’s go.”

But, and you knew that was coming right?

But,

As we turned on to Point Wilson Road, strange little wet drops appeared almost by magic on the windscreen.  I was sure it was a sign.  However as we were already down in the plant, we kept going.

The T Section had quite a number of Whiskered Terns, (formerly Marsh Terns), hunting over the ponds, and had the weather been kinder, the photography would have been easier.

Bump up the ISO to 1600, and hope that I’d get enough shutter speed.  There is no stopping these highly energetic birds, and if you thought swallows and martins were a challenge, crank it up to a new level for terns. Especially grey birds on grey water. The auto focus, even the best of them, and the D500 ranks pretty highly, has a problem. And the rain only added that extra hint of difficulty.
So we persevered.

At one stage they started hunting over the grass areas on the bunds, and some contrast between bird and background.  Good fun.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #51 : Of Shape and Form

Form and Shape are among the basic elements of art.

Often to find form I find its necessary to look beyond the the subject and the structural elements of the composition.
And being able to reduce the elements to simple black and white often makes the form more visible.

Currently on the tv is an ad for TAB Corp. (Yep, I don’t bet, don’t encourage it, and generally rail against it).
However this one, I hope you get a chance to see it, is about the work of all those behind the scenes in the industry.  Those that get up very very early, the food staff, the trainers, the jockeys, the handlers, saddlers, blacksmiths, transport, and the like.

What makes it a very exiting visual is that is is all shot, or at least reduced to black and white. The lighting, contrast, the edgyness really has a great feel to it all.

I can’t seem to find a link to it else I’d share it.

Which leads me to Little Ravens hard at work on a nest.
Don’t you hate a poorly developed segue 🙂

This is one of a pair that were gathering nesting materials.  If you look closely you’ll see some binding twine that the bird had collected. Taken it to the nest, discovered it didn’t fit, and has landed on the post and pushed it into the crack on the fence post. Perhaps it would be needed later.

Then it looked at me.  And I could feel it was taking in every little detail. Even knew the serial number on the lens. 🙂
And the thing that got me working on the moment was the light seperating out the shape from the background and the draping moulding light playing over the form of the feathers.
“If I use this,” I thought, “I’ll make it monochrome.”

What is so great about monochrome is that enables the viewer to savor those shapes, forms and textures, that transcends the ordinary to an ethereal world.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #49 An Endless Love Affair

“Light makes a photograph. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light.
Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the (a) key to photography.”

So said George Eastman. Founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, and  man who went on to amass a fortune at his death that, today would be around $2 Billion.

I wondered for all that, if there was a collection of photographs somewhere taken by a man who Embraced, Admired, Loved and Knew light.
But sad to say he seems to have left very little of a body of work that could be said to be the photography of George Eastman.

Here is a link to an image of Eastman using a Kodak Number 2 camera while on board the S. S. Gallia in 1890
George_Eastman_(F._Church_1890).jpg

He was enamoured with motion pictures and carried a 16mm camera on his travels. From those journeys a number of documentaries of various places were made in the 1920s. He also regularly travelled to Game Hunting Safaris in Africa.
I can recall seeing some book or documentary once, that showed Eastman, the ‘White Hunter’ in suitable garb posing around the bodies of dead beasts, but no doubt the majority of those photos would have been taken by his handlers.
Here is a link to one from the George Eastman House site. 2007-0007-0127-safari-ge-and-villager.jpg

We had been with BirdLife Werribee, formerly and now informally  known “Werribee Wagtails” on a day outing to Ocean Grove.

The group was walking around Blue Waters Lake Reserve and had stopped to see several Nankeen Night Herons in an old willow tree, with its twisted branches and long fringes that made sighting just that bit difficult.

Also flying past down the centre of the lake from time to time were Royal Spoonbills.  They had to sun behind them and looked a treat in brilliant white against the shady far shore of the lake.
I lost interest in hard to see Herons and became enthralled with both the spoonbills and the light so beautifully cascading through the feathers.

Exposure for such scenes is at best fraught with complications. As EE is known to say.  “If I get the feather detail right, the background gets lost. If I keep the surrounds then the contrast takes out the feather details.” Or some combination of those words that expresses the difficulty of backlighting.

No hero lecture here. I choose exposure for the feathers, and will worry about where the background goes when I work out the mood and feel that I want from the moment.  That is a slider thing. I make no apologies.  Give me Photoshop with layers, layer masks, paintbrush, and a Curves setting and  that’s me for post production in the digital darkroom.

