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Posts tagged ‘swamp’

Weekend Wanderings: Late Winter Days in Banyule Flats

Spring isn’t that far away from here, but you can see signs of it everywhere. All along the roads in the country the wattle is out in flower and there is yellow everywhere. It really is a stunning time of the year. We don’t get those brilliant autumn colours that many places get, but we get lots of bright yellows in late winter and into early spring.

I went out one day recently to Banyule Flats when rain was predicted to see if I could get some macro photos of the first blossoms for the season and maybe see how it looks right before a storm.

I love seeing the parks when it gets dark and storm clouds are coming. There had already been rain and the ground was wet with puddles of water everywhere.

Can I just say I love my new Merrell shoes. It still amazes me how you can walk around somewhere that is wet and muddy and your feet don’t get muddy. I’m getting used to it.

Then it started raining. I rushed to the swamp to try and get photos of the rain on the water. Unfortunately trying to change the lens in the rain took a bit too long and the rain didn’t last long. I am hoping to get more of it over the coming months.

The birds were having a lovely time in the water and rain. Some of them were very dark from the mud.

I’m hoping to get out to take some photos this weekend. The second lens from Tamron has arrived, the 28-300mm and I really want to try it out. I had a quick play in the garden this morning and wow, oh wow. I was taking photos in the front garden with it and I couldn’t believe how close I could get to the flowers, almost like a macro, but not quite.

That’s what I’m hoping to do this weekend, I hope you have great plans too.

Weekend Wanderings: A Couple of Mornings in Banyule Flats

To start with I must make some apologies, WordPress have now changed it so you HAVE to use their new editor.  I really hate it, it is so small on my large screen and it is so hard to read the writing.  So please excuse me if I make mistakes that I can’t see.  We should all complain, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the old editor.  That option is now gone. Before we know it we will be stuck with the new and worse stats page as well.

Anyway, I am going to try and do this, it is killing my eyes because it is so small that everything is going gooey in front of my eyes, but let’s visit Banyule Flats again.


I have some more photos of the sunrise shots I got, not a lot, but some taken in a couple of places.  It was such a lovely morning for photos and my plan is to go back soon, try going back often.  I am bound to get some amazing shots if I keep going back.


Yesterday morning I took the Tamron 150-600mm there to see what I could get.  There weren’t a lot of birds, but it was nice to see an Ibis and a Heron there, I even identified that it was a Heron, I think I might be getting better.  Don’t ask me what sort of heron, no idea about that.  This was taken right across the swamp.  I had to crop it quite a bit.


We went for a wander and saw some wasps on some wood so I thought I would try the lens on them.  Not bad.  Again, I had to crop it quite a bit, but I think the definition is quite good.


This is the cocoon for a swift moth and apparently seeing these on the ground is a good sign, means autumn is on its way. I am glad to hear that, and in fact we could see many trees starting the change, so will be spending quite a bit of time there I think with the wide angle.  This image was taken with the 50mm.


I put the 150-600mm back on to photograph some Tawny Frogmouths.  I thought I was getting nothing, so imagine my surprise when I got home to find that I not only got a good shot, I also got one of it looking straight at me.  They are usually asleep when I go.

I am going to put more photos into a gallery for you now, more shots of the sunrise and more birds.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and have lots of plans.  I will be out shooting with another Blogger today, so that will be a lot of fun.

Weekend Wanderings – Revisiting Banyule

My grant application has been in for a couple of weeks, and this last Thursday I joined the Warringal Conservation Society. Then this morning I was trying to work out what to put in the post today and thinking about all the photos of Banyule that I have taken since the beginning of the year, especially as I have Social Snappers excursion there this afternoon. So today, I thought I would go through those photos and make a selection and show them again.  I hope you don’t mind.


There is lots of evidence or remains in this area which says it used to be farming land.  Everyone who lives around here knows that, but it has been interesting, especially since my involvement with the WCS, how much of it was farmland until the 1970’s.  I know that the house I live in was once in the middle of a paddock, and paintings by some of the Heidelberg School show that.  I think it is interesting that it was once bushland, converted to farmland, and now is all set to be bushland again, well if the developers don’t get their way.


One of the biggest threats to this area is the North East Freeway.  In Australia it seems that roads and freeways are more important than anything else, and “we must have as many as we can.  It is important that there are roads everywhere because the only way people can travel is by car.  Public Transport, bite your tongue”.  Well, that is how our government seems to be.  Caring for the environment and what we have always seems to be secondary, or thirdary, I don’t know, a long way down on the list.  Part of the reason for starting to document Banyule Flats and some of the surrounding parkland was, hopefully, to draw more attention to what we are trying to conserve here.


Really, in a nut shell, this is the main part of it.  This beautiful wetlands that is accessible to anyone who wants to visit it.  Anyone who cares about the environment and want to find some peaceful place in a city that is becoming very fast.


