Monday, 29 April 2013

Our World Tuesday - Federation Square

As I mentioned last Friday I spent some time in Federation Square in Melbourne last week.  This place seems to be a love or hate sort of place.  The external architecture is hardly conventional - and when it was first build it was very modern.  I have to say that I always liked it, and it was a huge improvement on the ugly concrete monolith that it replaced.

These days the square seems to be popular with coffee drinkers, meal seekers and photographers.  When I went there a huge built in "TV" screen was showing a football match, and supporters from both sides were sitting around on deck chair cheering their sides on.

When described like this it's strange to think that this was  ANZAC day.

One of the first pictures I took was of the advertising hoarding for an exhibition of Hollywood costumes.  I wonder if the choice of such as a classically elegant image for the advertisement was driven by the nature of the surroundings? i.e. "you do modern and we will do classic".

As is "my way" most of my other pictures were more minimalist - or as H said "random pictures of nothing!" -  he's so supportive!

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Macro Monday - South Channel Fort.

During the last school holidays we took a morning trip to an abandoned  military fort in Port Phillip Bay.  Clearly the intent of these places was not peaceful, but these places now have a kind of interest which I think the original builders would find strange.

The fort had a network of underground tunnels, which over time had filled with sand.  Some of the doors were still blocked by the original woodwork.  I found it it rather attractive.

One of the other things I liked about the fort was the different in tone on the notices near the small dock.  Its a interesting change of position!  Interestingly, these notices sit at the back of a small dock designed to house torpedo boats.  So presumably this would have been a "top secret" military location at some time.  Now the place is about promoting health if you read the second notice!

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.

You will be able to find a longer account of my trip to the fort on my other blog.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Sky Watch Friday - Speckled Sky

Today (Thursday) is ANZAC day in Australia, where the country remembers those who have served, and especially those who have died, in Australia's wars.  So this is a very brief post.  My family have been at a music production involving my good lady wife for most of the day.

This post is of no real relevance to ANZAC day - but I suspect that the freedom of speech the seems to underlie the idea of blogging would not have come to pass if things had gone differently in the past.

"For it is the doom of men that they forget".

This is another product of my trip to Perth.  I like the combination of the linear cranes, the reflections and (above all else) the fluffy, speckled sky.

You can find more skies at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 41 - Perth Birds

There are a number of birds that are found near Perth (Western Australia, not Scotland!) that are not found elsewhere.  And the hope of seeing some of these kept me there for a couple of extra days after my work commitments had been completed.  I was lucky enough to see some of these local birds, but not lucky enough to get any pictures of them.  The weather was positively damp on one day and un-seasonally humid the next.

But my failure to get pictures of some of the "target" birds did not stop me pointing the lens at some of the more widespread feathered inhabitants of the wider Perth region!

So, here are some of my Perth birds - wonderful, but not restricted!
Scarlet Robin 
Scarlet Robin
Scarlet Robin

Scarlet Robin
The Scarlet Robin (Petroica multicolour) is a delightful little bird (12 -14cm) that in Australia is only found in the South West and South East of the country.  Its not closely related to either the European Robin or the American one (the American Robin, is actually a thrush).  This bird allowed me to get much closer than I expected before it flew off.  When it flew from cover into this bush, it was like a small red flash - the colour on its chest standing out like a beacon.

Yellow-rumped Thornbill
The Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) is a much more widespread bird than the robin.  It was a common enough bird on a "farm" I used to often visit - but the grass in the paddocks was a perfect hiding place for this little (11-13cm) species, and most times I only saw them as the flew away, flashing there yellow rumps.  This one obliged by feeding on an area of gravel and small stones.  This is the first image of any value I have got of this species.

Splendid Fairy-Wren 
Finally we have a Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens) which is both its description and its name! This bird is a female, so it does not have the  fully "splendid" plumage - in the male the full breeding plumage it is almost all blue.  That would be a sight to see!

All of these pictures were taken at Wungong Gorge, which is a great place to bird watch and has that most productive of habitat types "The Car Park"!!

Now its your turn.

Click on the link below to join in with WBW.  Please visit, comment and invite!  And please link to your actual WBW post and consider turning off word verification.  

Monday, 22 April 2013

Our World Tuesday - Murray Street Mall, Perth

I thought I'd try something a bit different one morning in Perth.  I went for a walk along Murray Street Mall - a pedestrian precinct as far as I know - and took some pictures of some of the street artists that were busking or (in one case) painting.

Not my normal subjects - but being in a new city must have pushed me off in a new direction for a while!

On one of the side streets there was an area of ground level water fountains - it was hot and so there were kids it the water.  Given that they were kids I wanted to keep them anonymous, but still show some movement and life (I think adults - and especially street performers - are fair game!)

