Colour popped barbets, bittern and cuckoo… yahoo!

“Colour popping” is a term coined to describe a photograph that has had its’ natural background desaturated, and thus monochrome, leaving the subject ‘popped’… here are some recent shots with post processing treatment accordingly… respectively, a Lineated Barbet, Lineated Barbet “fly-by”, Yellow Bittern and Banded Bay Cuckoo… all Singapore in recent weeks…

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Happy Days 🙂

 

A colony anomaly, dreamscapes and landscapes… WA delivers…

SO after an early morning bird photography treat, off we went from Dunsborough to shoot landscapes. The first point of call was  Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, followed by Cape Naturalise National Park proper and Yallingup…

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I had a level of excitement and anticipation, as I was going to try out my new Lee Filters for landscape photography, along with my new landscape lens too. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse was well frequented by tourists and whilst many went inside the lighthouse itself, photography inside or from the top of the lighthouse was not permitted; so we skipped the tour and proceeded to take landscape shots from other locations around the lighthouse.

We approached the lighthouse on foot as access to the lighthouse itself was prohibited for motor vehicles. So up we went, photography gear in tow…

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It wasn’t too much of a trek to be honest but the vistas from the top, and just beneath the lighthouse itself from the pictured road, were really beautiful. The previously flawless azure skies of days previous were now peppered with cumulus clouds that provided some contrast to a wonderful canopy that stretched forever, and the clouds navigated their way across the blues and hues, via a hurrying wind aloft.

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I found it quite strange at this point, to be thankful for cloud. In Singapore, being tropical and a mere 1 degree north of the equator, the thought of having pristine blue skies are so far removed from considered possibility, as to render such thoughts as mere wishful thinking at best.  Upon reaching the top of the small rise, next to the lighthouse itself, I decided to try and show cloud movement in the photographs of the lighthouse, by effectively using a filter to delay the shutter speed overall by 10 stops, and with a polarising filter to enhance the sky held hues.

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I like the dreamy and creamy effect that this movement, with filter, has on the sky, coupled with an expression of extended time.  Given that the lighthouse itself has stood for many years and shone brightly across many an evening and night sky, elapsing time seemed appropriate.

After the lighthouse we drove to Yallingup and whilst looking for nice landscape vistas, I noticed some white shapes on rocks in the distance. My landscape lens wasn’t going to provide me any clues as to what these shapes were, but I figured it was a bird colony of some kind – the question was, which birds were colonised there? The landscape lens was caressed back into my gear bag and the EF 500mm f4 with a 1.4x teleconverter soon was appended to the Canon 1DX. And lo and behold. A turn and terns for the better. Yehey! Tripod was switched quickly to my birding setup with video head, and off we went – my darling armed with landscape gear and me with all the equipment necessary to take my tern.

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A colony of a hundred or so Greater and Lesser Crested Terns were in situ on rocks that had been made affordably accessible by an ebbed tide. Surfers could be seen in the distance, plying their trade with much dexterity, tremendous core strength and yet with grace that when compared to the terns, had all the fluidity of granite. Terns are, after all, passé-partout of the skies, taking aerodynamics to new levels and a banking or cornering adeptness rivalled only by electricity. Many were close to a distant beach, merrily dipping themselves in pristine waters and preening drenched feathers by design.  After preening, the birds singularly began to return to the colony and I took the opportunity to follow them in the viewfinder, snapping them merrily upon proximity to the colony and a selected landing site.

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Bird by bird they arrived, freshly groomed, feathers resplendent and aerodynamically renewed. An unwitting ability to hang on the wind, naturally suspended above perilous rocks, their colony associates, seemingly frozen momentarily in time.

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I have to say I find terns fascinating, having shot them many times in SIngapore. Flying, feeding, diving with verve, and breeding too. And I never tire of those trademark flight manouevers, resplendent with those tell tale tail feathers dispersed deliberately and always geometrically perfect.

