Western Treatment Plant: Timing is everything

There is no doubt about it, timing in the bird photo world is just about everything. You can come back from the Camera Exchange with some of the best goodies on the planet,(and a severe bend in the credit card), and walk about for days and not see much at all.

You can turn up with your old gear, not well prepared and not expecting much, and it suddenly all happens around you.

We, Dieter, Dorothy and I, took an early morning mark down to the Western Treatment Plant on Thursday.
Weather was supposed to be cloudy overcast, and we mostly went for the cups of tea, the chats, the play with the cameras (two of us are breaking in new kit from Camera Exchange), I had to make do with my ‘old’ technology stuff. Feel almost antiquated now.

We strarted out on the river on the road to Ryan’s Swamp.  A female Nankeen was in the dead trees in the creek, and was pretty happy to let us get close enough for some good shots in the early morning light. A good start, but it got better.

As it turned, the sun burnt of the soft mist clouds by mid-morning and we had some decent sunny-breaks.

Down near the outflow at the end of 15 East Road ( I Bet it has a name, I just don’t know it), we were greeted by a small flock, yes, a flock of Black-shouldered Kites at play, or mating, or territorial. Bit hard to work out when they don’t put up signs.

Anyways, these four birds were engaged in aerial combat right over our heads, some times coming alarmingly close.  What a great sight. What a great picture opportunity.  A couple of unfortunate Silver Gulls found themselves the target of this aerial mayhem, and were hopelessly out gunned.

The main feature of the event was birds that locked talons and then spiralled down.  I wonder if the bird who gets to turn head-first wins? while the other has to be unceremoniously twisted backwards?   No one I guess seems to know.
A female sat on a post on the beach, and offered lots of screaming encouragement , and then too joined in the foray.

At that point we would have been satisfied for the day.

We drove back along the track past the Bird-hide by the beach, and found a Brown Falcon (think it be the same bird from a previous post.)  It sat while the team inched up toward it, and then the magic line was crossed and it was airborne.  All of about 5 metres. And again, and again. Good stuff.

I drove the car up to where it was perched on a box-thorn bush on the side on the road, and it didn’t flinch. Needless to say the team got some good pics, while I positioned the car.  We moved on.  About two minutes later it passed by the driver’s side window of the car about 3 metres off the ground and about 5 metres away. It paced us for a few seconds then sped up, and sat on another box-thorn bush.  This time I assembled the camera kit and edged the car up to where it was. Again it held its ground.

So there we were, me and the bird.  It was so close, even a vertical could not get it all in, so I opted for head and shoulders portraits. We are thinking of name it Elvis, as it just didn’t want to leave the building.

It flinched when I started the car, but held its nerve and we drove on leaving it in peace.  A nice day’s work.

A little further on, I spotted a female Nankeen Kestrel on a post near the road, and at first thought she must have damaged a leg as she was having difficulty on the post top, but she flew to the next post, and lo and behold, she was holding a mouse in the foot, and couldn’t get a grip on the post.  Then she settled herself and enjoyed the mouse from one end to the other. Lots of mouse fur flying in the strong breeze.

A couple of over enthusiastic kites who locked talons and twisted about in the air. The noise of the talons scraping was like fingers down a blackboard.
This female Nankeen Kestrel made short work of her mouse-takeaway
This Brown Falcon was hardly camera shy. We think he might be Elvis in disguise.
This Brown Falcon was hardly camera shy. We think he might be Elvis in disguise.

3 thoughts on “Western Treatment Plant: Timing is everything

  1. G,day,

    Most of the credit goes to the birds, I just happened to be sitting on the beach photographing Red-capped Plovers, when it all happened in the sky right over me.
    I’m sure luck plays a huge part in all this.


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