Maples are such sociable trees
They’re always rustling and whispering to you.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Maples are such sociable trees
They’re always rustling and whispering to you.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
I was determined to do some outdoor photography yesterday.
What actually spurred me to take a camera to my medical appointment was the weather forecast of ‘light winds‘. This usually means the water is still enough to capture reflections as seen in the image on the right (taken a couple of years ago).
The bus stop outside my local medical centre takes me right down to the Maribyrnong River, a large lake and a small area of murky pond with a reed-covered island in the centre and access to a number of local birdlife.
The Maribyrnong River flows (unseen in the above image) just behind the tall reeds halfway down the frame.
To the left of the image above is the large expanse of water between the river and the residential area on the western side of the river valley. Once again poor light and I had to fiddle with some basic photo editing tools just to get this amount of detail below.
Must be 18 months since I visited the area – partly due to declining health and lack of physical ability to walk across uneven ground and of course we Melburnians stayed mostly at home during Melbourne’s 111-day lockdown and nightly curfew during 2019’s COVID.
I discovered yesterday that I can no longer see through the viewfinder (or LCD screen) since a new glasses prescription earlier in the year. So while I could see shadows and light and managed to compose a relatively good composition below, I missed the fact that the photo is out of focus (except for the bush in the foreground) until I downloaded it at home.
They say there is no such thing as poor light in photography, but yesterday there was poor light!
What to do?
Is my 10-year photography hobby at an end?
Or, do I try again ‘tomorrow’?……………. (when there’s better light).
Ever the optimist, I think I’ll try again another day.
I only had my lightweight Sony A6000 with me which doesn’t really get between thick foliage for bird photography. And with the lack of decent light, the Swamphen image was the best I could capture. I spotted about 4-5 Purple Swamphens (Porphyrion porphyrio) in or around the pond and only one Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) madly swimming up the Maribyrnong River itself (out of focus so no image to share).
Yesterday, it was nearly 4.30pm when I caught the bus down the river valley and in hindsight, I should have known there would not be enough light and just gone home after my medical appointment.
At this current stage of late Autumn, the daylight turns to a short golden hour, dusk, and then, depending on your location, pitch-black (if you’re not near street lights).
There are some spectacular Golden Hours and Sunsets in Autumn around Melbourne and the bayside suburbs though. I’ve captured many of them over the last 10 years.
But yesterday, I turned around to shoot straight into the dying sun (below). I knew from experience it would be just a silhouette.
I quickly decided there was no point staying, so walked around the rest of the pond. You can see the bus stop shelter a third of the way down the frame on the right-hand side of the image below.
You can also see there was not a single bird to be seen on this side of the pond, so even if I’d taken my Canon DSLR and Sigma 150-500mm heavy lens, I wouldn’t have made any bird photos.
I crossed the road to the bus stop going in the direction of home.
I didn’t have to wait long (and it can be up to 40 mins on this particular bus route if you’ve just missed one bus). As it climbed the suburban streets across the river valley, I could see the remnants of a spectacular sunset out the bus window.
When I got off the bus, I took a shot of what was left between the houses (below).
As I walked down my steep short road towards home I managed to capture a little more sky colour across the enormous open field next to my apartment building.
So it’s back to the archives for some images for this blog.
The photos below were taken on a ‘good’ light day 2-3 years ago.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong;
but sometimes it is letting go.
Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock,
perhaps a hundred times without as much
as a crack showing in it.
Yet at the hundred-and-first blow
it will split in two, and I know
it was not the last blow that did it,
but all that had gone before.
Jacob A. Riis
(Note: I knew if I kept this image long enough I’d find a use for it).
In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
First sighting of a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) on a low(ish) branch of a tree next to the local river last Wednesday.
I stood perfectly still for a few minutes silently wishing the bird would turn around so I could get a frontal shot.
Then it did (as though it heard my request).
I was rewarded with a near-perfect view.
I am exceptionally good at standing perfectly still in silence for quite some time when it comes to bird photography.
I thought I’d have trouble holding my heavy telephoto lens after a long absence of bird photography, but after a few practice shots, I seemed to manage OK. I can no longer carry a camera bag over my shoulder or the weight in a backpack though. My deteriorating spinal condition might be up for a 3rd lot of surgery as the nerve compression pain is worse than the hip pain – Sigh!
I stepped a couple of paces closer….
These medium-sized, mid-greyish honeyeaters with their distinctive head pattern live in parks, gardens, open forest and woodland and even low-lying scrub. You’ll often see them on the ground near the river hunting for some tasty titbits, but can be easily scared off, so best to capture a picture when they’re up high and they feel safer.
They have distinctively rich yellow beak and legs.
Here are a couple more shots made back in March 2017 in the same location.
…..and a couple more made on the metal fence dividing the long reed-covered canal just before it flows into the river – a meer 15 feet from the tree in the images above.
In the photo (below), I was photographing something far off in the distance and lo and behold, a Noisy Miner landed on the fire hydrant right in front of me – May 2014 – near the Royal Botanic Gardens (located south of Melbourne city).
….and another close-up this time. I spotted this rather tame and friendly miner in the park surrounding Ringwood Lake in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne – May 2014. It was standing on a shady log backlit by bright sunlight.
Last Wednesday, I went for a very short walk down to the local river – all 3 of my cameras in my shopping trolley, together with the usual bottle of water, folding umbrella & scarf/gloves in case it got too cold waiting for the right time to photograph a bird (or two).
