Tag Archives: Bird photography Blog

NEW BOOK made more available… Birds, Words, Creatures & Features

Finally I have gotten my first book, “Birds, Words, Creatures & Features” into PDF format that may be downloaded by anyone, and not restricted to Apple users outside Asia… Yehey!!!
It took a while, but we got there in the end!!! smile emoticon … CHECK IT OUT and hope you like it!

https://payhip.com/b/NKBu

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Sometimes it is good to get a good hiding…

A trip to Malaysia in April was on the radar for some time and eagerly anticipated, and at the end of it I bought my first portable hide. In May, however, I was treated to an early birthday present which was a trip to a farm in Worcestershire, UK, that had a number of hides set up to both observe and photograph wildlife.

Exciting! ESPECIALLY, as the two hides I had selected were to photograph Kestrels and Little Owls. Both of these species were high on my list of favourite British birds to see, let alone photograph, so this was a treat indeed. I awoke at 4.30 am on the day, having had little sleep owing to sheer enthusiasm and unbridled excitement. The first hide I visited was the kestrel hide. I’d planned to spend an equal time in both hides, subject to the birds actually showing up. The hide was a tad “vertically challenged” for a guy of my height and so making my way into the height took on some strange postural positions. At the time I imagined to an observer, I most likely would have looked like a diseased John Cleese and auditioning for Monty Python’s famed “Ministry Of Funny Walks”. Thankfully, no one was around to witness my contortions and heavy metal-less ‘head banging’. I set up my gear, Canon 1DX body, 600mm f4 lens and bean bag – there was no room for a tripod really, despite me being the only occupier inside the hide.

A39T7761The bird appeared not too long after getting set up, a male kestrel, in stunningly attractive and well conditioned plumage. I’d tried to prepare for Bird In Flight (BIF) shots, yet the proximity of the hose to the bird precluded these, as wings were not accommodated within the viewfinder and subsequent shots.

The bird was truly magnificent and despite me having set up the camera for BIF photography I had taken care to position myself to give a good opportunity for good bokeh.

I wasn’t disappointed and some folks have suggested that i have photoshopped the background. I haven’t… this is straight out of the camera and achieved by shooting with the lens ‘wide open’ for minimal depth of field (this corresponds to high shutter speed and I had selected that in light of trying BIF shooting and the requirement to freeze the wings.

The owner of this place that organised the hides had pointed out probable perches for the bird and i hoped it would be possible to photograph the bird with some prey. My wishes were soon granted as the male kestrel appeared around half an hour later, to make short work of a mouse that it held firmly in its talons.

A39T7922I was lucky to have the bird in front of me and with wings spread, in decent light.

Given the opening for my lens and the range of movement i had with it from the hide, I had resigned myself to the likelihood that my goals for BIF photography were merely aspirational as opposed to realisable. Nonetheless the bird appeared with talons gripping a rodent and I managed to capture a few shots with which i was pleased.

A39T7917The bird used its wings to provide lift whilst its talons held the now dead prey firmly, as if it was thrusting upwards to rip the prey apart. After each “thrust” the male kestrel then proceeded to wield that flesh tearing bill with much gusto, effectively ripping the rodent apart, piece by piece. It’s rare that I get the opportunity to photograph my favourite birds and this was an absolute treat. The bird was visiting in near proximity – not at the minimal focusing distance of my lens, but within a distance where a 600mm prime lens requires managing in order not to cut off part of the bird in the frame.

A39T9008In the early afternoon I went to the Little Owl hide. I did not expect this bird to appear when the sun was still vigorously warming the earth and casting shadows that were extremely short. Unsurprisingly the first bird I was able to photograph was not a little Owl, or any other kind of owl. A male Greater Spotted Woodpecker put in a welcomed appearance and started drumming old logs, posts etc., in search of grubs or whatever food it could find. once food had been obtained, a pattern of behaviour emerged… savour the caught food himself, and then proceed to gather and hold in the bill, accumulating quite a mouthful at times. This always led to a flight, one direction, across an adjacent field. Trademark woodpecker flight undulation was exhibited, with three wing flaps, an undulating down and up ‘dip’ (with wings pulled in), followed by this pattern repeated. Each time the woodpeckers would follow thus route ad the terminus was a bough in a tree around 150 metres away.

A39T8448The woodpeckers definitely had a nest there and chicks to feed.

Whenever “dad” had gotten food and left for the nest, “mum” would appear shortly afterwards, eagerly seeking out food for the chicks on surrounding tree stumps, posts and decaying logs that were on the ground. Once food had been gathered, then the male’s path was imitated with precision and stylistic accuracy.

I’ve always loved seeing woodpeckers, so my far was illuminated just enough to reflect my level of pleasure, but not quite enough to show birds outside the hide that a satisfied and keen observer was in his element.

The woodpeckers cam and went with what became predictable frequency, and I wondered at what time the Little Owl would appear. The farmer began herding sheep in the next field, ably accompanied and supported by a Border Collie sheepdog. What an awesomely skilled dog this was too. Ever rounding them, shaping them, corralling them, until eventually they’d all been accommodated per the farmer’s desires.

