All posts tagged: birds

Merry…Solstice!

Hey, all. Well, I’d started another flashback-to-Japan post from the last trip, but it was so bleak and un-Christmasy, even for me, that I’ve decided to spare you such an un-festive come-down until my next post. What a way to kick in the new year it will be! Happily, I was reminded by the ABC weatherman this morning that today is the Summer Solstice in these parts — “when the Sun’s track across the Australian sky reaches its highest point. It is the day that has the most daylight hours of any in the year.” That news provided the impetus to throw together something lighter and sunnier, so here are 30-something chronologically presented shots from the last two or three weeks, all from the local area, the majority created in that beautiful few hours before and just after dawn when conditions are so good for walking and taking pictures. My sleep patterns are still crazed, and I’m surviving on around five hours per night/morning. My stoopid brain has lately settled on 2:00-2:30am as a good time …

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 …

Back Among My People

G’day, all. The standard apologies for the long time between posts, the tardiness of my response to always-appreciated comments, and for just generally being an awful human being. I’ve been back in the Bayside suburbs of Brisbane for a couple of weeks now, and am pretty well adjusted (by my standards), though there’s been a fair deal of lonesome soul-searching… ..and I do miss the feeling of short- and longer-term purpose that a multi-week walk provides, not to mention the simple daily routine of morning coffee, walking, vending machines, convenience stores, photography, nightly beer, and eating anything I damned well please in between. (No wonder I actually put on weight despite walking around a thousand miles in those three months in Japan…) I also miss the constantly rewarding 88-temple photographic project, though the editing and displaying aftermath of the actual picture-making is keeping me busy, as it will for several months to come. Meanwhile, there are occasional storms to keep me entertained back here in the subtropical Summer — including one predicted for tonight — and I’ve resumed …

The Welcome Committee

There were some things about getting home that were a definite improvement on Japan… ..but overall, this was the toughest time I’ve ever had leaving a country. Hey, all. Yup, back in Brisbane, as of Friday, and I’m just about recovered from the jetlag, lack of sleep on the plane (aisle seat + apparently weak-bladdered co-passengers = much annoyance) and I suppose the accumulated effects of all that walking. I’m still a little rundown, my walking speed has plummeted, and I’m pretty damned down over the end of another adventure. But all of those negatives are tempered by being home with my folks in a good place, and the satisfaction of getting so much done in those 88 days, including: My Daisetsuzan traverse in Hokkaido Climbs of Iwaki-San and Hakkoda-San, beautiful old volcanoes in northern Tohoku My first ascent of Yatsu-ga-Take, despite the cruddy weather A three-day return to the South Alps starting with Kita-Dake, Japan’s second-highest peak Lots of walking in and around the old capitals & temple heartlands of Kyoto & Nara Temple-rich …

The Backwards 88, Day 40: Pilgrim Postcards

[You might have received this post in your inbox erroneously titled “Day 39”. I just realised I’d lost a day! It happens on the blurry path to wisdom!] A LAWSON’S STATION KONBINI, KAINAN, TOKUSHIMA PREFECTURE ~  Morning, all. As threatened, here’s another batch of shots from the last week or so, mostly of scenes and subjects encountered between temples. I enjoy both my subject areas, the temples themselves and the stretches of road and path linking them, for different reasons. The temple one is far more challenging. My aim is to capture a sense of the place that is different from the others, and respond to it artistically in the conditions in which I find it. Believe me, with 88 of them to deal with, that can get pretty tough! As someone who doesn’t believe in anything, I’m obviously not reacting to the places in any spiritual sense. I’m interested in them as places, and judge them on aesthetic grounds, how they relate to their environment, their architecture and landscaping, historical elements etc. Avoiding repeating …

The Backwards 88, Day 37: Peace, Hope & Pilgrim Smokes

Hey, all. Well, this one’s coming to you from a dark bench at a michi-no-eki (“road station”) called Tano-eki-ya that — so far (the night is young) — is my favourite of the trip. It’s right on the main street of the coastal Kochi town of Nahari/Tano, but it’s a sleepy town and no trucks are rattling past. There is an elevated railway line not many metres above my head, but this is the boonies and the trains are rare. The good points: dark, my tent is set up under cover right on the “porch”, there’s a Lawson’s Station konbini 50m away, toilets are close and clean (already washed today’s shirt, socks and unmentionables), and there’s this bench, with a power outlet right next to it. I can’t tell you how rare and delightful a discovery that is. All this beauty, insight and art from the oriental road requires a certain amount of elec-trickery to make it to your device of choice. Oh, and get this: A couple of hours ago, just after I arrived, a …

