And I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For*

Bamborn by Paul Amyes on
I’d gone to Locke Nature Reserve near Busselton looking for common helmet and midge orchids, but they weren’t flowering. This Western Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria griseogularis) and its mate kept darting in and out of the bush as I walked along the track so I photographed them instead.

This nature photography lark is a lot harder than it looks. I follow a couple of YouTube channels from the UK that weekly show the host going out to some location to photograph and /or film a particular animal or plant. They always find it and always get   good images. My experience is a bit different to that. I find that you can go out with all the best intentions in the world,  but if nature isn’t playing ball then you don’t get anything. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve set out to look for the Cleopatra’s Needles Orchid (Thelymitra apiculata) driving 100’s of kilometres to find absolutely nothing. Take last weekend. We were down in the South West of Western Australia as my partner was again playing in a croquet tournament. So I’d researched what was about in terms of birds and orchids and set out to several locations with a specific list of what I wanted to photograph. The first stop was Malbup Creek Bird Hide where I wanted to see tawny frogmouths and white-bellied sea-eagles. Well I spent a nice morning at the hide without seeing them. I did get a nice shot of a shelduck and the local kangaroos were hamming it up for a photo.


Koorak by Paul Amyes on
Not the white-bellied sea-eagle I was looking for. Still he’s a very handsome Australian Shelduck.


Yongka by Paul Amyes on
No tawny frogmouths to be seen let alone be photographed. The Western Grey Kangaroos were keen to oblige.
The next stop was Locke Nature Reserve looking for common helmet and midge orchids. Well after a couple of hours of scrabbling around in the undergrowth fighting off the unwanted attentions of the local mosquitoes I’d found lots of them, but none in flower. There were some Splendid Fairywrens in the nearby bushes but they really didn’t want their picture taken and kept dancing out of the way every time I got close. On the walk back to the car a couple of Western Yellow Robins flew slightly ahead of me. They would stop and perch periodically and I was lucky enough to grab a few frames.
My last spot was Westbay in Augusta looking for scented autumn leek orchids. Now I’d seen them before at this location and knew where to go. They weren’t there. Not a one was to be seen. But I did find some autumn leek orchids – close enough so I photographed them. Funnily enough the autumn leek orchid has a much more pleasant scent than the scented variety which has decidedly unpleasant pong.
Autumn Leek Orchid by Paul Amyes on
Autumn Leek Orchid, Prasophyllum parvifolium. Westbay, Augusta, Western Australia
So there you have it another rewarding trip. I may not have found what I was looking for but I found other things and really enjoyed my time in the bush and that is what it is all about.
* This weeks musical reference is of course U2’s song I Still Haven’t Found. My favourite version is the one on 1988’s Rattle and Hum album.

Kidding About

Kidding About by Paul Amyes on
Young kids on the Avon Walk Trail in York, Western Australia. Sony A7r with Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar lens mounted via a Fotodiox DLX Stretch Leica M to NEX mount adapter. Exposure: 1/200th sec, f5.6 at ISO 100.

Most morning I walk the dog along the Avon River and regular readers will have seen some of the photos I’ve taken while doing so. We walk past this garden which is home to a sheep, an alpaca and these two kids. The kids are about four times the size from when we first met them. Frida is fascinated by them as they come to the fence and prance about. They certainly aren’t scared of her. The male puts his head to the wire and Frida does the same, generally they just push but sometimes they gently but each other all while the alpaca watches on disapprovingly.


Christmas On The Tasmanian Savannah

Not So Happy Christmas
On the Tasmanian Savannah the elephants, despite the best efforts of the Zebra, went off in a huff.


Not many people realise that the scope of Tasmania’s wildlife and fauna far exceeds that of the Australian mainland. Where I live we are close to the Tasmanian Savannah which has an abundance of big game animals that are usually associated with Africa. The animals here though are particularly fond of Christmas, and every year if you know where to go, you can observe them going about their Christmas celebrations.



Christmas On The Tasmanian Savanah
All in all considering how much sherry was in the trifle everyone was remarkably well-behaved.

Just like us humans the animals experience Christmas in the same way. Some times family tensions can boil over and harsh words are said and inevitably some one takes offence and heads off home early. Alcohol is always a big problem for the animals – if too much sherry is added to the truffle then you better watch out as a tiddly elephant or silverback gorilla can wreak havoc. But Christmas is really about the kids and seeing them so happy is really what makes Christmas so special.

Christmas Excitement.
Timmy the baby elephant found Christmas so exciting he couldn’t contain himself.

