Lockdown is for the Birds

Brisbane, Queensland, 1 to 6 August 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Butcher Bird.

At the end of the last post, we had stopped off in Brisbane for a couple of days en route to a photographic tour in North Queensland, when our progress was arrested by a sudden seven-day lockdown.  So we spent the next seven days with our friends Jim and Milena in their new home, and with the birds that either visited or lived there.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The same Butcher Bird from the verandah (also then next two images).

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. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Back inside, with Percy and Polly (Rainbow Lorikeets) and Milena.  One of the lorikeets is interested in learning how to use the coffee machine.

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The other, not so much.

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On the verandah again, two Kookaburras.

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Juvenile Magpie soaring up for food.  this one has a damaged foot.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Juvenile Magpie on the rail (the adults are black rather than grey).

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The Australian Magpie is not related to the Eurasian Magpie.  It is related to the Butcherbird, though.

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Kookaburra.

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Though we were in a city, we were able to go for a brief walk in a forest nearby.

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Inside with the lorikeets again.

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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

They are very fast inside the house and challenging to photograph.

Ironically, I had brought a Nikon D850 and 300mm f2.8 lens (plus teleconverters), specifically for photographing birds in flight, mainly from various bird hides I expected to encounter.  I did not anticipate the my BIF photography would be indoors.

These indoor images were all taken with a Fujifilm X-E4 and a 27mm f2.8 lens (40mm full frame equivalent), heavily croppped.  I couldn’t predict when and where they were going to fly I needed loose compositions.  They are all on 1/2,000 sec because the lorikeets are very quick and light levels were quite low so they are all on high ISOs, more that two thirds on 6400 or 12,800.  As well as that, this was a new camera and when I had set up Custom Quick Menus, I hadn’t realised that as well as the values on the Quick Menus, there were also many other values I needed to set or they would revert to the original camera defaults.  This meant I was shooting JPEG instead of RAW so many of the images are lacking highlight or shadow detail.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

This might represent an interesting lorikeet decal on the splashback except that it was a bit too transient for full appreciation at the time.

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Lorikeet and Jools.

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Percy and Polly powering past.

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Also a Budgie, even more elusive on the wing.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

… and here playing hide-and-seek.

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Back on the balcony, an adult Magpie in midair leaping for food, plus a Butcher Bird.

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  … Coming in to land ….

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Magpie pair.

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Again, a lorikeet as an interior decoration….

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Jim with Percy and Polly.

It was difficult to find lockdown information at this time as the Queensland Government told people not to ring them and if you did, you could wait for a long time and then drop out.  Eventually, we worked out that we were free to fly back to the ACT, even while the lockdown continued in Brisbane.  Jools did so first, I did so after receiving an email from the ACT Government advising against further travel. 

Now Queensland is out of lockdown and we are in lockdown in Canberra.  The main problem is New South Wales, which failed to lockdown for ten days after their first case and is now spiralling out of control with over a thousand cases per day.  (That won’t sound high if you live in Montenegro, Malaysia or Miami but is the highest we have seen in Australasia).  (The other problem is the low vaccination rate, due to the incompetence of the Federal Government).  Fortunately it doesn’t seem too bad in the ACT and we may be out of lockdown in a couple of weeks, though the situation remains precarious.

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At the water’s edge

Brisbane, Queensland, 31 July 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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We are on our second day in Brisbane, staying with friends, en route to Northern Queensland, or so we thought.

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Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Though inside Brisbane, we are on a scenic drive that goes in part through a national park, and we are looking down some distance at a house on farmland.  It appears to be the mansion of a drug baron.  Perhaps a nineteenth century drug baron.  Probably opium, in that case.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Near the road, we noticed this compact granny flat.  Specially adapted for natural air conditioning.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

And in the distance there are these massive ancient megaliths.  Some of them may be more than a hundred feet high.  How they carried the stones there is a mystery.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

It’s not fire season yet so this was presumably burning off.  These days severe bush fires can occur even in winter though.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We proceeded on to Wynnum, where we visited a cafe and then wandered out onto the pier.  Beside the pier, this I believe is a gazebo martin (though usually known as a tree martin).  I tried to get them in flight as a test of camera settings for that purpose but they are very fast and I did not succeed.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Wynnum pier.  The martins were building a nest in the roof of the right-hand gazebo.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Next we visited the nearby East Coast Marina and I photographed some of the yachts sailing around and in or out of the marina, from the end of a pier.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Also, a couple of dragon boats.  Going out…

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…then coming back in.