So, no landscapes from me this week!  You can find other shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Enjoy the pictures.  If you have time you may also enjoy the words and pictures on my other blog.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Macro Monday - Monarch Butterfly

When I was in Perth I managed to see some Monarch Butterflies - in fact I saw lots of them! And at time they were rather distracting.  The would burst from the grass and bushes doing a passable impersonation of an interesting bird!  And of course I would look at them!  In the end I did see some very good birds - but lets get the butterfly out of the way!

The Monarch was first recorded on Australia in 1871 and it not clear if it was introduced on fodder or if it was a self introduction.  Either way they are the same species as the famous American migrant butterfly.  In Australia the butterflies that live in the middle of the country migrate towards the coast in the winter, but they are never present in the numbers found in the American wintering sites.

I'd never seen this species before, so this was Butterfly lifer!

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close-ups.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sky Watch Friday - Over the Horizon

I spent a very nice hour in Perth watching the sun set - I was talking to an older couple who had come to Australia in the 1950's from Blackburn in Lancashire in the UK.  It was fascinating to hear them talk about how much Perth had changed since they had arrived.  Even more interesting was the fact that they had never been to the east coast of Australia.

I realised I was not really paying attention to the sunset - these are some images of the after glow!

In lulls in the conversation I took lots of pictures - trying to achieve a balance between the light sky, the colour on the horizon and the darkness of the foreground.  Its at times like this you have to love digital!

You can find more skies at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 40 - Pink-eared Duck.

My recent trip to Perth gave me a chance (after work, just in case the boss is reading!) to get some images of Pink-eared Duck.  This small duck - about 40 cm long - is a delight to watch, but I had never managed to get any decent images before.

There were a number of these ducks loafing about on the shore and sitting on half submerged logs.  They were not so used to people that they would stay put, but they were not so nervous as to swim off. A cautious approach allowed me to get close enough to get plenty of shots.   As my colleagues were sitting on the grass, I had to cut the trip short.

Later on when they saw the pictures, one of them said "It looks like it as a pink highlighter pen mark on its head" - which is the kind of thing that they should put in guide books!

This duck goes by the scientific name of Malacorhynchus membranaceus - which "soft beak, membrane" - which is a decent description of the beak - large and broader at the tip, which is soft.  See, there is meaning in all this latin and greek sounding stuff!

The females are a little smaller than the males - but the difference is not great enough for you to tell the difference in the field - I assume you need a duck in the hand to do that!

Now its your turn.  Use the link below to join in WBW.  Remember - visit, comment and invite - the more the merrier.

Now a plea - PLEASE link to your actual post, not just your general blog address - it does save me a bit of time and PLEASE consider getting rid of word verification if you have it turned on, seeing half blurred images and microscopic numbers drains me of the will to live!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Our World Tuesday - Perth, Western Australia

Perth in Western Australia is a different kind of town - and some would argue a different kind of Australia.  Its location places it closer to Jakarta than it is to Sydney.  While all colonial history could have been very different, it would not have been that difficult for western Australia to be a French speaking nation independent from the East Coast of Australia.   Today, the mineral wealth of WA and the financial wealth it produces make it a very rich place and the idea of separation still appeals to some people.

As you may be aware, I tend to let my mind wander a bit when I am taking pictures of things other than birds and such like - I like to see if I can chase an idea.

These images are about the old and the new of Australia - the dynamic of change and the resistance of history.   My mind went that way when I saw the modern glass building, with the red tin roof in front of it.  If Australia has a traditional building material, its corrugated iron sheets. And the sound of rain on a tin roof - the back of our house has one - has become one of my favourite sounds.   So, I though this was an image about the "then" of the past and the "now" of the present.  Of course, its highly likely its just a picture of a roof and some glass really!

The rest of the pictures are about the old being made new, and the new being made from nothing - or they are pictures of building sites and scaffolding!  Tell me what you think!

You can find more images from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Macro Monday - Black Swan

This is a Black Swan on the appropriately named Swan River in Perth Western Australia.  This bird - and a number of others - was loafing about on a small sand spit and seemed much more tolerant of people presence than normal - but strangely did not seem to be looking for a food handout.

As you can see from the feathers there was a light rain falling at the time - and I rather like the rain drops on the feathers.

You can find more macro shots at Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sky Watch Friday - a delaying sky.

Last Sunday I should have been flying to Perth at 5 pm - the weather had other ideas!

Heavy rain - and more importantly lightning - put a stop to that.  Two hours later we took off!

Why does two hours not seem that long when I have something important to do!

I hope you find your skies to be more cooperative!