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After revelling in these stunning creatures, I released that my darling had begun to shoot her landscape shots and that I had said I would join her. I checked my watch. Over an hour had passed and time had simply lost all plausibility, whilst I had been engrossed with my terns for the better. Nonetheless, landscapes awaited, so with some verve, rocks were navigated, slippery rocks avoided, birding gear deposited back in the hire car and landscape gear was on my shoulder to descend towards the search for a pleasant vista. I have to say in WA that finding a vista is Sooooo difficult. There’s so much to shoot… where do you even begin to look? We settled on Canal Rocks, close to Yallingup and part of Cape Naturaliste National Park for our sunset shot. We still had time, however, to shoot some other landscapes before the sunset was in full swing.  First off I drove around the coast road at Cape Naturaliste and we happened upon a bay that had a degenerating jetty leading out into the bay, and with distant sandstone cliffs in view along the coast. I’d heard that some tourists go absailing down these cliffs yet saw no evidence of that, on this day. I hadn’t instantly seen this vista as a “must shoot”, but my darling beckoned me to look as I drove by and if she could have pressed the brake pedal, I’m sure she would have :).

To her, a vista like this is instantly seen. I have to stop, clear my mind, and purposefully look for it.

The shot below I call “dreamscape”. I don’t know why. I just look at this shot and that’s the thought that pops into my head. Open. Unobtrusive. Calming. Serenely peaceful. And when we visited, it was quiet. Not a human sound from anywhere interrupted nature’s deafening silence, save for the gentle lapping of the ocean waves on re-submerging water’s edge features. My imagination was harking back to ‘what may have been’ yonder times and the activity that once was perhaps quite vibrant at that jetty, which now stood flaring, yet drawing one’s eye still to sea.

I just HAD to shoot this vista and I was so grateful that my darling’s mind’s eye had instantly selected this scene as we drove nearby…

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I thought of Wordsworth for some inexplicable reason whilst here. Wordsworth isn’t particularly a favourite poet of mine. Yet into my mind his prose emerged and I felt sad his daffodils had not been the sea perhaps, as I played with that poem’s prose in my mind…

“I wandered lonely as a cloud,

that broke the sapphire ceiling shroud,

and came to land from ‘cross the sea,

that cotton, approaching, playfully

above Ma Nature’s inlet scene,

with memories of what once had been

serenity present, my  heart a-flutter,

whilst beauty stifles a camera shutter

Behold the sight, that did unfold

and stories left, perhaps untold”.

I hoped my camera had maybe captured the scene for some of those untold stories and thoughts to be imagineered. For me at least, the captured scene does exactly that 🙂 .  Time was passing quickly now, the sun was noticeably losing intensity,  and so back into the car we jumped and sped to our selected sunset shooting location, at Canal Rocks.

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I was excited to shoot a sunset; new lens, new filter set up, no real clue as to how exactly I as going to get a decent shot and we had arrived with sufficient time to prepare and for me to give some thought as to the effect I was hoping to achieve. Landscape photography is not intuitive to me… I have to think. It’s not like the best vista and from what position jumps out at me. in the picture above of Canal Rocks themselves, I thought about achieving several things. Firstly I wanted to find a foreground that could frame the shot, whilst leaving the Canal Rocks themselves to draw the viewers’ eye towards the setting sun. Secondly I wanted to be sufficiently high to provide for the setting suns’ beam to illuminate the sea both ocean and bay side of the rocks… bringing the rocks themselves into focus as an interruption to what would otherwise be a vast expanse of featureless sea. Thirdly I wanted the sea itself to take on a misty calmness, a flat like appearance that could provide for that mirrored beam in a broken, yet undistorted way. Fourthly I wanted to ry and capture actual sun rays emanating from that glorious setting sun. And lastly I needed to fool the camera into thinking the available light was way less than reality was reflecting… leaving the shutter open for much longer than san Aperture Priority program would provide at an f-stop of around f16… then I could grab more colours in the sky, smooth the ocean and reflect some, but not too much, movements of sunset lit cumulus clouds in the sky. Phew! That’s kind of a lot for a noob to try and achieve!