The animals on the Tasmanian Savannah are a little different from humans with regards to the Christmas story. They do not of course believe in Santa Claus. For them the Christmas Zebra is the bringer of good cheer and presents, and the children all pester their parents for weeks wanting to know when the Zebra is coming and if they have been good enough to get presents.

The Christmas Zebra
The Christmas Zebra

So I hope that everyone had a good Christmas this year, and apart from the incident with the elephants, the animals of the Tasmanian Savannah certainly did.

Its Grand in Cape Le Grand

In my last entry I mentioned that I would be going to Esperance, on the the south coast of Western Australia (next stop Antarctica!) and I’ve now returned home and have chance to process the pictures and reflect on the experience.

Twilight Beach, Esperance, Western Australia. Olympus EP2 and OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens.

Firstly I would like to say that this was not a photographic expedition, it was a holiday with a major focus on bush walking. Walking has been a big part of my life since my mid teens and I feel it is an excellent way to explore, to reconnect with myself and nature, and see things I might otherwise not see. Generally my long suffering partner is encouraging in my photographic endeavours but the one area which is an exception is when bushwalking as she hates hanging around while I fiddle around taking pictures. Fair enough. In 1986 we went to the Greek Island of Thira, more popularly known as Santorini. I took two SLRs, flash, filter system and a swag of lenses and fifty rolls of film in a shoulder bag. We decided to walk round the island, it is only small, but very quickly I wished that I had not got that stupid bag with me. It was a salutary lesson and ever since I’ve explored light weight alternatives and different ways of carrying. So my camera of choice was my Olympus EP-2. The EP-2 packs into a small bag (20cm x 18cm x 10 cm) and in that I can fit the camera, six batteries, 72GB of SD cards, two polarising filters, two variable neutral density filters, a SEMA-1 microphone and two zoom lenses that gives me the full frame equivalent of 24 – 300 mm coverage. I’ve found that I can shoot multiple exposure panoramics handheld and get reasonable results. The big let down for this trip was that I took no camera support so the handheld video footage I shot has been filed in the bin.

Lake Warden Wetlands Reserve, Esperance, Western Australia. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Image created in Lightroom 3 with Niksoft HDR Efx Pro 2 and Silver Efx Pro 2.

Who, What, Where, When and Why

Esperance is a medium sized Aussie country town and is blessed with 16 beaches that are picture perfect and excellent for all manner of beach pursuits and are widely reputed to be the best in Australia. All but one of them are dog friendly. It is quite an isolated place and it is therefore very likely that you’ll able to get a beach to yourself. We didn’t go for the beaches but for Cape Le Grand National Park.

A bit of history about the area. Twenty thousand years ago the indigenous people of the south west of what is now Western Australia, the Wudjari group of the Nyoongar, inhabited the land they called “Kepakurl”  or the place where the sea lies like a boomerang. It was a region blessed with a good climate, plenty of water and an abundance of wildlife and consequently they did not feel the need to roam very far. In 1627 a Dutch ship, the Gulden Zeepaerdt, captained by François Thijssen,  sailed through the islands off the coast and so began the colonial era. In 1792 the next European visitors were two French ships, the Recherche and l’Esperance, under the command of Admiral Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, took shelter from a storm which nearly wrecked both ships. One of the crew, an officer by the name of Le Grand had spotted the anchorage and so it was named after him. In 1802 Matthew Flinders on HMS Investigator was charting the southern coastline of Australia and sailed through the Bay of Isles claiming it for King and country before those “Johnny foreigner” types could claim it for themselves. While sheltering from a storm he and his crew explored the area and named Lucky Bay, because they found safe anchorage there, and Thistle Cove after a Mr Thistle who was one of the crew. In the 1870’s the townsite of Esperance was established and the rest as they say is history.

Thistle Cove, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. HDR panorama of 12 shots blended using a combination of Photoshop CS5 and Niksoft HDR Efex Pro 2.

Cape Le Grand National Park is 631 km (392 miles) south-east of Perth and 56 km (35 miles) east of Esperance. Established in 1966 the park covers an area of 31,801 hectares (78,600 acres) and is made up of coastal heathland made up of dense thickets of showy banksia (Banksia speciosa) on the sand flats and scrub banksia (Banksia pulchella) on the gravel outcrops. This is punctuated by granite and gneiss peaks. There are beautiful bays with the most amazing white beaches where the sand squeaks underfoot, and the sea is the most breathtaking turquoise blue in colour. The most spectacular scenery is found in the south eastern corner of the park where is a chain of peaks that includes Mount Le Grand, Frenchman Peak and Mississippi Hill.

