101 SILVER GULLS

Last week I got up close & personal with lots of Seagulls.  Not quite 101, but there were lots of them.

I love watching seagulls.

I make no excuse for buying several lots of hot fish n chips down next to the pier to warm up in the brisk winter wind and then, when the excess got cold, threw them to the many gulls on the sand to bring them closer to my camera lens.

There’s something about the smell of the sea air and the screech of gulls that makes for a holiday atmosphere (despite the virus restrictions).

On the first short walk of the week, the sun continued to tease me.   One minute coming out and warming the temperature up to quite a comfortable level and then, next minute, going behind the clouds and the temperature dropping suddenly to a distinct chill.

I CAUGHT THE EYE OF THIS GULL STANDING PERFECTLY STILL ON THE PIER FENCE.
IT FLEW DOWN TO THE OLD SEA WALL AND STOOD FACING THE OTHER WAY AND I SILENTLY SEND A MESSAGE ASKING IT TO TURN AROUND AND POSE.
IT HALF TURNED AS THOUGH TO SAY “ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?”
I SILENTLY ASKED THE BIRD TO STAND UP A BIT STRAIGHTER AND IT DID!
BUT THE GULL WASN’T OVERLY KEEN ON STANDING STILL FOR LONG. THE SUN WAS NOT VERY BRIGHT AT THIS TIME OF THE AFTERNOON.
IT PAUSED ONCE OR TWICE STARING OFF INTO THE DISTANCE WHILE ITS COMPANIONS STEADILY WALKED ALONG THE SEA WALL.
ANOTHER SEAGULL STOOD ON THE RAIN-POCKED SAND AND ASKED FOR A PHOTO SO I OBLIGED.
THEN IT TOO FLEW UP TO THE SEA WALL AND PONDERED ITS NEXT STEP.  CAN YOU SEE THE TINY BIT OF BROWN ON ITS WING FEATHERS? THAT’S THE LAST OF ITS JUVENILE BROWN WING FEATHERS SOON TO DISAPPEAR.
A ROCK PIGEON FLEW UP ONTO THE WALL AND PROMPTLY CHASED IT AWAY, ACTUALLY, TOWARDS MY CAMERA.
THEN THEY BOTH TURNED AND STEADILY WALKED AFTER THEIR AVIAN COMPANIONS.
LOOKS LIKE THE OTHER GULLS ARE WAITING FOR THESE 2 TO CATCH UP WITH THEM.
THEN THEY ALL FLEW AWAY LEAVING THE OLD BARE WALL QUIET (UNTIL I THREW SOME MORE COLD CHIPS TOWARDS THE DISTANT BIRDS).

The sun had gone behind the clouds so I decided to head for home – only 5 minutes walk away.

Gosh, it must be truly lovely to live near the beach in the summer when there is no waiting for the sun to shine and the screech of gulls is joined by the shrieks and laughter of children and their families.

I wonder what the summer of 2020/2021 will bring this year (in times of so much uncertainty DownUnder)?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK (and some more of last week’s story)

it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world

Mary Oliver

You’re probably thinking I’ve gone on holiday, but no, here I am, back in my old apartment next to the Maribyrnong River and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

Yesterday, this tiny female House Sparrow (above) reminded me of how lucky we are in Australia and how lucky I am to be content with the simple things in life.

2 apartment moves in 10 days was not easy for someone like me with a  heart condition, severe pain and other chronic health issues.   But I did it and it now seems like a distant dream (except for the packaging littering my lounge floor – the removalist company picked up the empty boxes yesterday).

My move to a south-western beachside suburb of Melbourne was a complete disaster healthwise and amidst a complete lockdown of suburban Melbourne due to a large cluster of COVID cases in several high-rise apartment blocks, I did some phoning and emailing and was lucky enough to just be able to move back into my old apartment block.

I had to move out of the new beachside ground floor apartment as quickly as possible.

 

Out of focus, but I like the shot anyway

It would have been almost impossible (without a car) and the current lockdown conditions to look elsewhere anyway.