The Backwards 88, Day 8: Sandal Power in North-Eastern Shikoku

Greetings, folks, from rainy Kan’onji City on the western fringes of Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku. If you’re the kind of weirdo who prefers kanji (Chinese characters), I’m here to help: 観音寺市. It’s the name of both the city and one of its two principle temples (the suffix -ji means temple). Kan’on or Kannon is a Buddhist goddess of mercy (and pets, apparently), much venerated along the Shikoku pilgrimage route: 29 of the 88 temples are dedicated to her. One unusual thing about this temple, #69, though, is that it adjoins #68, Jinnein, which meant a delightfully easy double whammy with which to start Day 8 today. I’m presently squandering that advantage by sitting here on my Z-Rest outside a 7-11, typing this long-overdue post and stealth-charging laptop, wifi hotspot and one of my arsenal of camera batteries. I haven’t tapped into a convenience store’s power outlet since I last wandered through Shikoku in 2008… (I don’t like supporting the evil 7-11 Corporation, currently in the news in Australia for ripping off their student workforce, but their stores are …

Escape from Tomuraushi/Insect Meditations

From a picnic table in the shade in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, the conclusion of my Daisetsuzan saga… I went to sleep, or what passes for sleep at Club Mountaingoat, with the peace of mind that follows a few nips of Nikka whisky and a rare attack of good sense. Ahead lurked two more days of deeper penetration into the back-est of the Daisetsuzan backcountry; again I’d scanned the guidebook, looking for some hint of reward — terrific views, for example — to justify all those “hard”s, “long”s and “tough”s. I found nothing. Again. Outside, the mountain gods hurled volleys of horizontal rain against our pitiful shelters on crazed bursts of wind. I praised the stolid German craftsmen and women who’d manufactured such a sturdy little tent, and not for the first time saluted my own genius in leaving the syl-nylon tarp back in Australia. That merits another nip, my good man. Anyway, the decision was made, and I followed the final nip with the final Snickers in my food bag. The two Sapporo-ites (Sapporoids?) were exiting in the morning, …

Flying by Falcon, Rocking with Rose

Travelling in Japan is all about the trains — well, except for those annoying mountain-hiking parts. The whole country is a train-spotter’s paradise, with prizes including the almost obscenely streamlined Hayabusa, one of the fastest shinkansen (“bullet trains”) in Japan… ..within which I sped yesterday from Tokyo to Aomori in the extreme north of the main island of Honshu, and the Hamanasu… ..at the opposite end of the train-technology spectrum, which rocked and rollicked through the night, beneath the Tsugaru Strait to emerge onto vast Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island. Even the names are cool. Hayabusa means peregrine falcon, and Hamanasu is the Japanese rose, Rosa rugosa,a name which captures its rambling, exuberant energy, even if it’s not especially macho name for a train. I’m typing this aboard the final phase of my Daisetsuzan-bound railway odyssey (there’s still a bus to go after that), a Super Kamui Limited Express from Sapporo to Asahikawa. A quick check suggests that kamui translates as “divine or powerful”. This seems like a favourable omen before my upcoming excursion. That ride aboard the falcon …

Leader of the Pack

“Hey, little dudes! How’s it goin’?” My magpie welcoming party always assembles the same way: one sharp-eyed individual — The same one each time? Who can say? — leaves its fellows, takes to the air, and swoops low over the grass to bank and land with breathtaking pizzaz just in front of me: By the time its relatives have spied my approach and joined the party, the first arrival has usually burst into that ecstatic warble that is such a familiar presence in the Australian landscape, rural and urban, beginning before dawn and continuing at irregular intervals till the sun goes down or even later: The tribe takes up position. There are always at least a dozen, usually several more, and several of these will herald my return with an infectious and oft-repeated eruption of glorious song, puffing out their chests till they seem set to explode, tilting back their heads, pointing their formidable beaks at the sky as they sing. It’s the largest group I’ve ever observed — “our” magpies at home form a tight family …

