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Monday, December 31, 2018

Some photos from 2018

2018 was a very busy year for me.
As usual I kept taking photos with my old camera, but until now I did not have the time to go through them and choose some to post. My initial intention was to make only one entry, but the oystercatchers stood out and demanded their own post.

This one will be just a collection of images. As always, each one has its own story, which I tend to somehow always remember, but these stories will remain untold.

Happy New Year!
Hope to see you around again some time in 2019. Enjoy the captured moments!

above: Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Green Rosella, Juv. Galah, Eastern Rosella, Tasmania
above: Red-necked (Bennet's) Wallabies, Tasmania
above: Tasmanian Scrubwren, Grey Fantail, Silvereye, Common Starling, Black-faced Cormorant, Tasmania
above: Sammy, the New Zealand Fur Seal, Tasmania
above: Masked Lapwing, Grey (Clinking) Currawong. Juv. Australian Magpie, Tasmanian nativehen, Yellow Wattlebird, Noisy Miner, Juv. Grey Butcherbird, Tasmania
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Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Sandy Bay Oystercatcher family

When I go out for my regular walks in the area, I always try to spot the resident Pied Oystercatcher couple. They never seem to venture too far away. This is their territory. There are no other oystercatchers permanently living here, so when I see one or two, I know they are the same birds. They seem to be more tolerant toward the Sooty Oystercatchers than toward others of their own species. A small flock of 6-8 'Sooties' might stay in the area for a week or two once a year. I believe that there are other Pied Oystercatcher couples, resident in the nearby bays, but they nearly never seem to come over.

My previous attempts to photograph oystercatchers have shown me that they are generally cautious and keep their distance. Until recently I could never get close enough to take good photos.

I've noticed that this couple are very successful as parents - every year they always seem to be able to protect their two chicks until they are fully grown and fly away.

This time I was persistent and tried to photograph them every time I saw them, documented the growth of their offspring and it seems that they got used to me somehow and let me much closer. Below are some photos taken between October 2017 and February 2018.

Although they are always in close proximity of one another I noticed the changes in behaviour. They started doing these little dance displays, combined sometimes with pleasant chirpy vocalisations.

Then while I was looking at the area where I suspected they may have built a nest, an alien oystercatcher appeared. It is difficult to tell whether it was a male, a female or one of the kids from the previous year. Toward me they weren't aggressively protective of their site yet, which led me to think that they still did not have eggs, but I was keeping respectful distance also.

The new arrival tried to socialise at first, casually searching for food near them. This was tolerated for a while. Later however he did some head-bobbing and dancing. This wasn't taken well and he was aggressively chased away by both residents.

Days after that they gradually became more and more annoyed by my presence. Initially they used the old distraction techniques where they pretend to have no interest in the area where I suspected the nest to be. (I never really went too close to it. I knew roughly the location and kept my distance.)

Then a little later they moved from attempts to attract me away to actively swooping and chasing me away. This is how on a foggy day I got these great in-flight shots. It was time for a retreat and for a few weeks I only looked at them from a significant distance.

One day I spotted the little fluffballs. They looked active and healthy, feeding themselves and following their parents, who were very watchful and alert.

Kids grew up fast. There were a couple of pretty bad storms when I did worry how they were doing. The little beaches they use to forage onto join during low tides, but get separated when levels are high. One provides much better shelter than the other. I was worried that they would be trapped on the exposed beach and then big waves, wind and rain would pose much danger.

But they survived the first big storms and kept growing.

A few weeks later they fledged and started stretching their wings. Soon they could fly short distances following their parents and I stopped worrying about them.

Parents were much more relaxed now and I could again get closer and take better photos.

I have some images where all four birds are in frame, but they are not as good, that is why I decided to mostly post the better ones where we have one or two birds in the photograph.

The chicks kept learning how to open shells and search for 'soft' food and as they grew they became more and more independent. I started seeing at first one of them doing its own thing - sleeping separately or walking separately; then the other one followed. They would sometimes join the parents and sometimes appear on their own. The adults started separating also. One of them even disappeared for a few days. This must have signalled that the children are ready for independent lives. Parents needed a break.

