Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fish and Chips in Watson's bay

When I arrived in Sydney nearly 4 years ago, I was armed with roughly 30'ish years of life experience (one thing I have noticed other young people lack these days) and the 6th edition of "Turen Går til Australien" - a travel guide boasting the massive equivalent of 70 A4 pages where all you need to know about "The Land Down Under" is put in writing, from the Bungle Bungle in WA - apparently the pride and joy of WA tourism(?) - to the 10 things you have to do in Sydney. After my pelagic excitement the day before I took a liking to number 9: Fish and chips in Watson's bay ... the book suggested taking the ferry from Circular Quay, but the author has obviously never had the pleasure of being transported in a Magna, so I went with style ;-)

Living and working in Sydney you fall in the trap of forgetting how nice a place it really is. Watson bay is one of the not too shabby places and neither is the fish and chips ... there is also a nudist beach :-) - mostly men though :-( ... and no pictures from there :-( ... this time :-)

For the BWs I can reveal that it is a top spot for Peregrine Falcons, there are at least two.

As usual I have put together a little album on my Picasa account and you are very welcome to take a look by pressing the little picture below. I have included quite a few panoramas again - and I know you all sit and think "if just I could do that" ... and you can! Thanks to a little program Dr Simon Iremonger once showed me called Autostitch, there should be a link in the right hand side of the blog. As the "Auto" part of the name suggest it is super easy to use and it is free! If you as me do not have any lens options below 50mm (75mm FF equivalent) you will absolutely love it :-)
Watson's bay

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Windy Weather Equals Albatross Action

Sydney has been blasted with terrible weather the last week - terrible weather means lots of rain and strong Easterly winds. However Easterly winds are not all bad and Saturday morning I set out to take advantage!
The BIG seabirds live most of their lives on their wings, just hovering along following the winds of the sea ... as stated above those winds have lately been coming from the East pushing those giant albatrosses in towards the coast - in towards Bigma range :-) My prediction was that there should be a good chance of getting some pictures of some seriously big birds, without risking being seasick :-)

Weather was very rough! The combination of huge waves and blasting winds gave terrible camera conditions at the clifftop. Only at the very highest points of the cliff the camera was safe from the spray of saltwater, but these elevated positions meant being totally exposed to the blasting winds, which made it near impossible for me to keep my balance while handling the camera. I was constantly trying to keep the lens clean, but saltwater is poison for a front element! I actually gave up twice - started to walk home - just to hesitate, stop up and realize that it was way to good action to miss and then walked back :-) In the end it took a direct hit of saltwater onto my camera and lens before I decided that it was time to head back home - with 400 photos in the camera I was actually quite happy with the outcome of the day ... which was lucky since the rest of the evening was used cleaning camera, lens and front filter :-\

All in all an amazing day at the coast, with quite a few birds I do not recall having seen before. I still have a stack of raw images that I have not processed yet, but I have uploaded a few jpgs to my Picasa account, which you are welcome to access by pressing the little picture of the gannet down below. I must warn the readers, particular those of you who are not so much into birds (e.g. my grand mums). I have tried hard by adding a few landscape pictures and some panoramas, however, it is hard making an album of birds - that all look like seagulls - very "action packed". It does not help either that the birds look tiny and the pictures are grainy, due to the fact that the "action" took place 200 meters off the coast: So if small seagulls are not your cup of tea, when please wait for my very touristy next blog entry, which will soon be published and contain some "fish and chips"-bonanza from Watson's bay :-)

Pelagic, Long Bay

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Powerful Owl Action in the Capertee with The Yiing

With an absolute frantic push Thursday evening, a camping trip was arranged in less than 5 minutes. Yiing had invested some of his hard(?) earned $$$ in a tent and the Magna was more or less still packed from my last trip - I told you in a previous post that winter laziness had hit me hard! - how convenient :-)
Did the good old full-speed-out-of-Sydney-Friday-after-work routine only deviating from the usual procedure by a quick pick-up stop around Canonland where a very well packed Yiing had changed from his "I earn +200 kilo dollars a year"-suit to something much more colorful and camping like.