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Small yacht returning to the marina.

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Two launches and a yacht coming out.

The red sign at the left is not blank on purpose for the benefit of people who cannot read, rather it is a marker for the dredged channel.  The water can be otherwise quite shallow around here.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A launch and a windsurfer exploring the possibility of flight.

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I think the same windsurfer.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A small flotilla of launches coming in on the channel. 

You can see the channel marker in the mid background (in itself an indication the water is not as deep as it may seem).

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

There was a parasurfer there as well.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We are now around behind the marina and a paddle-boarder is proceeding out.  He may not require as large a mooring as those catamarans.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

The boat at front in the middle is an old pearling lugger with a Maori name, which may indicate it was used by Maori divers.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We are now a bit further south at Cleveland Point.  There are a number of cormorants on this tree.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

With a slightly different angle, I am now shooting into the sun.  It is still a colour image but the extreme contrast has wiped out the colour.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

This is the old Cleveland Point Lighthouse, no longer in use.  It has an unusual design and was built in 1865.  It is a State lighthouse for local navigation so was not amongst the Commonwealth lighthouses I photographed in 1987 (Lighthouses tab, at top of page).

Half an hour after I took this photo, Brisbane went into a sudden COVID lockdown for at least seven days.  We worked that out later when we drove past a pub that had no patrons.  No flight for us to North Queensland early morning the day after next.

Fortunately, we were able to stay with our friends for the duration.  The lockdown did end after seven days but then there was a North Queensland lockdown for another three days.  That also ended after the three days and I would have waited and kept on going but I received a letter from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government advising against further travel.  The problem was New South Wales where COVID was out of control by Australian standards because the NSW Government waited for 10 days before locking down.  Had I kept going I risked an ACT lockdown and either having difficulty returning or returning to 14-day hotel quarantine (as opposed to the much more benign home quarantine).

 

So after five days, I abandoned the North Queensland trip and returned to Canberra.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Meanwhile, we stopped for the sunset at a beach a bit further south near Victoria Point.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

… as the light slowly receded.

MacLeay Island in the background and South Stradbroke Island beyond that.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

An obliging pelican swam up and posed for me.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

The light was getting very low and although I was using a lens with good image stabilisation, that does not compensate for subject movement and I underestimated what shutter speed I needed so the pelican in this image is not actually in focus.  (I decided to show it anyway because of the feel and the colour).

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A last image in the gathering doom….

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Then when we got back home, I went to change lenses on my cameras for more compact storage and discovered I was missing a lens – actually the new lens from my recent post on Setting Up the X-E4.  It had fallen out of my bag.

Clearly it wouldn’t be there the next morning so notwithstanding the lockdown, I went back to try to find it.  I thought it had probably fallen out of the bag when I bent down to take a photo using a small post as support. 

When we got back to where we had been, I immediately saw it on the road where the car had been parked.  It had fallen out when I got the bag out of the car, about eighteen inches to two feet.  Fortunately I hadn’t run over it.  It was unmarked, had no apparent ill effects and still worked fine including autofocus.  (Phew!)

Mount Tamborine

Brisbane, Queensland, 30 July 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Just before dawn, we headed off on our flight from Canberra to Brisbane, the first step of our journey to North Queensland.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

… though as it turned out, we would not get to North Queensland, rather turned back due to COVID lockdowns.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We met up with our friends Jim and Milena, and later headed for Mount Tamborine.  This is a view looking inland over the plains.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

… and over farmland.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The weather seems to have been changing considerably and is not quite how I remember it, though perhaps that is the infrared sensor and processing.

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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We stopped at a cafe for lunch.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

And then we headed for the Mount Tamborine Skywalk, so the remaining images are from there.

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The bunga bunga pines are towering over the rest. 

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Eastern yellow robin (male).

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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These two images looking straight down at some distance.

