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 🙂

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