I was welcomed back ‘with open arms’ by both the property agent and the landlord.  When I moved back in on Monday of this week, different tenants/friends I saw were so thrilled I was back.  Seems my occasional chats in this building had endeared me to more than one person.   I never realised how much I would be missed when  I moved out which was a big surprise.  A heart-warming spot in the day on Monday amidst the busyness of the removalists going back and forth making the pile of boxes higher and higher in my tiny studio-style modern apartment.

The first evening in my new seaside apartment, amidst a mound of boxes, I sat at my desk with 2 heaters on high, a coat…….and a woollen blanket around my knees.   I have never, ever experienced such mind and body numbingly cold interior conditions.

Even waking up on the Swiss-Austrian border in 1976 with my tent covered in snow was ‘a walk in the park’ compared to the icy chill that pervaded my bones right to the core that first night (and the subsequent nights last week).

The musty smell in the 2 carpeted bedrooms, which the property agent had said would disappear once the long-empty apartment was thoroughly aired, made breathing difficult at night (for me).   I have MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) among my long list of chronic health conditions and am allergic to mould (and damp?).  I suspect the carpets, having been steam cleaned weeks before, had not dried properly in the midst of Melbourne’s cold winter nights.

I had opened all 3 doors and the rusty, stiff window chains the best I could, but the smell never really left in the whole 8 days I was there.

I need fresh air to be truly alive.   I need to feel like I’m Living in Nature now I’m more housebound.

By the second night, my heartbeat seemed weak and erratic.  (I also have intermittent SVT – Supraventricular Tachycardia – which can be a weird sensation when the heart starts beating very fast.   It was diagnosed in 2007 & again in 2009, but seemed to resolve itself without drugs or a procedure to ‘zap’ the faulty electrical function in the heart muscle.

It reared its head last October when I was admitted to the Cardiology ward for 6 days with a mild heart attack, but again resolved itself naturally.   The fluttering sensation in my chest feels a little weird, but not as scary as a serious ongoing dramatically fast heartbeat experienced by some sufferers which requires treatment.

The tap water, of which I normally drink quite a lot, tasted disgusting and a faint chemical smell wafted to my overly sensitive nose each time I filled the water glass.   The lighting in the apartment, which I had expected to be fixed before my move-in, was obviously going to be a problem (even when it was fixed).

I need light.

I need warmth to help cushion my chronic pain and other symptoms.

There were other issues with the seaside apartment of course.   I don’t make hasty decisions in retirement, especially not decisions that cost $$$.   Last week was the most expensive ‘holiday‘ I’ve ever taken   😀   My bank account is still grumbling to itself every time I check the balance each morning.

Besides, I missed the birdsong which I wake to every morning here.   And,  I would have got obscenely fat on the wonderful hot fish n chips in which I indulged last week.

Why does hot fish n chips taste much better down the seaside?

I go with the flow and live my life Mindfully each day.   Enjoying the simple things and ‘stopping to smell the roses’, if not every day, then certainly each week at some time or other.

But my health comes first (in retirement).   I can’t afford to get chilled in Winter (or over-heated in Summer) with a serious heart condition, which was upgraded from mild to severe last October.

So I’m now back online with 101 seagull images to share – well not quite 101, but I did take a lot of photos of them in the 3 wonderful short walks I did last week.   They had to be short walks due to pain levels, but they were definitely ‘sweet’.

Oh, it was glorious to live beside the sea.   The smell of the sea air outdoors was a heady balm to my senses.   The screeching of the seagulls as they dived in when I threw my rapidly cooling chips in the air was really a delight. Twice, they even lined up on the old weathered pier edging waiting to pounce each time I lifted my arm.

But now I’m back home.   There are still all the issues that made me leave this riverside multi-story building, but I’ll just have to overcome them and make this tiny apartment ‘work’.

