The first time I saw a Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) on the bank of the Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, I nearly passed out with excitement.
I’d never seen one before.
I thought I was looking at a very rare bird, but of course I later saw it was very common in the RBG, Melbourne Zoo and even, my current home location (just haven’t seen it here yet).
It’s a large, but comparatively dumpy, large-headed heron. It’s beak is large, deep and black. This heron has yellowish legs. The plumage is a distinctive dark cinnamon above with dark crown and white drooping crest in breeding season. The underparts are buff shading to white.
NANKEEN NIGHT HERON at Melbourne Zoo’s lagoon (below the Orangutan cage. The heron’s aren’t enclosed in any cage, so not sure if they have their wings clipped or just reside on this island due to plenty of food.
Nankeen Night Heron (young adult)
The juvenile is also distinctive with dark brown above and plentiful bold white spots. (It’s called the Rufous Night Heron on some web sites).
I think it is my favourite bird of all I’ve photographed (since I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010).
I managed to get some great shots up-close in the outdoor restaurant area at Melbourne Zoo’s Japanese Garden entrance.
It even beats my second favourite – the White-faced Heron.
Since I can’t get outdoors for a walk today, despite the superb cool weather and fluffy white clouds scattered across the vivid blue Summer sky, I decided to share some images from my archives.
I was out of bed early today as I have to go into the city (of Melbourne) for an appointment.
While I won’t have time for any Street Photography for my B & W Blog, I do want to fit in a few other errands while there (hip pain permitting). I’m not looking forward to it as the Christmas shopping crowds will be horrendous.
Dare I say……I am not a people person at the best of times, let alone in Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) the week before Christmas. I only go into the city centre for the very rare appointment these days as I can’t stand the cloying perfumes and body products people wear, OR the smell of cigarettes………..let alone the crowds and noise.
Sometimes I think I’m allergic to the human race, not just the city centre 😀
To cut a long story short, because I was up a couple of hours early and sitting at my desk drinking my morning coffee, by sheer chance I happened to look up through the lounge window at the fence between the main road footpath and the cliff face (above my computer screen).
I was astonished to see what looked like a Heron standing on the fence (and wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have the cameras out of their ‘sleeping bags’).
I twisted around in my desk chair and reached for the long telephoto lens & DSLR case, whipped out the camera and tried to steady it, but I was too excited and couldn’t hold the camera still. I managed to fire off one shot as the Heron lifted off and flew away.
Fortunately, that DSLR and long 150-500mm lens is always set on Shutter Priority (and I wouldn’t have had time to look at, or change, the camera settings anyway).
Unfortunately, the shutter speed was only 1/100 (left over from last night’s playing around photographing House Sparrows at various camera settings) – not fast enough, although I might have scored a good shot if I had more time to check the DSLR settings AND if I’d been standing on my balcony and could have watched the bird flying to the north (not chopped off by my computer, lounge room blinds etc).
A heron standing on a residential fence really was a rare sight and so you will believe me, here’s the shot:
While I’m not good as shooting moving objects, especially birds in flight, I have occasionally achieved a few good bird-in-flight shots by sheer luck over recent times.
Here’s some more images taken over the last couple of years of the White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), at various locations around Melbourne, so new followers know which bird I’m talking about.
IN THE FIELD BETWEEN MY ‘BACK GATE’ AND FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE
IN THE POND UP-RIVER NEAR PIPEMAKERS PARK (about 10 minutes walk from home)
STANDING IN THE WIDE EXPANSE OF WATER BETWEEN THE MARIBYRNONG RIVER AND NEW HOUSING ESTATES (Down-river)
IN THE POND NEAR PIPEMAKERS PARK (again)
……..and at Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary (below)
The image (below) is probably the first good shot I ever made of this Heron (along the Yarra River in Abbotsford – an inner suburb north-east of Melbourne city).
……..and just in case I manage to get down to the coastal path in Jawbone Conservation Reserve this Summer (before my hip replacement surgery booked in February), here’s a sample of what I hope to see again.
Has to be a cool day though. I’m not fond of Melbourne’s Summer heat & humidity and this coastal walk has almost no trees or shelter from the scorching Summer sun.
It’s actually only about 25 minutes drive from my home, but without a car, it can be a long 2 bus trip (if I just miss the first bus and have to wait 40 minutes for the next one OR just miss the connecting 2nd bus which also runs on an irregular basis. Time it right on a weekday and the trip might be about 45-60 minutes?? via public transport). I could catch a 3rd bus to the other end of this walking trail and walk from north-west to south-east.
ROYAL SPOONBILLS (photographed on the day I DIDN’T have a long telephoto lens).
Another shot of an AUSTRALIAN PELICAN FLYING OVER THE RESTORED MARSH AND LAKE SYSTEM
There’s always something to look at in this COASTAL RESERVE
I think these might be BLACK SWANS (and a rare shot of mine capturing birds-in-flight).
I wrote this on a fellow blogger’s site and he suggested more readers might enjoy it…..
His question was…..where did you find solitude……(after relating his own experience)
SUNRISE FROM MY ‘BACK GATE’
DUSK AT THE TOP OF MY STEEP LITTLE WINDING ROAD
DUSK ALONG THE MAIN ROAD AT THE TOP OF MY HILL
I find solitude every day in the times that all is silent around my apartment – especially noticeable on a Sunday.
NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala)
NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala)
NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala)
Just the sound of birds chirping and caw-cawing, the occasional whisper of the wind in the tree tops outside, and very faintly, the low drone or hum of a plane occasionally, almost like thunder as it rolls across the sky.
(This occurs because I live halfway up a steep hill and the sounds of traffic and urban living float over the top without having touched my ears, attuned as I am to the sounds of nature which dominate my senses).
The hum of a plane can be so low you wonder if it was there at all.
For a city dweller it’s a kind of feeling that few would notice. I am enfolded in Solitude’s cloak regularly, but not the solitude you would find in the wilderness.
At this time of year, the constant tiny cheep of young chicks in nearby nests reminds me I’m never really alone or lonely. I live in Solitude and yet I do not.
Even standing at the local pond on a weekday is a sort of solitude in that no one walks that way at that time.
There’s only ever-widening ripples as the occasional Duck or Teal steps off the bank onto the water surface and in ever-increasing webbed feet strokes, darts in and out of reeds, tiny inlets and then slows to a halt and finds shade in the blistering heat of our afternoon Summer sun.
Tiny flowers sway and dip down in a bow, then spring up a little higher, as a bee, having soaked up the pollen, lifts off with its tiny wings and flies in and around each nearby bloom, before landing once again and pausing in its daily flight pattern.
The new Spring leaves on the Eucalyptus wobble and sway in a meditative dance and then suddenly stop when the wind drops, only to pick up their drooping green ‘feathers’ as the wind re-ignites.
I watch the tiny, almost invisible midges slowly move up the large glass window in front of my desk and know that today is a slow and restful day for Mother Nature, (having done her best over Spring to bring new life to Winter’s decay).
If you only hear Sound, then how do you know Silence. If you only know Heat, how do you know what Cold means. If you only know dark, (like a person born blind), how do you know Light.
The Joys of Solitude are impossible to understand without having experienced them.
Everything in this life is Impermanent and ever-changing and yet, when you truly know Solitude, time seems to stand still.