A colony became an anomaly as I hadn’t set out to shoot birds and the Terns demanded their turn. Landscapes evoked thought, prose even,  amid dreams of what may have once been amid beauty that still was. And thereafter a sunset to die for. What subjects for me to experiment with and revel in the moment. So there you go… a lovely morning’s bird photography was more than ably supplemented later in the day.

Mother Nature laid forth the vista – so glad I hadn’t missed her.

Happy Days indeed!

Wah! WA… new dawning, nice morning and camera sensor adorning…

The Wyndham Resort & Spa had a nice breakfast to be availed of, which, to me at least, was about as useful as a misogynist at a beauty pageant. I’d got a hotel with bird photography awaiting around it and something as important as breakfast wasn’t going to interfere 🙂  .

Day two morning I awoke later than I’d have liked and my darling had made fresh coffee to reignite my senses. I revelled in this caffeine jolt and hoped my camera sensor would get similarly awakened that morning. I wasn’t disappointed…

Morning birdsong was in full  swing, with a truly melodious, singular birdsong cutting its’ way through what to a hangover victim, may well have been a tad too raucous. To me, the symphony of chorus was compelling, drawing me to finish coffee quickly and rush out to locate the singing virtuoso amongst the other choralists who were comparatively merely ‘warming up’.  It took me a few minutes before I located the songster and I waited a few more before the bird emerged into an unobscured view, so that I could photograph it…

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A Mangrove Golden Whistler was found to be the master vocalist and that voice in and of itself was already beautiful enough. I didn’t expect the bird to match the song’s beauty, but as you can see, nature matched these very well.

I wandered on after the Mangrove Whistler had whistled his last in my earshot and taken fight to delight others afar. I saw what I thought was an Oriental WhiteEye and it sure looks like one. in Australia this bird is called a SilverEye and it’s not a stretch to see how it got its’ name. This bird was examining the trappings of a spiders’ web, doubtless unashamedly seeking to obtain an easy meal after the hard work in setting the trap had been done by another.

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The gardens around the hotel led onto a lake, as mentioned, and then on to a pristine beach of considerable expanse. It was here that I noticed movement, at the periphery of the beach proper, where vegetation ceased and mere sand continued. It was a lizard, for sure, but what a strange looking creature.

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Research has since confirmed to me that this is a Shingleback Lizard and that its’ tail really is that short. Kinda cute and if it had been upset or annoyed, I may have seen it’s vivid blue tongue. This fella seemed very unperturbed by my presence. I am not much of a beach person so walked back towards the lake.

There I spotted an Intermediate Egret.

A39T3352This bird is distinguished from its’ close relatives the Great Egret and Little Egret quite easily, if you know what to look for. I didn’t, at last not certainly, so had to consult my Birds of Western Australia Field Guide that I’d picked up from a local bookstore (I recommend this book if you’re in need of field ID’s of WA birds… it’s well put together and photographs are more than good enough for species ID)…

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I kept the Egret in my viewfinder, wondering which one it was at the time. Whenever i look at Egrets, I think of a friend some years back who cracked a joke whilst singing.  He sang, whilst looking at a member of this family of birds, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”…

“EGRETS, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”… LOL.

It tickled me pink at the time and I cannot ignore the smile this memory brings whenever I see an egret. Upon checking the recommended book (above) it’s clear that this is an Intermediate Egret… Yellow legs are a giveaway; the Great Egret has a comparatively extended neck, whilst the Little Egret has dark legs and yellow feet / toes. Here an Intermediate Egret happily discovers a prawn or similar, for breakfast…

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I saw a few other birds at the lake and didn’t shoot them much as lighting was again in an unfavourable position… even the egrets above were hard to shoot being so heavily backlit in an intensifying sun.  It was quite amusing as after this prawn treat, the egret proceeded to completely ruffle, and then settle, its’ feathers.  This was quite a sight…

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I hear more choral splendour and went in search of that instead. A warbling call, lyrical, familiar and yet not. Upon investigating I located the bird that added to the auditory landscape,  a White Breasted Robin. This was truly ‘robin shaped’, unlike Siberian Blue Robins or Oriental Magpie Robins I’d seen recently in Singapore…

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I approached to shoot this bird in shadow, as despite the rising sun, this avian vocalist had decided to avoid direct rays, at least for now. I neared some more but the bird took flight – seemingly not because of my proximity but because it had other things in mind. I followed to assess its’ intentions, which quickly became clear. It perched on a nearby wooden fence for the briefest of moments, only to hop onto the floor. I was able to catch the robin there with relative ease.