A39T9376Only at this point did the little Owl put in an appearance. Not for too long. But in any event, long enough for me to marvel at its beauty and ponder if I had the courage to take my eye off the newly arrived owl, as I began to visit the viewfinder and voce beauty into my viewfinder.

What a little stunning bird!

I’d heard them calling as a boy, on many an occasion. Had seen them take flight too, as they precluded me from close viewing and inspection.

But now, in my viewfinder, this gorgeous little bird as plain to see, my 600mm prime lens gathering detail of the bird, the camera sensor appreciatively subjecting the lens’s capture into a digital reference of the event. WOW!

A39T9377The owl may be ‘Little’, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in stature and grandeur. This bird brought gravitas to the perch and my camera.

I was amazed by the ‘hunting accessories’ and functionality that this bird takes for granted, most likely.

Those piercing eyes that have acuity that most any human would give their right arm for. That flesh tearing beak, singularly designed for tearing prey to pieces, as one might expect for such an accomplished hunter.

A39T9352And finally its talons… gripping and ripping is the name of the game for this piece of equipment…

So despite its seemingly ‘less than potent’ size, this bird is marvellously adapted to hunt at will, easily gaining meal from its choice of prey in general.

A portable hide was obtained. A visit to a farms’ hide made me feel ordained. What a treat! Happy Days indeed…

Whydah Heck would you want to photograph an escapee?..

SUPER early start for me today. AND, I’m far from a ‘morning person’. so what dragged me kicking and screaming from a super comfy bed and restful sleep you may ask?
A39T3561Hmm. Pin Tailed Whydahs. Not endemic to Singapore. Escapees. Probably have Permanent Resident status by now. So many might think, as mere escapees, WhyDah Heck would you want to go photograph this. Haha.I guess it’s about beauty. And behaviour that’s awesome to watch and compelling to photograph. “Whydah” is actually pronounced ‘widder’, phonetically, though you’d never know that from how it is spelled.

A39T2917Pin Tailed Whyndahs have elaborate mating rituals which may make one imagine that parenthood is taken seriously. It is taken seriously… these responsibilities are seriously DELEGATED to a surrogate pair of birds. I.E. the Whydah parents lay their eggs in the nests of other hapless birds, who then proceed to take on the parental duties and responsibilities of the Whydah, on a surrogate basis, and akin to the behaviour of a cuckoo.

A39T3757The mating process is systematic and whilst appearing wonderfully romantic given the elaborate displays that the male Whydah performs before females, actually has circumstantial process steps that either enable, or prevent, mating from taking place.

The ritual performed by the male Whydah is jaw-droppingly elaborate and joyous to witness, as flight patterns that are not typical of birds are performed with adeptness that defies all but spiritual consideration.

A39T2901Laws of physics and as an extension flight, appear to be subordinated to mere ‘considerations for other birds’, as the male performs manoeuvres that defy logic and feed the optic nerve with sensorial bliss for the onlooker. Dips and dives, with plumage a flutter – never a stutter, as descents are traded for ascents, a flick of the tail and gravity assailed.

A39T2899Only when the female has located suitable surrogate parents will she give herself to the male, and it is at this point that all that motion splendid aerial posturing may be even entertained, let alone considered.

A39T2892Furthermore, the male is then further vetted for suitability based on its choral mimicry ability – he has to be able to imitate the surrogate parents’ calls, in order to ensure the surrogate nest is not abandoned once egg placements has occurred.

When the female is satisfied that the male can suitably match up to all these criteria, then a mating session occurs and unwitting surrogate parenting ensues from unsuspecting birds of carefully selected species.

A39T2898What a convoluted process to procreate. One might say the male is led on ‘a merry dance’. And after procreation and the mating season ends, those resplendent tail feathers that provide such motion to the dance of passion, merely are shed until next breeding season.From my perspective, witnessing and capturing this display surpasses mere merriment and paints the sky with an aerial ballet that is lacking purely in the absence of music.

A39T3767If I were to add music to the scene, it would not be from a ballet. I’d choose Strauss, and By The Beautiful Blue Danube.

This music has crescendos, grace, an enveloping quality that simply draws you in and caresses your senses.

A male Pin Tailed Whydah’s display grabs me like that too. So WhyDah Heck would I get up so early before work to photograph this bird? Well now you know… and here’s some closer shots from earlier that morning… Happy Days.
Pin Tailed Whydah, Punggol, Singapore, April 2015.

 

 

Realised dreams and pretty in pink…

1974. That was the year which for Xmas, I asked for (and thankfully Santa delivered), the Collins Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. I read that book cover to cover. Revelled in species I had seen, and excitedly added new species I’d seen as time went on.

