Animals, Australia, Urban Walking
Comments 15

All Creatures Great & Just Plain Awesome

G’day, all.

Lately I’ve been buried beneath a pile of virtual images from Japan over 5,000 shots deep, and am briefly surfacing for air and to check in with y’all before I take a breath and dive back down.

As well as working on my shots from the Henro, I’ve been messing around with pictures that are a lot older, deleting mercilessly, shuddering with embarrassment at certain images that seemed decent at the time but now look like crap (basically 90% or more of my shots from Korea), and generally getting my photographic affairs in some kind of order.

Between sessions at the Big Mac back home, and on the Little Guy here at the air-conditioned library or at my picnic-table “office” in the park before the sun gets too bright, I’ve done a bit of strolling and taken a few thousand more shots, most of which will undoubtedly end up on the virtual trash-heap…

When I need a break from shots of temples, pilgrims, mantids, trees and Japanese coastal panoramas, I fiddle with some of these recent shots, and I’m sharing some with you here today.

All of them are of animals in our yard, street, the waterfront or neighbourhood — wild, semi-wild and domestic; they’re in chronological order. I tried to avoid including magpies, since I’ve done some maggie posts lately and have another couple coming, but finally included a few that didn’t suit those posts.

Hope you enjoy them.

Before the critters, though, a quick shout-out to my friend David, a Frenchman living in Tokyo whom I briefly met on Day 41 of my Shikoku pilgrimage walk:

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Pocari Power. David returns to the road after our convenience-store breakfast.

David was nearing the end of a cycling trip up and down and around the length of the country. We shared a michi-no-eki campsite near Temple #23, a beer, a dessert (“I’m French so I need dessert”; “I’m not French and I need dessert”) and a hot-spring bath. Both of us were sad to see our adventure concluding but excited about future ones.

He just emailed me to tell me he was back in Tokyo after 160 days and 10,167km of riding. Like me, he was struggling a little with a return to a relatively settled life. I’d mentioned the attacks in Paris and he said he’d been back in France at the time:

And then the unbelievable cowardice and horror happened, for the second time this year, aiming at the youth simply enjoying the end of a hard week at work, spreading fear and violence in my mind and in my country … Luckily enough for my own life, I took a train to visit my parents in Lille just a few hours before the attacks started … Mixed feelings and emotions, I read and watch a lot (probably too much …), trying to understand and to know what to do, even though I cannot possibly do that much … I really hope all the positive talks, debates, acts of fraternity, wishes for changes will last for long, but I’m not very optimistic I must say … 

Dark times. Oh, to be furred or feathered — even tentacled — and happily oblivious to all that shit.

Remind yourself what you once were/An animal without much fur/Then you’re dust ~ Robyn Hitchcock

Talk to you soon-ish. Promise!

Vive la France!

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For some reason there are at least four additions to the feline population of our street. I’ve befriended and tried to photograph a few of them, though I often bump into them in the near-darkness before dawn, and the less timid ones are so friendly they won’t keep still but keep head-butting me affectionately as I try to focus…

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Among the Sow-Thistles.

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Crows: An Unholy Trinity.

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Snack Alert. Ma & Pa Magpie, our “house magpies”, know a good thing when they see it. They have two fledglings that have just left the nest and sit on neighbouring branches screaming for sustenance. So this pair will load their beaks with as much as they can fit, fly up to the babes, cram some scraps down their gullets and swoop straight back down for a top-up.

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Lonesome Crow. Barking territorially before inevitably being chased off by the flock of magpies that start each day here.

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Ibis Flock After Rain. It’s like the Serengeti here following an afternoon storm.

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Early Bird. Despite the worm, Ma (I think) still thinks she can handle some more food.

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Bush Turkey, Just Before Dawn. Actually this was around 3:30am. Hard to beat sunrise to the waterfront at this time of year.

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Faded Warning.

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Pelican Love, Cabbage Tree Creek, Dawn.

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Baxter’s Jetty, Not Long Before Sunrise.

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Take to the Skies. Flying foxes by the thousands take off at sunset for a night of foraging. We have a colony in the mangroves on our street that merges with others each evening, a spectacular sight.

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Back to Base. In the morning, the bats return to their roosts. Hard to capture with my equipment but I got lucky here.

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First Out of Bed. One of my magpie tribe takes up position not too long before dawn.

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Seeking Cover. The same guy from the top picture gets playful.

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Rippled Sand. A Leaden sea-snail egg mass on the mudflats before dawn.

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Morning Meeting. A small sample of the local dog population and their humans gather near my office.

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Candy Legs. A golden orb weaver outside my living room window.

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Among the Agaves.

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Creek Bank Arachnid & Passing Boat.

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Evil Eye. Wary crows briefly take possession of a bench in magpie country.

