Tag Archives: bird photography

W – Whale Beach, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

For those of you who’ve ever been to Whale Beach, I can hear you calling loud and clear: “What are you talking about? That’s not Whale Beach!!”

However, today I decided to challenge your sense of the perspective of place. Instead of just viewing Whale Beach from it’s classic postcard perspective with its rocky headlands at each end and the sandy beach in between, we’re tracing snail trails across a rock pool on the Southern headland. I’ve always loved tracing and photographing their curly trails. They’re so creative, and seem to reflect my state of mind. There’s no such thing as a straight line from A to B.

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Palm Beach Ferry

After that brief explanation, I’d like to welcome you back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for the 2020 A-Z Challenge and as you already know, we’re heading off to Whale Beach.

Whale beach Map

A Map of Northern Sydney with Whale Beach top right.

It’s a bit of a complicated trip, and we’ll be catching  the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach, which will take us across Broken Bay with stunning views across to Lion Island. From Palm beach we’ll be getting a lift to Whale Beach, which is not the easiest place to reach via public transport. However, that’s also part of its quaint appeal. It has a very relaxed village feel, and doesn’t get the crowds during the Summer peak.  Indeed, many of the dwellings here are weekenders and while these blow-ins might live someone else, they’re largely considered locals, at least among themselves.

Whale Beach

Whale Beach looking North. CC BY-SA 4.0

I know “Whaley” very well. Indeed, it’s been my home. Our family used to have a house on Whale Beach Road, just across from the beach. Well, there was the slight matter of needing to climb up 200 stairs to get back to the house. That could be very challenging. Yet, there was a spot roughly halfway, where you could turn around, pause, and point out the view and distract your friends from your acute shortage of breath. It was often my salvation, not that I was that unfit even back then. Let’s just say there were a lot of stairs and they did go straight up!!

Whale Beach trike

Trike Heading Out To Sea, Whale Beach (looking South). 

My parents bought the place at Whale Beach, while I was still at uni. Unfortunately, I didn’t drive. So, unless I was with friends, I had to catch the dreaded 190 bus from Wynyard Station, which grunted along for at least 90 minutes from point to point, and that doesn’t factor in the steep walk from Surf Road straight over the top of the hill to reach Whale Beach Road. It might not be one of the world’s tallest peaks, it was a pretty decent climb.

Whale Beach Estate 1928

However, since my parents’ sold the house about twenty years ago, we won’t be revisiting the old house, and we’ll be heading straight down Surf Road to the beach. Indeed, I forgot to tell you we have a surfboard on the roof and we could even be driving a Kombi. Not a splitty, because that’s well beyond our price range, and I suspect we’re driivng something rustically unreliable. After all, that’s the less than romantic reality of being a true Kombi owner these days.

 

 

Whale Beach is a surf beach, especially at the Northern end where there’s a cool rip called “The Wedge”. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what that’s about. However, I have photographed quite a few surfers down there over the years. Watched them sitting on their boards bobbing up and down like corks waiting for the wave, while their faithful mutts sit on the beach waiting. At least, that’s how it used to be back in the day. Dogs off the leash are probably incarcerated now. Hey, even the humans are in trouble these days thanks to the coronavirus. A couple of footballers made headlines and were fined for flauting social distancing today. However, even I’m getting itchy feet and I have more incentive than most for staying put, and that doesn’t include sitting on Whale Beach and contemplating life, the universe and everything. Rather, these days have to revamp the walk and talk into some kind of walk and think. Is it possible? I’m not convinced. It’s certainly not easy to walk and write, although I could possibly argue that writing is work and the beach is my office, just as long as I stay away from Bondi!

Whale Beach Feet

Anyway, let’s rewind a little. As I said, my parents owned the house while I was at uni. So, of course, there were parties, usually with a ratio of way too many blokes to girls. There was love and heartbreak, not just for myself but also my friends. There were lonely stretches staying there for weeks at a time all by myself, but resulted in prolific writing and no doubt long hours talking on the phone. However, every night as regular as clockwork, a light switched on at the Southern end of the beach. The light fell right across the breakers and snaked around with the waves. It was absolutely magnificent and a memory which almost defined my soul and brought me such peace. Joy doesn’t need to cost the earth or be high tech.

