Storms are forecast for today, Boxing Day, and the sky was very black when we headed out to the dog beach for an early morning walk. Dollarbirds perched high on dead tree branches, Kookaburras lined up on the utility wires, and Figbirds flew from tree to tree. On the beach a large flock of Galahs were feeding on Pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens) while on the other side of the isthmus Little and Long Billed Corellas were squabbling on the lakeside reserve.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Eastern Rosella family that nested in my eucalypt were bathing so I dashed to get the camera. When I returned they were gone, and this family of Noisy Miners from next door’s tree were taking their baths. The two youngsters didn’t seem all that impressed by the routine.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I’ll leave out a single malt and the good cheese biscuits. In return I’d like:
The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia Richard & Sarah Thomas, Alan McBride, David Andrew (2nd Edition 2011) Birding sites for all of Australia’s endemic birds and regular migrants such as seabirds and waders, Australian Island Territories, logistics, Bird Finder Guide including supplementary information on where to find rarities.
Birding Australia Australian Edition Lloyd Nielsen (2010) A comprehensive directory for birders lists good birding areas, key species, best time to visit, suggested itineraries, Australian Island Territories, regional maps, birding tours and guides (including pelagic), local contacts, birding clubs, accommodation, climate, travel, driving in the outback, relevant websites, plus essential health and safety tips.
A Garden on the Wing Lloyd Nielsen & Garry Sankowsky A CD-Rom giving information on attracting birds and butterflies to the Australian garden. Flowering and fruiting plants for birds; selecting suitable land; changing an existing garden; making artificial nesting sites and feeders for birds, plus much more.
A Will Wilson birdbath - Willie Wildlife Sculptures Ocean Grove, Victoria
Wingscapes BirdCam Motion-activated, digital wildlife camera The BirdCam 2.0 takes 8-megapixel, high-resolution photos and videos of backyard birds. In addition to the motion-sensitive mode, the BirdCam 2.0 can also take digital photos or videos at a specific time interval. It has a flash for night time images as well.
Bird Nerd cap in brushed cotton from Cafe Press
Thursday, December 16, 2010
It was a beautiful day. The lightest of breezes, warm sunshine, a swell of less than half a metre – perfect for most boat-based activities. Sunscreen liberally applied, camera set on my ‘birding’ setting and slung over a shoulder for quick access, we headed out for the continental shelf.
A Fairy Penguin bobbed on the water just as we left the harbour and the familiar pelicans, swallows and white-faced heron. A group of young Australian Gannet tok off from the water as we passed. Then a couple of Arctic and Pomarine Jaegers flew in close to investigate, promising a good birding day. But that was it. The long, slow trip out to deep water was uninterrupted by further photo opportunities. Binoculars revealed two Wandering Albatross sitting on the water, and the occasional Shearwater flew past at a distance that prevented identification beyond Wedge-tailed or Short-tailed.
We crossed a strongly flowing current where several White-faced Storm-petrels were feeding, which lifted our spirits in anticipation of increasing numbers of birds as we got further out. A fast travelling Sooty Shearwater heightened anticipation.
However setting up the cod liver oil slick and a berley trail brought not a single bird to the boat. We did see a large pod of Risso’s Dolphins which cruised along side the boat in photographing distance, and a shark came inquisitively close. Then a huge group of Spotted Dolphins filed past filling the ocean to the east of the boat. A Dolphinfish crossed in front of the boat. But no birds.
Several of my fellow expeditioners had dozed off in the warm sun, so I settled myself into a corner and dozed for twenty minutes. Stlll no birds. So we headed back to the current where we had earlier seen the Storm-Petrels, and found two Wilson’s Storm-petrel and a Flesh-footed Shearwater which continued feeding, uninterested in the boat. A Great-winged Petrel flew past at a distance, taunting the photographers.
As it was getting late we headed back to port. At around four in the afternoon, just a couple of miles outside the heads a Nor-easter sprang up. Suddenly there were two hundred Wedge-tailed Shearwaters behind the boat scrabbling for the chicken mince. Ten or twelve Fleshy-foot Shearwaters, and half a dozen Pomarine Jaegers joined them. A young Black-browed Albatross briefly took a turn at the berley bar with a Hutton’s Shearwater, some Sooty Shearwaters and a group of Crested Terns.
Shutters clicked furiously trying to capture individual birds amongst the frenzy. The sun disappeared behind a cloud, and the wind developed an edge – it was time to head home.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
This morning we ambled along the shores of Tuggerah Lake just on sunrise. It was a beautiful clear day with the promise of heat. Flocks of birds flew over headed out to their foraging spots: Channel-billed Cuckoos, Galahs, Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Little and Long-billed Corellas, Koel, Little Wattlebirds, Crested Tern and Silver Gulls.
A group of around eighty Australian Pelican formed an island off-shore, with more coming to join them every minute.
A Little Pied Cormorant emerged from an early fishing expedition and sunned himself on the end of the fence.
Welcome Swallows buzzed over the surface of the water and perched on the jetty.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
This little ‘lagoon’ of abandoned roadway is a great spot for walking the dogs, out of the mud that is most of the parks and reserves around here at the moment, with dense bush on both sides, and a swim in the surf at the turnaround point.
With the rain, the move and the end of semester marking and admin, there has not been a lot of time for bird photography, but the rain had been replaced by high cloud, so I took the camera out with us this afternoon.
The mistletoe was in bloom, attracting newholland honeyeaters, and the brown thornbills were in every bush. Whipbirds called from deep in the undergrowth and red-whiskered bulbuls were feeding on the lantana. Variegated fairywren females flew in to investigate my phishing, but the brightly coloured males kept their distance.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Courtship routine of the Red-backed Fairywren, in the twiggy shrubs across from the Roebuck Roadhouse. They were constantly on the move, and quite distant, but it was great to see how the male fluffed up his head feathers and displayed the wonderful red feathers in a birdy cape.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Photo tips from Craig Ingram, our instructor.
- Use a tripod, to maximise sharpness.
- Use aperture priority mode, to give maximum shutter speed for the situation.
- Use AI servo mode, to keep a moving subject in focus.
- Expose to the right of the histogram, to maximise quality.
- Use auto white balance and adjust in post-processing.
- Remember that the quality of the light is the life blood of the image.
- The frame boundaries are the primary tool in composition, be decisive about what is in and what is out.
Our morning workshop on the 7th was at Two Dog Hermit, where large mixed groups of waders gather on the off-shore rocks as the mud flats disappear under the incoming tide before moving to the beach.
A sea research team from the Netherlands identified over 280 different mud creatures from thin the Roebuck Bay tidal flats. The waders stick close to the edge of the tide as they feed, following the bivalves that are close to the surface at the water’s edge, but bunker down deeper into the mud as the tide recedes.
Eventually, as the tide brings lunch to a close, birds can catch a quick nap.
But instead of simply moving higher on the beach they were feeding on, they strangely commute up to 120kms a day between shady roost sites and the exposed mud flats. Beaches that held huge flocks the day before, may be empty the next day.
As the tide gets higher the hide tide mark is too close to the cliffs for the birds to relax. This day the birds were edgy, with flocks arriving and leaving alternately. The ten metre tide eventually lapped against the edge of the Pindan cliffs, and the birds had gone, perhaps to the plains or the wetlands of the sewerage ponds.