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Live Music in Canberra in Times of COVID (Part 2)

December 2020 to February 2021, Canberra, ACT

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Continuing from the previous post….  Canberra has largely escaped COVID (so far at least).  It has never been mandatory to wear masks here and lockdown is a long tome ago.  There are few restrictions on live music now, though you have to be seated and not use a dance floor.  Other States have gone in and out of lockdown though, especially Victoria so interstate musicians were quite often unable to visit. This post is mainly of a couple of large events with many bands.  I have avoided including more than one image of each musician (over both posts) except where they appear as part of a band.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

On 20th December 2020, the Canberra Blues Society held its Christmas party, featuring Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides from Sydney.  It also included the monthly jam and there were six jamming bands.  This is Catherine Golden with Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides, who played both at the beginning and the end.

.Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Wayne Rigby (Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is Ross Buchanan, with Jamming Band 1.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Steve Hartnett (Jamming Band 1).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

John van Buuren (Jamming Band 2).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Dave Jensen (Jamming Band 3).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Leo Joseph (Jamming Band 3).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Jeffro Martin (Jamming Band 4).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Mimo (Jamming Band 4).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Berno (Jamming Band 4).

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Johnny Huckle (Jamming Band 5).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Juanita Cucinotta (Jamming Band 5).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Calvin Welch (with Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides but playing here with Jamming Band 5).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides is back up again at the end.  This is Bonnie Kay.

Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Illya Szwec.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

The next big event was on 9th January, Bucky’s Birthday Bash.  This is Bucky (David Buckmaster) in an image from 2007.  The event has been held for many years and he played in last year’s event but he died of cancer last year, so the event continues in his honour.  There were six bands this year and P.J. O’Brien Band was supposed to be the climax but they were unable to attend due to a lockdown in New South Wales, so it was all local bands.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Johnny Reynolds (Johnny Reynolds Band).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Dave O’Neill (Rodeo Clowns).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Chris Van Der Wielen and Dene Burton (Urban Drover).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Mitch Preston (Chris Harland Blues Band).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Chris Harland.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Cam Hall (Sunbears, but playing here with Moondog).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Dylan Harding ()Sunbears).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Sunbears.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Wiesse Wade (Sunbears).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

On 19th January there was a celebration of  Mitch Preston’s Birthday at Smith’s Alternative (now a venue; originally a bookshop).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

30th January.  Fiona Boyes, who lived in Canberra for some years, came up from Victoria.  This is Ali Penney accompanying for a track or two on the piano.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Fiona Boyes.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

4th February.  Blues Roulette visited from Melbourne.  Organised by Ben Wicks, this is an array of eminent musicians that changes with each visit.  This is Jimi Hocking.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

James Southwell (Blues Roulette).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Davo Fester (on drums; Blues Roulette).

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Jimi Hocking, James Southwell and Ben Wicks.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

5 February.  Pachamama at Gang Gang Cafe, Downer.

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Live Music in Canberra in Times of COVID (Part 1)

February to November 2020, Canberra, ACT

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I covered Thredbo Blues Festival in January 2020 and took some photographs at Goulburn Blues Festival in February. Then COVID hit and we went into lockdown.

Usually I cover Blues Festivals but not so much local bands because my processing methods are very time-intensive and three hours photographing may lead to three to five days on the computer, processing.  During the last year I had more time on my hands and no festivals for me for 2021, so I covered more local bands.  There will be two posts, this one and the next.

Altogether, since lockdown started last March, I have photographed eighteen events, 36 groups (including solo performers) and 153 people, though seven groups and 48 people are duplicated in different performances.  All performances are in Canberra but some of the musicians are from Sydney or Melbourne.