Whale Beach also became a place of solace. Somewhere we could take friends who were going through tough times, and even combusting with self-inflicted angst. We’d walk along the beach or walk around to Palm Beach. It was a place of gentle, compassionate healing and casting all your cares off the cliffs and out to sea. For many of us, myself included, there was a Christian spiritual aspect to this, but I can’t speak for the rest. People from many walks of life came to the house, and had their own beliefs. It was not not a place of judgement, at least, from my perspective.

Rainbow Lorrikeets

A Pair of Rainbow Lorrikeets Having A Cup of Tea on the Balcony.

Before I head off, I just want to tell you about some extra special visitors to the house. There are the birds, especially the Rainbow Lorrikeets. They’re absolutely beautiful and ever so friendly with their sweet chatter.

Whale Beach is why we live at Umina Beach. It’s Whale Beach on a beer budget.

Have you ever been to Whale Beach? What did you love about it? Mind you, from my point of view, what is there not to love?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Magpie On the Cross: Day 4, Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge.

This photo was taken on a day trip to Wollombi, NSW where my Great Great Grandfather married his second wife, Jane Lynch in the very quaint stone Catholic Church.

Wandering through the historic cemetery, I was struck by this momentary fusion of elements…a magpie perched on a cross, a historic headstone.

Being Spring, I had to be careful taking this shot, as I’d already been warned about swooping magpies and I wasn’t one to argue with that. Well, that’unless a resonating image was up for grabs.

A magpie doesn’t tell quite the same story, as spotting a crow in a graveyard and yet it’s presence resonates and feels a bit forboding. As it would be, I guess, if I were a small bird.

Today, I’d like to ask Irene Waters from Reflections & Nightmares if she’d like to take up the challenge.

xx Rowena

The Australian Magpie.

I photographed this magpie or “Maggie” at my friend’s place today. While they can become territorial and aggressive during Spring, they’re found  throughout most backyards, at least around here, and are mostly very tame. It’s quite clear that they’re worked out humans are a great source of food and they make themselves part of the family. Our elderly neighbours were being eaten out of house and home by their baby magpie who’d also make quite a lot of noise demanding to be fed. My friend volunteers for an animal rescue service and the magpie has discovered the puppies food bowl and helped itself. I guess you could call it “fast food”. Apparently, we have a family of maggies living in our jacaranda tree out the back. Geoff tells me that they’re “resprayed” our Morris Minor.

What types of birds do you have in your backyard? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

Black Swan Lake, Tasmania.

Just as well Geoff was driving from Port Arthur to Devonport. As I kept spotting all sorts out the window forcing photo stops galore, we needed a driver with their eyes fixed on the road.That was never going to be me!

I’d also argue that we needed a dedicated lookout as well. Not just to keep an eye out for photo opportunities and darting wildlife, but for us all to fully appreciate the journey as well as the destination.

To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t long after our last photo stop when I spotted this dam dotted with black swans. Coming from Sydney where I’ve never seen a wild swan of either sort, seeing so many black swans all at once was a definite thrill. So, this apparition was definitely worth stopping for.

Like so many things Down Under, things seen to be the reverse of what’s in Europe and the Black Swan was only another example. Indeed, for Europeans, finding the black swan was akin to finding the mythical unicorn.

You see, the black swan had long been used as a metaphor in mythology, referring to something which doesn’t exist. In AD 82, the Roman satirist Juvenal wrote in  of rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno (“a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan”).[6] He meant something whose rarity would compare with that of a black swan, or in other words, as a black swan did not exist, neither did the supposed characteristics of the “rare bird” with which it was being compared. The phrase passed into several European languages as a popular proverb, including English, in which the first four words (“a rare bird in the land”) are often used ironically. For some 1500 years, the black swan existed in the European imagination as a metaphor for that which could not exist.

