Before I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010, a seagull was a seagull.
I never knew there 6-7 Gulls in Australia and certainly had never heard of a Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus).
These gulls are large and have a very distinctive large yellow beak with a red tip. When I first saw the juvenile brown gull, I thought it was a different species. The juveniles keep their grey-brown feathers and assume their adult plumage over 3-4 years.
The adults have bright yellow legs while the juveniles have more a dark pinkish grey leg colour. They’re widespread and common, but rarely far from the sea.
I’m glad I managed to capture photos of the Pacific Gull(Larus pacificus)together with the common Silver Gull(Larus novaehollandiae), so you can see the size comparison.
They’re quite common down at Port Melbourne beach at low tide where they search the tide line and seaweed for food, but I’ve also photographed them at St Kilda beach, the closest southern bay side beach to Melbourne City.
Now I live in the western suburbs of Melbourne, I’m not close to the bayside beaches to the south of Melbourne City – only a small western port beach (and that takes some time to get to via 2 buses which run infrequently – miss one bus connection and you have to wait 40 minutes for the next bus).
I’ve spent a lot of time down the beach having fun photographing Silver and Pacific Gulls in the past.
In fact Silver Gulls frequent my current riverside home location too.
I love watching Seagulls in any shape or form.
They’re almost as much fun as watching the House Sparrows and Super Fairy-wrens on my apartment balcony.
While I’ve never visited coastal regions famous for their bird life since I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010, I did occasionally see a couple of Terns, (some of which are known more for their marshland habitat), down at the local beach.
I think this tern is theCrested Tern (Sterna bergii) now that I re-read my Australian Bird Guide book this morning. Originally I thought it was a Whiskered Tern (Chilidonias hybrids).
But if you think I might have identified it incorrectly, please leave me a message in the comments section. I only have these 2 photos.
There are several Terns that look very similar in Australia, but the Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) which is a better match, (according to the Bird Guide book), with its long slender orange beak and black legs isn’t found this far south.
On the other hand the bird in the image above has a beak that looks more orange and the bird below has a yellow beak. Maybe it’s just the light. Or maybe, they are 2 different terns 🙂
I think the flecked wing pattern below merely indicates it is a juvenile (as is the case in juvenile Silver Gulls).
Bird identification is not as easy as you might think in Australia, what with cross-breeding (or hybrids) a possibility too. It always pays to get photos from as many angles as possible in Bird Photography.
There are 18 Terns described in my Photographic Field Cuide – Birds in Australia by Jim Flegg.
This is an excellent Field Guide by the way and I can highly recommend it.
It’s 9.30am Sunday and I just stepped out on to my apartment balcony to fill the bird bath.
“S%#@” I said to myself.
There’s bird poop everywhere.
I was so engaged at observing the multitude of birds in the flower, herb and veggie pots yesterday, I once again forgot the repercussions of feeding the hoards (of local bird life).
The hard white pellets were not just on my apartment balcony fence either.
(That’s their usual depository).
There were soft white mini puddles of the stuff on the slate-grey balcony floor tiles. I gingerly weaved my way across the 5′ space to the bright blue ceramic dish and filled it up with fresh water and surveyed the scene.
Do I wait in the hope that today’s rain will wash some of it away OR get right on to the task of getting it off with some hot soapy water before it dries too hard?
I think I’ll give The Rain a first shot at the task.
In the meantime, the Japanese Maple tree in front of my balcony is covered in tiny new leaves. The buds didn’t take long to sprout. The above photo is from last year, but it’s the same week in early Spring and is perfect for today’s post.
In Australia, we call the 1st of September the first day of Spring, not the true Spring equinox which occurs around the 20-23rd September.
This new growth usually brings the hoards of House Sparrows for breakfast and later in the day – about 3.30-4.00pm, depending on the warmth of the sun – the tiny little Fairy Wrens. The Sparrows seem to love the tender bright green tips on each branch.
With warmer temperatures forecast for this coming week, Spring is definitely making her mark on the landscape.
Yesterday’s images were lousy (of Birds on my Balcony).
I’d only taken about 4-5 and then given up. After spending the whole morning bird watching, Friday’s sore throat got much worse and I succumbed to a lazy afternoon of TV (with half an eye straying to the bird life as the chirping and tweeting rose and fell over the hours).
One good thing to come out of being housebound so much this year is that I’m getting lots of practice at photographing the fast-moving smaller birds in the area. …and with the potted plants 4-10 feet from my desk chair, who can resist the practice.
If you want to become a good photographer, practice, practice and more practice can never go astray.
Not all shots have been good, but the ones below, taken on Friday, are just fine and even the shape of the shadows on the corrugated wall in the background make an interesting addition to the scene. It’s a female Superb Fairy-wren in this case.
I notice in my photo archives on the 10th September 2017, I was down at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary and Conservation Reserve (stretching from the western suburb of Williamstown down Port Phillip Bay to Altona and beyond).
