Thursday 28 February 2013

SkyWatch Friday - Sea Sky / Conventional

Hi there - busy week here - so I hope that you have not grown tired of Tasmanian and things Tasmanian!

This is a rather nice looking sky - I took while waiting for penguins to return to the home burrows.  By the time they did it was dark - so no pictures!

I'll have to make do with this one.

You can find more sky images at Skywatch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday - 33: Swanwick Beach

Little bit of a change for this week - I normally only post one species - but these are the result of a walk on Swanwick beach in Tasmania.  The parts of the beach I walked is where an estuary becomes the sea.  There were always a few birds loafing about.

The most obvious birds on the beach were pied oystercatchers - splendid birds that I have posted about recently.

Pied Oystercatcher
Further down the beach I found a pair (well 2) of Bar Tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)feeding at the edge of the waves - these birds were very timid and it took a long time to get within range.  Some of these birds fly from their breeding grounds in Alaska to South Eastern Australia and New Zealand in a single flight! Thats the longest know non-stop flight of any bird in the world.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-Tailed Godwit
There were also some plovers dashing about on the sand.  In the end I just sat down on the beach and waited for the birds to come close to me.  The few other people - dog walkers mainly - on the beach were rather useful in this regard as they often pushed the birds towards me.  Although what they thought of the crazy person sat on the beach is another issue!

Hooded Plover 
Juvenile Hooded Plovers
The Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubicollis) is an Australian endemic.  Due to the often heavy use of beaches this bird is declining in some of its range due to the high rate of nest failure on busy beaches.  There were 2 (and possibly 3) pairs of this bird on the beach and they all had young.  This was a splendid site.

Hooded Plovers
Higher up the beach, where the sand was very dry there were a number of Red-Capped Plovers (Charadrius ruficapillus) - these were the smallest of the beach birds, only 14-16 cm long.  They were very busy - but one did pose for me in patch of sunlight!

Red-Capped Plover

Red-Capped Plover

On the way back along the beach I found this Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus).  I would not be surprised if its beak weighs more the that Red-Capped Plover!

Pacific Gull
I hope you enjoyed the walk.

Now its your turn.

Click on the link below to join in with WBW.  Visit as many sites as possible, invite your friends and relatives and just enjoy!

Monday 25 February 2013

Our World Tuesday - Concentration

Just after the start of the new school year we hold a Family Night.  Its just a meet and a greet with a BBQ, face paints and few races for the kids and the willing parents.

It remarkable to see the kids grow - it's like an extra birthday in terms of watching them grow up.  I always try and get some pictures for the schools web-site and news letter.  This year I thought I'd give my own kids a bit more time (!)

So, here are two models of concentration in the egg and spoon race - shame its not an olympic sport, otherwise we would have a couple of contenders!

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Macro Monday - Dry summer

Although some parts of Australia have had floods, we have had a dry summer.  And as the days without rain have passed the road-sides and paddocks have been baked a golden brown.  While this is a wonderful colour to see in isolation, when it covers a landscape it speaks of fire.

Last week we had grass fires running to the edge of the built up areas of Melbourne.  These relatively new estates seen under prepared for the fact that they may have wild fires coming towards them.

Fire is vital to our landscape - but it haunts the summer.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 21 February 2013

SkyWatch Friday - Gull Sky.

Hi there - there are storms in my area tonight - so I'm trying to catch some lightning - wish me luck!

I watched these Pacific Gulls for ages, trying to find a new way to take a picture of a gull at rest.  Then I worked out that they looked much more interesting in the sky.  A few (well, many) shots later I came up with this.

I dont know if the sky defines the birds, or if the birds define the sky - or maybe neither does either.

But I like the symmetry of the picture.

You can find more skies at SkyWatch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 32 - Tasmanian Native-hen

Tasmania is about 150 miles from the  mainland of Australia and has been separated from the mainland for about 10,000 years.   As a result it has a number of endemic species - that is ones that are not found anywhere else.

One of Tasmania's least colourful endemics is the Tasmanian Native-hen (Gallinula mortierii). This flightless bird is closely resulted to Moorhens.  Its about 45 cm long and can generally been seen dashing about from patches of cover.

