Snapshots: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Well not quite, but I went down early this morning as the light looked like being great, and promised to be back ‘soon’, but stayed a bit longer.
EE has done a fetlock, or pulled a ‘hammie”, and is a bit out of circulation at the moment, so I set off on me lonesome, hoping the sunshine might stay.

The Lady was in residence by the time I arrived, and was no doubt looking for breakfast.  She had several attempts but missed, then stretched out upriver and within a few minutes returned with a sizeable fish.

Bathed in early morning sunlight
I’m really getting a feel for her contrasted against the cliffs behind
The first swing and miss for the morning. Have to say I really thought she was on a winner here
A second attempt.
The tail kicks up and must give her some extra speed
Another miss.
Plenty of light to make the water sparkle
The fantastic head shake that flings off all the excess water
A mintue later and she was back with a fish
There was a young family in the carpark, and their baby cried. The long stare took it all in
And there goes the last of the tail. All done at that.
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Snapshots: An Eloise Collection

Enough of this photography vision inspired techno mumbo jumbo.
How about some photographs.

Good point.

As I rack up harddiskfulls of Osprey pictures, it getting hard to put them all on Flickr.
I know there is way to make project pages here on WordPress, however I just can’t figure out how to make it work the way I want. But the story telling of the blog suits my photo journalism style I think, so I’ll persevere a bit longer.

In the meantime here is a few so that you don’t miss out.

Enjoy

Gotta Love that intense look
Balancing
This is like a layup in basketball, straight onto the perch
A hit and miss. One fish that got the chance of another day
Sometimes photographers talk about “Pre-visualising the image” it’s an Ansel Adams term. Here I more ‘pre-willed’ as I knew she was swinging up, and was lucky she chose the small shaft of light through the trees.
Soft melded light that just reeks character
Take away food
A big wing stretch before leaving
Swinging up in the even light
Soft evening light enhances the colours
A really tight turn with the head held level
Sometimes the poetry just happens in the best light

 

 

Atmospherics

It rained overnight. Not a lot really, we were promised a deluge, but like all good weather cells, some places were more fortunate than others.  And the weather prognosticators, of the tv weather. in their usual scramble to spread fear and anxiousness among the masses were predicting a morning that would have made Noach tremble in his galoshes.

We, EE and I were keen—insert obsessed—with going back out and seeing Eloise, and as I had an early morning appointment, we figured on an early start and then home for breakfast. Good plan.
Weather looked pretty nice with stars asparkling in the rich blue predawn sky. But by the time we’d pulled into the parking area, an ominous dark cloud was rolling in behind. However because of the rain, and the heat, what we also had was the area festooned in mist. Everywhere. and the photographer was beginning to lament leaving the landscape lens at home.

Eloise must have had similar Osprey thoughts about the weather and she didn’t turn up until about an hour and a half after sunup.  Caught a glimpse of her wafting through the mists. She sat on the furtherest tree and showed no sign of going fishing. We concluded she must have eaten an early breakfast elsewhere today.

But in the meantime the mists and the birds in the area were a pleasant interlude.

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The mist lay a carpet of pearl across the landscape
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Lack of light and high ISO were the order of the day.
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White birds on pearl
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Eloise coming out of the mists
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The Royal Spoonbill decided to sleep in.
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Even when a burst of sunshine came, the Spoonbill carried on
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Eloise perched a long way from our camera point
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The Dusky Moorhens were happy with a fresh supply coming down on the river
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No wonder the mists lingered. The air was still, the water mirror smooth

Snapshots: Learning the Fine Art of Fishing

or:  Eloise Does Fast-food Breakfast.

You knew it was coming right? Of course you did.

With such a bird in the vicinity, and the possibility of her taking a fish sometime when I was there, it was too much not to expect I’d sacrifice a couple of hours sleep, and go down to K Road Cliffs in the early morning.  EE had somewhat offhandedly remarked that perhaps I should sleep down there in the car.

So armed with the ever reliable D810 and the 300mm f/2.8 and TC2.0, I set out.  The only thing that made the plan look less than successful was the weather. Overcast. Porridge. Classic 3200ISO weather.

I found her sitting high in a tree overlooking the horseshoe bend and its big fishing hole.  The tide was at the end of running in high, and that seems to be her preferred time.
So I waited. Did I mention that lack of light.  I’m not a great high iso at any cost person, but it was high or go home, and I took the former not the latter option.

And waited. So did she.

Here’s the long sequence.  Enjoy

 Eloise was sitting high above the river on a favoured perch.

A first strike

 The next attempt.  What I learned from all this is that she prefers to hunt close to the river bank. Each strike was only a few metres from the edge.  I’m not sure if that makes it easier to see the fish or if the fish work close along the river bank

  Tail up and grappling hooks going down

 I put this not so good one in to see how close she runs to the edge. Another miss

 Back up to the far bank. Here is part of the high cliffs on K Road. They sometimes appear in movie and tv dramas.