Will I ever get back down there to photograph the Royal Spoonbills with the long 150-500mm lens? I think the images below, made with the Sony ‘mirrorless’ camera and its (one and only) 55-210mm lens on the 1st February this year show promise of some great shots to be made from my Canon DLSR and longer lens. But I haven’t been well enough to go back in recent months.
Then there’s the Australia Pelicans and various Cormorants out on the rocks of the promontory, or long island separating the lakes system and the sea.
I think I need to take a tripod and choose a windless day and perhaps conserve my minimal energy and catch a taxi direct to the small lakes system, take a few images, have the obligatory Fish’n’Chips on the beach and come straight home again.
(I rarely go to the beach these days, and truly, its the only place to have piping hot REAL chips and perfectly battered fresh fish. Cafes and restaurants and shopping centres/malls are not the same as sitting in the fresh sea air with some spray from the rocks catching you unawares and the scent of the sea filling your nostrils).
Here’s a few images from last year to remind the regular followers of the scene (and give the new followers an idea of the potential). There are various segments of the long coastal walk and I’ve only explored part of one closest via public transport.
Here’s a map of the walk I’ve done so far since living in the Western suburbs, and while my knee, hip and lower back pain prevent a repeat of this small section, I can always ‘cheat’ and avoid the lengthy 2-bus trip (which winds its way through the suburbs picking up and dropping off passengers at each stop), by catching a taxi which only takes approx. 25 minutes and can drop me off at the top left of the map right next to the walking path and 2 islands where I first saw the Royal Spoonbills. The taxi can drop me about 20-50 feet from the spot I want.
I’ve visited the area several times now and want to do some bird photography, not walking.
I caught a taxi the very first time I went this part of the coast as I was a complete newcomer to this side of Melbourne and didn’t have the slightest clue which bus services went where, OR exactly where I was going.
This stretch of the coastal walk would probably be only a brisk 30 minute walk, but anyone who walks that fast is missing a beautiful piece of coastal reserve and conservation area and maybe should think seriously about getting a treadmill and blindfold to use in their garage for exercise purposes.
Here’s a few more images to lure you to the spot if you’re a local Melburnian.
I’m trying to cut down more and more computer work. For some weird reason I can’t fathom, my astigmatism (double vision) seems slightly worse since my hospital stay last week and now that the days are getting a wee bit warmer and Spring is on the horizon, I’m trying to channel my energy into some possible new hobbies or pastimes. Don’t know what yet.
Over the past 18 months I’ve cut back to 60 blogs to follow (instead of 140) – many of which were no longer posting anyway.
Many of the interesting writer’s blogs have been in the cull. I just find it hard to read much in one sitting. (although, funnily enough, I cantype long posts myself 😀 just have trouble proof-reading them a zillion times to rectify the typos).
This is not because I have no desire to fill my morning with these wonderful words of wisdom or adventure, but simply that energy, eyesight and health are starting to deteriorate a wee bit more.
One of the best blogs I follow is by Karl Duffy. It’s not a nature or photography blog, but a Mindfulness blog and I find his daily quotes or book extracts are nearly always inspirational, positive and uplifting.
In a life filled with health restrictions, I need all the help I can get to remain focused on what I can do, (not what I can’t).
Karl Duffy’s post for today seems relevant to me. Do take the time to check out his posts and see if his blog is one that you might like to follow ( Mindfulbalance ).
NOTE: The images in this post were made at Port Melbourne Beach (the shells and Silver Gulls) and Brighton Beach (with the colourful bathing boxes) – too far away now I live in one of Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Perhaps when the days get longer in Summer’s DST (Daylight Savings Time), the longer bus/tram or train (or all 3) might be fun to travel on simply for the journey and looking out the window (if not a long walk along the beach).
Sometimes the best photography locations I’ve found simply by getting on a bus or tram and going to wherever it took me (to). That’s how I discovered Port Melbourne Beach and Station Pier (where the overnight ferry leaves for the island state of Tasmania – a place I’ve been many times as a child – staying on my Grandmother’s dairy farm during school holidays).
Selling my car in November 2003 was one of the best things I ever did in terms of getting a little more adventurous in urban living – one is forced to use the Public Transport system and travel through suburbs and bayside beaches I’d previously ignored.
(although I do sometimes wish I still had a car to drive up the country and mountainous regions in my State eg. The Dandenong Ranges National Park past the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne).
Around this time of Winter 6 years ago, I was down at the bayside beach suburb of St Kilda, (to the south of Melbourne city), and this day was the first, and only, afternoon in which I’ve ever seen the sea completely calm at low tide. The light was dull, but looking straight into the sun gave the illusion that it was dusk and the sun was setting. Occasionally the sky seemed slightly more mauve than golden.
The images below were made between 2.40pm and 4.20pm – both looking towards the sun……. and away from the sun.
(note: at this time of Winter in Melbourne, the sun goes down fairly early anyway, but 2.40pm………………such a strange and eerie afternoon).