I’ve had a break from blogging and have missed you folk out there!
We’ve spent the last few years working on our property, which is set in the beautiful lower Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Fixing the place up and getting the grounds in order has been a huge task, but it has been a very enjoyable few years. Now the heavy lifting is over it’s time to relax a little and get back into the blogosphere.
I thought I’d ease back into it by introducing you to a few of the people who live with us here in the hills. Not human people, the other kind – the kind who put up with us sharing their space on the planet.
In my early years I was an avid 35mm film stills photographer, covering weddings and other social occasions, but over the years I gradually got into other things and drifted away from the art. I’ve recently rediscovered the passion, and after years of smartphonetography I’m like a kid with a new toy, out almost every day terrorising the natives with a cacophony of Nikon D750 shutter clicks.
There are many creatures who call this place home, and we love having them trust us enough to stick around. This also means they have become my photographic subjects and have to put up with being papped.
Let me introduce you…
I was outside digging holes when I discovered a clutch of eleven lizard eggs that had been recently laid in some soft soil. They were in an exposed location, and because we let our chickens free range (and because they dig everything up) we decided to relocate the eggs to a large container of loose earth which was then put in a safe place.
We checked every day, and after about six weeks all eleven eggs hatched. They turned out to be Eastern Water Dragons (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii), and were set free in one of the many ponds we built. They seem quite comfortable in their new surrounds, and let us approach when they’re sunning themselves.
This is one of those juvenile Eastern Water Dragons (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii) photographed using my girlfriend’s Canon Powershot S3
Canon PowerShot S3 IS ISO 111 @72mm, 1/400, f/3.5
We have lots of native flowering bushes and trees on the property, and we get plenty of bees zipping about the place. This worker is collecting pollen from an Agapanthus flower.Nikon D750 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @120mm, ISO 100, 1/80, f4.5
This is a young male Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii) trying to look tough as he watches me with a steely glare. Nikon D750 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @120mm ISO 3200 1/200 f/7.1
This one of the many bird species we see. It’s a Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa). The iridescent wing feathers are beautiful.Nikon D750 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @120mm, ISO 800, 1/320, f/4
Here’s another Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) cruising on our creek after the rain.Nikon D750 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @ 120mm, ISO 800, 1/320, f/4
A heavily laden worker bee coming in for more pollen. From the look of the load she’s carrying it’s been a busy day.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 400mm, ISO 220, 1/500, f/5.6
This is a male King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis). The males have incredible plumage and are the only Australian parrots with a completely red head.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 120mm, ISO 1100, 1/200, f/4.5
A very distinguished male Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) surveying his realm.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 450mm, ISO 2200, 1/1250, f/5.6
This is Fred, our resident male Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii). He often walks up from his pond to have a feed of banana. Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 1400, 1/1000, f/5.6
I snapped this male Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) just before he took off to chase away a Kookaburra. He has some young nearby, and doesn’t trust Kookaburras who are known for raiding nests to find dinner.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @500mm ISO 900, 1/1000, f/5.6
A close-up of big-boy Fred (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii)Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/5.6
Here’s a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) basking in the late afternoon sunlight.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 500, 1/1600, f/5.6
A cheeky Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) giving me “the look”. It says “don’t mess with me”. These little buggers have a very sharp bite when annoyed.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @500mm, ISO 1600, 1/640, f/5.6
Just hangin’ around. This Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) shows off after landing. The fencing wire is a playground for these guys, and they often swing about on it.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 500, 1/100, f/11
A male King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) gets a hand-out. They’re very social beasties, especially when there’s top quality food to be had, but we limit the hand-feeding as we don’t want them to become dependant on humans.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @500mm, ISO 140, 1/100, f/11
A cranky Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) stares daggers at the other residents. He’s territorial at the moment and attacks his reflection in our front door and back windows every day. The dining room window is covered in Kookaburra slobber where he bashes his beak against the glass, so we added some reflective tape to try and deter him. It didn’t work this morning, as there was another mighty bang when he again tried to kill his own reflection.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 480mm, ISO 1600, 1/200, f/5.6
Another male Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) sitting quietly in a Casuarina sapling in the back yard.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @500mm, ISO 1600, 1/250, f/5.6
This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) picked up a discarded orange and played with it for a while before tasting it. The other guys seem to be waiting for the verdict…Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 1000, 1/250, f/5.6
…I think he’s asking for a second opinion.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/250, f/5.6
This is a female Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla albiceps) and is the first we’ve seen here in the valley. They form permanent pair bonds but will find a new mate if one partner dies. Galahs can also interbreed with the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (but that would be a weird colour combination – where would the yellow bits go?)Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 3200, 1/800, f/5.6
This Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) is screeching loudly and carrying on like an idiot, trying to stop the other parrots from eating some leftover seed he’s found. It worked, and he was loud enough to ward off everyone else, including the large cockatoos. Although small, they have amazing bravado, and often hop right up to the much larger Sulphur-crested Cockatoos to head-butt them in the chest.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/800, f/5.6
Here’s the female Australian Redback Spider (Latrodectus hasseltii). These guys are related to the American Black Widow spider and are considered dangerous.
Nikon D750 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR @ 24mm, ISO 200, 1/160, f/4
Another deadly local, the Funnel Web Spider (Atrax Robustus). There are three identified species and although we live in the Blue Mountains this male looks like it belongs to the Sydney species. After we moved into our property and started cleaning up the grounds we disturbed 19 of these buggers, and although they’re big spiders, small birds often took them.This photograph was taken with an iPhone.
We found this lovely young fellow basking in our rock garden near one of the frog ponds. This is the Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus). They are a venomous species that feed on many things, including fish, tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes (including its own species) and mammals. They’re not aggressive but they should be left alone.Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/5.6
So, there you are, a few shots of our local mates.
I hope you enjoyed seeing them as much as I enjoyed photographing them.
Oh, and to sign off, here’s a photograph of our Xmas tree, all decorated and ready.
Nikon D750 + AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR @ 200mm, ISO 640, 1/50, f/8
See you later!