My selection may be somewhat arbitrary and I’m not trying to cover everyone but I have avoided putting anyone in twice.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
This is the Sisters and Brothers Community Choir playing upstairs at Beyond Q on the 29th February, just before we went into lockdown. Beyond Q was a wonderful second hand bookshop and a great music venue. They had had to change addresses due to a lease issue and just got organised at the new location. Sadly, they closed down due to COVID 19. From left to right there is Juanita Cucinotta, Juliet Reeve, Chris Cavanagh, Michelle Mannion, Julie Manley (my partner), Simon Daly, Don Dennes and Mary Bryden.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

It is now 7 June. We have been in lockdown for three months. This is the first gig I saw a notification for and must have been close to the first after lockdown. We are outside a small group of shops at Belconnen markets and in the open air because lockdown is just being slowly relaxed. Some of the shops appear to have been abandoned including the one in the background. This is DJ Gosper and Jeff Prime.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
It’s now a month later, 5th July, and indoor gigs are now allowed, albeit with limitations on seating and distancing. We are at the Artists’ Shed in Fyshwick. It may look as though we are way out in the country but that is just a backdrop. Dan Fernandes is playing solo as support.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
A couple of hours later, this is Bernie Keenan playing drums for Johnnie Reynolds Band.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel

10th July and further liberalisation has allowed Shane Pacey to come down from Sydney and play solo at the Keller Bar in the Harmonie German Club. Shane usually plays with the Bondi Cigars or the Shane Pacey Trio.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel .

31st July and this is Frank Sultana (based in Kiama) playing in the Keller Bar at the Harmonie German Club. He has Grant DW Barnes (not shown) supporting him on harmonica on some tracks.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
8 August and this is Ana Key and the Underdogs playing at the Artists’ Shed in Fyshwick.  You can see the background in context here.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Ole Nielsen.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Ana Key.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

5th September and this is Milena Cifali launching her book Mallacoota Time at East Hotel, Kingston.  The event included book recitals, poetry recitals and musical performances.  While Milena and Jim were away in Queensland they were burnt out of their Mallacoota house in the huge fires of January 2020 and lost all their possessions and most of their birds.  Here, I am also in the photo, using a cable release to trigger the camera and fisheye lens.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

This is at a second book launch the next day at the Artists’ Shed in Fyshwick.  This is Peter Swain.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Jim Horvath, Milena’s husband.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

2nd October and this is 19 Twenty at the Abbey.  John Gwilliam is on double bass.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Syd Green.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Kane Dennelly.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

19 Twenty.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
9th October and this is Paul Callan with Johnny Reynolds Band at the Austrian Club.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Johnny Reynolds Band.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
15th October at the Basement, Belconnen.  Chris Harland Blues Band (setting up).  Restrictions were in place including that you need to stick to your seat, not visit other tables and no dancing on the dance floor.  Most of those restrictions are still in place but now you can mingle.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Paul Leeder.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Rick Milliband.

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Moondog was up next, playing solo.

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Owen Campbell was the final act for the night.

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It was a three-piece band, including Matt Nightingale on bass.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
27th November, this is Llara Weaver, part of Stella’s Way, at the Basement Belconnen.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Stella’s Way.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Next up was Ana Key and the Underdogs,  This is Stephen Deakin.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Keith Joliffe.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel

Last band for the night was Carnival Road.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Not set up, this was just at the side of the stage.

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Australia, Blues, Canberra, Live Music, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

3rd December. Julian James, Keller Bar, Harmonie German Club.

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Keeping quiet in Canberra

February 2020 to January 2021, Canberra, ACT

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My last local post in January 2020 was Australia Burning, which included images taken in Canberra on one of two days when bushfire smoke meant Canberra had the worst air quality of any city in the world.  Then COVID struck.

There was lockdown in Canberra for a month or two but there have been no local cases since last April, just a handful of incoming people in quarantine hotels.  There are currently no locally-sourced cases in Australia, just a few incoming travellers.  Though many criticisms can be made, State and Federal Governments did fairly well, supporting many people (though with glaring holes) and following medical advice.  State Governments have been prepared to engage lockdowns where necessary and from time to time closing off State borders and isolating localities.  People arriving from overseas have to stay for a fortnight in a quarantine hotel.

Unfortunately, while the Federal Government has been prepared to follow medical advice, it shows no signs of being willing to follow scientific advice on climate change.  Huge areas burned in January and a significant majority of the population want effective action on climate change. If nothing continues to be done, temperatures will continue to rise, fires will become larger and more prevalent, the ecology and wildlife of the country will be devastated and the capacity for agricultural production will greatly decline.

