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Native Beauty

Posted in: Photography on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

 Australia has a wide variety of flowering native trees, two that can be found along the foreshore are the Golden Penda and Flowering Gum. Below are pictures of their gorgeous flowers in full bloom.

Pink gumnut and golden penda flowers

 

Beautiful on the tree and in the vase.

 

Brightening up the salon in my hand painted vase.

 

These native trees flower prolifically and are popular with birds.

 

 

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An Adorable Pest

Posted in: Marina Wildlife on Thursday, April 18th, 2013
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‘The swallow is come! The swallow is come! O, fair are the seasons, and light Are the days that she brings, With her dusky wings, And her bosom snowy white!’~ Heny Wadsworth Longfellow

Sitting on our anchor most likely contemplating the weather

Swallows are a common sight around the marina and for practical reasons I shouldn’t like them. For starters they’re prodigious poopers and crap all over our deck, and secondly they’re persistent nesters. It’s been a constant battle to get them to stop nesting in our boom, one that we seem to have won for the time being, no thanks to our cheap plastic snake which i’m sure they just laughed at. I had high hopes that the ships cat would be a deterrent but he’s proved useless. On deck he ducks and runs and when held out the hatch and gently shaken in the direction of the birds “Look! A fearsome cat, a natural predator, be afraid!’ they just look at him and he just looks at them. I’d swear given enough time they might even become friends.

But despite swallows pest like qualities I can’t help thinking how cute they are and love seeing them sitting on furling lines…someone else’s furling lines that is.  They’re especially cute during wet weather. They sit on life lines, furling lines and even our rusty anchor all puffed up trying to stay warm and dry, tittering to each other or vying for the best spot.  I can’t help but like them.

We see mainly two species, the Welcome Swallow and the Tree Martin. The Welcome Swallow is easily identifiable by it’s copper coloured head and breast, it’s black almost blue feathers on his back and long forked tail.  The Tree Martin looks a bit different with a dark black/brown head, dirty cream face, throat and under belly and dark brown wings.

You can clearly see his black/blue feathers on his back and he copper head and breast

The Tree Martin has different markings to the Welcome Sparrow, most notably his speckled breast.

Both species have adapted well to urban environments and due to their numbers and nesting habits are usually considered a pest.

Welcome Swallows nests are usually open cups of grass and mud and this matches what we’ve seen in our boom.  They stuff it full of leaves and feathers then build a mud wall near the entrance leaving just enough room to get in and out.  We destroyed over five to six nests, each time simultaneously feeling a bit guilty about doing it and amazed at the amount of leaves removed. Each time they rebuilt. Like I said persistent nesters.

They are insect eaters, and enjoy the satisfying crunch of a wide variety of insects which they catch while in the air in an impressive display of aerobatics. They have short rictal bristles bordering the bill which guide their prey into their mouth. They’ll feed in large flocks if the supply of insects is large enough.  We’ve seen them do this usually in the afternoon. Large groups of over 20 swallows all swooping and diving, flying in large arcs and tight turns. I always thought they were merely delighting in the joy of flight but it turns out they were feeding on insects too small for me to see. I envy them their flight but not their diet.

Due to their frequent visits they make excellent photography subjects.  Below is a gallery of some of my best shots.  Enjoy!

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My old friend

Posted in: Featured, Photography on Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
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I remember the day I bought my first camera, it was a Canon 350D with a silver body, it came with two lenses and I got whole 1gig CF card to go with it, bought from Rainer’s Camera house on Adelaide St for around $1,800.  That was over six years ago and it is (barring an incident of theft and generous replacement by my father) still the camera that I use today, although now it’s black not silver.

Many newer models and better lenses have been released and some of my friends are lucky enough to have them, but my trusty old 350D works beautifully, has all the features I need (and some still that I haven’t used) and has met my slowly changing needs well.

It’s been dropped a few times and probably endured more car heat than a camera should, it’s been carted from pillar to post, on straps, in bags, by hand; shoved into it’s case hundreds of times, operated while drunk, operated by many while drunk. It’s lived a tough life but it has lived well and served faithfully.

It’s the camera that has shot and recorded thousands of happy memories, birthdays, picnics and holidays with family, parties with friends, Christmas mornings and other special, all too rare occasions when families come together.  It is the camera that has documented (prolifically) the changing faces and smiles of our two beautiful nieces as they’ve grown just as it’s captured the furry cuteness of our beloved pet cat (when his sits still for the camera that is).

It has allowed me to share with others the things I’ve seen, to show the colours of places I’ve been and to reveal the hidden beauty, the different angle of the everyday that otherwise may go unnoticed.  It has allowed me to capture fleeting moments in time to be held and cherished through the years to come. It is the camera that has given me a foothold in the world of photography and has started me on the path to fulfilling a long held ambition of being a competent, if not accomplished photographer (renowned the world over might be asking a bit much, but hey, if it happens Great!!).

If you follow this blog you will know that wildlife photography is becoming a new passion of mine, as evidenced by the growing number of bird photos taken and I think I’m doing well to get the shots that I have with the lenses that I have.  Most of my wildlife photos are currently captured using a Canon 90-300mm zoom lens (and a good deal of luck) but ideally I’d love to use one of these, a Canon-EF-100-400mm, which is better suited to wildlife photography. I just know my photos would only get better and better with better equipment.  But for now I’ll hone my skills with the equipment that I have and be grateful for it.

The latest model Canon cameras are HD video capable (see video below) as well and very covetable, we’ve been in love with them since we saw what they could do, the quality of the video (especially when used with special mounts) is breathtaking.  One day hopefully you’ll be able to view videos on this blog that have been shot with a Canon HD camera and the colour and quality will impress you too.

I, like many others, am a creature of habits and routine and have become a loyal brand consumer over the years.  Canon was my first camera, and will most likely be the only brand of camera I ever use.

Old friends like my little canon camera are rare and hard to find, so I’ll be hanging dearly onto mine.

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