Shall we put some perspective on this.  Melbourne is a big city, not necessarily in population, but in land mass.  Everyone wants their quarter acre, so Melbourne has spread out, and spread out a lot.  It is becoming one of the largest cities in the world due to the size of it, or geographically.  It spans 100km from East to West, I suspect more North to South, but not sure.  Still that gives you an idea.  So one of things that makes Banyule Flats so unique is that from the city centre we are only around 15kms from it. Which means there is this amazing parkland, with lots of wildlife, only a 30 minute drive from the city, there is public transport and a train to Heidelberg will get you here in about the same time.


This is parkland, but it isn’t manicured parkland.  There are parks everywhere in the city, but this one is more special because it is about the land returning to its original state and being bushland again.  It is a place where you can go walking, and you might see kangaroos, at night you will see wombats.  There is an abundance of birdlife in and around the swamp. It is a place that is like an oasis in the middle of suburbia.  I don’t know how many times people come to visit me for the first time and they can’t believe where we are, it is like we live in the country, though we don’t.

My grant application is about producing something that will help people understand how beautiful this area is, hopefully, if I get it, I will produce a book on the area, something that will include the history and what the area is significant.  Development isn’t always the answer, and sometimes it is great to just let things be, for now and in the future.

I have a gallery with some of my favourite photos taken since February. They show the different seasons, different times of the day, and just how beautiful it is.  I hope you all agree that conservation is good and think about what you can help conserve in your local area.  I’m looking forward to taking more photos there this afternoon with my Social Snappers group, explore some areas I haven’t been to for awhile.

Quiet Thursdays – Night at Banyule Flats

It has been the New Moon this last week and I’ve been trying to get out to get some photos, but we seem be having endless overcast days, always, right when you don’t want them.  I was hopeful the other night when I convinced my husband to come out with me to Banyule Flats, to see if I could get the milky way from there.

I don’t know if it is possible, but you can see the city lights in one direction and just black towards the east, so I wondered if I could get it from there.  I tried once before, I showed you last week, but it was during the full moon, I thought with no moon, it could be interesting to see what I could get.

As we were walking outside we could see that it was getting cloudy, but I hoped that it would hold off until I got what I wanted.  Well it didn’t work, by the time we got to the spot, there were clouds everywhere. Though it was surprising to see how light it actually was, so, while I was there, I took some photos.


I don’t know about you, but I think it is so cool when you can take photos at night.  I love how this comes up at night.  You can also see the clouds, it was a thick covering.

I was also hoping to see if I could get some star trails, and I think it might be possible, but it wasn’t that night.  I will go back some time and try again, but I might wait until we have better weather and I can be fairly sure that I won’t lose the sky to cloud cover. I could see movement in the stars in these images, so I am fairly certain I can get something, I will try.  Looking forward to it.

I hope you are having a quiet day. I’m away, and sure I am taking lots of photos around Apollo Bay, if you see me there, be sure to say hello.

Weekend Wanderings- A Wide View of Banyule Flats

Yesterday I showed you some photos of the birds that you can see around Banyule Flats.  The following day after taking those I went out again with my camera, but this time I had the Nikon 24-70mm lens on the camera and I walked around taking photos.  As I learn more about the history of the area, I am finding a lot of it makes more sense to me, what I mean is what I see when I look around.  It has opened my eyes up again, and it is like I am viewing this place for the first time all over again.

1-banyule-flats-morning-parksI walked around some new areas of the swamp, places I knew about, but hadn’t really tried taking photos from before.  I was using my new Circular Polariser and it has made all the images very saturated.  Not sure I like it, but will give it go first.  Though, the grass is really green like that.


For a long time this was farming country and there are parts of it, that still look very much like that.  I love those trees, the gum trees, I don’t know the names of trees either, sorry, I’m not very good at the names of things, but I do want to get better at it.


There are little flowers everywhere, all different sorts.  Probably weeds, but I thought they were pretty.  If I had a macro lens I would be able to get better images of the flora in this area.  I am hoping I won’t have to wait to long for it.


I have seen this windmill many times over the years, but never realised what it was for.  There is a billabong close to it, and the windmill was used to pump water into it for the cows that were there.  It doesn’t do that anymore, and the billabong is often empty now, which is unfortunate.

Just in case people don’t know what a billabong is, or are unsure, here is the definition of one from Wikipedia.

Billabong is an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Billabongs, reflecting the arid Australian climate in which these “dead rivers” are found, fill with water seasonally and are dry for a greater part of the year.


I liked the way the fence was there.  There are fences all over the place, but most of them are in disrepair, and you can see they are no longer used.  The morning sun was also giving some lovely shadows.  It was also very wet, wet from dew on the ground.  I have some hiking shoes, but think I might need to get waterproof ones, my feet keep getting wet.

tawny-frogmouth-two-banyule-flatsI saw the two Tawny Frogmouths that we couldn’t find the day before.  I came from a different angle.  They knew I was there, and they were doing their, “I am a tree branch” thing, which is really interesting.  I had the wrong lens on for doing this, and I had to crop the photo a lot.  They were tiny in the middle of the original one.  I will have to go back some time with the other lens.

