Life is like a Merry-go-round, but I feel I sit on the sidelines far too much these days.

Is it the fact I am ageing far too quickly since early retirement in 2010?

Is it modern technology which makes me feel like a dinosaur?

Probably a bit of both.

After 10 days of intermittent wireless keyboard connection and my keyboard not registering some letters as I type OR, at the end of a paragraph, a gremlin, chases and deletes each letter at lightning speed until I’m left with a blank page again, I’ve concluded it was a virus or my 2019 iMac was very, very sick.

My tiny 11″ MacAir worked just fine when I took it out of the drawer, but its size and my poor touchpad skills make it not feasible for long-term use with my eyesight.   It’s my communication and entertainment provider every time I go into the hospital for surgery.

My lovely computer technician James is coming today, but last Friday, the Gremlin left my location and moved on to someone new.

Duh!   How can viruses(?) and Gremlins(?) disappear all on their own.  At one stage I couldn’t even type my password to log on, so I had to turn the computer off and try again later in the day(s).

But I decided to keep the consultation time so James could fix a lot of other mysterious computer-related matters……..I hope.

In the meantime, I got outdoors for a short (2 km) walk down to the local pond and lake last Sunday.   The first real nature walk since the 26th of October last year (according to my photo library).

Very little to see in the way of local bird life and not much else happening as the riverside walking/cycling/jogging trail was almost empty.  Where were the usual Sunday crowd?  I could hear some carnival sounds that day.  But where from?  It was a long weekend with a Monday public holiday but there are always joggers or cyclists on the river path no matter the time or day of the week.

There weren’t any of the local Purple Swaphens grazing in the low-lying field next to the gravel path leading to the river.  They are always there – Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring (including that crazy new season of storms and floods the eastern seaboard of Australia has acquired).

But not last Sunday.

Note: The images below were made in past years.

All I saw were a few Superb Fairy-wrens grazing on the gravel path edges, a couple of Mapie Larks who frequent this area and, initially, an unidentifiable water bird on the rocky edge of Bundap Lake.

Note: Images below were made in past years.


I had trouble holding my heavy 150-500mm lens steady, but here it is.

Last Sunday’s only bird shot.

I couldn’t get the bird to turn around so I could see its breast feathers, so this was the only view.

The large webbed feet were my clue and I finally narrowed the identity down to a Eurasian Coot.   Google images showed it was a juvenile and missing the sooty-black body and white beak of the usual adults I see.

Feel free to correct me in the comments if you believe it to be a different water bird.

The photo below, made in the Royal Botanic Gardens some 10 years ago, show a Coot looking at its feet as though to say……

“My what big feet I’ve got.  Are they really mine?”

A few more photos of Eurasian Coots taken over the years….

MAGPIE-LARK (Grallina cyanoleuca)

I nearly missed the shot altogether.

From outdoors a faint sound of fluttering wings was heard and I saw a medium-large black and white bird through the window.

I have felt like I was in a bird hide in recent days (since I re-arranged some of the furniture).

I just have to remember to leave the block-out blinds up, not down, during the afternoon for bird viewing (on a hot day).

The trouble was I had left the camera body with the telephoto lens on the sideboard.

I slowly stood up and moved (even slower) towards the camera, trying hard not to scare the bird.  It had finished its drink from the birdbath and was now standing on the balcony fence railing.

I knew I would only have seconds to lift the camera, take the lens cap off, turn it on, raise it to my eye/glasses and press the shutter button.

Certainly, there would be no time to see if the lens glass was clean of dust or what the camera settings might have been (from the last bird shot).

I zoomed in as close as I could, then snap without actually looking through the viewfinder properly.  I suspect I wobbled a bit and didn’t hold the camera completely still either.

I instantly realised I had captured a new visitor to my apartment balcony but was too close to the bird so I quickly zoomed out a bit.

Snap! I had managed to get a 2nd (and final) shot.

I recognised it immediately as one of the common Magpie Larks that frequent this parkland and nature reserve setting.

 Often in noisy pairs or family parties, associating with other flocking birds.  It’s voice is varied, but commonly duetting ‘tee-hee’ with response ‘pee-on-wee’ accompanied by wing raising. Alarm call a piercing repeated ‘pee’.

…….says my Australian Bird Guide book

The Magpie Lark must have seen my movement indoors as it promptly flew off into the nearby trees.

Note to self:  I really must clean the exterior of the windows.  Then, the avian visitors would only see a reflection of themselves in the glass, not my movement indoors.

Mmmmmm……I think this is about the 8th bird species that have visited my balcony in the last 6 years since I moved to the western suburbs of Melbourne.

When I downloaded the photos I could see straight away that they definitely weren’t my best bird images, but hey, I did manage to fire off 2 shots so my efforts weren’t wasted.  I was reminded of this quote I’d recently read.

The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.

In 2010, when I bought myself a little point & shoot Canon Camera, I would take 500-600 photos in a single afternoon always aiming for the perfect shot.

I knew I could do it if I just practised hard enough.  I knew one day I would get the perfect shot sometime in the future.

Now, between COVID lockdowns, worsening chronic pain and major surgeries, I just make lots of images and remember that all photographers, amateur (like me) or professional, have good days and bad days.

Now I just make the shot and am thankful for all the wonderful birdlife I see out the window or on short walks to the local pond/wetlands.

Life is too short to spend rehearsing

Treat every day as a final performance

Live in the moment.

Live Mindfully (I try to, but don’t always succeed).

And make the shot.

Good or bad shot? Does it really matter when you’re doing what you love?  If I was a paid professional, maybe.  But if you’re an amateur, or professional doing personal photography, just aim and press that shutter button. You can always delete it in this age of digital photography.  Or you can keep it as a memory of that Moment in Time when you saw a new visitor on your apartment balcony.

Here are a few more shots of Magpie Larks that I found that were actually filed in a folder.