In 1697, The Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh made the first European record of sighting a black swan, when he sailed into, and named, the Swan River on the western coast of New Holland. The sighting was significant in Europe, where “all swans are white” had long been used as a standard example of a well-known truth.

black-swan

Black Swan I’d photographed earlier at Deloraine.

Governor Phillip, soon after establishing the convict settlement some sixty years later and 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) away at Botany Bay on the east coast, wrote in 1789 that “A black swan, which species, though proverbially rare in other parts of the world, is here by no means uncommon … a very noble bird, larger than the common swan, and equally beautiful in form … its wings were edged with white: the bill was tinged with red.”[7]

Taking black swans to Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries, brought the birds into contact with another aspect of European mythology: the attribution of sinister relationships between the devil and black-coloured animals, such as a black cat. Black swans were considered to be a witch’s familiar and often chased away or killed by superstitious folk. Indeed, in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the sinister and seductive black swan, Odile, is contrasted with the innocent white swan, Odette.

As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff is Tasmanian and grew up with a “pet” swan at home for some years. I’m not sure of the exact story but I think Charlie was an ophan swan who adopted Geoff’s mum. Charlie used to make himself quite at home, coming into the house for food.

Anyway, I thought you’d appreciate seeing so many black swans in one spot and what a thrill it was for us. I hope you might get the opportunity to experience it yourself one day.

xx Rowena

Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_emblems_and_popular_culture

We’re Going on a Peacock Hunt (with my camera).

Nothing like the jewelled splendor of a peacock’s feathers to animate even the most recalcitrant photographer, let alone excite this shutterbug.

We were meeting friends for lunch in Launceston’s  famed Cataract Gorge when we spotted one of their resident peacocks. Camera poised, I crept off in hot pursuit lucky not to fall head first into the pavement. It was a case of continuously pressing the shutter and seeing what I’d captured later, zooming into those stunning feathers with my lens extended to its full capacity.

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Although I am a serious animal and nature lover, there are parallels between hunting and trying to  get that perfect photographic shot. I have an absolutely roving eye, constantly looking out for that obscure angle or perspective as well as those perfect postcard shot of something as deliriously beautiful as a peacock’s feather.

peacock-feathers-zoom

I don’t know whether you’ve also experienced this wonder. This all-consuming joy where you all but merge completely into whatever it is you’re peering at through the lens but it’s exhilarating. Better than jogging, that’s for sure!

Have you photographed or seen anything lately which has completely blown you away like this? Please share. It’s taking me awhile to get back to the  comments but I will get there. Life’s about to return to “normal”.

xx Rowena

BTW I did a quick Google search for peacock quotes. While I didn’t find any which complimented my post, this quote struck a chord and is a note to self about how I see myself:

“People are crying up the rich and variegated plumage of the peacock, and he is himself blushing at the sight of his ugly feet.”

-Saadi

 

Bird in our Backyard Bottlebrush Tree.

It’s not often that I share any photos from our garden, but our stunning red bottlebrush tree is in full bloom and the local Rainbow Lorrikeets are feasting on what must be the nector of the Gods. I swear they get more than tipsy on the stuff and by the end of the day, you should hear them twittering in the trees. The birds flock to particular trees at the beach on dusk the noise is almost deafening but in a nice way. That’s why you never plant bottlebrush trees (callistemons) near your bedroom window. The same cacophony fires up at dawn and forget trying to sleep through it!

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing!

What sort of birds do you have in your backyard?

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

xx Rowena

Midwestern Plant Girl wrote a a great post about seeing Rainbow Lorrikeets in the USA. I realise that I might’ve over-done the noise aspects of the Rainbow Lorrikeet because compared to a Sulfur-crested cockatoo with it’s loud but lovable screech, it’s sweet and musical. Here’s the link: https://midwesternplants.org/2016/10/24/rainbow-lorikeets-trichoglossus-haematodus/