Luckily for me these birds seemed a little more relaxed than some and were more willing to show than most of the others I saw.  This could be due to the fact that they were outside I coffee shop that also sold ice-cream!

As you can see the chicks are of such supreme ugliness that you can't help but like them!

Now its over to you!

Don't forget (please!!!) to link to an actual post rather than just to you blog address - it does make it easier for me, and directs other bloggers to the indented post.

So, click on the link below and off you go!

Monday 18 February 2013

Our World Tuesday - Rock Towers

I have to say it's hot here in Melbourne!  As a result I will post a quick picture and retire to cooler locations than my study!

When we were in Tasmania, we went out on a boat trip around Bruny Island.  The souther end of the island has some of the tallest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere (or so we were told!).

At one point there is a tall rock pillar called The Monument which sits a little off shore from the south end of South Bruny.  The boat can pass at high speed between the rock pillar and the shore - its all rather frantic!  The kids loved it.

At the time - and even more so now when I have looked at them for a long time - I think they could be the inspiration for the Argonath, the huge statues that mark the Norther Border of Gondor in Lord of the Rings.   (If you know the scenes in the book or film the Fellowship paddles under them just before the death of Boromir).  I know this is not really the case - but you may see what I mean!

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday - and probably less reference to Middle Earth!

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Macro Monday - My front door.

The house we live in was built somewhere around 1915 - and one of the things that we like about it is that it has retained a number of its original features.

One that gives me pleasure every time I see it is the lead-light glass in the front door.  I've been meaning to take a picture of it for a while and motivation we high this weekend - so here it is.

One of the things I like about this type of glass is the way it changes colour depending on where the main light source is.  This image is taken inside looking out - so the glass looks bright.  But from outside it would look much more dull.  On a winters evening - when the hall light is on, but its dark outside you get the opposite effect.

So, here is my front door!

You can find more shots at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 14 February 2013

SkyWatch Friday - Cloudy Sky / Hour Glass Sea

This is a post and run today.

About an hour south of Hobart in Tasmania is Bruny Island.  Its about the same size as Singapore and has a population of about 500!  Its my kind of place.

The island is really two islands - North and South Bruny - which are joined by a narrow sandbar.  Penguins and shearwaters nest in the sand dunes.

And in a splendidly photogenic location is a hill that allows you get this view:

You can find more skies at SkyWatch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 31 - Pied Oystercatchers.

I know that science is supposed to be a very serious thing - rational, unbiased, rich in data, low in anecdote and so on.   Which is why I would have made a very poor ornithologist.  I am but a humble big watcher, and Pied Oystercatchers are one of my favourite birds.  They always make me smile.  And I suspect that if I had ever had to study them in a serious fashion, enjoyment and bias may have got in the way of objective observation.

The Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris) is found all around the coast of Australia, with a greater fondness for sandy beaches that rocky ones.  It's noisy, easy to spot and always busy - its my kind of bird really.

I had some very good views in Tasmania - and managed to get some images of what I take to be family parties of these birds.

You can tell the juveniles in these pictures by the shorter beak and the scalloping on the feathers on the back.

As you can see they do not avoid rocks entirely - and as you may also see, they dont always eat oysters.    One of the beaches where I took these pictures had a healthy population on small soldier crabs - they would cork-screw themselves into the sand as you approached. They were very popular with my kids and equally popular with the oystercatchers.

These (rather over cropped) images show what happens to the crabs when their defences fail!

Now its your turn.

Click on the link below to join WBW.  Visit as many links as you can and dont forget to link back to this page.  (As a gentle reminder, could I ask that you link to a specific post in your blogs, that way its easier for me (and others) to find!)  Cheers  SM

Monday 11 February 2013

Our World Tuesday - The Hazards

You may have noticed that I have a bit of a love affair with Tasmania.  I'd move there in a second - but there are very good family reasons not to.  So, I'll have to make do with fleeting visits and longer trips now and then.

This is the view over Coles Bay towards The Hazards.  The images in a previous post were taken from the highest point on this line if hills.

In the dim and distance past a mass of race was pushed up from deep within the Earth.  It found some weaknesses in the sedimentary stone above it and formed domes of cooling granite.  Over the long ages the over lying rock was worn away by time and even ice.  The domes, being made of sterner stuff resisted the hand of time and now stand clear of their overburden.  I think they look like the knuckles of  a fist, punching its way to the surface.