You can find more skies of all types here at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 39 - Stilts

One of the (many) things I like about birding is coming upon the unexpected; and this does not have to mean finding something that is rare.  Large numbers of common birds, a common bird in an uncommon place are just as interesting to me (and probably more interesting in a real sense) then some form of storm blown rarity that is likely to soon be dead at the hands of the weather or  a passing cat.

So, last week I was pleased to find birds that fitted into both groups - an abundance of birds I had hoped to see, as well as a few birds where I did not expect them.

Lake Victoria is an shallow saline lake that has been expanded by the digging of shell grit.  According to sources on the Web it "sometimes holds internationally significant numbers of banded Stilts" - I think I managed to visit it on such a day!  I have no real idea how many of these birds were present, but there were 4 very dense flocks just loafing about and many more birds in one area feeding.  I find it hard to believe that there were less the 2000 birds there.

The Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) is about 36 - 45 cm long with a fine black bill. It is nomadic within Australia and only breeds when large salt lakes form in parts of central Australia - and given that central Australia is a desert that's not very year - or even most years if the truth be told.  The key thing to look for on these birds is the white head - they always have one.  Adult birds in breeding plumage also have a chestnut band across the chest.

I have to say I was pretty excited to see these!

So, a few days later I was out in the evening at Lake Lorn - which is about 20 minutes from Point Lonsdale when I found two Black-Winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus).  These are an Australian race of a wide spread species - but I was not expecting to see them.

The key difference here is that they have a black back to their heads - and completely black wings if you see them in flight.

As you may well imagine, it was a good way to end a day.

Now its over to you - use the link below to join in with Wild Bird Wednesday.  Link, visit, invite and enjoy!  (and as a special plea, could you make sure you link to your actual  WBW post, rather than just to your general blog address!) 

Monday, 8 April 2013

Our World Tuesday - Australasian Fur Seals

I was out and about on Port Phillip Bay this week - if I lived much nearer to the sea a boat of some kind would be on my wish list.  Although I recall boats be called "A hole surrounded by water, into which one pours money!" - so maybe not.

I went out on an organised tour to visit one of the old sea forts that were build and later abandoned by the military - but more about that on another day.

On the way to the fort we stopped by the  Australasian Fur Seal colony that hauls out on a structure called Chinaman's Hat.  I've posted about this place before.

What was unusual about today was some of the seal behaviour we saw.  Many of the seals were floating on the surface of the water with there front flippers held up in the air.

Apparently, the dark colour of the flippers and the closeness of the blood flow to the surface of skin allows the seals to use their flippers as solar panels and get some free warmth.  It seems like a good adaptation.

For once the place was not stomach churningly smelly!

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Macro Monday - Detail

When I was at the beach last week, I could not help but notice the way that "man-made" objects interact with the salt and the spray from the sea.

Never buy a car from the seaside my father told me - although his ability to avoid inland rust buckets puts the clarity of his judgement in question!

I took both of these pictures as I walked back to our "house" - and I was thinking about the relationship between the made and the natural and how one fades into another.  There are times when I wish I could think about football or other less confusing topics!

You can find more Macro Shots from around the world Macro Monday.

Enjoy the close ups!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

SkyWatch Friday - Two Big Skies

I have been spending a few days at the beach - which was the cause of the spotty internet connection!

One of the things I like about the sea - and the places around it - it the way the sky looks huge.

These are two big skies.

This one is over Lake Victoria - a nature reserve near Point Lonsdale.  Keep an eye open for this location as it may come up again next wednesday.  Although you cant tell from this picture there are lots and lots of birds in this area.

The second shot comes from a walk between Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff.  The beach did not yield its normal treasure trove of shells and wave cast stuff - but it did give up a rather fine sky.

Hope you like the pictures.

You can find more skies at Sky Watch Friday.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday 38 - Masked Lapwing

This will be a rather more brief than normal WBW - I'm still dealing with intermittently poor, but consistently frustrating internet access.  Comments from me may be a bit delayed this week!

This bird is a Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles).  It's a common and highly visible bird, seeming to enjoy taking up residence on the grassy patches in the middle of roundabouts and sports ovals.  It is a shade under 40 cm long - but packs a good deal more aggression that than its size would suggest possible.

I had hoped to be able to capture the sharp bony spurs that stick out from the "shoulders" of the wings - but this bird is too relaxed to show them.  These spurs are used to attack predators - including dogs and humans!  They also give the bird its "old" common name of Spur-Winged Plover.

Incidentally, these pictures were taken with my camera snuggled down into a pillow that was bent over  the door of my car.  Its a great way to support a long lens.

Now its your turn.

Click on the link below to join WBW.  And remember - visit, invite and enjoy!