 Another try another miss

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The look and the wingspread say it allAnd away for another attempt

I missed the strike, but here it’s possible to see how close to the edge she is working

Gathering the energy for extraction

I’ve included this as I love that just over the wing view.  However the fish is not coming out without a fight.

Sinking back in to try again

WIngs spread out, she spent a few seconds regathering her strength and perhaps rearranging the fish underneath for better lift

Swing and away

Now to find a quiet spot of enjoy breakfast

A little later some Whistling Kites thought they could freeload so she took off again with her half-eaten prize.

 

Snapshots: Hangin’ out the Sheets with Eloise

This gracious lady is currently settled in to the K Road Cliffs area at Werribee.  There is a horseshoe bend in the river and it obviously suits her fishing style. Not being a fishing sort of person, I don’t understand how the fish run up the estuary but suspect now, that it is more likely on the turn of the tide as the water flow out. Today that would have happend around sunup, and most likely she had hunted on the early morning light.
By  the time we, and 10 or so of our new close personal friends, rocked up after breakfast, she was well fed and/or the fish had gone as she showed little inclination for hunting.

However she did manage to make the photographers smile. On a tree close to the river edge, and in full sunlight.

So given an appreciative audience, she ran through the entire preening process, making sure every feather had a lick, and was back in the right place.  By 10:30 am, it was all over she packed up the sheets, took a long stretch and headed up river for her own reasons.

I thought I’d post a small selection, as I can quickly see that I am going to end up with days of work that don’t get sorted nor published.

So prepare for a few more blogs as the days progress.

Enjoy.

Hangin’ out the Sheets

One of my favourite activites with raptors is that ‘zipping’ up of the tail feathers.
A quick shake and all are back in place

 

After stiting in the hot sun for several hours she was panting and drooping out her wings
She is folding up the sheets, and I rather like the look of the power and depth of the wings shown here.
Time to turn around. A delicate process and a test of balance and wing work
A final big stretch of wings, tail, body and legs. It must be time to go

 

Feathers, feet and tail hard at work to regain equilibrium

 

SnapShots: The Account of The Magpie and the Little Eagle

All good tales have a protagonist and of course the antagonist.  From Romeo and Juliet to Jane Eyre, or a Hitchcock movie, the ‘player of the first part’, has always to experience the consequences of decisions.

So as our hero the Little Eagle made its way across the paddocks in the sunshine, oblivious of the dangers, it was soon to learn that not all skies are clear, blue and free.

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All in a Day’s Work, at The Office

 

After yesterday’s relatively quiet day, we had planned a day at home as those weather prognosticators were falling over themselves combing their various thesauri for even more gigantic, huge, colossal, mammoth, immense, tremendous, immeasurable, Brobdingnagian(Ye of Gulliver’s Travels will understand),  humongous, astronomic, ginormous words to describe what was to be a weather of mass destruction, headed our way, so we had decided that it would be a doonah day, and we’d sleep through it all.  The patter of rain on the roof and window shutters seemed for once to confirm their cosmic, epic, giant, stupendous, mega predictions.

However as I peeked out from under the protective, shielding, defensive, safety, preventive, insulating, warmth of the doonah, what was it I spied coming in under the window shutters.
Gasp, horror, elation, joy, disbelief.  Was that sunshine.
No prizes Sherlock. It was sunshine.

In quick succession t’was breakfast, pack cameras, (I think there should be a get dressed in there somewhere) pack a thermos of Green Tea, (I’m off the Grey of Earl at present), tuck in the Drizabone Jacket, and head to the Office.  Also we beat the Mother’s School run, so the roads were fairly, rather, a little, slightly, comparatively, after a fashion, reasonably, kind of, sort of ish, quiet.

But the wind across the carpark sang a different tune. Large gusts, of huge, colossal, mammoth, immense, tremendous…. you get the picture… winds that made even the Drizabone Jacket feel a bit challenged.

And what was that on the fence line up the track!

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Surprise! A Hobby at the Office

Hope you survived the little tirade in the last post. All is forgiven.

EE and I thought, based on the last couple of adventures to The Office, that we needed to make a quick looksee if the Black-shouldered Kites had settled.
Many will remember Kitty and Kalev (The Brave), and their nesting attempts over the last couple of seasons.
They are fairly tolerant, and as she makes some of the best, most secretive nests, the chances of interrupting her on nest are pretty slim. And he has no problems about bringing mice in for her virtually above our sit spot.

So it was with a bit of an expectant parent  looksee, that we turned up on a mostly cloudy day and looked around the carpark. And there they were, clever pair, way down the range, and out of camera reach.

“Perhaps he’ll come over to hunt along the river edge,” says she. So we meandered on along the river bank.

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Sacred Time

Sacred Kingfishers on the Werribee River Park. 12 October 2017

There are billions of photographs out there. The world in no way 
needs more mediocre images. 
What the world does need is more passionate photographs, 
images that begin life conceived by the eyes, 
but expressed through the lens by the heart. 
If you are going to create better photographs, 
begin with things you care about deeply. : David DuChemin
You are Welcome Here.