In the meantime though, I have made no overseas trips since 2019 due to COVID and have been keeping fairly quiet.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Buoys in a small canal at Kingston Foreshore.

In March I joined a Fuji event that allowed you to use various new cameras and lenses. I tried some of these but this image and the next were taken with my X-T2 and 100-400mm lens.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Reflections in the same canal.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Roots of a bonsai tree at the National Arboretum.

In June I visited the Bonsai Garden at the Arboretum and took this photo with my Fuji 80mm macro lens.  It is focus-stacked, which means I have taken many images at different points of focus and later combined them with software.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Succulent in the front garden.

In August I had purchased a Fuji 8-16mm zoom and took some test shots in the front garden, this one and the next one.  The succulents are quite small so it’s almost macro because the lens can focus quite close.  These are also focus-stacked but because I was using a very wide angle lens, that required only a few exposures.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Small flowers in the front garden.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Grevillea Macleayana.

I also visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens from time to time, this image and the next four.  The first three were taken in September and the last two in October.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Telopea Speciosissima.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Banksia Spinulosa.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Pimilea Physodes and panorama near the Visitor’s Centrte.

I took this with a circular fisheye lens and it is also focus-stacked, with just two exposures.  The depth of field is amazing, but not quite enough to go from the stamens of the flower (0.1 metres) to infinity in one exposure.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Grevillea Macleayana.

Another focus-stacked exposure with the Fuji 80mm macro lens.  This one took 70 exposures and I had to wait for it to be still and retake it several times when a breeze came up during the exposure.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Archie Webb in the Top 12 Challenge.

I have also gone back to table tennis, both socially and competition and this is an image I took in October at the Top 12 Challenge, with the top 12 Canberra players competing for prizes.  Archie is the leading competition player but he did not win this challenge.  Here he is gearing up for a forehand loop.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

ACT Table Tennis Open.

I also took photographs at the ACT Open in November.  Table Tennis is remarkable in that players of very different ages can compete equally.  The far player is Faisal Pirwani and he is returning the ball with his backhand,  He is one of Canberra’s leading players; I do not know the name of the youngster but from his shirt he probably comes from Melbourne.  Some young players can be very good.  We had a couple of players as old as 93 in the Social Seniors Group prior to COVID though they have not returned since.

(The two table tennis shots were taken with a Nikon D850 and 85mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4 lenses respectively).

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Malua Bay rock pool.

In early January we went for a trip “down the coast” (which means to the south coast of New South Wales, near Canberra).  This image and the next two were taken on that trip.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma.

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At Glasshouse Rocks looking through to Montague Island Lighthouse.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Kangaroos at an Ainslie pond.

I live backing on to a reserve and a week or so later, we had a long walk to a couple of ponds in that reserve.

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Architecture, Australia, Canberra, Focus stacking, Kangaroos, Landscape, Macro, Nature, New South Wales, Photography, seascape, Table Tennis, Travel, Wildlife

Pond reflections.

Since I am mentioning equipment in this post, the Malua Bay rock pool was taken with the Fuji 80mm macro and the last four with the Fuji 100-400mm.

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Thredbo Blues Festival 2020

Thredbo Blues Festival 2020 took place over three days and nights on a weekend at the end of January. Here is a selection of images, and links at the bottom to more….

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(Next I will resume with the Cuba & the Caribbean trip, with still a post or two to go on Santo Domingo.)

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Psycho Zydeco.

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Michelle Van Der Meer’s Midnight Ramblers.

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Tony Boyd (Michelle Van Der Meer’s Midnight Ramblers).\

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Shane Pacey (Shane Pacey Trio).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Paul Blasi (Shane Pacey Trio).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

George Washingmachine (Blue Rinse).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Ron King (Foreday Riders).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Jeff King (Foreday Riders).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Grace Hickey (Grace and Hugh).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Greg Ohlback (Liza Ohlback Trio).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Lloyd Gyi and C J Raggatt (CJ Raggatt).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

19 Twenty.

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Syd Green (19 Twenty).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Kane Dennelly (19 Twenty).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

19 Twenty.

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Ray Beadle (Ray Beadle Band).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Jack Purdon (Ray Beadle Band).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Mike Raper (Ray Beadle Band).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel
Corey Legge (Swamp Stompers).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Steve Edmonds (Steve Edmonds Band).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Sam Boyd (Dancing in the Shadows of Motown Review).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Greg Carger and Jason Bruer (Dancing in the Shadows of Motown Review).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Evelyn Duprai (and Franchesca Appolis) (Dancing in the Shadows of Motown Review).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Franchesca Appolis and Kimi Tupaea (Dancing in the Shadows of Motown Review).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Paula Baxter (Aretha Franklin Tribute).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Aretha Franklin Tribute.

