2021

2021 is underway after what was, for us, a whirlwind Christmas that came and went extremely quickly. Between the Port Fairy trip and now, I had four days off around Christmas and otherwise just odd days here and there. I have made the most of many of those days, sailing or fishing with the boys and going for walks with Carolin, but work has certainly built up and been quite pressured.

I’m quite good these days at using my time-off as well as possible. Over the last couple of weekends on-call, I’ve used the down time in between duties to get out with the camera and pleasingly, the local air ambulance has obliged by flying on these occasions. The first two images are from a fortnight or so ago, as the helicopter returned from the city. I am quite pleased with them. Click through to see more info on Flickr, such as camera settings etc.

Transitioning into the hover
Final approach

In general, it is rare to see something particularly interesting at Traralgon airfield I’m afraid. Unlike Tyabb, where all sorts of curiosities will fly in and out on occasion. A nice silver twin did pop in once last year, it looked like some sort of Beechcraft immediate post-war machine. There are some good looking helicopters here at the DWELP base, ready for fires that thankfully have not occurred yet, but I can’t get photos of them as they are behind fences. The aircraft below did amuse me though. It’s anti-theft system probably can’t be beaten.

Railway Plans

It transpires that the heritage railway tracks I mentioned in a previous post (https://inmyshed.blog/2020/10/21/along-the-tracks/) is an area of great significance in terms of remnant native vegetation on the Moorooduc plain. I commented on the native vegetation in that post.

The local Shire, Mornington Peninsula, have released plans to create a bike path along this route, next to the railway, connecting the Peninsula link bike path to the town of Mornington.

This has left me somewhat conflicted, because whilst I am a great supporter of the idea of bike paths like this, the trackside walk is quite idyllic in its current state and there will inevitably be an effect on the biodiversity of this slither of bushland.

I hope that a way forward can be found that balances the development, with its benefits, and the vegetation. My idea for that would be unpopular with many, and involve replacing the railway track with the path, but I do recognise the importance of the railway for many people.

I recently watched this excellent video about the trackside vegetation, on Vimeo.

Trackside Preservation from Educational Television on Vimeo.

Port Fairy

Last week, Carolin and I had a few days away in Port Fairy. We had not visited since 2001 and on that occasion, I am pretty certain we just passed through briefly on our way towards South Australia. The town is quite beautiful, with some wonderful historic buildings and some very tastefully constructed modern ones. The town was still in the pre-Christmas quiet phase, exacerbated by the lack of international tourists no doubt. The weather was unusually mediocre, with strong winds for the whole trip and heavy rain for the first couple of days, but it was just nice to be away somewhere after the lockdowns and so-on that have been a feature of this year.

Port Fairy Lighthouse
Lighthouse, Griffiths Island, Port Fairy

Leadership and High Performance

To be honest, I have not really taken a photo this week that I fancy sharing. It’s been a busy week or so at work, with lots of developments. I am continuing to try and plan for 2021 and explore a few opportunities.

Along the way, I have been listening to some excellent podcast material with well constructed interviews. An excellent series is Grant Chisnell’s Crisis Talks. (https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/crisis-talks/id1469194730)

Mr Chisnell interviews Australian leaders, such as Fire Service Commissioners, Ambulance Senior Officers and ex-Military officers about how they and their organisations prepare for crises. His questioning shows a deep understanding of the subject at hand and elicits fantastic answers from his guests. I particularly enjoyed this interview with Mr Justin Dunlop, Ambulance Victoria’s Director of Emergency Management. As an AV employee, their COVID response has deeply impressed me and has been first-class. It was fascinating to hear and understand a bit more about how it came about:

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/crisis-talks/id1469194730?i=1000479251696

Historic Aeroplanes

Last weekend, I took Joshua to the local airfield for his ultralight flying lesson. I took the new zoom lens to try some aviation photography. I was very fortunate that instead of the usual hum-drum Cessnas and Pipers of General Avation, the Old Aeroplane Company were flying two T6 Texans. One was in RAAF livery, the other in US Navy and both looked and sounded magnificent. These aircraft were advanced trainers around the time of World War 2 and have a unique sound as they become airborne. Back in the UK, airshow commentators referred to the propellor tips going supersonic, which caused this particular audio signature.

T6 Texan
Texan in RAAF livery
T6 Texan - US Navy colours
Texan in US Navy livery

The next aircraft is an Interstate S-1 Cadet, which I had never heard of before. I mistook it, from a distance, for a Piper Supercub. I love the colours on this aeroplane. Some online research at home revealed that it was a contemporary of the Cub, with some refinements but a heftier weight and price tag, which meant it sold less well. This example looks very well cared for.

Interstate S-1 Cadet
Interstate S-1 Cadet on take-off
EC120 Helicopter

Just as we were about to leave, this red EC120 arrived, which was a bonus for a helicopter fan such as me. I don’t believe Tyabb has a vast amount of helicopter ops, so it was a pleasant surprise.

I look forward to my next trip. Tyabb is certainly an interesting airfield, in terms of the chance of seeing some unique machines.