I don't know when exactly the young birds moved away and whether they had to be encouraged to do so or did it driven by internal instinct. All my attention around that time must have been taken by my work and I think I skipped a few walks. When I went back, the young birds were gone. Soon after that the adults re-united and went back to their usual routines.

The image below is one of the last ones that I have of the young birds. Both of them looked healthy, independent and very capable of taking care of themselves.

Pied Oystercatcher, Tasmania
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One year later

update Friday, January 4, 2019

There were bushfires near Hobart today and the smoke formed natural filter high in the sky. The light was soft, warm and diffuse. After the heatwave passed and the temperature dropped back to normal, I went outside to see if I could spot any birds to photograph in the unusual light.

What a nice surprise!

The tide was low and I saw the oystercatchers with their next brood. Only days after I posted the story documenting them raising their children last year and mentioned what successful parents they are, here we have two more healthy fledged young oystercatchers, learning how to use the orange can openers and already stretching their new wings.

One of the chicks closely followed the mother who extracted food from the shells and fed it regularly. The other chick, probably a couple of days older, was already looking after itself.

Good luck little ones!

I'm so glad to see you around!

Pied Oystercatcher, Tasmania
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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ten years of infrequent blogging

G'day! Couldn't resist to start with one more photo of Sammy, the New Zealand Fur Seal.
He has fattened up and is ready for the summer. This pic marks the first time he actually looked straight into the camera!

above: Superb Blue Wren, Tasmania

Ten years ago, in October of 2007, I started this blog.
I had just bought a 30D in September and after some research, chose Blogger over Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket or whatever other options to share photos online were available at the time.

After all these years, it proved to have been the right decision for me. The platform had a clearly defined face; it was not masquerading as something else and my commitment to frequent blogging in the early days, literally saved me from the treacherous waters of ever having a Facebook account. At the time no one really suspected anything about the total surveillance programs, the constant monitoring and social engineering that were going on. People just got hooked and by the time it all became known they had already become addicts and had given away huge amounts of personal information - everyone was willingly writing their own dossier.

Blogger, at the time, was intended to be a public outlet and I have always treated it as such. In 2007 it was clear that web history was recorded and when you posted something with your real name, this would be available to everyone who searches for you online in the future.
It was totally accidental, but I'm grateful to Blogger for saving me from the social media degeneracy.
I had lived long enough during the last years of communism in Eastern Europe to know well how the omnipresent reporting, data collection and the dossiers that everyone had, impacted society, self-censorship and freedom of expression, personal relationships and the daily lives of all people not only during those dark years, but also for blackmail and control decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

above: Bennett's Wallaby Joey, Tasmania

In 2007 I was living in the same area of Sandy Bay, and had just discovered Tasmania and was falling in love with it. My fascination with the wildlife and the scenery was complimented by the beauty of Hobart and the unbelievable openness and genuineness of its people. At the time it was so puzzling, it took me many years to realise it was how 'home' should feel and it is how cohesive non-fractured societies are. I'd never experienced that before.
Ten years later the multi-cultural wind of destruction is starting to be felt here, and, of course, Tassie will not be spared, but it will take some more time before we see the Melbourne-Sydney-Western-European levels of decay and disconnect.

My work environment in 2007-2009 was the only thing in sharp contrast with the beauty of Hobart. In my (so far) 25-year animation career, the small studio which had hired me to lead their character design team tops the list of the most paranoid, unpleasant work environment on 3 continents that I have seen. But still I'm somehow grateful to them, because I only came here for the job and would have not 'discovered' Hobart otherwise.

above: Eastern Rosella, Tasmania

Two years later, in 2009, I had to go back to Sydney as there was no more work for me here and it took me years to find a way to organise life and come back. Have been re-living the Hobart dream for nearly 3 years now and every time I go out and see the water, the mountain, the cormorants or the parrots, I smile and feel the happiest person in the world. I am where I should be and will be coming back if circumstances force me to leave once more.

Back in 2007-2009 I often felt like a hostage - had to put up with the toxic work environment to be able to stay and live here. When I look back at that time, I'm starting to think that the energy I put into this bloG was a way to shift focus and switch off completely the moment I stepped out of the studio.
I love how memory mostly keeps the good things though. Looking back at the posts from those times, makes me remember the climbs and bushwalks with vivid details as if that happened only yesterday. I used to love the daily interaction with the few blog buddies from all over Australia, and even one from the US. It was a cosy little virtual community of shared values and interests.