There weren’t many birds visible although I could hear quite a selection of bird calls on the other side of the path in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.
It can be quite chilly in Melbourne’s Autumn, although walking in the sun on a clear day can be very pleasant indeed if you’ve wearing a warm coat.
Best to head for home around 4.30pm between the river and my apartment block as my side of the river falls into shadow fairly early now we are heading towards winter. Once the light on this side of the river valley disappears, you can be suddenly plunged into total darkness if you’re on one of the walking trails, near the river.
A golf course on the other side of the river also reinforces the lack of suburban street lights.
In winter I used to carry my tiny strong camping lantern to light the path while on the stretch of parkland (400 hectares) which runs up and down the river towards dusk. Last Saturday I bought a new LED tiny torch to add to my key-ring.
I lost the old pencil torch years ago.
For the benefit of overseas readers, these 2 images put together (below), taken from the top floor of my apartment building, give you an idea of the beautiful (parkland) environment stretching along the river. The photos were not made consecutively, and it was only yesterday, on reviewing my Local Landscape folder that I realized they almost align (but not quite 😀 )
NOTE: I live on the other side of the first floor (the U.S. calls this 2nd storey) of a 6 storey apartment building facing the road, not facing the parkland. Wish I lived facing east to catch the sunrise, but who’s complaining when there is so much greenery on the other side of the building.
Once in a golden hour,
I cast to earth a seed,
And up there grew a flower,
That others called a weed.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
When you go through something, like, you learn to appreciate little things – the birds, trees, flowers
Autumn is the hardest season.
The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like
they’re falling in love with the ground.
These imges were made on the 18th April 2014. My brother, who was driving me home after a visit to his farm, stopped at this tiny park near the top of the Dandenong Ranges – a low-lying group of hills overlooking the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
He knew I would capture plenty of Autumn colour. This group of hills is spectacular at this time of year and well worth a drive up the sharp winding roads on the way to the highest point of the hills (and beyond to the Victorian countryside).
Most of these trees would have been planted by the early settlers to the area (from seedlings brought out from the U.K. and Europe?) in the late 1800s or early 1900s i.e. they are not indigenous to the area, or Australia.
I had a brief 20-30 minutes to quickly shoot the series before the light faded and the sun dropped behind the hills and we continued the drive down to my home in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.
Today, I couldn’t seem to get into the old Classic WordPress Editor at all, so I assume WordPress have (finally?) ditched that easy method of uploading images (and a post) which I used previously.
I do not like this tedious, multi-keystroke method of uploading a post – partly because it seemed to take several steps to upload just one photo. I couldn’t click on each photo in my media library with the ‘command’ key held down on my Mac and transfer all the images in one step. I guess I’ll have to do a tutorial.
I updated my iMac software a couple of days ago, but that doesn’t seem to have changed my day-to-day computer tasks, so I naturally assume it’s all WordPress.
I never liked this WordPress software design or method of posting when it was first introduced, so have been happily using the old Classic method for many months, but now………… $%#@!
Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently.
I was looking through my ‘Favourite Quote‘ folder for something suitable to pair with my recent Sparrow photos and could find nothing.
It was then I did some Googling and discovered there was such a thing as World Sparrow Day – on the 20th March. I’ve just missed it but decided to share the images (without a quote) anyway.
The male House Sparrow below seems to be staring straight at me. Could it see me sitting at my desk, camera in hand? Who knows. Probably not as the exterior windows had been cleaned recently and it was probably looking at its own reflection?
Next up are a couple of images of the smallest/youngest sparrow I think I’ve ever seen.
Note: These images were made directly through the louvred windows located on the right-hand side of my lounge and computer screen. It’s been raining for a couple of days and will continue for the next 3-4 days so I can’t open the louvres wide to get a clear shot without the glass edges showing in the photo. I watched it for quite some time and felt some sort of connection with its vulnerability.
Next, a male, just after the bird quenched its thirst.
Then a female (with another young female waiting its turn to drink and bathe in the lower left).
…..and another male.
I’ve never been able to get close enough to these flighty birds as I did the Spotted Turtle-doves in my previous apartment balcony on the north-east side of the city (below). These doves became so tame that I could (slowly) step onto the balcony and edge up to the birds and photograph them from only 12-18 inches away. There was one dove with a feather tuft over its right eye that became so friendly I could almost hand-feed it (but not quite).
Here are some more sparrows taking a bath in April 2020. They’re highly amusing to watch as they splash and roll their heads around trying to wash and dry themselves in sequence. I rarely have time to alter camera settings or try for a well-balanced composition. Its a matter of shoot with the camera on ‘general’ settings with a relatively high ISO in case they go to the shady side of the birdbath(s). Sometimes the autofocus stops short of the birds in favour of dirty dust patterns, but move the camera slightly and the autofocus can latch onto the bird’s head or eye.
I’m so lucky to have their company on rainy or housebound days. But I tend to devote far too much of the morning to their antics.
I love watching the birds. They’re wonderful company. They sing joyfully as I wake in the morning and very companionable when singing for a mate.
Here’s another shot from back when I still had my balcony garden set up. I’d emptied the plant trough and stirred up the soil surface with a fork so that they could rummage around for some tasty titbits to eat.
Commensal with humans, sparrows inhabit most continents throughout the world. They were introduced to Australia in the 1860s by acclimatisation societies and are now abundant in cities, towns, rural areas and around farm buildings, particularly in the south-east of Australia.