The Truth About Flathead Lies

The tide was low, the air crisp and a winter sunrise was stirring the embers beyond Moreton Island as I approached the mouth to Cabbage Tree Creek. A lone fisherman in waders stood near the jetty, knee deep in salt water and presumably somewhat deeper in concentration: The cruising pelicans I’d hoped to encounter were absent; I walked out onto the jetty and introduced myself to another photographer I’d seen ambling around the headland on several equally sublime mornings, an air-traffic controller called Mike who was getting in some shooting before driving to work and an undoubtedly less tranquil scene. Mike enjoyed a cigarette while we chatted about cameras and lenses and travel. The fisherman had moved a little further downstream when next I noticed him. Mike commented about the gorgeous colours reflected in the creek surface; we fired off a few shots and I went back down the bank to get closer — “zooming with the feet” as we zoom-less users of prime lenses like to put it: Mike and I weren’t the only …

Psychedelic Sandgate

Hey, folks. Just a warning before we get started: Better don your best protective goggles before proceeding. Wouldn’t want to be responsible for any burnt retinas or other eye damage. Please keep in mind I actually de-saturated many of these pictures as I dislike overly intense sunrise/sunset shots. But Mother Nature doesn’t always obey the laws of good taste and moderation. Sometimes she just likes to let loose with her full special-effects arsenal… Things have been going well lately and my recently restored enthusiasm for walking and picture-making continues, boosted with my latest camera gear (not used for these shots, which were taken pre-purchase with my reliable old Sony NEX 5N and its beautiful 24mm 1.8 lens, plus a few using an older, way more beat-up 5N and a cheap 16mm wide-angle). I’ve been having sleep problems again that I’m learning to live with. Vivid, entertaining dreams (nightmares are actually welcome as for years I never dreamed at all) from which I’ll suddenly bust free, startled, into wide-awakeness at, say, 1:30, 2:00 or 3:00. If I’m feeling sensible …

A Sunset Swim in Pelican Country

I just had a helluva week of walking and photography, one of my best ever. Just about every morning and evening last week I managed a beautiful, productive and fulfilling excursion to one of three or four favourite local rambling spots. Each day I did 6-10 miles, sometimes more. Some was familiar territory: the Boondall Wetlands, Cabbage Tree Creek, the Pine Rivers mouth. Some was new, like my first real chance to take pictures in thick pre-dawn fog over the waterfront, and my first proper (though short) missions down the mangrovey south bank of the Pine. But even the old places shone. I managed several really nice images, tried lots of variations, saw them in new conditions, or enjoyed those happy collisions with chance that make photography so unpredictable and fun. Unfortunately I got home each night pretty beat (often my day had started at 3:30 or so, and I’m trying to resist the urge to nap), and other than uploading the pictures, got little else done — certainly no danged blog posts. So tonight I’m employing a strategy …

Meet Stumpy the Mangrove & Friends

Hey, folks. Well, my little dwelling is looking a lot better — arguably better than it did pre-maelstrom. My parents and I moved most of the mud and water out over a couple of draining days in which despair always lurked close by, ready to pounce, and it was a good excuse for some more downsizing. In fact I’ve downsized to the point where my place looks almost Japanese in its simplicity. I sit on the floor now, which sounds worse than it is, as I sat on the floor at mealtimes for three and a half years in Japan and two more in Korea. It’s very…grounding. My blue couch, an unlovely but very comfortable thing I scored for a hundred bucks or so at a local op shop (thrift store) years ago — and whose cushions I saved to soften the zone between butt and tiled floor — has now joined the piles of flood-damaged stuff lining the road on our end of the street, where there’s still a car or two standing open-doored and …

A Lake in the Living Room

Let’s live where the indoors and the outdoors meet ~ Silver Jews, Like Like the the the Death This is the part where my love affair with Mud is put to the test… A post was meant to surface here on TGTW four days ago, one I’d written before bailing for Moreton Island on Monday and arranging to publish in my absence via the magic of Schedule. Let me explain with an extract from “The Post That Never Was”: Hey, folks. Thanks to the miracle of the Schedule button on my blog dashboard, you should be reading this on Wednesday my time while I am trudging in a very sensible clockwise direction, far from any wifi signal or power outlet, round the world’s third-largest sand island: Well, the Schedule function at WordPress has one potentially negative characteristic: It doesn’t always work. (Just Google and see). As I now know. There I was over there in my sandy paradise, two days after setting out — clockwise, exactly according to plan — thinking with no little satisfaction, “Yup, she oughtta be …