How to set the exposure right for the wings?  See my blog sometime back on Dean Collins.

I managed several birds on the day, and at first thought I’d like to have the head and neck showing. But in the end, I selected this one as the shape and curve of the wings is Satur poetic.

Enjoy

 

Saturday Evening Post #46 :Pattern and Creativity

Den Ming-Dao quotes a Taoist thought
“Pattern and Creativity
Are the two poles of action”.

When I read that,  I was struck by how true it is of photographic pursuit (I didn’t say photographic achievement 🙂 )

In this day an age of Facebook, Twitter-twadle, self-obsessed selfie takers, and all encompassing media bombardment it is sometimes hard to find the quiet of the moment to hear the wind in the tree, or feel the warmth of a rock in the sunshine.
And I’m not the only one, a clever Subaru ad, I saw the other day has as its theme a small child enjoying the moments. Such a tying shoelaces correctly for the first time. I remember that too. (If you get a chance to see the ad, don’t miss the closing scene)

It is to be recalled, that I’m a photographer first and a bird observer secondly.  I have several friends who are always on the look out for the next ‘new’ bird. Seeing 400 species in a year is their thing.  Me, I’d be happy to see the same bird 400 times.

Neither is the right appoach it is simply different expressions of pattern and creativity.

Den Ming-Doa goes on to comment:
Followers of Tao use patterns when planning. They observe the ways of nature, percieve invisible connections, matching patterns with goals. When the unpredictable happens, they change immediately.
The spontaneous creation of new patterns is their ultimate art.

I’ve always considered myself blessed by the  number and variety of my mentors, who, among other things made me work at establishing a love of light, its form, quality and direction. Each element plays an important part in both the choice of subject, and the approach to bring out the right theme or mood.

Each encounter with light, soft, harsh, bright, moody, rich, or colourful, sets in motion opportunities.
And just occassionally, when the unpredictable happens… It offers the opportunity for a new pattern in my work.

It was a day—as so many have been of late—of overcast, grey, lowering, porridge skies.  High ISO, slow shutter speeds, difficulty in seperating grey/white subjects from grey/white backgrounds.

I’d found—to be honest, it wasn’t lost!— a Black-shouldered Kite, resting in a tree. Probably worn out from hunting for mice in a drenched paddock. I sat down on a rock and watched.  Took a few frames, just to keep my shutter finger warm, and waited.  Perhaps it would fly and hunt.

When on a moment, the cloud changed, and a small breach opened up to let through sunlight that, like a “Super Trouper” Syncrolite spotlight drenched the scene. Directed, on schedule, on cue, and on time to the Kite, and leaving the surrounds in theatrical darkness.  —Just like a script 🙂

And the Kite awakended by the light perhaps, like an actor on a stage, rose to the warmth and opened its wings for stretch relief.

Two frames, and the light, again on cue, was cut from the scene as the clouds regained their strength.

Sometimes, its seems the we plod, but we perservere and prepare, go out hoping, if not dreaming, of finding the birds and the light and the setting, striving to bring our vision of the world back home on a memory card.

As Deng Meng-Doa concludes:
If we nurse our plans through good times and bad, our plans will eventually succeed with the inevitability of fish being caught in a net.

Have a great weekend.
Keep takin’ pictures, we do.

Saturday Evening Post #45: Risk Assessment

I saw a warning sign on the tool chest in the back of an RACV Roadside vehicle the other day.

Warning before beginning work have you made a Risk Assessment.

Good advice I thought for someone working on car repairs on the side of the road with cars, buses and trucks speeding by, each driver totally self-obsessed in their own world of radio, wifi, facebook and family troubles.

Good advice, I thought too for your average photographer at work on the beach. 🙂

We had spent the morning, in the sunshine—let it be said, around Point Cook. We had arrived at low tide, and around this area the tide recedes in some places out as much as 100 m or more exposing lots of interesting little rock pools and seagrass beds and rocks that mark the edge of the shallows.

Normally terns, cormorants and gulls are the usual suspects.  And occassionally when the wind is right, strong winds coming inshore, Australasian Gannets that patrol up and down, just out of camera reach.
However on this day, with a strong off-shore wind, the gannets were working along the area just out beyond the farthest exposed rocks. I don’t know for sure, but hazard a guess they were going down to around the Werribee River mouth, turning north and the gliding past us, about midway to their turn around somewhere near Altona, at the Kororoit Creek outlet or Jawbone Park.  Just a guess.  About a 15 min and 10 min turn around time.

