Sunday 31 March 2013

Macro Monday - Market Plums

Just a short post today - Easter and other things have kept me busy.

I really like the colour of fresh  plumbs - especially the patina they seem to have.  They taste good too!

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 28 March 2013

Sky Watch Friday - Three Shades of Permanence

In a book a read in my 20's (which was a hideously long time ago!) I heard stone and sea being described as "permanence at rest and permanence in motion" - it was a mental image that stuck with me.

I think we should add the sky as another form of permanence as well - although I don't know how I would describe it in a way that would differentiate from the sea - maybe "permanence in colour" or "permanence above".

I like this image because of the balance of the 3 permanences!

You can find more shots of the sky at Sky Watch Friday.

Enjoy the skies!

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 37 - Gannets over Popes Eye

Before anybody get too excited, "Popes Eye" is the name of an artificial island off shore from Queenscliff, Victoria.  It's named after one of the navel personnel who was involved in its construction and has no religious overtones at all.

I love visiting the place as you get wonderful views of the colony of Australian Gannets (Morus serrator) that live and breed on the island.  It is (as far as I am told) the only place where gannets of any sort breed on a man made structure at sea level - although I am inclined to think that this sort of "record" has rather too many caveats attached to it!

The Eye is a C shaped artificial reef that was being built as part of the Bays defences, but was overtaken by technology.  Guns were placed on the shore that could fire further, so this place was left to the birds.  The middle of the C is an oasis of calm and allows boats to get close to the birds without disturbing them.

These birds are about the same size as the Gannets (S. bassana) which is found in the Northern Hemisphere.

When these birds flash past and dive for fish there is no need to look further for entertainment.

On my last couple of trips to The Popes Eye I have concentrated some of my efforts on flight shots.

Now its over to you.  Click the link and off you go!

Monday 25 March 2013

Our World Tuesday - Castlemaine

More from Castlemaine.  I had intended to try some "street photography" during the day - I thought a festival would give me plenty to look at.

However, I spent most of the time just wandering about, soaking up the atmosphere, sniffing the rather good smells and eating rather too much food!

One think I liked - but did not photograph - was that there was an organisation that provided real plates, bowls and cutlery to the food vans.  There were lots strategically placed washing up bowls all over the main festival area.  When these were full they were taken back to a van that had a solar (and gas) hot water system and washed up.  No land fill and no bins overflowing with plastic plates.  This seems like a great way to reduce the impact of these types of events.

On a reduce, reuse, recycle theme, we had lunch in a cafe that grew some of its herbs in this rather splendid planter bath!

There was also the (near compulsory) live music.  We settled in to watch this musician sing, play the guitar, play the harmonica and stamp his feet.  I never did find out what his name was!

It was a good day, even if there were no more copies of an art work I wanted by the time we arrived!

You can find more images from around the world at 

Sunday 24 March 2013

Macro Monday - Close to Castlemaine

As planned we headed off to Castlemaine this Sunday.  When we arrived the town festival was in full swing, even if it was the last day.

We did the typical wandering about thing - colliding with craft stalls, live music and tempting smells.

For the first part of the day my eye was firmly in close up mode.

I found these two bicycle  ornaments in the car park - the snail being attached to a three seater bike that H described as looking "dangerously home-made!" - he was correct.

I continued my (minor) fascination with locks and door bolts.  I found this one as we were waiting to go into a show.

I wonder if the mark on the lock is where it has been hit with a chisel!  P said it was smiling!

All in all a good day - more pictures tomorrow.

You can find more macro shots here at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Sky Watch Friday - A crowded sky

Well - its late and I need to go to bed!

Skys can be full of clouds, colour, rain or snow.  But these skies are full of birds.

These are Short Tailed Shearwaters - also known as aMutton Birds.

These huge flocks of birds were dominating the sky (and the sea) off the coast of Tasmania.

It was, to say the least, remarkable.

Short Tailed Shearwaters and Shy Albatros

Short Tailed Shearwaters
Short Tailed Shearwaters

You can find a longer post about the trip that ended in this flock of birds here.

You can find more skies from around the world here at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 36 - Mud Islands

I have mentioned in a couple of my last post that I took a trip around Mud Islands on the Saturday of a recent long weekend.

I tell you more about the trip on my wordy blog - the post will be called Perimeter Walk - but for now I'll just post some of the birds I saw.

