Duck Day – Queens Park, Moonee Ponds

Saturday was a Duck Day.

I’ve been mostly housebound in recent times and somehow never got over to the Royal Botanic Gardens to photograph Autumn.

I caught a tram over to Queens Park for a couple of hours on Saturday, but the light was lousy, I couldn’t hold the camera still for long and the wind blew the few flowers around too much to get sharp focus.  Out of a couple of hundred shots, I only kept about 40 images and these were mostly under-exposed.

Looking towards the sun (due to being on that side of the lake) left my skies totally blown out and mostly white and the bird life in silhouette.  I tried to fix them to no avail in post processing yesterday.  I tried lightening the shadows in the image below, but my meagre editing skills are not sufficient to replace the sky (without reloading Lightroom or Photoshop).  I have the discs in my drawer from my old desktop computer days pre 2012 and there IS a Mac disc in there somewhere, but I don’t have the sight or patience to do that degree of editing.  I only tweak the contrast, erase the annoying spots  and do some minor cropping etc in the El Capitan photo software usually.

In the end I tried to take photos where the sky wasn’t in the frame.  Easy when photographing the birds (only) actually.

I was amazed at how many ducks were on the lake.  There must have been at least 60-70 Pacific Black Ducks, either on the lake bank or in the murky looking water.  Occasionally they’d all take flight and it looked like the 2 groups were changing places – land or lake – backwards and forwards.  They didn’t seem to fly far.  It was very enjoyable watching them all take flight though.

Dozens of Eurasian Coots (charcoal black with white beaks), a young Australian Pelican, what looked like a Mallard, some Grey Teals (I think) and some Chestnut Teals also enjoyed the lake.  I chased a Little Pied Cormorant part way around the lake rim in an effort to catch it with a fish in its mouth, but only ended up with some blurred images of it with, what looked like a Yabbie, or some other sort of crustacean.  The 4 blurred images below were the best out of about 40 attempts.  The water on its back looks to be in better focus that its head.  Even setting the DLSR on continuous shooting didn’t score me a focused shot of its head (or the Yabbie), but it was a lot of fun trying.  I suppose I might have put the ISO on Auto in the low light conditions.  Ehrrr , but I didn’t think of it at the time.

I only caught a shot of this Pelican swimming away in the distance.  It had a different  coloured beak and feather pattern to the usual Australian Pelican and I wondered if it was a juvenile.

A man with a little point & shoot camera came up to chat and told me he’d never seen a Pelican on the lake before.  He did tell me he’d seen some (of my favourite) Nankeen Night Herons in the past though, so I’ll have to go in my archives and check the dates of my old Nankeen Night Heron images and see if they were from a certain date/week/month of the year.   There was one cormorant on the small island warming its feather for a while, but when it turned to profile so I could see its face, it closed its wings.

This shot below was one of the best of the day and I wasn’t sure, but wondered if it could be a young Grey Teal.  Female Pacific Black Ducks, female Chestnut Teals and Grey Teals look pretty similar to me, but my Guide Book says Grey Teals have red eyes and dark metallic looking legs with a softer brown feather colour.  If any follower knows for sure, let me know in the comment section.

I made another shot of the lovely mosaic near the cafe/kiosk which turned out much much better than that made on my first visit to this 22 hectare park.

Queens Park is mostly lawn and a few avenues of old trees with a couple of playgrounds for the children.  It doesn’t have the numerous flower beds like the Royal Botanic Gardens on the south-east side of Melbourne.   Only a few trees had Autumn Colour, but the children seemed to like playing with the leaves anyway.

The man I was chatting to next to the lake remarked that he’d never seen so many seagulls washing themselves before.  I couldn’t get a well focused shot of them flapping and washing themselves, but did get several of them standing still on or near the island in the lake.  I gave his observation some thought and agreed.  I’ve never seen seagulls flapping and washing themselves down the beach either.  Sure they do a lot of flapping and splashing, but this lot of seagulls actually looked to be washing themselves.  Shame I couldn’t capture a shot of the action.

 

 

Pacific Black Duck with a sleepy male Australian Wood Duck in the background on the island.

And lastly I saw this lone male Australian Wood Duck on the island a bit later on when it was standing, but it seemed to have something wrong with its wing.  Perhaps it was a juvenile moulting its soft downy feathers (which do tend to leave the bone/frame a bit bare), but the rest of the duck looked like an adult.  I have several images of young Australian Wood Ducks moulting and growing their adult feathers so am quite familiar with the ‘scruffy’ look of juveniles.

