Springtime Cameos

Spring is to the seasons as the rising sun is to a new day.   It’s a time of renewal and fresh starts.  It’s a season capable of producing optimism without any particular cause.

Sometimes I find more than enough photos in a single subject for a post, such as the Eastern Great Egret which was the sole star of a photo essay 6 posts ago in August (there were two unnamed extras but who can resist a hooded plover which appears in convenient photo range unbidden).  Sometimes when I have stored 20-25 photos in my folder of photos awaiting final consideration for inclusion in a blog post, there are only cameos, no theme, no obvious star, just photos I would like to keep and share. Welcome to 18 images which are an unconnected, incomplete and non-chronological collection of cameos from the considerable array of things which have caught my eye so far this spring.

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My brother Noel and I ride all year round. We have learned how to stay warm and dry in the coldest conditions, and we enjoy such conditions.  But we also enjoy spring with its balmy days, dry roads, calm air and bright cloudless skies. Hence this relaxing Sunday morning 300km ride through places including (pictured) the Acheron River where it flows through Taggerty, just north of the majestic Cathedral Range (NE of Melbourne).  Noel advocates and practices the pleasure on bike rides of regular stops, to hear the bush sounds, smell the eucalypts and watch the perfectly pure flowing water of whatever mountain stream is at hand.
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Yea bakery. Those words never fail to get the assent of all riders as a suggestion for a coffee stop.  We also eat their cakes (vanilla slices in particular) and their prize winning beef pies, as a contribution to small rural business. Our normal diets of course are free of such things (give me a bean shoot and a chia seed in a kale leaf wrap any day of the week). We never brag about these little moments of selflessness, but just enjoy the warm inner glow of helping out some deserving operators of a small business who are having a go.
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A silver gull wading in the Barham River at sunset.  I put this image on Instagram recently and a friend of mine posted this comment: “Character captured….just enjoying the sand in his toes and the rush of the cool ocean round his ankles. I can relate to that.”  Well said Riana. I can’t match, much less improve on that caption.
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A silver gull striking a more formal pose, in the shallows at the mouth of the Barham River (Apollo Bay) at sunset.
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Beak into wind, streamlined silver gull. Tail into wind, chook. Those feathers were made for airflow from one direction only.
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This is my favourite swimming spot at Apollo Bay. On this morning conditions were easing back from a few days of very strong easterly winds. While there are often rips and currents here, be they weak or strong on a given day, strong easterly conditions create significant rips at this location. The discoloured and turbulent strip of water flowing out to sea (from L to R in the image) is one such rip. It would not be possible to swim in this rip directly towards shore. However, there is need to attempt that, as it would be entirely possible and easy to swim across it at right angles, and to swim ashore in the green water either side of the rip. Rips are not always this visible or extensive. 

The next two photos were taken by commercial pilot Andrew Langmead while temporarily based at Tanami Goldmine, Northern Territory. They were taken on an inexpensive Sony camera. Right place, right time, good camera setting choices, memorable shots.  Nice work Andrew.  You could storm-chase for a lifetime and never again get a shot like the second of these two images.

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If this was Andrew’s best shot on the night, it would still have been worth the effort. But look what he captured next!
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This massive lightning bolt is travelling from a higher cumulonimbus cloud to earth, directly through the low layer of strato-cumulus cloud. I have not seen another photo that captures the action above and below a lower layer of cloud. I have seen plenty of photos taken beneath such a layer, which capture the emerging lightning bolt and the circles of diffused light on the base of that cloud layer as shown here. But I have never seen simultaneously the action above and below the lower cloud layer of a single bolt of lightning. Well done Andrew! Right man at the right spot at the right time, albeit with a questionable camera and a dodgy tiny tripod.

The ten remaining photos were all taken with my iPhone 8, for the simple reason that I didn’t have my Nikon with me on any of these occasions. As always, with each image I used Lightroom to produce an image which accords most closely with what I recall seeing.