A mother and Joey from the famous mob of kangaroos that frequent the beach at Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R lens. Exposure 1/4000 s at f/5.6 ISO 200.

All up the park is home to 1169 different species of animal and plant. The native mammals include western pygmy-possum, quenda, black flanked wallaby, bush rats, and honey possums. The park is a bit of a twitcher’s paradise with 110 species of birds and while there we saw a white-bellied sea-eagle, numerous types of wattlebirds, a wedged tailed eagle, emu, cuckoo shrikes, crested pigeon, and bronze wings.

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia. Olympus E-P2, OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens, and circular polarising filter. Exposure 1/200 s at f/8.0 ISO 100.

There are a number of walks to do. The Coastal Trail is a 15Km (9.3 miles) one way trail that takes about 8 hours to complete. It has also been divided up into four sections. We chose to walk from Lucky Bay to Thistle Cove. Lucky Bay is famed as having the most beautiful beaches in Australia and somewhat incongruously you can as we did see kangaroos on the sandy beach. There is a campsite there with gas barbecues, toilets, picnic areas, water, and shade shelters. We chose to stay in Esperance rather than camp this time. The walk trail is clearly marked out and takes you round the headland giving views over the bays and inlets. I saw a pod of six dolphins playing in on of the inlets and I stayed and watched them until they decided to swim back out to sea. As you get to Thistle Cove there is a picnic table in the lee of a large rock that looks like an enormous mitten standing on end which provides a bit of necessary shade while you sit and take in your surroundings. Matthew Flinders thought that Thistle Cove was even better than Lucky Bay, I’m not sure I would agree but it is a very beautiful spot.

Frenchman Peak is a 262 metre granite outcrop that is part of a chain in the south-west of Cape Le Grand National Park. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. 15 exposure HDR panoramic created with a combination of Photoshop CS5 and Niksoft HDR Efx Pro2.

As mentioned earlier there are several peaks to bag; Mount Le Grand at 345 metres (1132 feet), Mississippi Hill 180 metres (590 feet), and Frenchman Peak at 262 metres(860 feet). Frenchman Peak was our choice as it has a clearly marked track to the top which is 3km or 1.8 miles return which is graded as hard and not recommended on wet and/or windy day. The peak did not get its name from the early French explorers but rather from explorer and prominent colonist John Forrest who passed through the area in 1870, in search of good country for pasture. The peak got its name  because his brother, surveyor Alexander Forrest, thought its profile resembled a man wearing a Frenchman’s cap. The Aboriginal name for the peak was Mandooboornup and was a significant site for them. The Department of Parks and Wildlife who administer the park describe  the route as being up the easy angled east slope. A better description to my mind would be up the not as hard east slope. At times the pitch of the slope is very steep, but thankfully the rock surface is very grippy in the dry and given a good pair of shoes and plenty of time it is very doable. The result is worth it as you’ll be rewarded with be rewarded with magnificent panoramic views of the park and islands in the Recherche Archipelago. The top of the peak has been eroded to form deep arch or cave which is not immediately obvious from looking up from the base and swallows make their nests in its walls and can be seen chasing insects as you climb up. The cave was formed 40 million years ago in the Eocene when sea levels were 300 metres (984 feet) higher than they are now and the top of the peak was under water. I don’t know about you but the geologic timescale just boggles my mind.

The walktrail up Frenchman Peak is a hard steep 3Km return walk. Cape Le Grand National Park.
Views of the park and islands in the Recherche Archipelago from the top of Frenchman Peak. Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens.
The cave on top of Frenchman Peak, Cape Le Grand National Park.

Did we enjoy our visits? Are the Kennedy’s gun shy? We will certainly visit again and aim to spend more time in the park, but we will go earlier in the spring so we can see more of the wildflowers and maybe even see some whales.


One of the famous kangaroos that frequent the beach at Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park. Olympus EP-2 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R lens. Exposure: 1/2500 s at f/5.6 at ISO 200.


As always clicking on an image will take you through to my gallery for print purchases.

A New Arrival

Here at the global headquarters of Paul Amyes Photography – cough- life has become very hectic with the arrival of Frida our new Bull Terrier pup.

Who’s a gorgeous girl?

We got her from KUPALA BULL TERRIERS in Queensland and  she has a better pedigree than the Queen Elizabeth II. We’ve had her now for 3 weeks and she has quickly made herself at home.

Caught Napping