At this time of year the Islands were not over populated with birds - but we did find a rather splendid mixed flock of waders at one point.  We normally don't get to see the waders in their breeding  finery - they spend the summer with us, but head back north in our winter to breed.  So most of the time while they are here they are in non-breeding plumage.  (Of course its crazy to call it "winter" plumage as its our summer!)

Mixed Flock - Red Knot (centre), Great Knot, Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper (yellow / green legs)

Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone on LHS
Sharp Tailed Sandpiper in front of Red Knot
There were also some Godwit coming into breeding plumage - not that you can tell in this picture!  I think the flash on the leg of the RHS bird is a band / ring.

Bar Tailed Godwit

Black-Winged and Banded Stilt.
You can see that I have cropped these two images for effect.  The second of these pictures is not the best in the world - but I have included it because it shows both Banded and Black Winged Stilt.  The banded have an all white head and the adults have a chestnut breast band.  The Black Winged have a black strip on the back of their head.  There have been very few records of either species on the island and the Black Winged is a very unusual record.

There was a small flock (maybe 5) of Ruddy Turnstone at the back of the mixed wader flock - but they always stayed rather too far away.

Australian Pelican
There were always pelicans to be seen - the island has a breeding colony at the right time of year.  And as we were leaving a Welcome Swallow perched up to say see you later!

So, all in all a good day.  And I still have a few pictures up my sleeve!

If you have not already done so, you may find a visit to my other blog to be a worthwhile way to pass a few minutes - people have said it's a good read.

But whatever you do dont forget to click the link below to join inWBW!

Monday 18 March 2013

Our World Tuesday - Seals on a hat

I'm not one for putting falsehoods into my blog titles - but this one contains two of them!

Lets deal with the "seals" bit first.  These rather sleek beasts are in fact Australian Fur Seals - that means that they are a sub-group of seals - but not "classic" seals.  And how can you tell I hear you ask! Well, they have external ears and can walk (sort of) on their front flippers.  Clearly in these pictures the external ears are the things that you can see.  True seals do have them.

Now lets get onto the hat.  The wooden structure on which these fur seals are loafing is called "Chinaman's Hat" - it was built to replace and old navigation platform that was named long, long ago.

All these sealy looking animals are boys - or granddads - because this is a bachelor pad for males who do not have a mate.  That may because they are too young or too old.   I have to say that they do look rather relaxed!

Chairman's hat was a stop on my recent trip around the Bay - there will be bird pictures on Wednesday.

You can find more pictures from around the world (and less taxonomy) at Our World Tuesday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Macro Monday - Castlemaine Bricks

Castlemaine is an old gold town about 140 km Northwest of Melbourne.  It one of these classic gold rush towns that built itself on sudden and abundant wealth - and has drifted into genteel decline ever since.

These days food manufacturing and tourism are important.  We when there for a weekend there a (surprisingly long) while ago.  Some of the buildings have the kind of grandeur which speaks of wealth in the past, and reuse in the present.  It's now a place of cafes and galleries.

One of the things that caught my eye was the use of (presumably) local red brinks in many of the buildings.  These seem to be a variable quality, and some have stood the test of time better than others.

We are planing another visit soon - which is what reminded me of these pictures.

You can find more macro images from around the world here at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

You can find a (old!) post about our trip to Castlemaine here - After the Gold Rush.

Thursday 14 March 2013

SkyWatch Friday - Pelican Flyby

As I mentioned in an earlier post I spent last Saturday walking around the edge of Mud Islands in Port Phillip Bay.  There were not many times when we could not see birds on the wing - or at least in the distance.

Its been a busy week - so here are some Australian Pelicans making the sky look as if they own it - which of course they may well do!

If you are a regular visitor to this site you you may experience slower then normal service in the "replying to comments" department!  

You can find more skies from around the world at Sky Watch Friday.

Enjoy the skies.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 35 - Australian Kestrel.

My blog is a little short on birds of prey compared to some others, so I'm pleased to be able to post so pictures of an Australia Kestrel.

This is a small, but common, bird of prey.  Like many other kestrels it can hover - hence one of its older names "windhover".  Its not the only small hawk in Australia that can hover, so this behaviour is not quite the 100% identification it is in other places.

All these images were taken at Point Lonsdale - which is about a two hours drive from my house.