So after watching several passes and buckling on the TC1.4 Televerter for a bit of extra gain, I pondered, I could walk along the dry sand/mud, step on a few stones and be close to the action.

That would work.

So I set out. Ever alert as a big wave might squash my plans, or perhaps the tide would turn and maroon me out on the dwindling dry ground around the rocks.
As I stepped over one puddle to another, it was apparent that the tide was indeed turning, as the little riverlets of water were heading in to fill the pools near the beach.  Risk Assessment time.

I ventured on to the far rocks and waited 10 minutes and of course the gannets didn’t turn up on time. Look behind me, ok, dry land all the way. Wait.
10 more minutes and the first gannets begin patrolling down toward me. Still a bit too far out for great results.  They disappear up the bay. Wait.

15 minutes later, and a look behind indicates that I’m running out of time. And the birds appear.  Remember that TC? Well at 700mm focal length, the closest bird overwhelmed the frame.  Quickly take off TC, balance on rock, hope not to drop expensive optical devices on the rock or worse into the salt water. Risk Assessment zero!

Another 10 minutes and the birds are patrolling again. Not as close as the first pass, but I’m running out of options.
Look behind. Water is beginning to fill in some of the lower pools and its all a few minutes from joining together and wet feet slog home.  Risk Assessment.
Retire now to survive for another day.

Australasian Gannets are interesting in Port Philip Bay.  They roost on several of the navigational structures around the bay and on a man-made island called, “Pope’s Eye” near Queenscliffe.
Some reseach, indicates that the birds that fly up and down the coast line on the western side are primarily males.  In other areas it’s pretty much a 60% female, 40% male mix.

I also discovered the link to a web cam on Pope’s Eye.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in a gannet colony, and you wanted to avoid getting wet, travelling to Portland, and the smell, then this is well worth the few minutes to view. Solar powered it only functions in good weather.
It cycles a pre-recording if the live feed is off.  Bet you can’t wait for tomorrow.

Here it is.

 

And here is the quick Fly By.

1908-16_DWJ_0969_NX2

Saturday Evening Post: #41 Problem Solving

Long term readers will remember, or might recall, that I have a warm and fuzzy feeling for “Choughness”, the life skills of your average White-winged Chough clan.
I put up a shot a week or so ago from a trip to Serendip Park, where the Choughs were trying to raid the feed bin for Brolgas and Magpie Geese.

Now it probably doesn’t take much to figure out that your average feeding spot for a brolga or goose is somewhat higher up than even the tallest chough.

The family I worked with two week ago had adopted the ‘jump higher its got to work’ approach as each family member tried-usually in vain-to get a grip inside the feeder and only had time to grab a small beakful before plummeting back to earth.

However time goes on. Problem solving skill seminars and practice sessions followed up with various counselling events, has given the Choughs a new approach to the problem
Or

This is a different family and well on the way up the evolutionary ladder. Next step Chough on the moon?

This family had developed a very workable solution indeed.  One clever bird, (Called Lucky by its friends) would jump up, flap/drop onto the edge of the feeder, and somehow balance its centre of gravity over the feeder and thus successful land inside. Then with great scooping bills-full, drop seed out of the feeder to the waiting family members below.
The only draw back to this incredible bit of problem solving is the Brolga, Magpie Geese and Little Ravens, don’t take to kindly to their food supply being raided, and every few minutes Lucky was forced to abandon its position to avoid a sharp wrap from the Brolga.

Where there is a will there is Choughness.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #40 “I will sing, sing a new song”

Ha!  Just messing with your minds really.

As our younger girl grew up, the group U2 were a constant source of music enjoyment in the house.

And as I hit number 40 for the Saturday Evening Post, I thought I’d quote from one of U2’s music would be a bit special.

Lots of interesting anecdotes about the piece, but I’ve always liked Bono’s statement, “We wrote it in 10 minutes, played in in 10 minutes, recorded it in 10 minutes, mixed it in 10 minutes, but that has nothing do with with why its called 40. (How Long!)

Rainbow Lorikeets are among some of the brightest, and most active little clowns that frequent the trees where we live.  They can always be counted on to come up with a new wing flap, expression, act, or even song to entertain.

I have no idea what this one was upto, but its mate was on the branch next door, and for some reason, lots of big wing flaps were needed to emphasise the importance of some point of communication.  I managed to get it right on the end of the outward stroke.

“Many will See, Many will See and Hear” (40, How Long)

Enjoy