Beauty Hiding in Plain Sight – Mountain Ash, Native Birds, Seals, Swell at Little Henty Reef and Blues Slide Guitar riff.

Nature provides special events in and around Apollo Bay from time to time, against a backdrop of spectacles equally beautiful and awe-inspiring but perhaps less appreciated because they are available all the time. The photos below could have been taken in and around Apollo Bay virtually anytime in daylight hours.

Towering mountain ash in cool temperate rainforest

Mountain Ash in cool temperate rainforest in the Otways
Mountain ash dominating the upper storey of this forest in the Otway Ranges.
Mountain Ash in cool temperate rainforest in the Otways
Silhouettes against a cloudy but bright sky.
Mountain Ash in cool temperate rainforest in the Otways
Mountain ash standing tall in the cool temperate rain forest through which Turton’s Track passes.
Mountain Ash in cool temperate rainforest in the Otways
Such mighty trees require substantial bases.
Mountain Ash in cool temperate rainforest in the Otways
Mountain ash in the morning mist deep in the Otway Ranges. It was perfectly silent except for the birds. This photo gives some indication of the great variety and profusion of plant life in this ancient rainforest.

The white-faced heron

White-faced heron
Late afternoon low flight over Wild Dog Creek near Apollo Bay.
White-faced heron
I cannot resist observing that in addition to the lift from these powerful wings the perfect aerofoil curve of the upper body of the heron would also create lift. The undercarriage is neatly retracted and streamlined to minimise drag during flight.
White-faced heron
What magnificent lift and thrust generators these wings are.
White-faced heron
Pausing for a moment on the beach between Wild Dog Creek and the ocean. Slightly less prepossessing than when in flight, but still elegant. Legs built for wading. Knees that articulate in the opposite direction to human knees. Neck and beak perfectly designed for fishing and foraging.

Masked lapwing chick

Masked lapwing chick
Masked lapwing chick handling the challenge of head-high uncut lawn.
Masked lapwing
Adult masked lapwing.

The little corella

Little Corella
The little corella (the adjective being supplied by the bird namer, not me) is found in a wide variety of habitats in Australia, including the coast and semi-arid inland areas. They are typically found in flocks and smaller groups. It has a short crest which can be raised or lowered at the bird’s discretion. These birds are common around Apollo Bay, albeit not as common as galahs or sulphur-crested cockatoos.
Little Corella
The setting sun shone through a gap in the clouds for a brief period, bathing this little corella in ‘golden hour’ light. Not sure what the ‘right wing extended’ signal means, but it could certainly be read from a great distance. It may have been simply waving at a passing friend.
Little Corella
Clear for takeoff. The golden hour had ended and twilight was beginning. These photos of the little corella were taken in the eucalypts along the banks of Milford Creek in Apollo Bay.

Strong south westerly winds on the coast

Loose surfboard
The effect of a strong south westerly wind on the ocean close to shore depends on which way a particular beach is facing. At this east facing beach in Mounts Bay (just south of Apollo Bay), the wind was pretty much offshore (blowing from the shore to the sea) which blew the tops off the breaking waves creating these clouds of white spray. The position and arc of this surfboard reminded me very much of the way dolphins and other sea creatures spear out of the water behind waves in exuberant short flight. It was interesting to see what a riderless surfboard gets up to when left to its own devices in the surf.
Seals on Little Henty Reef
Little Henty Reef juts out into the sea near Hayley Point, exposing it to the full force of the south westerly wind. The sea close to the lee side of this rocky outcrop (near the foot of the image) is slightly protected from such a wind. The Australian fur seals to whom this reef is home, or short stay accommodation, were not deluged by these seas because while they were rough, there was not a large swell associated with it. But they would have been constantly damp from the spray. They didn’t seem to mind.

Swell and a Northerly Wind at Little Henty Reef

Big waves at Little Henty Reef
The northerly wind blows directly into the swell at Little Henty Reef, creating the white manes of spray shown. When swell above a certain size hits this reef, it inevitably creates an aqua barrel. Huge waves create big barrels. Smaller waves create tight little barrels as shown in this image. An interesting feature of the light in these breaking waves is that even on dull days (which this was not) when the sea is not particularly blue or green or any colour, the inside of the barrel is always vivid aqua….the emerald eye of the wave.
Big waves at Little Henty Reef
Slightly bigger wave, more water throwing out in the lip and consequently a bigger barrel. The reef is partially exposed as water is sucked out in front of the advancing wave.
Big waves at Little Henty Reef
This was probably the biggest wave I saw that morning (but well short of the biggest waves I have seen here). The reef is fully exposed as the water sucks out in front of the breaking wave. This is the reason I have no photos of surfers on this wave.
Big waves at Little Henty Reef
When the lip of a sizeable wave throws out in front and smashes on the reef, a large volume of water ricochets skywards as shown here. The forces are amazing, given that each cubic metre of water weights one tonne. The force is multiplied by the fact that it is moving at speed when it hits the reef. The rather mutant shapes on the breaking wave on the right reflect the variable topography of the seabed and reef immediately beneath that water.

A couple of bars of slide guitar

My gracefully ageing Martin 000-28H lives on its stand in my lounge room on permanent standby for my regular short performances to an empty room. Sometimes the performance lasts less than 30 seconds, sometimes slightly longer.

2 thoughts on “Beauty Hiding in Plain Sight – Mountain Ash, Native Birds, Seals, Swell at Little Henty Reef and Blues Slide Guitar riff.

  1. That is some compendium of your “backyard” John. That Otway surf to hinterland to forest stretch is a series of delights.

    I watched a white faced heron fly past our block at dusk tonight. I do not possess your aeronautical vocabulary but simply offer “flap, flap, glide” to describe its passage past my eyes. The little corella you’ve caught superbly in a judge-like pose, regal even, no comparison to those avian idiots, the galah and the sulphur crested cocky.

    I doubt Hambo has the time to decipher your posts at present, so well done on the helpful “offshore (blowing from the shore to the sea)”.

    And I might be presenting for lessons after viewing and listening to those slide licks. Pity you ran out of energy before I settled into the groove. The blues, what a timeless gift.


    1. You describe the galah and sulphur crested cockatoo well Hunto. Their harsh screeching could never qualify as ‘birdsong’, and their flying looks like a constant and tiring battle against gravity which continually looks as though it could go either way. Rather than your ‘flap, flap, glide’, the cocky in particular is more an exponent of ‘flap, flap, sink’.

      Wind directions around the sea can be a bit confusing, given that descriptions of direction vary between where the wind is coming from (e.g. a westerly, a sea breeze) and where it is going to (an onshore wind, an offshore wind). Then if you’re on a boat or ship near a shore experiencing an onshore wind that shore is called a lee shore because it is on the leeward side of the boat. I’ll be testing Hambo on all these important concepts when he holidays in Apollo Bay over summer.

      If you enjoyed the slide licks, buy a cheap guitar (if there’s not already one in the house), get a brass slide or a cut-off bottle neck your finger fits into, put the guitar into an open tuning (I can assist here) and you’ll be away. If it’s the blues you’re interested in, probably best to also give away all your assets, get divorced, quit your job and move into the nearest park, or go ridin’ the railroad or a-workin’ on a chain gang.


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