Some natural wonders can be assigned latitude and longitude coordinates. Others are fleeting and occasional, and appointments for viewing are not possible. The west coast of Victoria is well supplied with both categories. The photos below are of some of the fleeting offerings of Mother Nature in and around Apollo Bay which I was lucky enough to see. Each encounter was unplanned and a pleasant surprise. Serendipity fuels my photography.
The shots of the surfers were taken after I failed to find the wild easterly seas that the wind direction and strength promised at dawn when I woke up. The wind shifted as I drove away from my house and the waves changed from unruly rough seas to cracking surf. The Australasian gannets were the result of a drive to nearby Kennett River to find some elusive orcas of which I had heard reports. The orcas were a no-show. Finally, the feeding wattlebird youngsters were sighted from my deck when I went outside to check the windsock during the golden hour late one afternoon. All these photos were taken in the past week.
Local surfers making the most of an unexpected two hour session at this break
Some swell events have a long build up and are monitored by surfers for many days before the waves arrive. These waves were different in that the quality waves breaking at this location were unexpected. There was no shortage however of talented local surfers who either saw the waves or heard about them on the grapevine and made a beeline for this break. There are not a lot of occasions when waves at this spot are the best on offer in the district. But on this morning they were.
Professional surf, landscape & lifestyle photographer Katey catching the action.
Diving Gannets at Kennett River
The Australasian gannet is a great favourite of mine. I had the privilege of a visit to a gannet rookery earlier this year. It was in effect a private visit with just me and the volunteer guide. For my detailed descriptions of the gannet and its remarkable skills, as well as close up photos of this beautiful bird both on the ground and flying, see this earlier post in my blog (published 26 February 2020) at:
Getting close enough to gannets plunge diving to enable a good photo is very difficult. These photos were taken from three different vantage points on the shore near Sawmills beach at Kennett River. There must have been a huge area of fish for them to feed on as the gannets were diving and feeding over a huge area. Unfortunately no part of that area was quite close enough to shore for the sort of photos I would have liked. Most of the photos below are small cropped sections of images taken with a 600mm telephoto lens at full extension. As a result the sharpness of many of these images has suffered, but I think the content is sufficiently interesting to publish them anyway.
To illustrate the image quality problem resulting from photographing a small bird in flight from a significant distance, the highlighted area in the image on the left is the cropped section which was enlarged to produce the immediately preceding photo. Hence the lack of sharpness in the image.
Red Wattlebirds Feeding Their Young
The red wattlebird is second largest of the honeyeaters native to Australia. Only the yellow wattlebird is larger. They feed primarily on nectar, but insects are also part of their diet. Their eyes open in a week or so and they fledge 2-3 weeks after hatching. They are fed by both parents for a further 2-3 weeks. The young birds shown below could fly and were probably nearing the end of their dependent phase. But they didn’t budge from this bough while the parent was prepared to go back and forth finding and bringing them food.
7 thoughts on “West Coast Beauty: surfing, Australasian gannets plunge diving, red wattlebirds feeding their young”
Great viewing. I hope you are keeping well,
Tim Godfrey Ph Mb +61(0)439776332 http://www.atolleditions.com.au
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Thanks Tim. All is well with us in AB thanks. Trust FNQ continues to treat you well.
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Thanks Hunto. My quest for clear photos of diving gannets will continue!
Great intimate shots of the wattlebird fledgling being fed GW
John, I devoured your stunning collection of local natural highlights. Thanks.
Impressive attention to detail in naming surfers and snappers, the exception being the “lip-smasher”, who’s identity I’m sure will soon be known to you. The concept of the bush telegraph playing out with all modern conveniences operable. The surfers got the mail you came by serendipitously.
The Australian gannet is a supremely evolved bird. I enjoyed your practical application of aeronautical terminology. The bird, on the other hand, is just doing its thing. Those fish swim in shoals for a reason. When your number is up, you don’t stand a chance against the gannet missile.
We have two breeding wattlebirds on the block this spring. A Red Wattlebird family and a so-called “little” Wattlebird crew, punching way beyond their weight division, as if offended by the name boffins have bestowed. They are proud birds, unfailingly defensive of their territory. I just wish they’d give a go occasionally to the little birds I’m trying to encourage onto the block. Your photographs nail the racket that is incessantly-by-day feeding time.
Thanks Mark. Pleased to hear that you enjoyed these slightly more permanent versions of otherwise fleeting moments of natural beauty.
As you predicted, it didn’t take long for the bush telegraph to identify the surfer in question. He is now named in the post, and deservedly so.
I think it’s high time you bought a decent camera with a quality telephoto lens and started capturing some images of the many and varied delights of that highly developed garden of yours. You wouldn’t have to leave the elevated deck on the north side of the house.
WB beach at sunrise, sunset and most other times might also be worth a few shots….
Finn. An apposite handle for the lip-smacker.
Yes, you’re right about the camera. May have to give up work to fit that in with all my other hobbies!
That slider is a clever trick.
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