The beachside apartment never felt like home.   It felt like an empty freezing cold concrete shell to me (that just happened to reside in a fantastic location near the sea and 3 nature reserves).   Anyway, at least I now know how to get there in the summer via a (long?) 2-bus trip if I wish to.

I have some ongoing health issues to investigate, but I’ll be back online more regularly soon.

I’ll leave you with some wonderful images of a mural that was visible down a tiny side lane in the main shopping area.   I only had one camera over my shoulder – the Sony a6000 with its 55-210mm kit lens, so couldn’t fit the whole mural into the one shot.

 

A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A HOLIDAY

I figure its time for a change of subject matter as the sky is flawless with not a cloud in sight and I’m stuck at home listening to the construction crew across the road belting out nail gun ‘bullets’ at lightning-fast speed.   The sound is getting a wee bit tedious and boring today, but far too sunny to close the sliding door out to the balcony.

I’ve had a constant stream of House Sparrows dropping in for a drink at my birdbath on such a warm afternoon, but none staying long enough for a real photoshoot.

Well…….maybe one or two……many of the avian visitors are slim and quite small so I can’t help but wonder if they’re this Spring’s House Sparrow offspring.  The stripe behind the eye denotes a female, but as far as I can see all the young sparrows have this stripe.   Makes me wonder at what stage House Sparrows reach puberty and turn into little boy sparrows with their rust-coloured caps.

 

Time to raid the archives for some uplifting images of times past…..back to 2013…… down at Brighton Beach with its iconic colourful bathing boxes (in both Summer & Winter excursions).   You don’t need me to point out which of the following was made in Summer and which images were made in Winter.

Enjoy the excursion, whatever the weather.

PACIFIC GULL (Larus pacificus)

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.

SILVER GULL (Larus novaehollandiae)

Silver Gulls are a large seabird and the most familiar of Australian gulls.

THIS USED TO BE MY FAVOURITE PHOTO AS IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST IMAGES I MADE OF A BIRD WITH SHARP FOCUS ON IT’S HEAD/EYE AREA.
ONE OF MY RARE IMAGES OF BIRDS FLYING………VERY, VERY SLOWLY AS THEY CAME IN TO LAND (WHICH IS HOW I GOT THE BIRDS IN FOCUS LOL).

THIS GULL WAS STANDING VERY FIRMLY IN THE SHALLOWS FACING THE STRONG WIND AND SEEMINGLY GLARING AT ME AS I SHOT THIS PHOTO.The adult has a white head, neck and body, pale grey wings with black primaries showing white tips at rest.

WHEN THE TIDE GOES OUT DOWN AT THE BEACH, SEAGULLS CAN BE SEEN ‘STIRRING’ THE SAND IN THE HOPE OF FINDING SOME TASTY MORSEL TO EAT.
IMAGE MADE AT BRIGHTON BEACH SOME TIME IN AUTUMN (GOING BY THE AUTUMN COLOURS OF THE LEAVES ON THE WET SAND).

The beak, eye-rings and legs are scarlet.

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE PHOTOS I’VE OFTEN SHARED ONLINE. THIS ONE WAS MADE AT PORT MELBOURNE BEACH WHEN I CAPTURED A LADY FEEDING THE GULLS ONE HOT SUMMER’S DAY.

Immature Silver Gulls are duller, with brown flecks on wings forming a conspicuous bar in flight.  Their beak is brownish and the legs blackish.

I see them everywhere, not just down at the beach.

On the old buildings at the Meat & Fish section of Queen Victoria Market in North Melbourne – waiting for the fish scraps to be thrown out at the end of market day…..

At Melbourne Zoo next to the pond in the Japanese Garden……

In the city square on the lawn area………

In my local area along the Maribyrnong River…….

You just never know when they’re going to take off……

or jump up and down at Port Melbourne beach…..

Or quietly sit down for a rest at St Kilda Beach (near South Melbourne) at dusk…..

BEING LED

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 can type 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 ).

Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led — make of that what you will.

Wedndell Berry, Jayber Crow, A Novel

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).

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