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Quick as a flash it hopped forward with some determination, and thereafter I espied what the robin had been focused upon for this time. A juicy breakfast of an unsuspecting and unfortunate moth ensued.

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I’d barely chance to get this shot when the meal was gone with no remaining trace and with that, the robin made it’s exit too, with equal lack of attention to fanfare or ceremony. I wandered further to see what other bounties may be awaiting around the hotel gardens and lakeside. More birdsong was heard and I immediately thought that perhaps I was hearing another Whistler. Not the same, the song subtly different, yet not totally dissimilar. This time the bird was located with ease, though an unobscured clean shot of the bird was sadly not available before it took flight. This species was a Rufous Whistler and whilst perhaps not quite as vibrant in palette as the Mangrove Golden Whistler, was still a beauty in its’ own right.

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Sadly the bird never took up a position where shadows were not being cast upon it, so this image was the best I was able to get. I never saw nor heard it again in the remaining days we were there. Perhaps next time? 🙂

We decided to visit the Lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste and put my newly acquired Canon 16-35mm L f4 landscape lens through its’ paces, and experiment with Lee’s Neutral Density Graduated and Little / Big stopper filters and filter system. That’s for the next blog post 🙂

Happy Days 🙂

 

What a place to stay… WA, birds… yehey… YEHEY!!!

After that lovely “impromptu” visit to Vasse Wonnerup estuary, we arrived at our destination just outside Dunsborough, WA.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 8.15.29 amWe stayed at the Wyndham Resort & Spa, which may sound a little ‘5 star-ish’  but 5 star it is not. Nor did we expect it to be. But it was a wonderful place to stay and great value for the money at that time. This is basically a very upmarket motel with great facilities if you want to use them. Room nights were very affordable and our expectations were not high. I was surprised. VERY surprised. It was dark by the time we arrived and thankfully we explained that we’d been travelling and for a short time, the hotel agreed to keep the kitchens  open, so after dumping luggage in the room, a hearty meal was taken. As we were kind of pleasantly surprised to be greeted this way, indulgence naturally followed and a great steak coupled with recommended Margaret River wine was enjoyed fully. The desserts were great too! what a great start to a Margaret River photography visit! And it just got better and better…

Next morning I awoke eager with anticipation. I’d asked for a room on the ground floor with access to the gardens though I’d not much idea how extensive the gardens would be. How pleasantly surprised was I? I’d not even finished my early morning coffee and cigarette ritual when the desire to get camera, lens and tripod became overwhelming. Birdsong? Lots! Recognisable? Nope. Gotta go SEE where this chorus is coming from…

So camouflage clothing was donned with verve and outside I went. Kids at the resort were doubtless still in the land of nod, so a relative quietness was appreciated, save for nature’s splendid orchestra that caressed my ears and served up auditory ecstacy. I commenced an amble around the resort. No plan, just a mere wander. I was first greeted by a small group of New Holland Honeyeaters. I’d seen a couple of these near Yanchep but hadn’t managed to shoot them.

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Here you can see the trademark of nectarivores, with that long tongue partially protruding beyond the beak – I imagine this bird and just finished extracting nectar from a plant and this is the equivalent of ‘licking its’ lips’.  I walked further and caught a glimpse of motion in the distance. And much noise. Couldn’t tell exactly what all this hullabaloo was about,  save for it was coming from a bird. A swimming pool began to come into view and the noise and motion was coming from a shower head where bathers rinse off the pools’ chlorinated water. And all became clearer. The light levels were still very low so I set the camera to compensate for exposure, lightening the scene by about EV +2 stops. I could see wings beating furiously, a hovering, and knew a fast shutter speed would be required. And then with a shutter priority in the camera and a shutter speed set to 1/2500 of a second, focus was achieved. I was enraptured with the sight my eyes were presented with and chuckled heartily…

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A juvenile Splendid Fairy Wren had seen its’ reflection in the chromed shower head and took exception to its’ own image, doubtless imagining this was a rival of sorts. Haha.