It was windy and it was cold, but boy did the Capertee deliver this time! :-)
One of the amazing things about camping in Australia during winter is the possibility of exploring the darkness - lots of Australian wildlife is only active during the safety of the night - and that was why we headed into the darkness armed with spotlights and Yiing's bird-call knowledge as soon as the tents were pitched.
We had little luck at first, but when we returned to the campsite a, what we believe to be, powerful owl was sitting in a tree approximately 20 meters away from our tents overlooking the camp ground - decent start to the weekend ;-)

Saturday ended up producing some proper tramping - did a good long walk into the deep end of the valley and ended up being on our legs most of the day - you do not freeze when you move :-)

Yiing is apparently a quite keen BW, so I did what I could to help him by taking a few pictures. You are very welcome to follow the link to my Picasa album further down. There was a few feathery species I do not recall having seen before, such as:

Speckeled Warbler, Turquoise Parrot, a few Robins; scarlet, flame and hooded.

Also I will need to take a closer look at the Song- and Bushlarks; I think there was two types seen, but those guys are hard to distinguish - hopefully I will have decent pictures of both, and finally Yiing will try to listen to a few owl-calls on the internet and let me know what the final verdict is on the campsite owl.
Any of you guys have the "Field Guide to Australian Birdsong"?
Update: After having visited "The Owl pages" there is no doubt left, It was indeed a Powerful Owl we heard and saw :-)

Yiing's tent magically grew in size during the weekend? It was such a nifty little package when he jumped into the car Friday evening, but by Sunday morning I took all his engineering skills to get that fat bastard down into that tiny little bag :-)
Capertee Valley with The Yiing

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Best Dural Wedding-Camping Combo Ever!!

Jarrod and Adelle's wedding was an absolute stunner! A party that start with 40 minuets of dancing, cheering and clapping simply has to be one of the most life-affirming thinks a farm boy from the dark end of Jutland has ever seen! Unfortunately I do not have any pictures from the dinner, but can produce a few shots from a nearly equally exciting church ceremony.

It all ended up being an absolutely lovely day. Lots of happy people and great fun. I even had a little go at the dance floor, guess it could be linked to the intake of "Dancing-water". Adelle's dad had generously supplied each table with a bottle of whiskey and I thankfully used the opportunity to meet up with two good old friends of mine; Chivas and Regal. Just about when the good old feeling of "I'm Superman and I can drink all the whiskey in Australia" started echoing in my brain a little voice of age and experience reminded me of the chunk of Kryptonite built into the bottom of every whiskey bottle I have ever emptied ... wonder if that makes me old and boring?
Old and/or boring? I still had a trump card on my hand - I had pitched the tent at a campsite ca. 500m from the establishment where the venue was held. As the party fizzled out a very joyful, but seriously slow flying Superman made his way up the road to find his "Fortress of Solitude" aka the good old proven tent.
All in all an absolutely amazing day; super duper wedding followed by one of the most solid sleeps I have ever had in the tent - great wedding+camping combo :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sydney Olympic Park

Pu-ha! It has been a few busy weeks :-) First of all; to all those who have signed up as followers of my blog: Sorry for the lack of excitement on this site lately, however, since approximately 100% of my "followers" - that is you Jarrod - are fooling around in the red desert of Australia twitching grasswrens and trying to make storks fly in the Macpac honeymoon suite, I thought it would be just the right time to go exploring a bit instead of just writing about it ...
From Sydney Olympic Park

After having hit a bit of winter laziness I finally got my bum of the sofa and made my way out to Sydney Olympic Park (SOP) to do a bit of nature-photo-walk combo, I really enjoy these outings guess the only way of increasing the enjoyment would be to somehow get a bit of snorkeling, camping, electrochemistry and ice cream in there as well ... that would require a bit of inventiveness.

