Destination – Low tide in front of the lighthouse, St Kilda Beach
Last Saturday, the weather was really glorious.
(Warning: this is a long post. If you don’t like seagulls, feel free to ‘give it a miss’).
Low-ish temperatures at 22 degrees centigrade (around 70+ F for those living overseas) and stunning clear blue sky. The wind was gusty and so cool, I was going down to the lighthouse area – no matter what. I timed the excursion to arrive at about 20 mins before low tide right in front of the lighthouse (located near the entrance to the boat marina).
For those who don’t know, I look at the weather forecast, wind speed and tidal information first thing when I get up every single morning. Then depending on my mood and energy levels, this dictates where I go for an afternoon walk to take photos (if I don’t have some other task in mind for the day). I used to go out 4 afternoons a week 2 years ago, but my health symptoms have got a wee bit worse in recent months, and with Melbourne’s extreme heat, it’s usually only 2 afternoons a week that I go out walking specifically to take photos (if that). I always carry my DSLR into the city centre though – you never know what might make a good photo subject along the narrow lane ways linking the main shopping streets.
Gusty winds make most flower photography in the Botanic Gardens impossible. Warm weather usually points me in the direction of Melbourne Zoo, as the beautiful temperate rainforest landscaping is lovely & cool to walk around, (even if the animals aren’t obliging and pose for me).
And while I’m not a beach person and can’t swim, I love walking out to the end of the pier to sit on the benches watching the seagulls soaring high into the sky, the occasional fisherman sitting on the pier, or going to the beach at low tide to photograph seagulls.
There is the occasional Hoary Grebe, Pacific Black Duck or Pied Cormorant, but it’s the Seagulls that I love to watch (& try to photograph).
Best time & place is a low tide in front of the Lighthouse (or Low tide at Port Melbourne near Station Pier which leaves a ‘paddling’ pool for the seagulls to party and practice their little dancing steps).
Perhaps you’ve got to be a bit of a ‘birder type’, but ever since I observed seagulls running on the spot to stir up the sand in the shallow water for food, I can’t get enough photos of this curious and rather fascinating habit. The only way I can describe these rather dainty little running steps is the ‘aw, how cute’ feeling you get seeing baby animals cuddling up to their mothers.
Over the weekend I decided to walk out on the wet seaweed bed and see if I could get a bit closer to the lighthouse, so ventured further than usual.
I love the way the seagulls suddenly look me straight in the eye trying to anticipate my moves and whether to continue ‘dancing on the spot’ or take flight and find another shallow patch of water. If you’re lucky enough to live near the coast, this observation makes for a most relaxing and entertaining hour or two. I’m not within public transport distance from interesting coastal scenes – just a few ordinary beaches, a few piers and the occasional rocks, but somehow I always find something to photograph.
I think I was a bit too over-enthusiastic on Saturday though. My curiosity to see what was in a few little pools meant walking on wet seaweed that hid an inch or two of water. First time I’ve ever got my feet wet and apart from the incredibly slippery strands of weed which threatened a fall & potentially wet camera gear & bag, water seeped into my shoes. I had to retreat to firmer looking sand. On the left hand side of the photo below, you can see how slippery that seaweed actually was.
I didn’t care about wet shoes or socks, but I did care about my beloved DSLR, bag & the two lenses I had with me at the time. Saturday was the first time I had seen the varying colours of the wet plants close up too. I even saw a crescent-shaped jellyfish. Haven’t seen these type of jellyfish for many, many years.
I’m usually so busy looking for seagulls to photograph, I don’t notice the jellyfish. The seagull below alerted me to the fact that the tide had turned and was starting to come in threatening to cut off my retreat (to the safety of higher beach), so I carefully stepped through the shallow water & rippled sand to head across the road to catch a tram (& bus) home.
By the way, the photo above is the closest I’ve ever got to capturing a number of birds flying in the air.
Actually, the wind had really started to get too blustery for me to stand still enough for hand-held shots anyway, so despite the early hour, it REALLY was time to leave the beach before I got wind burnt (as well as the usual sunburn).
The top of my right hand is starting to look like a wrinkled up prune after so many sunburns holding the DSLR up to my eye this summer (already).
I must have turned the polarising lens around accidentally, as I notice the sky is varying shades of blue.