I could look at this view for a very long time.

When you swan in the water it was like you floating in nothing -  just being held up some unseen hand.  Its a remarkable place.

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Macro Monday - Overlooked?

I think that plants like moss, liverworts and, to a lesser extent, ferns are a rather over looked source of images.

For some reason I have been interested in these plants for many years - although I still dont take many picture of them.  One of a long list of photographic resolutions for this year was to rectify this omission.    Woodlands and especially rain forests are great places to look for these plants.

Of course the very places that they grow do not always lend themselves to photography.  They are lovers of dark dampness, places of dripping shade.

These are rather hasty pictures taken while the whole family was suffering from attack from waves of leaches! Under the circumstances I rather like them. (The pictures that is, not the leaches!)

They were taken in a smallish patch of rainforest - Mavista Rain Forest - on Bruny Island, Tasmania.

More to follow as the year turns.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday

Enjoy the images.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Sky Watch Friday - From below

It's not really much of a shock to realise that we take most of our pictures of the sky from within it - or at least from the very bottom of it.  Shots from planes (the flying type) and very high mountains are exceptions - but I dont seem to get window seats and I can't climb Everest!

This though occurred to me a few weeks ago, so I tried to take some images of the sky from within the ocean.  That is I deliberately angled the camera upwards to try to photograph the sky through the surface of the water.

As you can see this was not entirely successful.  I think most of the colour you can see is light being refracted back into the water from the plants and such like below - I think the boundary between the water and the air is acting like a mirror.

Anyway - I tried and I like this abstract image.

You can find more pictures - include ones that actually show the sky - at SkyWatch Friday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 30 - Green Rosella

The Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) is only found in Tasmania, despite a name that suggests it comes from New Caledonia.

Thankfully for a bird with a restricted range it is still common - in fact in some places in Tasmania it is the commonest parrot.  This being said, most of the view I got were of birds on the wing!

This individual is clearly in much better shape that the one the collided with our window.

I took these shots through the open passenger window of my car as I was parked in the middle of the road.  Its a good job that there is not very much traffic on Bruny Island.

Like most parrots they do seem to have the look of a character about them.  This bird was very pleased to show off both profiles.  There were two other birds in some longer grass in a shallow ditch at the base of the fence, but they did not want to cooperate.

Green Rosella

Green Rosella
Now its your turn to get involved with WBW.

Click on the link below, visit others, comment, invite bloggers along and generally enjoy the birds!

Monday 4 February 2013

Our World Tuesday - Bottlenose Dolphins

When we were away in Tasmania we took a wonderful boat trip around the Freycinet Peninsula.  The trip had the combined goals of great scenery and great wildlife.  It provided both.

Regulars will have already seen some of the albatross we encountered.

But this post is about the Bottlenose dolphins we encountered as well. I've been fortunate enough to see dolphins and porpoises in a number of places around the world.  When I lived in Ireland I used to see them almost every day.  But on this trip I think I saw more dolphins in one day than I even have before.  At one time there was a pod of these mammals spread over an area of over 500 m and everywhere you looked the water was breaking with fins.  I have no idea how many individuals were in the pod - but its safe to say there were lots!

Here are some of the (many) pictures I took during the trip:

I have one image (which is not great in some ways) where you can see at least 9 dolphins in from of the boat.  It was one of those "David Attenborough" kind of moments.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Macro Monday - Dainty Swallow Tail

Last week H was having a post dinner bounce on the trampoline when he declared "Look, a huge moth".  Well, apart from the moth being a butterfly, he has a point.

Sitting just above the start of the render on the back of the house was Dainty Swallow Tail - although I only found that out after I had taken the pictures.  Most people keep step ladders in the shed or garage to change light globes or paint the ceiling.  I keep them to take macro shots half way up the walls of our  house.

So, the Dainty Swallow Tail (Papilio anactus) is widespread down the east side of Australia.  Even if you know what your doing tts hard to tell if this is a male of female, so I won't embarrass myself.

Strangely, it was still resting there on the wall the next morning.  It was still alive, it flapped its wings when I gave it a gentle poke!

You can find more macro images at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.