The Australian Kestrel is sometimes called the Nankeen Kestrel, although it is suggested in some books that this is not really a good idea, as the bird does not come from Nanking in China!  The word "Nankeen" actually relates to a type of "yellow or pale buff" cloth from Nanking in China.  It goes by the binomial name of Falco cenchroides - which I believe means "falcon, somewhat like a kestrel"!  There, we have that sorted out!

I think this bird is a female - the head and the back are very similar tones.

So, there we have a bird of prey post.

Now its your turn - click on the link below and off you go.  And if you forgot to invite along a new participant last week, you can do it this week - I wont mind!

Monday 11 March 2013

Our World Tuesday - Mud Islands

I spent Saturday on Mud Islands in Port Phillip Bay.  This may not sound very attractive - but don't let the name put you off.  If you want to have a real idea of what a meter change in sea level would do, this is the place to do it.

While it looks like you are in the middle of the ocean (well sort of), the fact that the depth finder on the boat is telling us we are in 90 cm of water is a bit of a shock.  It seems strange to be "out to sea" but know that you could wade about if safety!

The islands themselves are not made of mud and it really feels like there is only one island!  So, the name is a bit misleading.

We walked around the edge of the islands - about 5km or so - and waded through small channels that cut into the centre of the islands - or at some times separate the islands from each other.  There was lots of bird life (pictures to come soon) and many, many shells on the beach.  One of the best things was the lack of litter.  I think I only saw about two bottles, which we removed.

The islands are rather flat - the highest point can be more than a couple of meters above sea level.  The day was windy, which was a blessing in some ways as it would have been very hot without it.

Coming back onto land at the end of the day was like walking into an oven!

The land you can see in the background is the "main land" of Victoria.

I'd love to go back and just sit and wait and find out what comes along.

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

Sunday 10 March 2013

Macro Monday - Three Butterflies (and 400 posts)

Summer has clearly lost is calendar down here as there is really no sign of autumn yet.  I was up early on Saturday morning - and it was hotter at 6.30 am than the long term March average maximum!  I drank a lot of water that day!

I have gone back into the archives for these weeks shots - its just too hot to think about anything new!
So, to celebrate 400 posts on this blog i'll post 3 butterflies from Queensland!

Swamp Tiger

Blue Tiger

Chocolate Argus
I have not have much luck with butterflies this summer - too much time with birds! 

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.  

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday 7 March 2013

SkyWatch Friday - A miss and a hit

As some of you will know, I tried to photograph some bats this week.  There were two reasons for this - firstly I would be able to continue my cricket themed posts "Batting Through the Night" or some such like, and secondly I thought it would be different to post a picture concentrating on the nights sky, but not one that was about stars or the Moon.

So, I set up a tripod in the day light, prefocused the camera on the top corner of the fig tree in the next door garden.  Once that was organised I removed the camera, but they the tripod in place.  Once it was dark and the bats were batting about I put the camera back.  At tho point I could see nothing at all through the viewfinder!  Every time a bat came near the place where I thought the camera was pointing I took a flash shot.

I scared the living daylights out of one car driver who clearly thought the flash was a speed trap!

Now, I did get a picture of a bat - but generally I think this image is a "miss".  Although it sort of shows that the process may work eventually!

Now, just in case you think "I came here for this?" which would be justified I have to say, I will include a much better shot from the archives!

This is what a sky shot should look like!  This is an evening sky on Kangaroo Island - and I think its a hit!

You can find more skies - and generally fewer underexposed, slightly out of focus noctural mammals at Sky Watch Friday!

Enjoy the skies!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

WIld Bird Wednesday 34: Out for a (Wood) Duck

Straight up, I feel the need to apologise for the title of this post - the last two have been cricket related and I could not resist one more truly appalling pun.  I promise thats the end - unless my plan to photograph bats tomorrow night yields fruit!

These birds are Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata).  They are neither rare, nor particularly shy, but they do turn up in some odd places.  This is the only duck on my garden list, as I once spotted a pair sat on the chimney pot of my house!

They are about 48 cm long and have a liking for fresh grass.  The males are the birds with the solid chocolate coloured heads, and the females have paler heads and stripes above and below the eyes.  These ducks nest in tree hollows near or over water.  One thing that I would dearly love to see in the chicks parachuting out of the nest. This happens very soon after they have emerged from the egg!

It was only as I was putting this post together that I noticed this birds tendency to put its head to one side in a rather attractivley photogenic fashion!  I think I like them all the more for doing that!

Now its your turn.

Click the link below and away you go.  Here is a challenge:  invite one other blogger to join in WBW this week!