Apollo Bay Locals

Which Australian native animal looks cuddly and cute, yet produces a loud very low-pitched guttural snorting/grunting/growling noise that on a dark night can terrify those unfamiliar with it?

John Langmead_George & koala AB_1325_20180106_Online
Suburban Apollo Bay has an itinerant population of wild koala bears.  They travel freely around town, being seen from time to time on footpaths, roads and residential fencing.  They tend to roam more at night, and their quest is always the same – the next comfortable gum tree in which to eat and rest.  They have even been seen sitting on rusty cray-pots on the local jetty.
They are not present in the town in large numbers and they are certainly not seen every day, but there would not be a permanent Apollo Bay resident who has not seen them from time to time.  This snoozing koala rested for a day and night on this substantial gum tree overhanging Milford Creek.  The temperature in the shade during the day reached the high 30s.  This tree is directly adjacent to my house and this photo was taken from my verandah. While they branch he has wrapped his arms around is obviously very secure and comfortable, they sometimes sleep on flimsier less comfortable looking branches.
John Langmead_George & koala AB_1323_20180106_Online-2
When a koala bear is climbing and moving about a tree, he does so slowly but with confidence, agility and  strength.  Those claws do not fail.  This somnolent yet imperious look is typical of all  koalas I have seen.  While riding my motorbike along the Great Ocean Road (which is a frequent occurrence) I have on numerous occasions come across a koala sitting on the road with cars stopped either side of it and a crowd (usually of international tourists) hovering around it.  I generally pick the koala up and transport it to the nearest roadside tree or scrub (to allow traffic to flow again!). I lift them from behind with my hands under their armpits, and their face and claws facing away from me.  That I am wearing motorbike protective gear while doing so does give me confidence to do this, but I have never had a koala react unhappily to being handled this way.  I would now have no hesitation lifting a koala in this manner without the gloves and other motorbike gear.
John Langmead_George & koala AB_1327_20180106_Online
Koalas look cute and cuddly.  But the noise they make at night is something a crocodile or a mountain lion would be proud of.  It’s a very low pitched growling bellow, undoubtedly frightening if not identified.  It is used by males as a mating call, but all koalas can and do make this noise (usually at night).
John Langmead_George & koala AB_1346_20180106_Online
This location was tried for a short time before he moved on.
John Langmead_George & koala AB_1432_20180106_Online
He eventually settled for this location which apparently was more comfortable than it looks. He slept here for hours.  This photo was taken as the sun was setting.

Crested tern with dinner fresh from the Barham River

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On a sunset stroll along the sandbanks of the Barham River, with the Nikon in my hand, I spotted this heron zooming past.  I had the 150-600mm telephoto lens and monopod on the camera, which made it a bit awkward as I lifted the camera and panned to capture this shot.  It’s only good luck that it’s even vaguely in focus, and I had no idea it had a fish in its mouth until I downloaded it later.  The fish certainly seems to have a surprised look on its face.  I have included the following photo for its interesting content alone, even though it’s a poor shot technically.

John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1456_20180108_Online-2

Silver gulls at sunset

John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1469_20180108_Online
The Barham River enters the sea near Apollo Bay.  Silver gulls, crested terns, ducks and swans favour this quiet reach of the river where it pools until a good rainfall sees the river rise and break through the sand on the shore to flow into the sea.  These silver gulls were casually winging their way upstream in the fading last light of the day.  The mix of bright highlights, dark shadows, vivid colours and contrast on these birds demonstrates why the glowing low angle light of the last couple of hours of the day is a photographer’s favourite time of day (along with dawn).
John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1506_20180108_Online
Marengo beach at sunset, just south of where the Barham River flows into the sea.  This bird was one of a large flock wandering in the shallow water near the high water mark.  I’m resisting describing the features of this photo I like.
John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1489_20180108_Online
The sun was just above the hills to the west when I took this photo. I was pretty much pointing the camera straight towards the sun.  These silver gulls were simply there. They weren’t feeding, weren’t in a hurry to head off anywhere, and were just wading around on the wet sand letting the sea water flow around their legs as each small wave advanced and receded.  Our moods matched.
John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1515_20180108_Online
Photography is all about the light.  This juvenile silver gull was standing on the same wet sand in the same evening light as the bird in the following photo.  The only difference is that I had the sun behind me for this photo, and directly in front of me for the following photo.  Each angle has its special appeal.
John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1512_20180108_Online
Silver gulls seem very social and are not typically found alone for very long.  This bird was no exception.  It was part of a flock which had just taken off, and was simply the last to leave.  It took off shortly after I took this photo.
John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1539_20180108_Online
I was heading over the dunes and back to my car with the camera believing I had taken my last photo for the day, when this bird came soaring along the dunes flying directly at me.  There was a light south easterly blowing onshore over the shallow dunes, creating light lift which was  more than enough for a seagull to soar without flapping its wings.  It was probably also enough for a hang glider with a light pilot to do the same thing.  I just got the camera up to my eye in time (still with the telephoto lens and monopod attached) to take this photo before it flew too close for me to even fit it all in frame.  As it was, the wingtips didn’t quite make it. But the Nikon D810 focus system did its work in a fraction of a second and this very sharp shot resulted.  The subtle golden glow of sunset on its otherwise bright white body feathers caps it off for me.

Long boarder gives it away for the day

John Langmead_ABsunsetBirds_1501_20180108_Online
The setting sun was only lighting up the waves like this when it was visible between cloud layers.  I optimistically put the camera to my eye in a period when the beach was in shadow, and waited. It wasn’t long before the arrival of this wave coincided with the sun briefly reappearing.  The long boarder in top right of frame is a bonus I didn’t realise I had captured until I downloaded the photo.  He was giving it away for the day, as a lot of surfers do when the sun slips below the horizon.  It is indeed all about the light.

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