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I watched and photographed this gorgeous little bird, in very low light, for several minutes before it finally figured out that its’ potential adversary was not going to be either thwarted or defeated.  It was very nice to witness this lovely little bird in action though and surprising to hear such volume emanating from such a small package. For readers around the world, this bird in size is akin to a juvenile fledgling wren in Europe, a fledgling Tailor Bird in Asia and around 50% of the size of an American Chickadee. I have no idea whether this bird is the typical Splendid Fairy Wren or the desert morph subspecies (the former has white cheeks when adult and the latter cyan cheeks). From the photo I’d guess it’s definitely male and most likely the desert morph subspecies.

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With hotel gardens behind me I ventured out behind the property. A lake was right before me… Happy Days indeed! There was a portion at the hotel end of this expanse of water that was heavily weeded and seemingly shallowed, so I made a beeline for that. Instantly a few birds could be seen to be wading and I approached with some caution, fearing I’d cause them to take flight.  First in view was a Yellow Billed Spoonbill, typically moving their bills beneath the water from side to side, trying to identify and locate a hearty meal.

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The spoonbills number four and I focused on the nearest as it turned towards me. The bill emerged and then the bird proceeded to throw back its’ bill to manouevre it’s catch into swallowing position…

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As I looked at this bird through my viewfinder I chortled freely, as the positioning of the body and thereafter bill reminded me a little of a hippo. Haha. Nonetheless the bird seemed more than happy with its’ spoils from prawning and proceeded to toss one back into it’s gaping bill.

Light was less than friendly whilst the sun strengthened, as the direction from which i’d have preferred to shoot the birds meant shooting into a strengthening sun… not a winning photography scenario. I was blessed, though, as in the distance I espied a raptor. It was a long way away and much too distant to photograph meaningfully. I got the bird in my viewfinder, focused accordingly, took a shot and proceeded to magnify the image ‘in-camera’ to identify what I thought might be an Osprey. Sure enough an Osprey is exactly what it was, circling and gaining height on the distant thermals. I picked up my tripod sand camera gear, (cumulatively weighing around a good 8 kilos and somewhat cumbersome in size and balance),  and jogged as far towards the bird as pathways would allow…  any further and I would have needed a boat or helicopter. I hoped it would venture in my direction and thankfully a higher power was smiling on me that morning. The Osprey ceased circling and proceeded to glide with such lack of effort that if I didn’t know better, I’d have described it as positively lethargic. Ever closer it came and my pulse quickened. And closer. Still closer…

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Perhaps for some an Osprey is not such a great find. This one is an Eastern Osprey and against an unruffled sky, this bird seemed to me to be the personification of majesty, at the very least a prince of the skies, and lord of avian anglers. It glanced purposefully in my direction and I hope it realised the respect in which i held this bird. Perhaps it did 🙂  ?  Whatever, it neared some more. What sheer joy that such glorious elegance could be bestowed upon my camera sensor that day, from such an exquisite creature.

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The bird flew on, perhaps unaware of the pleasure it had just given me, as I savoured its’ every move and considered the irony of the birds’ posture; the epitome of calmness riding the wind, yet with a latent potential for hunting and ensuing savagery upon whatever prey it targets.

Western Australia was being lit considerably at this time. The morning sun was casting light into what recently was shadow,  with predictable illuminations and generous warmth. And aside from that, my smile alone must have added considerably to the available light that day, in Geographe Bay.