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Mutual Fascination. A friend’s dog, Inca is enthralled each morning by the turtles in the local lagoon. Presumably they can’t tell a canine face from a human (and potentially food-bearing) one.

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Breakfast Stop. I have another pair of magpies in this park that also have a raucous juvenile to feed at the moment. They sometimes drop by the office to check the offerings.

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Aerobatics. These are two of our three house butcherbirds chasing a scrap of meat thrown from the ground. The one on the right is a juvenile I call Whiny, incredibly agile in the air.

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Ma & Pa Drop By Again.

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Beached Jellyfish, Dawn. A gorgeous sunrise at Shorncliffe.

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Receding Wave, Shorncliffe. Same morning. The reconstruction of the pier in the distance.

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The Whistler. This butcherbird, seen from the upstairs verandah, is a superb songsmith and will whistle happily for hours.

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The Whiner. Our juvenile butcherbird cries on and off all day for a snack, despite being a skilled predator.

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Sidewalk Reclining. A nice spot in the sun on a recent morning.

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Peepers. Latte, a beautiful 16-week-old whippet, at the local farmer’s market last Sunday.

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Commotion at My Desk. A noisy miner hassles one of my office magpies one morning.

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Stalker. Magpies regard an intruder warily.

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Footpath Redhead. She’s a real sweetie but hard to keep still for a shot.

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Grey Butcherbird. Our house butcherbirds are pied butcherbirds. The greys are a distinct species that apparently diverged from their pied (black-and-white) cousins five million years ago. They have completely different but still exceptionally beautiful songs. This little guy dropped from a calistemon tree the other day to seek a snack, utterly unafraid, at my table/desk. It’s been back a few times since, occasionally with its mate.

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Invisible Eyes. Paul Neil, a Sandgate photographer I often meet on my morning coffee run, with Guri. He’s laughing at my attempt to focus on his dog’s eyes — the range of focus in portraits of people or animals is optional, but eyes have to be sharp. Paul’s the same age as me. I recently learned that his father was my high-school Latin teacher decades back — apparently one of the last in the country.

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There it is.

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Picket Fence & Ginger Kitty. She leapt over the fence this morning to say hi.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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15 Comments

  1. Pingback: All Creatures Great & Just Plain Awesome | Awareness World

  2. Jessie Martinovic says

    Always great shots, the magpie infront of the computer though, wow!

    • Cheers, Jessie. I have a bunch of variations of that shot with my new butcherbird pal. I’ll share ’em soon — he’s adorable!

  3. Awesome! I like them all, but the picture of dawn at Cabbage Lake with the Pelicans is especially precious. Thanks for sharing them.

  4. Thank you for the message from David about France. Strange days for human beings. There is something about magpies and sunrises that continues to engage me and to make me grateful to be alive, along with all those creatures and people in your neighborhood and the thread of walking and the creative energy here on your blog. And then, of course, those astonishing flying foxes!

    • The bats are awesome, eh? I love it when friends from overseas visit and see them for the first time. I never get tired of their spectacle each dusk.

      Yep, something soothing and promising about every dawn. So much potential and gentle beauty.

  5. Sounds like your pics are going to keep you busy for a hell of a long time. I love taking them, love looking at them, but don’t enjoy the editing part or decision making about what I share. Mind you, mine aren’t high quality like yours! There are certainly plenty of feathered and furry friends and the odd jellyfish around Sandgate to brighten up your day. Thanks for sharing another excellent collection. The weather has been crazy hot out my way. I assume it’s been a bit more bearable where you are? Looking forward to the stormy/rainbow shots. 🙂

    • Yeah, I’ve noticed how unforgiving some of those temps have been “out west”. We’re lucky here on the Bay that it’s usually a couple of degrees cooler. I don’t have aircon or even a fan! Another reason mornings and dusk are the best times of day.

      I reckon for every hour of picture-taking there’s another two or more of fiddling with the results. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. What sucks about the digital age, though, is that you can give in to the temptation to revisit and rejig old shots. That was prohibitively expensive and time-consuming in the film days for most, I guess. But sometimes I wish there was a “definitive” version of any shot, beyond which it was impossible to fret and tamper any further!

  6. David says

    Thank you Ian, I really appreciate that !
    Nice pictures and wrap up. I’ll go through the pictures of that day we met in Shikoku and send you a few ones !
    Hope our respective trails will cross again, somewhere, sometimes.

    • Me too, David. You know France is high on my list, if you happen to be in the country at the time!

      By the way, I have a bike again now. But I don’t see much of the countryside from its saddle — it’s an exercise bike in my living room! I do get to travel on it, though, as I point the screen of my Mac at it when I’m “riding”, so I get to actually enjoy the pictures from my travels while I grind monotonously onwards…

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