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

8 Ball Aitken.

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Dillion James (8 Ball Aitken).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Nik Downing (8 Ball Aitken).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Dillion James and 8 Ball Aitken (8 Ball Aitken).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Darren Jack (Tyrone Vaughan with Darren Jack Band).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Rick Melick (Tyrone Vaughan with Darren Jack Band).

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Australia, Blues, Blues Festivals, Live Music, Photography, Thredbo, Thredbo Blues Festival, Travel

Tyrone Vaughan with Darren Jack Band.

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A few technical notes for those who may be interested.  I was using some new equipment, a Nikon D850 (70% of shots) and a Sigma 135mm f1.8 (40% of images).  This combination allowed me to replace a 180mm f2.8 and a 105mm f2 with improved resolution and bokeh and greater capacity to crop.  I also have a Fuji system which is more portable but the Nikon system has advantages for resolution, autofocus and low light sensitivity.  I also processed all the images under stage light in Capture One for the first time, for greater control of colour and greater ease with masking and layers.

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There are many more images. On the Thredbo Blues Festival Page you will find links to images from the 2020 Festival, as well as thirteen previous festivals . Links for 2020 include top 100 images, top 30 images, selected monochromes and the 23 performers or bands. Others not mentioned above include Phil & Trudy Edgeley, Charlie Bedford Trio, Claude Hay, Harry Ashton Band, Jordan Thomas Band, Mike Elrington and Richard Perso.

Alternatively, there is also a direct overall link to all Thredbo 2020 images in JAlbum (with overview images and images by band organised by folder). There are 367 images in all (excluding monochrome conversions).

For other images of a particular band I may have taken since 2006, see the Musicians and Bands Page.

Montague Island Monochromes

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there may also be more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies. (Click on any image to see it larger).

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Pelican in Narooma Harbour.

Montague Island Day One..

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Humpback whale disappearing.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Humpback whales, mother and calf.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Seals off a headland.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

A seal launching into the sea.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

At the lighthouse cottages when the storm hits.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crested terns courting.

Montague Island Day Two.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Silver gull.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Silver gull chicks.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

View from the lighthouse looking south, showing the stones sacred to the Aborigines (the whale, the shark and the tortoise) and also the small lighthouse cemetery.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

View of lighthouse cottages from the lighthouse.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

The old wharf.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Sea eagle.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Tiny ground flowers.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Old banksia setrrata cone.

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Little penguins coming ashore.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Great cormorants on rock.

Montague Island Day Three (Morning).

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Seal interactions.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Shell on rock.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Sooty oystercatchers.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Created tern coming in to land.

Montague Island Day Three (Afternoon).

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Silver gull and nesting material.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crested tern with fish.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Silver gull coming in to land.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crested tern and chick.

Montague Island Day Four.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Contention.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Competing for space.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Welcome swallows.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

The lighthouse receding.

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Australia, Crested Terns, Landscape, Lighthouses, Macro, Montague Island, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, Whales, Wilderness, Wildlife

Pelican confused by sign.

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I’m due to go down to Thredbo for the Thredbo Blues Festival next weekend but because of bushfires in the area I won’t know whether the festival is on until later today or tomorrow.  There may or may not be a post on that in a few weeks.  Next week though, I expect to resume the account of my travels to Cuba and the Caribbean at Santo Domingo in the Dominican republic.

Australia Burning

12 September 2019 to 5 January 2020, Canberra, ACT

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The first part of this post is images taken out the back of where I live in Canberra. The second part is images taken this morning in a very smoky Canberra.  (If you are on a computer, click any image to see it larger).