I have recently found out that Denis Wilson, my blog friend at The Nature of Robertson has passed away last year. It is sad. He was a good man, passionate about wildlife, who loved nature and knew a lot. I often think of him.

I hope that all other blog friends who used to frequently comment are well and healthy!
I often think of you, guys and gals! Haven't been checking your blogs, just to preserve those memories the way they are a little longer.

above: Short-beaked Echidna, Tasmania

My 10-year-old 30D was already an old model in 2007. It still works well and I cannot justify spending thousands on a new body before it dies. Its 8-megapixel sensor sounds like a joke today. I know how much the technology has advanced, esp. in the high-ISO area and often wish I could record short videos too, but this will have to wait.
I did, however, buy a better lens a few years ago and that made taking photos more enjoyable and the success rate higher.

I still boycott everything Japanese, because of the continued whale slaughter in the Antarctic. The only exception are my Canon body and lenses, due to the complete lack of alternatives.
For years I used to support financially the Sea Shepherd, but since they gave up on their Southern whale defence campaigns, I have decided to stop my donations. I still think they are an efficient organisation in one way or another and I know they have reasons for their decision, but 'reasons' cannot help the whales.

above: Peacock in Launceston's Cataract Gorge

I am disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Australian Greens and their continuous promotion of wind farms and the so-called clean energy.
These virtue-signalling communists turn a blind eye to the bird and bat slaughter and are instrumental in the ongoing deception of the general public about the devastating environmental impact of wind farms. The Green movement worldwide has been infiltrated, hijacked and destroyed from within by Marxist activists.

If any of my readers are interested to learn about the deadly effects of wind turbines, here are three articles that I have bookmarked over the years. I'm sure there are many more, but this information, unfortunately, never makes it to the mainstream as it is not as feel-good as the constant Green squawking of the renewable energy mantra.

Wind farms vs. wildlife
Wind farms: a slaughter kept hidden from the public
Are wind turbines killing whales?

It is amazing how many people who actually care about conservation are completely unaware of the death toll and the horrific impact those wind turbines have all over the world. With Greens complicit to the scam, all we can do is tell our friends, it seems.

above: Peacock chick, trying to swallow a dead Cicada, Cataract Gorge, Launceston, Tasmania

For this anniversary post I chose some, more or less, random photos taken in the last year or so. There are thousands and probably some are better than these; there are some of birds or animals that I have not posted here even once before, but I wanted to only post 10 and these were the first 10 that could make it to the upload folder.

Blogger's interface has changed so much since I stopped using it actively, I struggle to find my way around. Picasa is now gone and every time I open the dashboard, it looks different. Very uninviting to an old user.

above: Baby Black Currawong, Tasmania

It's spring in Hobart. Through the window I can see a mixed flock of small birds foraging in the freshly green shrubs - Thornbills, Silvereyes, Sparrows, New Holland Honeyeaters. I can hear the Wattlebirds, the Blackbirds, the Starlings, the tree frogs at night. There are white Cockatoos, Green Rosellas, Galahs and Corellas in the area almost every day; the large Kelp Gulls soar high in the sky and call.

A friend who lives in New York recently wrote to me that he wanted to take some bird photos to send me with his email, but it wasn't that easy to find birds in NYC. What a different world! If outside in Hobart, during the day at any given moment one can rarely see fewer than 10 birds - without any other effort than looking around.

above: Mother and Joey Bennett's Wallaby, Tasmania

Ten years is a long time. Being so busy makes time pass very quickly. The experience is subjective, of course, but the sense of speeding up has increased recently.
I think that I have improved a bit as a photographer, but not too much. I seem to have gotten a little better at self-restraint, pressing the shutter button less often.

I wanted to mark the occasion with a slightly longer post and a few photos, and since I doubt that I will post again soon, I'd like to wish all readers and blog friends all the best for the year to come.

As the idiotic PC censors are trying now to ban public Christmas celebrations, this life-long atheist would like to wish you all (very loudly) a very Merry Christmas!

above: Musk Lorikeet, Tasmania 

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