A Very Mangrovey Retreat

One of the pleasures of blogging for someone who loves English is that, since you play largely by your own rules (and those of one’s WordPress overlords, of course), you can take certain liberties with the language. I’m pretty old-school about vocabulary and the Immutable Laws of Grammar & Punctuation, but it’s a blog, not The Times. So when I employ a sweet new adjective (seemingly) of my own design, and use it not once but seven times (counting this post) — I just checked — I feel that in my own modest way I have enriched both the language and the culture, hopefully till the end of time. Mangrovey was my gift to the world. Or so I thought, till out of curiosity, after coming up with this post heading, I did a quick Google. What a come-down. My own use of the word did not turn up till the fourth page of the search results! People have been having mangrovey experiences all over the globe (or at least those parts of it that …

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #3

The final instalment of Sandgate pictures taken over five months and a thousand miles of coastal rambling. There are a few stormy pictures here — appropriately, as this morning a late-season cyclone named Marcia shifted rapidly in severity from Category 1 to 5 (the worst) and crossed the Queensland coast near Yeppoon about 680km (422m) north of Brisbane. I broke my arm and ruptured an eardrum in Yeppoon when I was a kid. That put a damper on the family holiday and my lower left arm still doesn’t look right to me. Reports suggest quite a nasty streak of destruction up there. We’re getting a bit of rain down here and as the storm moves south (weakening as it goes) we should be in for some serious downpours tomorrow and beyond, coinciding nicely with some king tides, so local creeks and waterways will be ripe to bursting. Another cyclone just did its thing up in the Northern Territory at virtually the same time. This pair has arrived late in the season and apparently the late ones are …

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #2

Here we are, folks, second instalment of my three-parter about my five-month, 1,000-mile-plus multi-day-walk Sandgate (mostly) perambulation, or 5M1K+MDWS(M)P#2. No dreary saga of psychological turmoil this time, and the extra space (I try — and often fail — to keep my posts under 1,000 words, for my comfort as well as yours) means I can provide a little background info in the picture captions. Once again, the pictures are presented chronologically. 5M1K+MDWS(M)P#3 coming in three days’ time… ~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #1

Hey, y’all. For — what? — a couple of months now I haven’t been able to write. Hell, for much of that time I was barely even walking, by my standards, and no walking obviously means not much to observe and record, or whatever it is I do here with the camera and the keyboard. Admittedly my ambulatory standards are pretty tough. Since I haven’t had much else to fill my days, little money and no work, with a torrent of confusion and doubt raining down, I set myself the target in July or August of a seven-mile minimum each day. That number had a nice powerful feel to it, and usually I was able to achieve most of my Magic Seven before breakfast. Those miles were often the highlight of the day. I was rising early and alternating between two main local routes. One lead directly to the waterfront and either out onto the mudflats if tides permitted or along the beachfront walking path if the brine was lapping at the seawall. Low tide was my favourite, and I …

Beyond the Smout, Where the Pelicans Play

Apologies to subscribers who received this post twice, or weren’t able to access it the first time. After publishing, I realised a random date had been added to the post. I deleted it and am trying again! *          *          *          *          * Can we name bridges here in Brisbane or what? The first bridge linking Greater Brisbane with Redcliffe across the mouth of the Pine River and Hay’s Inlet was the Hornibrook (“horny brook“) Highway, which opened in 1935 and at almost 1.7 miles was the second-longest bridge in the world. After closing to cars in 1979, the structure remained as the world’s longest footbridge till 2010. Meanwhile the Houghton (“whore-tun” — that’s how I say it, anyway) Highway had been constructed and when it proved unable to cope with the increased traffic, a companion, the Ted Smout (that’s it in the featured image above), was opened in 2010 to carry Brisbane-bound traffic. A clever writer of limericks or dirty verse could …