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

We live backing on to a reserve and often take a half hour walk out the back in the mornings.  On our walk four months ago in early spring, this is an acacia baileyana coming out in flower,

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Kangaroo and joey.  You can see there is very little grass for them to eat.  We have had a very long drought.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Kangaroo and joey in late afternoon light.  Both kangaroo images are in early spring.

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Crimson rosella at a nesting hole.  This and the next three images are in late spring.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Cunningham’s skink in their fallen-tree home.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Callistemon phoenicius in the back yard.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Shingleback in the back yard.  An ancient-looking lizard.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Echidna in the back yard on New Year’s Eve.  They are one of only two monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, the other being the platypus.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

If you are living outside Australia, your have probably heard of the massive fires here at present.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

On New Year’s Day, Canberra had the worst air quality of any city in the world, worse than Delhi and Beijing, due to bushfire smoke drifting in from the south coast of New South Wales.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

This followed a peak fire day.  We had another one yesterday and the smoke was as bad today, so I got up early to take some photographs.  This is the Australian War Memorial.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Carillon, on Aspen Island, Lake Burley Griffin, and ducks.

Yesterday, the day before I took these i9mages, we had record temperatures in Canberra at 44ºC or 111ºF.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

The fires are unprecedented.  Simple equation really.  Take unprecedented drought, add unprecedented heat, and you get unprecedented fires.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Small island in Lake Burley Griffin near the Carillon.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

 

There are hundreds of fires currently in Australia, many out of control.  The number doesn’t mean much because they combine to form larger and more dangerous fires.  The fires have burned 105,000 square kilometres so far (40,000 square miles), about the size of South Korea or Iceland (updated 7 Jan) and they will continue for weeks or months, flaring up sporadically to peak intensity.  In recent days there has been an unprecedented evacuation of thousands of people from the south coast of New South Wales and north east Victoria.  This continues as different towns and hamlets come under threat.  In a week or two the fires might reach Canberra. So far dozens of people have died and thousands of buildings have been burnt, including well over one thousand homes.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Reconciliation Place and National Library.

The toll on wildlife has also been alarming.  I recall an estimate of 500,000 animals dead and koalas are in danger of extinction.  Fires have also razed through rainforests, normally too wet to be affected and not equi8pped to recover.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

Old Parliament House.

Although there are weather patterns and variations that have always affected Australia, these fires are unprecedented and a major cause is the Climate Crisis, primarily caused by human activity..

Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

 

Old Parliament House and a flock of straw-necked ibis.  The white ibis has adapted to urban life and is colloqually known as “bin chickens” but the straw necked ibis is not as urbanised.

The situation with these bushfires is not a one-off event, however drawn out, and it is not relevant only to Australia though different places may see change in different ways.  The extent of global warming that is already with us is causing an uncomfortable new “normal” and long lags mean even the most concerted action will be slow to arrest this.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

New Parliament House.

Of course there is much we can do and the first step is to reduce our dependence as much as possible on petroleum and coal.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

In front of the Parliament House, I encountered a group of Climate Refugees from the South Coast Fires, there for an impromptu cricket match.

The worst approach to the Climate Crisis is to pretend it isn’t happening, in defiance of all the scientific evidence, and do nothing.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what the Government of Australia has been doing.

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Australia, Birds, Canberra, Crimson Rosella, Cunningham's Skink, Echidna, Fires, Kangaroos, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Shingleback, Smoke, Travel, Wildlife

And the cricket match is under way.

The Liberal-National coalition government is sometimes known as the COALition and it is in the grip of a climate-denying fringe.  Prime Minister Morrison notoriously brandished a lump of coal with glee in Parliament and won the last election with an astonishing lack of policies including no policy at all on energy.

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It’s a heavily grassed pitch.

Not long before the fires hit, Morrison refused to meet forty-two former Bushfire Chiefs who wanted to talk to him about the Climate Crisis and preparations for the oncoming fire season.  He had also greatly reduced bushfire budgets and requests for better water-dropping planes had sat with the Government for several years.

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Some balls are there to be hit.