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Point Lonsdale jetty on a humid early November afternoon, with unstable air present in abundance ahead of a couple of fronts which traversed the state an hour or two later. The point on the horizon in the centre of the image is Point Nepean. The passage of water in between is know as the Rip. It is a famous stretch of dangerous water.
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A strong NW wind was flattening out the sea close to shore, but there were plenty of whitecaps offshore, not visible from sea level at this distance.

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Good on you Doug.  To put Doug’s feat in perspective, to 26 February 2017:
more than 4,400 people had successfully climbed Mt Everest (the first being in May 1953);
1,731 people had swum the English Channel (the first recorded swim being in August 1875);
yet as at 26 February 2017 only 335 people (as close as can be calculated) have swum across the Rip after Doug first did it on 18 June 1971. Most have swum in the other direction, but if conditions are carefully selected (tide, tidal streams, swell and weather) it can be swum in either direction.  On many days, it would be impossible to swim across the Rip. On some days, it is not even navigable by small boats.
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After visiting Pt Lonsdale I drove west to Torquay.  The unstable air ahead of the front was now in full operation, and this large band of cumulo-nimbus clouds was crossing Geelong with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. At Torquay I was just far enough away to photograph most of the spectacle. The dark grey columns beneath the clouds are rain. My vantage point at Torquay for this shot was Point Danger. When my girls were growing up the family would often drive from Melbourne to Torquay whatever the weather, and sit in the lee of the headland, rugged up if necessary,  only metres from where I took this photo eating hot golden salty fish and chips. I have seen all the moods of this bay, known to locals as Cosy Corner, having swum in it since my pre-school years. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of Sunday school picnics at the immediately adjacent Zeally Bay.
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The Cosy Corner foreshore at Torquay has been lined with these well established pine trees for as long as I have been going there.  The majestic backdrop of this developing thunderstorm was a spectacle on a grand scale during its brief appearance.

Melbourne Zoo glories in the full title of Melbourne Zoological Gardens, and having recently spent a day there, justly so. It was a hot day, and Jess, Gus and George and I were  outdoors for quite a few hours. But the gardens at the zoo are so well developed and the various displays so cleverly integrated with the extensive and wildly varying vegetation, that we only in the sun for a fraction of that time. My three ‘tour guides’ are members of the zoo, and so visit it as frequently as one might visit a neighbourhood playground. They know many of the individual animals, and feel no need to do the Cook’s tour each visit. What a wonderful thing for Gus and George to be able to visit this excellent zoo whenever the mood takes them.

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I like a photo of a bird or an animal to capture something of its character, or at the very least to provide an opportunity to attempt some entertaining attribution of human behaviour to it.  Meerkats are perfect subjects in this regard with their personable and predictable ways.  This meerkat with his upright sentry stance, body hair perfectly groomed, hands ‘to attention’ in front,  and eyes fixed unblinking on the horizon as if on permanent watch over some important part of the Serengeti, is much loved by Gus, and by many others it would seem if the constant stream of visitors to this enclosure is any guide.  I understand he has adjusted to the constant cries of, ‘Alan? Alan!?’ and treats such behaviour with the disdain deserve. The ‘Alan’ taunt is so ‘last year’ if you are a meerkat.
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What a team! Hugs and kisses in the butterfly enclosure.
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A young hunter and gatherer striking gold in his native habitat.
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This priceless experience can be guaranteed in the butterfly pavilion at the Melbourne Zoo.  The butterfly lingered for quite a while, and Gus’s attention didn’t waver. He was rapt. We all were.

2 thoughts on “Springtime Cameos

    1. Thanks Boo. I’m sure you too have put a few hours in at Cosy Corner and nearby breaks. It is easy to take for granted the awesomeness of a thunderstorm in full operation. On my blog post ‘Encounter with the shark in my head’ there are three photos of a massive thunderstorm cloud at dawn towering over North Haven beach in NSW. Awesome is the only word to describe the spectacle.

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