Approximately 50 meters after leaving the Magna I saw a Striated Heron. Camera in bag, lens cap on and the setting from the lightening shots I had done the night before was shutter speed priority set at 30 seconds, needless to say I did not get a usable photo :-) Never seen that bird before, but who is counting(?)
From Sydney Olympic Park

Had a absolutely fantastic day in the park, used about 4 hours - partly because I got lost - and took lots of pictures. I have selected a few and uploaded them to my Picasa account, feel free to follow the link below. Again SOP proved to be probably the easiest place around Sydney to get good bird in flight (BIF) shots. With the cormorant passing more frequently than aircrafts landing in Kingsford Smith, you either have to be blind or have a Canon camera to miss the shot ;-)
From Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park

Monday, May 4, 2009

Big Rain in Coogee

Various people have asked me lately how the Magna was doing(?) I was slightly puzzled by this concern for my Australian build piece of Japanese machinery, apart from being surprisingly clean Sunday morning when I used it for my weekly trip to some bush (entry will follow soon) I had not been concerned.
After taking a look at Sydney Morning Herald I suddenly understood - Coogee had a bit rain Saturday evening!! :-) Actually we had 77mm of which most came between 7 and 9pm. That is a lot of water and living at the bottom of the hill, means that not only do you have to cope with the 77 mm coming down from the sky. You also have to take into account the flood of water that comes rushing down the street up from Randwick.
See the story in SMH here:

I had actually noticed that the amount of water coming down was slightly on the generous side, so had a little go with the camera in Havelock Ave. Nothing near what was apparently happening a few streets away but still a bit of fun, here are some of the pictures:
From Big Rain

From Big Rain

From Big Rain

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mogo Creek Camping Bonanza with Dr J. Amoore

Friday afternoon, not that many seconds after 4pm, I jumped into the Magna and pointed the sparkling bright white bonnet towards Yengo National Park, where I would be spending the weekend camping with Jarrod. Racing North out of Sydney on the Pacific Highway on a Friday afternoon means traveling at a leisurely pace of approximately 30kph - Sydney is such a vibrant place :-)
Met up with Jarrod at the campsite just as the sun was going down, it looked like we would be the only happy campers there that first night. Sorted out the tent, got hold of some firewood and got some water boiling. About 3 hours after leaving work I was sitting in the "wilderness" eating CousCous, having a glass of wine, watching the fire, chatting with Jarrod and just enjoying life - An Owlet-nightjar sitting in a tree 10 meters away tried to spoil the serenity by calling out loud, guess that is just one of those incidents you have to accept when you make your way out into nature .. ;-)

Had some fantastic walks Saturday and another cozy evening where Jarrod decided he wanted to try to melt the iron BBQ at our campsite by making the biggest bonfire ever seen in Yengo NP. The BBQ is still there - dented from the heat - but still there, it was a great fire though :-)

Sunday morning we left early, being very confident of the V6 performance of the Magna I left campsite and Jarrod (who was fiddling) not expecting to see the Mazda more that day. However, I underestimated the power of love!! The usual well-balanced, careful and responsible Dr Amoore had been missing his soon-to-be wife in Sydney so much during the weekend, that he decided to set aside all rules and hoon his way back home to Sydney. During a road work section of the Freeway with well signed "80" speed zones the love sick happy camper blasted past me doing at least 83kph - I frantically pushed the "Acc" button of the cruise control (once) but had to stop the chase before it even started - I was doing 81. As the Mazda disappeared into the horizon - with about 33.3 meter per minuet - It actually made me happy! :-) In a week, I'm going to Jarrod and Adelle's wedding and I am as sure as one can possibly be that it is going to be the start of a great marriage!

I have included a link below to a few extra pictures from the trip, feel free to follow the link (press the little picture) to my Picasa account. Cheers Allan
Mogo Creek, Yengo National Park