Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 23. Day 327. Up close and personal

I love pelicans. Anything that has evolved to have a mouth capable of opening that wide and fitting that much in has my total admiration. There's a kind of ugly elegance about the pelican. They are kind of big and awkward looking. Given their size, in theory they could be quite threatening. Having spent time almost nose to nose with one today, I'd say they are remarkably placid. We were on the bank of the Maroochy River very close to where the river meets the ocean. A couple of fishermen were trying their luck. A pelican decided to check out how they were going. Clearly they do it a lot. They didn't see humans as a threat. We watched each other until the pelican got bored, clearly having figured out there was nothing fishy about me. It joined one of its mates just up the beach closer to the fishermen. We continued the walk. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November 22. Day 326. Working with my children ... and other animals

 It's nice to have a special skill. I believe the trio Susan, Winkle and Rumple are world leaders in the category of Humans who take Photographs of Birds while Assisted by Dogs.  The recreational activities of photographing birds and walking dogs (especially off leash) are simply not compatible and yet I insist on doing it.  You would not need to be an intellectual genius to work out why dogs do not make the best assistants for bird photographers. Dogs like to chase birds. Birds tend not to sit still and say cheese while being chased. This is not a match made in heaven. Still, if you have considered taking up the hobby, today I discovered an important safety tip I'm prepared to pass on. When you lift the camera to your face ready to go "snap", it's a good idea to not be holding a bag of freshly made dog poo. I bet you never thought of that. Despite the obstacles, today I added three new additions to the bird species I have photographed this week - a welcome swallow, a white-faced heron and a common tern. Yay us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November 21. Day 325. If you build it ...

Some time today a village sprung up on Mudjimba Beach. My best guess is that some time between the morning beach walk and the afternoon beach walk, a school group descended tasked with building and decorating in sand. They looked great.
The dogs showed their approval by peeing on the constructions. I would have considered that most inappropriate except for the fact that the sand castles were clearly not long for this world in any case. It was a race against time and the elements.
It was hard to tell whether the incoming tide or the approaching storm would get their first.
Certainly the storm nearly got us. We had turned for home and had our backs to it.
A gust of really cold wind made me turn and ... holy crap, it looked like the world was about to end.
I did my best interpretation of a run. We made it home just in time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

November 20. Day 324. Hard to digest

Bloody annoying things cicadas. I'd rather not have to listen to them but at the same time I normally avoid watching them being consumed whole. Okay, the natural order of things dictates that noisy friar birds eat cicadas. They just do although until today I've never actually witnessed it. At this time of year the cicadas are swarming and when that happens an opportunist bird is going to pick off one or two. I mean, those little suckers don't exactly take steps to avoid detection. Just the opposite. The sound of the cicada is a sound of summer, just like like the cricket. Officially we are still a couple of weeks short of the start of summer but I'm prepared to go early. My evidence is as follows: 1. I'm at the beach. 2. Second semester marks were locked and loaded today. 3. The Ashes test starts at The Gabba on Thursday. 4. The Schoolies have descended on the Gold Coast and 5. The ads for mangoes and cherries have begun. Roll on summer. Just remember the insect repellent.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19. Day 323. The early bird

I think today's weather may have been decided by committee. It was like a compromise decision where no-one ended up with a satisfactory outcome. But it could have been worse. All night it rained. It would ease off and then bucket down. Repeat. By morning it looked like it may have cleared. It turned out to be a false dawn but the rain respite held up for long enough for a trip to the beach to allow the dogs to run wild and our young visitor Molly to jump in the sand and collect shells. And then we retreated before the rain returned - plus it was time for breakfast. The birds had a jump on us. On the path from the beach a grey butcherbird was already grazing. According to BirdsinBackyards, this avian preys on small animals hiding uneaten food in the fork or branch of a tree or impaling it. That explains exactly what I saw going on. I love it when I see a creature behaving exactly as the guide predicts. And then I went home and ate the food I'd hidden uneaten in the door of the fridge, just the way nature intended.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18. Day 322. Soggy Saturday

I've found myself in weird positions in pursuit of "the money shot" but today's antics were right up there. The dogs and I made it as far as the front gate when it started to pour in the style of Noah's Ark. I don't mind drizzle on my walk but not torrential downpour. So we retreated. No beach photos today. But rain or no rain, the birds still need to eat so they settled in the bottlebrush outside. They were soggy and the best place to capture that was from the bathroom. It seemed kind of ironic to be taking a wet photo standing in a bathtub but there you have it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17. Day 321. Four and twenty black birds

I get terribly excited when I photograph a bird that I haven't shot before. I also get terribly excited when I christen a new lens. Yes, I have a sad life. Anyway, be that as it may today I photographed yellow tailed black cockatoos for the first time with a brand spanking new 70-300 lens.
I LOVE a zoom lens. It is my lens of preference and the one I use 95% of the time.
My old one has taken a battering.
It was near retirement. But the issue was forced yesterday when it went missing. Two weeks on the beach without a zoom lens felt unthinkable (although the wide angle works pretty well for the sunrise pic). Anyway, I bought myself an early Christmas present.
The universe applauded my decision by sending a very large flock of yellow tailed black cockatoos to play exactly where Drama Teen, the dogs and I take our afternoon beach walk.
And it's not as though black cockatoos are the type of bird you have to crawl quietly through the trees to spot. These guys are noisy, really noisy and big fat posers. Perfect.