Just when I had started to wonder if this photography trip may be ‘front end loaded’, with such marvellous sights captured at the beginning few days of our visit,  Western Australia just continued to further delight and take my breath away. I was marvelling. And if  anyone had asked me to set music to what I had experienced thus far, (and in hindsight now, what was to come), then Bachman Turner Overdrive would have headed my playlist.

“B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen nothing Yet…”

What a place. Great landscapes, fabulous wildlife, super friendly people throughout, awesome food. Oh YES! OMG! I almost forgot!!! Australians amazing a Brit with their fish ‘n’ chips? Surely not? Well, they DID! I will try and dig out the impromptu restaurant we had that experience at… but that’s or a later post. I DID, however, ask what fish they had used. They said Spanish Mackerel. I was in hysterics and asked to see the chef. NO WAY that Spanish Mackerel could be served that way… filleted and battered? You gotta be kidding! But the chef showed me the mackerel. and described the filleting method. And WHAT an outcome. The surprises just seemingly kept coming…

Happy Days indeed!  🙂

Whassup in Vasse Wonnerup… cool name and nice birding place to stumble upon!

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 6.09.26 pmWe made the drive down from Yanchep to Dunsborough, our base from which to navigate around the Margaret River region of Western Australia, WA.

It was a leisurely drive and surprisingly we got towards Dunsborough much faster than I expected, even including refreshment stops en route.

I’d been referred to Vasse Wonnerup Estuary by a birder I met whilst in Yanchep and had considered going once I had gotten settled in Dunsborough. I hadn’t even looked at the place on the map and whilst en route to our destination, saw a sign pointing to a National Park and there estuary itself. Well, what to do? I just HAD to go see what this place was like – it would have been rude not to! The sun was still in the sky, though descending, so i guess we reached the estuary past 3pm or so.

I parked the car and walked out towards the exposed mudflats. That walk took all of about 15 seconds before I was running back to the car to get a tripod and birding camera gear.  Haha. My darling set about getting her landscape photography gear set p and I was marching off in search of a raptor I’d seen above the trees, lit by a warm late afternoon sun. I surprised myself in that I soon realised I had been running with my photography gear. Not a winning idea by any stretch, but it seems enthusiasm had been unbridled and caution cast to the wind.

A39T0124-impAnd there it was. I had no idea what type of raptor it was, but suddenly my heart was pounding from more than merely a good 300m run with photography equipment. It was a Whistling Kite set against a virgin sky, around 50 metres away and emerging from behind coastline trees.  What a beauty!

A39T0123-impI always feel there’s a munificent splendour, nay majesty,  that Mother Nature has bestowed upon raptors whilst they are aloft. What entirely fabulous creatures to observe and despite my breathlessness after the exercise of pursuit, I felt little other than sheer wonder as this beauty danced into my viewfinder.

The kite didn’t hang around though and slipped behind the canopy as inadvertently as when it arrived. Oh well. But still a joyous excursion was had by me 🙂  . I decided to continue on my ‘jaunt’ and proceeded to round a point. There were a lot of birds to be seen but they were at a different part of the estuary and too far to got towards, given the dwindling sun.

A39T0223Nonetheless, an Australian White Ibis seemed unperturbed at my presence, partially, I suspect, because of the viscous mud in which it was navigating. There were a lot of ibis at the estuary but this was the only bird within proximity.

A39T9695A group of Silver Gulls sped off before I could near them, which is strange as ordinarily gulls are far from skittish. One remained at some distance so I trained the lens accordingly for a single shot before it too, took flight away. I imagine the birds were leaving the estuary in favour of a roosting location elsewhere.

A39T9977I  did get the pleasure, albeit briefly, of shooting an Australian Pelican as it flew virtually overhead and then proceeded to circle (which i certainly wasn’t going to complain about 🙂  .

A39T9936I was able to shoot this bird as the fading sun gently bronzed its’ feathers, before it made a beeline out to the water and doubtless for  fishing adventure. This was again quite some distance away as it settled on the water, as I imagine the peak of low tide had been reached and waters were only recently navigating their way back towards shore and mudflat submergence.