As to Health News…….The MRIs from a few weeks ago show a slipped disc in my neck and severe disc disease, 6 slipped discs in my lumbar spine and with the vertebrae eroding away (not osteoarthritis), I’m not sure how long my photography hobby will continue.  It’s getting harder to bend, kneel or twist & turn lately.  This disc condition  will not improve with exercise or physio due to the poor condition of the vertebrae.  In several spots there is almost no disc left at all, so you can well imagine how stiff and inflexible I’m becoming.  I often wonder if the Sheuermann’s disease had been picked up as a teenager, whether treatment could have made a difference.  Most teenagers afflicted with Scheuermann’s grow out of it in 2-3 years, but those that that don’t, (aka me), have a lot of back pain and scoliosis later in life.  This is made worse by the Fibromyalgia pain condition I’ve had since 1980.  In the meantime, blog following and blogging is being reduced more & more this year.

I must admit I seem to be taking 2 steps forward and 3 steps backwards in the last year or so.

 

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19 Comments on “Duck Day – Queens Park, Moonee Ponds

    • I know you’re going to love our flora and fauna, Cindy. Do ensure you try to see the full spectrum of our desert, temperate zones on the coast and rainforest in the north (which I haven’t seen myself). Try to plan a road trip along the Great Ocean Road on the southern coast of my state of Victoria too – supposedly one of the best (if not THE best) ocean drive in the World. Bring clothes for 4 seasons though – with climate change, its impossible to predict the weather.

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  1. Despite some adversity, you got some really pretty shots! I like to see the birds and the plant life that you have there, much of it very different from what we have here. Those black ducks are very pretty: I like the patterns of the feathers and the colors are ones that I most like anyway. I’m sorry that you have all those health problems, but glad that you can still manage to get out!

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    • Saturday (and that day at Newell’s Paddock a few weeks ago with a short walk to the river the other night) are pretty much all I’ve done in recent weeks/months,Terry. Have mainly gone via taxi or had groceries delivered recently. Even caught a taxi to the local chemist last Thursday (10 minutes walk normally). I know I say is more regularly these days, but at this stage, I can’t see many better days on the horizon. Thanks for your sympathy on the health issues 🙂

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your back problems. Thank you for getting those beautiful autumnal shots and I do like the photo of the lady taking a photo of the ducks.

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    • Thanks RR. I like that shot of the lady photographing the birds too. The lovely colourful scarf brightened up a rather dull kind of light that day. I don’t necessarily take shots of people without their permission that close, but I figure a back view can’t hurt.
      In Australia some people are so uptight about strangers taking their photo with a DSLR and what they probably don’t realise is that people with iPhones are photographing anyone and everyone all the time.

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      • Indeed, I feel that when you are in public you are constantly filmed by CCTV anyway, you might as well accept it and make sure you aren’t caught scratching your arse 🙂

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  3. I enjoyed all your photos but especially liked seeing the lovely golden and red tones of the leaves changing colour, which is something I miss in autumn living in Queensland.

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    • To be honest Sue, I imagine its only the imported English & European trees in parks that change colour, not our native species. I’m guessing in saying that Sydney & Melbourne (and Hobart?) might have more English trees in their public parks and gardens from the early settlement in the 1800s. I might do a little research on whether Aussie species change colour in Autumn at all. Might be interesting to find out. Mr Google might have an easy answer.

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    • Just found a paragraph on the ABC website (below) that suggests Autumnal tones are probably introduced species ………

      “Chances are that it will be an introduced species that’s putting on a show of yellow, orange, brown or red. (Although there are a handful of Australian deciduous natives such as the deciduous beech, most tend to change colour and shed their leaves at other times of the year, or lose leaves gradually.)”

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  4. I reckon the overcast sky gave your shots a softness that really went well with this time of the year.

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    • Wish I’d been down at St Kilda Beach, John. I reckon the light on the water and in the sky would have been magic.

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  5. These are awesome, Vicki, despite the challenges you faced! Sometimes photography can be quite frustrating, especially when it seems all the forces are against you. But you done really well here!

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    • Thanks Pete.
      Shame the light in the sky wasn’t better, but tonight, the sun reflecting from the clouds was just as bad in the sense it was like a spotlight was turned on.
      Going for a walk and Photography is getting harder and harder this year. Might have to find a new hobby…….eventually 🙂

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  6. Sorry to hear about the back issues; chronic pain can really change our lives.

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    • Thank you for you kind words. After 37 years of it, you’d think I’d be used to it, but this year it seems to have reached a new ‘high’ and is affecting my neck as well.

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