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)?

THE PERFECT DAY (for photography)

It’s been raining on/off for a few days and today has dawned into the perfect photography day.   (I might add the herbs and tomato plants in my Balcony Garden have got some new healthy leaves too).

Blue sky with a smattering of soft cloud cover and soft light.   There’s barely a whisper of a breeze and I’m thinking I wish I still lived near the beach.   If you’re Australian or have visited Australia for a holiday, you’ll know what I mean by the perfect day.   Our sunlight in summer is harsh.   Nothing like the soft light in central Europe or the U.K. in summer.

(I’ve never been to the U.S. or Canada so I can’t comment about their sunlight and I can’t remember what the light was like when I travelled for a short holiday in central Asia).

Reminds me of the perfect day down at St Kilda Beach & boat marina back on the 23rd August, 2015.   This was a day I made lots of photos as the Winter light was so soft and I knew I’d get some ‘keepers’ (i.e. photos you keep and don’t delete).

One of my favourite images of all time. I love the way each person, couple or group is enjoying the day – each on their own – but all in the scene together.
I don’t think I’ve ever shared this shot before. It’s an old clock tower on the other side of the road. There is actually the main road behind this tower where the trams arrive from the city centre and the multi lane road leads on down to the rest of the bayside suburbs and beaches on Port Phillip Bay – the bay on which Melbourne is built at the northern end.
St Kilda is famous for its old bathing pavilion. There’s now a modern indoor swimming pool and some cafes and larger restaurants in the enormous building. This tower is just a small section of the building.

Regular followers will remember I’ve shared some of these images before, but this is (nearly) the whole series I took that day, so there may be some images you’ve never seen.

You can see I experimented with taking shots with minimal sky (emphasizing the foreground) and then the same scene with maximal sky (emphasizing the clouds and sky colour).   Since I can rarely see in the LCD screen on the back of the camera, I usually have to wait until I get home and download the day’s shooting on the large 27″ screen to see what looks good and what doesn’t.

I never ever knew where to put the horizon in the images until I read a photography book that said you can put it anywhere in the frame you like, depending on whether you want to highlight the foreground, background or sky.   The Winter light in Melbourne is nearly always soft due to the cloud cover.

It was probably the last day I visited this bayside beach which lies so close to Melbourne city.   I could still get there via about 3 connecting buses/trams and a walk, but it would take ages and too expensive to just catch a taxi there and back.

I wish there were apartments I could afford back on that south-eastern side of Melbourne because while I can’t get out and about much for a nature walk these days,  I could still visit these old photography haunts (Royal Botanic Gardens, St Kilda Beach, Brighton Beach, Melbourne Zoo, Port Melbourne Beach) easily if I had a car and could still drive.

So far, February, which is usually our hottest Summer month, has been relatively mild and the weather has included intermittent rain showers (and even heavy rainfalls) to help the firefighters still fighting the numerous large bushfires still burning (which will probably take months to burn themselves out).

Looking at next week’s weather forecast there is some rain still to come.

Looks like all the prayers for Australia from around the world are working.   Sad about the floods on the north-eastern coast where many places have had more rain in one day than in the usual whole summer month though.

But farmers are filled with joy after a 3-year drought in which there was no stock food even in the middle of Winter.  The creeks (small rivers) and rivers had dried up, so I’m hoping they’re back running again.

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.

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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