I have a lot more photos for you, more of the swamp, and some from other parts of the area.  I did the walk in a hour, so that should give you an idea of how close everything is.  Part of it belongs to the Banyule City Council, and some to Park Victoria.  It is unfortunate that the area that is maintained by Parks Victoria isn’t cared for as well as the Banyule City Council space.  The parks in Parks Victoria do look very untidy, and not well cared for.  The weeds, foreign ones that have been introduced, are just running rampant.  I don’t think Parks Victoria do a good job of involving the community so they will help. I don’t know, It is something that I am really only just becoming aware of.

I will put them into a gallery for you, I hope you enjoy the virtual walk in my local park.  The weather has turned now, but it was beautiful while it lasted.  I hope you get to do some lovely photographic walks in your parks this weekend.

Weekend Wanderings – Banyule Flats Bird Life

As I said yesterday the weather here has been really good and it has been nice to be able to get out into the local parks and get some photos where the sun has been shining.  This last week I went out with one of the members from the Warringal Conservation Society, another keen photographer, but also a keen bird watcher.  She knew all the birds that were around, and has been able to identify them for me.  I took the Sigma 150-500mm lens that I am borrowing at the moment to see if I could get some good photos of the birds with that.  We went into Banyule Flats, parkland near Heidelberg, in the cities north east.

6-banyule-flats-morning-parks-birdsBanyule Flats has a very active bird life, and every time I go there, there are birds everywhere in the water.  More and more of the water weeds are growing, so a lot more birds are coming to the swamp.  I never really thought of myself as a bird watcher, but I really enjoy seeing them all down there.  It is like a bird metropolis within another metropolis.


Swan Parents with their Signet

The one thing that everyone is watching down there at the moment are the Black Swans and their babies, not black, but grey.  I was so happy to see the two of them again, the last few times I’ve been down, there has only been one, and I was hoping the other was on the nest.  They are the talk of the Flats, and a lot of people are going down there to see them and make sure they are okay.  Apparently there were 5 signets, but one has been lost, or killed.



The swamp isn’t the only place to see the birds, we also went for a walk along the Yarra River, which is right next to the swamp, and we saw the above Darter swimming in the river and then she got up onto the branches to sun itself.  Beautiful bird.  When I first saw it in the river I thought it was a snake, the way its head stuck out.  Then the woman I was with explained it was often called a snake bird.  Apparently this one is female, because the males are all black.



Everywhere you walk around the parks, all you can hear are the birds, and the ones that stand out are the Kookaburras as they laugh at us, or each other, I don’t now.


Tawny Frogmouth

This was my favourite find, the Tawny Frogmouth.  A native here, and very hard to find, not because there are few of them, there are lots of them, but because they are nocturnal, they hide themselves well.  We had been told where this one was and so were able to find it.  There were two others we were told about, but we couldn’t find them at all.  They make themselves look like limbs on a tree, so that makes them harder to find.

I am going to put together a gallery for you now.  All the photos were taken with the Sigma lens, and I tried to get some shots of other things.  Though I went out again yesterday with a wider lens, and got some images of the area with that, which I will show you tomorrow.  I have tried to get all the birds identified, but I missed out on a couple, so if I find out what they are, I will add them.  I hope the weather is great where you are and you have a splendid weekend taking photos.


Weekend Wanderings – Fog in Banyule

Those of you who follow the Monochrome Madness challenge know that we had fog here earlier in the week.  It was so nice to see something else besides rain.  We actually had three mornings of it, though only one was really thick, the one I went out to take photos in.


I do love this tree.  I always think Joshua Tree, of course it isn’t one, but there are some similarities.  I have no idea what this tree is.


The other day someone mentioned how quiet landscapes can be when there is fog.  I think that is something I really want to try to get.  I love the idea of the quiet landscape, and fog is so perfect for that.



Even when it is really busy it still seems very quiet.


When I went over to the swamp I was enjoying watching this black swan cleaning itself.  I wished I’d had a bigger lens, but you do what you can with what you have.  I have other photos of this too.



The swamp is one of those areas that looks fantastic with fog, though the perfect thing would have been fog and a little bit of sun.  I am sure I will get that one day.

All the images were shot with the Nikon D800, with the 24-70mm lens.  They were all taken hand held.  While it was foggy and it seemed a little dark it wasn’t too dark that I couldn’t hand hold.  Looks like I used f/8 for nearly all the photos, and as I was using Aperture Priority the camera set the shutter speed.  My ISO was mainly on 640, though I did change it up to 1250 when I was trying to photograph the swan so I could get a faster shutter speed.

Going to put the photos into a gallery for you now.  I hope they don’t all seem the same.  I hope you get some fantastic weather conditions this weekend to do your own wanderings and get some amazing photos.