“It’s a Sacred Kingfisher,” Mr An Onymous called. To no one in particular, and those around him just looked and nodded hoping that was the end of the outburst.

“Pee-p, Pee-p, Pee-p, Pee-p”.  It is a Sacred Kingfisher says Mr A.  But quietly, to himself.

He dropped me a note and I was glad of the info.  We’d been talking of their return the past few weeks.

I told EE.  She put on her skates and was ready to go.   Those who follow her Flickr posts will be well aware of the time, energy and effort that she put into the pair the past season. It is, “Something she cares deeply about”. And being passionate, as David DuChemin is wont to remind, “Photographing those things you are passionate about tells me several things. It shows me more of you. It shows me more of the thing you love. And it makes better photographs.”

So we went.  Now the access road to the “Office”—Werribee River Park— for new readers, has been closed these last six weeks or so.  The road was ripped up by hoons and 4wds when it was wet, and the road had become nigh on impassable for normal vehicles.  Think Sir Perceval—i20— for new readers. But a check the day before had shown Parks Vic had sent in the heavy duty toys and the road had been re-graded, and surfaced and was a version of Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road, for all the Wizard of Oz fans. So donning our “Ruby Slippers” —or Silver ones if you’ve read the book— we set off in search of Oz, or Sacred Kingfishers if they turned up first.

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Studio Werkz: The White-plumed Honeyeater Appointment

I know all the birds of the hills

Psalm 50

To say we’ve had a run of weather of late would be to guild the lily somewhat.  Lack of sunshine, and howling southerly winds have been much more the norm. Add to that the best of fast moving squalls with intense rain, and well, its enough to make you roll over and pull the donnah up even closer.

So with a touch of sunshine peeking through the breakfast room window, EE and I decided on a quick trip to The Office.  Image our surprise when we found Mr An Onymous out there as well.  Put it down to the call of the Osprey.  However she wasn’t in residence so we had to content ourselves with lesser subjects.

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Re-decorating the Office

Well it is indeed that time of year when the seasons change and with that change the birdlife at the Office begins to take on a new look for Winter.

So a change of colour scheme is definitely on the agenda.
Out with the mottled tones of Summer, and in with the bold colours of cooler days.

And the first of our Winter collection is ready for show

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News Flash: Important Update: Tale of a Wagtail A revisit

Took a stroll tonight to look for the little lone Wagtail of my previous post.  A bit harder to find as its well on the wing.

So turned to go back for a fine cuppa of Earl of Grey with EE, my favourite person.

As I passed by the old tree that had held the nest, I stopped just to see how dilapidated it would have become in the past few days.

Double take Time !!!

Was that a tail I saw on the nest.  Stop, rub eyes, look again.

Yes.
She has added a new coat of web to the nest, set up the wide-screen tv, remodelled the Kitchen, and laid eggs and was about to do her part for Wagtail lineage.

In what must be about the fastest turn-around between clutches, this lady means business.  No doubt they’ve figured that one can sit the eggs, while one administers the young fledgling to maturity.

And if the nest worked once. Well!!!
This time I refrained from yelling my best advice across the paddock to her. Including the fact the next few days are going to be in the high 30s C.  I don’t think she considers it good wagtail advice.

Time will tell how it all goes.

Nicely setteled in.  The next addtion to the family is on the way. Persistence and Patience have your way.
Nicely setteled in. The next addtion to the family is on the way. Persistence and Patience have your way.

The Tale of a Wagtail

When it comes to nesting and bringing on a new clutch, Willie Wagtails seem to go from one extreme to another, in more ways than one.
The weather can take a turn and dash the plans of quite a number of nesting pairs.  And around the Werribee River area at the Office, they all seem to start within a day or two of each other and a change of weather takes out most of the nests.  That has happened once already this season.
Plucky little birds, just shake off the wet feathers, take a wagtail deep breath and start again.

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A Little Wag Tale

Over the past few weeks along the river area at Werribee River Park, (The Office), we’ve been waiting for the Willie Wagtails to get into their nesting season.
Normally quick off the rank for a bout of nesting, the Wagtails around The Office seem to have been particularly slow in making the first move.
Not that I blame them, as about 8 pairs we worked with last year, built a nest early, and were washed out with rain.  They rebuilt, only to have a second storm cell come though about a fortnight later and once again wash them off the branches.   After a couple of weeks they started again, and as luck would have it, a third storm ripped through and again devastated their efforts.  By the fourth clutch, we were well into summer and most seemed to raise this round.  At one stage there were over 30 young juveniles all flitting about together as mum and dad worked on a fifth clutch.

This year, they seem to have taken the approach: Wait till the storm season is behind us.

And about two weeks back, we were thrilled to hear the nesting call of as many as 8-10 pairs as they worked away building in various locations from highly concealed among the leaves, to desperate, out in the open. Nothing is going to get us.
But.

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