Filed Guide

But I yearned. I longed… dreamt of being able to see some species which, if sighted in Britain, were only ever going to be in the South of England (nowhere near me). Even then, if these birds appeared, they’d be as accidental visitors if weather had blown them off course during migratory plights, or perhaps their equivalent internal SatNav had somehow gotten messed up. One such bird was a Hoopoe. Pink. And Black and White. Exotic crest. A curved bill which, for a non-wading bird, would surely rival the grandeur of any curlew. To me, a stunningly beautiful and exotic bird. Yet I never thought I’d get the chance to see one and largely dismissed the idea as a flight of fancy. Perhaps even a plight of fancy, if this quest I was ever to embrace. Yet stowed in my memory this bird remained. That colour plate from the Field Guide representing this bird with such vibrance in front of me, yet unattainable, was etched into my mind’s eye.
This week I took a flight on business to Dubai, which, research told me, my chances of seeing a Hoopoe was one I should fancy. I did my research. Located through umpteen birding sites with trip reports the most common places for seeing this bird, to take memories of coloured book plates and transform them in living splendour onto my optic nerve and camera sensor. Could I manage to locate such fanciful beauty?
I was in a position whereby if I did not use carried forward annual leave from last year, then I would forfeit it. And so I took a day’s leave on Thursday, hired a 4×4 vehicle and driver, and proceeded to inform the driver, via a saved Google map with more pins than a seamstress’s cushion, exactly where to go. I, was, blessed. Of the 8 places suitably pinned, I made merely four of them.
The very first place I went to and the very first bird I saw that was in situ (as opposed to being aloft and taking its flight of fancy elsewhere), was a Hoopoe. My goodness. Right in front of me. Lit by morning sun and shadowed by Dubai haze, the latter half from humidity and the balance as residue of recent aggressive sand storms. There it was. PINK. BLACK and WHITE. And with that famed curlew-challenging curved bill that surely belonged to a wader, yet apparently didn’t. I didn’t photograph this bird. I was stupefied. Didn’t position my tripod. Didn’t turn on the camera, even. Seemed disinterested to adjust camera settings et al. I just couldn’t… as I merely was compelled to watch. To ‘Just See’. As if an apparition of pink black and white had appeared before me, casting disbelief upon me, with resultant focus yet an inability to motor function. Able to take in what my visual senses perceived, yet unable to translate that to physical action. The bird was revered by me and dear to me. And I was a deer in the headlights of Dubai’s rising sun and the exotic majesty of this bird.
The Hoopoe took flight, without so much as a by-your-leave. Resplendent. Radial black and white as wings spread and the ground was left behind. And still I watched. As the bird left my field of view. Still gazed. Hoped. Would I see it again? I felt no regret in not photographing the bird. I’d seen it. And that in and of itself was a treat, akin to letting lose a 5 year old in a candy shop, armed with limitless funds and unbridled enthusiasm.
I’d gone to Dubai with a target list of 3 species in particular, though would have been grateful to see birds no matter what kind. I had in mind a Hoopoe, an Indian Roller and Greater Flamingo. Not because I was greedy. But to give my emotions a respite, should my Hoopoe remain a mere colour plate in my mind, after this trip. Seeing either or both of these other two would have been more than substantial compensation, should the Hoopoe not have been found and seen.

A39T7849

I’d no sooner revisited these thoughts when movement next to a nearby tree stirred my gaze towards it. 30 metres away. I saw Pink. And Black and White. I adjusted my tripod accordingly and set my camera up to shoot this beauty. Dressed in camo shirt and pants, with tripod and lens equally camo’d I hoped to near the bird without spooking it. I edged nearer. And nearer. Never letting the viewfinder leave my eye. Less than a metre at a time. And deliberately with foliage behind me, to assist the ‘melding in’ process. My viewfinder started to fill. With my dreams, made real. As the bird attacked the soil with its scimitar-like beak with the vigour of a woodpecker on bark. Digging. Then a stop to listen. A tilt of the head. Active listening. Followed by precise arcing of that natural sword, ever deeper, and with greater intent. Eventually the Hoopoe extricated an insect of considerable size. And held it tight in its beak. I shot this scene avidly, adjusting the camera like crazy, just to be certain I had enough depth of field, a correctly exposed image, all to safeguard that captured moment for all time.
I’d been out of the 4X4 for less than 15 minutes, and yet had travelled a journey of 41 years in that time. The bird flew. With its catch. and I reviewed my LCD camera screen, nervously, eager with anticipation and yet with profound trepidation, fully cognisant that my excitement could easily have caused me to have gotten the camera settings wrong – it had happened before, and I’m sure it has to you too smile emoticon . I let out a gasp. Nay a cry. I recall it now. A vigorous, resounding shout to the avian kingdom. One word. YES!!!

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I went on that day and photographed several other Hoopoes. and many other species too, including my 2 species ‘back up plan’ in order to spare the Samaritans my potential call. I found those too, but that’s for a later post. Here’s the Hoopoe, FIM, (Food In Mouth), with a desaturated background from post processing the image – just to allow you to focus entirely on my childhood dream and the beauty of that realisation.

Happy Days Indeed!
Eurasian Hoopoe, Safa Park, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, first dreamed in 1974, dreamt until yesterday and photographed in March 2015.

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.

A39T0963

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)…

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 6.00.17 pm

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…

A39T3358

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…

A39T3380

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…

A39T2779

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 🙂

 

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 🙂