Sunrises, surf and a sparrow

I have yet to see two sunrises the same.  It always feels like a privilege. The end of my street presents the view shown in the next four photos.  I usually check out the ocean conditions first thing each day.



It’s no coincidence that there are clouds in most of my sunrise photos. I think a bit of cloud can wonderfully enhance a sunrise,  as it does in this photo. When there is no cloud, as soon as the sun gets over the horizon it is a dazzlingly bright molten ball which no camera can sensibly capture.  But cloud filters the sunlight, often making its shape visible and producing wonderful colours and soaring shafts of light in the process



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Sunrise over Cape Patton, as seen from Tuxion beach.



I wear a Garmin sports watch when I swim, which means every swim creates some numbers. Some I wish to remember, some not. The Garmin app will print swim time and distance on a photo. The first two photos here record the same swim. I chose the one above with the imperious great white and the engagingly curious porcupine fish to post on Instagram. For the record, I took the shark photo on a cage dive off Port Lincoln, South Australia. The porcupine fish I shot on a trip to the Melbourne zoo with my little granddaughter. Port Phillip Bay is not short of porcupine fish. They are less common at ocean beaches.
Little Henty Reef near Marengo (Apollo Bay) in a good swell. I love the emerald eye of this wave.


Autumn can be a season of big swells on the southern coast of Australia.  The first two photos below were taken from Point Bunbury at Apollo Bay yesterday, looking due south.  These waves were breaking over the reef near the shore.  Where these waves were breaking is a snorkelling location in calm weather.

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Today the swell was bigger than yesterday.  The first three photos below were taken from Point Bunbury at Apollo Bay this morning.

John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9696_20190326_Online
The ocean stretching to the horizon looked very unsettled with constantly moving swell lines. Rather than the textbook corduroy lines of swell to the horizon, the sea in the distance looked disturbed and constantly on the move. In a boat, rather than climbing and descending regular swells and troughs, there would have been constant rolling and pitching to considerable angles, with an uncomfortable sea coming from all directions.

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John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9644_20190326_Online

The next seven photos were taken from a point just west of Skenes Creek, looking east into the morning sun.  This angle saw most of the colour washed from the images, so I took the hint and edited them as black and white images.  Before editing, the colour images had about the same amount of colour as the black and white versions below.

John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9761_20190326_Online
This was solid surf breaking on the reefs and sandbars at Skenes Creek.


John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9774_20190326_Online
Only proper that something this large and powerful on the move should have a flowing white mane streaming out behind it.

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John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9837_20190326_Online


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Even from the shore this was a formidable wall of water. The thought of looking up at it from water level, while treading water and planning the next move, is an intimidating prospect.
John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9788_20190326_Online
Duck diving under this wave (or attempting to do so) would be a memorable experience.
John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9827_20190326_Online
So much power, so much beauty.
John Langmead_Skenes and Bunbury Surf 2019_9803_20190326_Online
The 150-600mm telephoto lens I use can offer a fresh perspective on a familiar location. Contrary to the impression given by this image, there is no sense when in Apollo Bay that it is in any way nestled into the foothills immediately to its south west. This photo was taken facing SW, from the edge of the Great Ocean Road on the last left hander before the speed restriction sign as you drive from Apollo Bay to Skenes Creek.

While at Point Bunbury yesterday taking photos of the big surf, and being forced to shelter from gale force squalls and hail as I did so, I spotted this sparrow in the distance flitting about in the turbulent air. She alighted on the hardy vegetation on the sand dunes in a semi-sheltered spot. Then the clouds parted momentarily providing sunshine, and with the telephoto lens at full stretch I took this image without the sparrow being aware I was even there.

I feel that sparrows are underrated, possibly because they are everywhere in large numbers. The fact that they are so often seen scavenging in urban environments probably contributes to them never being mentioned in the same breath as the wedge tailed eagle, the great eastern egret or the spangled drongo (there is such a bird!).  The fact that they are not truly native to Australia (having been introduced to this country around the 1860s)  might also contribute to them having a very small fan base.  But closer inspection reveals beautiful colours on their plumage and fine features worthy of admiration. They are a delicate finch-like bird. Perhaps they should consider re-branding, starting with a new name.  I like to think the sparrow in the image is a wild sparrow, who wouldn’t stoop to dining on crumbs outside the bakery, or school lunch leftovers in the playground. There must be some who survive entirely in the wild.  In any event, I find it a captivating little bird, worthy of much greater appreciation than it receives.

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2 thoughts on “Sunrises, surf and a sparrow

  1. Beautiful photos John, always a treat to see the ones of the big surf in winter. Enjoy the cold swims.


    1. Thanks Liz. I never tire of watching the big winter swells at close quarters as they arrive on the reefs and points and beaches along the west coast. Sea temp is 14°C at the moment. Wintry weather for this morning’s swim, with a cold front passing over the west coast.
      By the way, please tell me you’re not going to do that croc-dodging Darwin harbour swim again this year.


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