In Mallacouta last weekend, four or five thousand people sat on the beach while the fires invaded the town.  The sky was black after 9am, then red, then orange.  Falling ash made breathing difficult and the temperature reached 49°C.  Just as people were about to get into the water, the wind changed and the town was saved, at least for a few more days.

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Others are very tempting.

In this fire crisis, Morrison has displayed startling insensitivity and alienated a significant part of the population, some of whom might have voted for him.  He went on holiday in Hawaii as the main crisis broke out and didn’t significantly change his return date.  The he tried to pretend it was just a normal situation in order to avoid any mention of the Climate Crisis.  He was heckled by locals when he turned up unannounced in the burnt out town of Cobargo.  While he was there he grabbed the hand of a young woman to shake it, quite uninvited.  She was pregnant, had just lost her house and asked him for help.  He turned his back on her and walked away.  He later denied doing this but it was recorded on video.  There are other stories.

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And some just get away from you.

The scale of the fires and their ongoing nature is forcing Morrison to act but he is most unlikely to address underlying problems.  For that we can only hope for a different and better government and for that we are likely to have to wait another two years.

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This is back at the Old Parliament House.  The Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been there since 1973 and it is off to the left.  This is a display they have set up to proclaim Aboriginal sovereignty over land.

One common refrain is that there should be more preventative burning in the appropriate season, as the Aborigines used to do.  While there is some truth in this, it is not as easy as it sounds.  For one thing, the cool damp winter window for this is much reduced on what it was and last year the fire season started in winter.  For another, the ecology is not what it was.  In many places, Aborigines farmed the land and lived in houses and even towns.  This was recorded by the first settlers but quickly wiped out and then hidden lest it be a basis for claims on land.  Sheep and cattle grazed the perennial native grasslands to the roots, then trampled and compacted the thin soil.  Fire managed grasslands became scrub so it’s all very different now.

We also have other problems in our modern world of supposedly perpetual growth and prosperity, even apart from the Climate Crisis.  Sustainable development is a wider problem.  You may have heard of the “insect armeggedon” whereby 80% of insects have died in the last forty years, thereby threatening the viability of flowering plants and other species.  This may be partly due to Climate Change but likely more due to unnecessary agricultural poisons.  There is also the perplexing problems of micro-plastics, invading the food chain and our lungs with unknown effects.  And then there is the problem that there are simply too many humans and they are increasing too rapidly.

There are solutions for all these problems but they will require wisdom, coordination and determination.  Things are certain to get worse before they can get better.

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I can suggest a couple of books you may be interested in reading.

One is “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe which outlines the extent of Aboriginal civilisation (yes!) prior to European arrival.

The other is “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells which outlines the problems we face in the Climate Crisis and what we might do to ameliorate them.

Montague Island Day Four

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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This was the last morning and the boat was due to leave around midday.  The previous afternoon I had photographed crested terns flying in to the colony.  I decided to spend some of my remaining time photographing their interactions on the ground.

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There were many eggs but only a few hatched chicks.  Parents kept them close to protect them not merely from silver gulls but also from other terns.

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On the edge of the colony there is danger from silver terns so this mother tried to move with her chick into the colony.

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The terns pack in much closer than silver gulls but they still defend territory so contention arises.

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Making a point…

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This is where she wants to be but there is a certain amount of opposition.

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… including some pinching of the tail….

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At least the chick is not being attacked which can happen.

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And the mother, though under siege, does her best to protect the chick.

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Nearby there was a silver gull hidden under a bush on an egg in the middle of the tern colony.  It must have been there before the terns arrived.  I didn’t photograph it because the shadow was too deep to show it in context.  What was going to happen when it tried to leave was an interesting question.

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After a while, she pulled out of the area of contention back more to the edge of the colony.

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Her mate is with her here.

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She is now protecting the chick from silver gulls as well as other terns.

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Nearby, a pair of welcome swallows had made their nest in walls of one of the cottage’s toilets, entering the wall through the ventilation holes.

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Just outside the colony, a bit of mating display was going on.

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Two’s company….

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A last view of the terns.

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Now we’re on the boat and the lighthouse and cottages are receding away.

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The wharf is down below the lighthouse.

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Back in Narooma harbour, this pelican seemed confused by the direction instructions of the sign.

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