A39T0187-2A wedge of Black Swans broke the sky briefly, though in this instance I guess 5 of them is insufficient to form that customary wedge shape. SO with that image last formed on my camera sensor, I thought it best to resume the trip to our final destination, whilst light enough to pack away the gear properly.

So off to Dunsborough we went, for further birding and landscape adventures. That’s for the next post…

Happy Days 🙂

 

I’ve got the BLUES – stay over at Yanchep National Park

Before heading down to Margaret River for more landscape and Birding Photography, we decided to shoot some more on the early morning before travelling. I somewhat had the ‘blues’ about Yanchep. I guess I’m too much of a pampered city boy these days and enjoy the availability of things in Singapore, pretty much 24×7. Yanchep and the surrounding areas is not quite like that. After 8.30pm, the place is closed, at least for eating. It’s like a cemetery with the lights left on and even the bars are done and dusted before a respectable hour. The only food we could find was a burger King (not exactly haute cuisine) and even that, whilst advertised as 24 hours, only does so on Fridays and Saturdays. So dinner the evening before setting off to Margaret River, was a Whopper. Oh well. At least all the people we met that were not employees of the Inn were very friendly.

The next morning breakfast was served at the Inn yet we skipped that in favour of shooting some more. BOY are we glad we did. There are many types of ‘blues’ but the feast of blue that was to hit our retina and ultimately our camera sensor was absolutely breathtaking.

A39T8043-impI’ve never seen a bird this blue before. It’s called a Splendid Fairy Wren and is, predictably, wren sized. The bird is so skittish it makes a Singapore Tailorbird appear decidedly lethargic. It was some task keeping up with this beauty because of it’s characteristic mobility and also because it was hard for the brain to take in that something this pretty could exist, outside of one’s imagination.

A39T8084-impI followed a pair of these birds with much verve and marvelled at its splendour. In and out of scrub and low vegetation it hopped, though i couldn’t tell upon what it was feeding.

A39T7849-impA female showed up too, to add to the visual feast and provide confirmation of what I have long thought… in species with dimorphism, the female does not always need to appear drab and colour challenged.

A39T8043-2-impIt tuns out these pair were subspecies of the Splendid Fairy Wren, a desert sub-species variety. This can be distinguished because the cheeks in this instance are cyan coloured, as opposed to the more traditional white cheeks of the main species.

A39T8407-impIt was still early morning as we drove out of the park for the last time, that a gorgeous Laughing kookaburra was espied and perched nicely. Right near the entrance to the park itself. My camera gear was packed away for the journey and I was hoping the bird would not move off before I had gotten a few shots.

I stealthily approached it, after setting up my gear, and rattled off a few shots handheld. The bird didn’t flinch.

A39T8454-impI wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity so didn’t bother setting up a tripod and instead circled around to get nearer and a different perspective on the bird. SO a 500mm f4 prime lens was being supported by hand. Hmm. Not something that can be done for extended periods.

I looked around for anything I could use as support and eventually found a decent angle and a tree on that line of sight – I decided to push the lens barrel into the tree trunk to provide a tad more stability.

A39T8454-2-impI was closer now, so went for a portrait shot of the bird too – it was too gorgeous not to 🙂 .

I stepped back, not wanting to spook the bird and eager to see what it was doing. The head was moving with purpose, a little tilt here and there and i was sure it was listening to something, and that something wasn’t me.

A39T8338-impThe bird flew down from its’ perch to investigate the nearby ground and proceeded to dig with some vigour, using its’ strong bill to remove soil. Three times it speared its’ bill into the soil, each time removing quite a bit, yet despite having bill fuels of this soil, I found no evidence in any of the shots of it having caught whatever it was that had been heard.

SO south we went, after bidding Yanchep goodbye, en route to Margaret River. What a place that turned out to be! I’d been told by a friendly local birder only the day before, that if you go towards Margaret river, then to shoot birds you have to visit the Vasse Wonnerup estuary.  Thank you Terry Booth for that little piece of advice – awesome place!!!

But that’s for a future post… Happy Days 🙂