QUOTE – SILENCE

In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.

 Robert Lynd

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.

NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala) on the fence near the Maribyrnong River

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.

MELBOURNE BATHED IN SUNLIGHT DURING THE GOLDEN HOUR – JULY 2020. MY SIDE OF THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER HAS LOST MOST OF ITS LIGHT IN THE FOREGROUND

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.

WORLD SPARROW DAY

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

QUOTE – Nature

When you have all the time in the world you can spend it, not on going somewhere, but on being where you are. 

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus – female juvenile)

It seems like months since I’ve gone outdoors for a nature photography walk, but have been very busy (for a change) and only made images of the birds I can see from my desk chair.

I’ve found another ‘mouse’ hole in a spare plant pot that has the old soil still in it, but after my SIL telling me there’s a mouse plague in the country, it seems I should take the two ‘mouse’ homes out the back gate and re-settle the contents in the back paddock, not leave them on my balcony.