More from the Zoom lens

Last Sunday afternoon, the weather was quite wonderful. Carolin and I met our friends, Dean and Lisa, and took a walk through the wildlife reserve at The Briars, Mount Martha. This was exactly the place I had hoped to use the zoom lens, so I took it with me to see what wildlife I could spot. Overall, despite the ‘slow’ nature of the lens, I was pretty pleased with the results. I look forward to future visits, and also trying the lens out at the local airfield, when Joshua goes flying.

A resident Emu
Two kangaroos. There was actually a third one, just offscreen to the left.
We saw a number of Echidnas

The Briars is a beautiful place to visit and this enclosure, devoid of imported predators such as cats and foxes, is spectacular. Free to visit, so pop in if you are on the Peninsula.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos

I ordered the Fujifilm XC 50 – 230 lens recently, during an online sale. I have not previously been particularly motivated to engage in long focal-length zoom photography, but the regular visits to our balcony by the wonderful local birds, and the chance to visit a nearby native animal reserve have given me new inspiration. The special offer sealed the deal.

The lens is an entry-level model, with a plastic mount, but otherwise feels well put together. I have been very busy with work-related things, so have not had an opportunity to try it out until today, when a couple of the regulars arrived looking for apple.

I am very pleased with the results so far. Although the lowest f-stop at maximum zoom is 6.7, I was still pretty happy with the sharpness and bokeh.

This image has had minimal editing and is essentially out of the camera. Fujifilm X-E3, 55 – 230 Zoom lens, f6.2 152mm 1/250 ISO200

Along the tracks….

The 5km lockdown restrictions over winter prevented us from visiting one of our favourite walks, along the railway in Mt Eliza. With the slightly eased restrictions, I dropped the boys at school and took the dogs for a walk along the stretch between Mt Eliza and Mornington. It was a lovely day to walk along, a few other people were out with their dogs and all of us enjoyed seeing various native flowers growing trackside. Sadly, there are more than enough weeds too and with the lockdown and the railway not operating, plus a very wet winter, the weeds are well and truly in the ascendancy.

Looking towards Bungower Road, Mornington.
Somebody environmentally minded has taken care to mow around the beautiful native flowers, which looked quite spectacular today.

Nature

I grew up in the suburbs of London. It was polluted and crowded. We had some lovely local parks, but as a child I did not really look for the nature around me and was largely ignorant of the natural world. Our holidays to the countryside were always wonderful, for the sense of space, but once again I rarely embraced the animal world apart from an obsession with dogs and a passing interest in horses and donkeys.

Since moving into adulthood, and particularly through Carolin’s influence initially and later Joshua’s passion for the animal world, I have come to learn much more about nature and embrace and enjoy it.

This morning’s dog walk was wonderful….

As always, being out with the dogs and watching them sniff and investigate is nice. As we crossed the park at the top, I enjoyed the small flowers growing out of the grass and watching little insects fly around them.

In the golf course, the lake was full with water. Really full. A Cormorant, I think, was gliding along with its body beneath the surface and diving from time to time.

As I got to the corner of the lake, some ducklings and their parents set off for a leisurely swim.

In the reserve, there were the usual various birds including some lovely Eastern Rosellas.

As I came back into Dorset Road, a flock of approximately 30 Ibis (I did try to count), came over quite low. I didn’t hear them, it was their shadow on the ground that I noticed and then looked up. I wondered if they were on their way to check out the lake.

As I checked our mailbox, on the driveway, a Blue Tongue scampered back into its burrow. We have four Blue Tongues around the garden.

It’s quite spectacular, Mount Martha.

Mia Cat

In the interests of fairness to all species, the cat warrants a short blog post. We re-homed Mia almost ten years ago. She was the only kitten from an abandoned litter to survive, having been lovingly raised by a veterinary nurse. If I recall correctly, she was less than two years old when we got her. In her kitten days, she was a playful and animated creature. She was not remotely phased by our dog, Micky, and used to roam our house, sunning herself on various ledges.

Mia is congenitally deaf and therefore does not leave the house. In our residential area, cats are also not permitted to leave the property due to the devastating effect they have on native animals of all descriptions. So, over the years she has had little supervised excursions into the garden, which she has not really enjoyed.

As she has got older, she has tended to confine herself to our bedroom, wardrobe and en-suite. This started in the last house and continued to this one. Any efforts to relocate her result in her either running back to the bedroom, or sitting by a door until she is allowed to run back to the bedroom.

We feel bad, as though life must be very boring for her, but it seems to be her choice. As with many cats, significant parts of her day are spent asleep. She goes through phases in terms of how interactive she wants to be with us, but lately she has taken to retiring for the night at the same time as me and parking herself right on top of me. Within seconds of me laying in bed, there’s a woosh as she jumps up to the bed, tramples all over me and then lays down on my chest. Nothing will dissuade her from this….. I’d rather she didn’t, but it doesn’t seem like I have a lot of choice…..

Mia. On my chest.