Checking up on the Darters

Been about a week since we’d seen the Darters on the Barwon River, and decided on an early morning run.

The Shannon Avenue bridge is busy at any time it seems, and again we met with much pedestrian and bike traffic and the usual, “Oh, I’ve passed here for years and never seen them before, did they just come in?”  and other questions.

The nest we’d been watching previously now had two quite large young in it. Well formed and with some pins of real feathers just starting to emerge.  The male was on the nest, and the young were relentless in their waving at him for food.  They continued full speed for over twenty minutes and he moved about the nest trying to avoid the tiny waving heads.   He seemed so patience at their insistence and finally tucked his head under his wing to avoid them.  Not being able to see his head stopped the begging, and in the end it was obvious he didn’t have any more food to give, and they settled down for a sleep.  He stood over them and tucked his head. one more time, and lifted out his wings to give them some protection.

The two other eggs that had been there the previous week were obviously infertile, and they had been removed from the nest.  Perhaps its too late in the season to try and feed four hungry mouths.

We waited an hour or so hoping that the female would return from her hunting expedition, but no such luck.  The female in the apartment above had settled down on her eggs and only an occasional head lift to check things out was her response.

We figured that our luck was out on the female returning so we did the right thing and headed off with ‘coffee’ as the next challenge.

Gimme gimme gimme Two little waving heads as they beg for food.
Gimme gimme gimme
Two little waving heads as they beg for food.
Gimme Gimme, they were so active and persistent
Gimme Gimme, they were so active and persistent
Hide as he might, they were quick to take up every opportunity.
Hide as he might, they were quick to take up every opportunity.
When he tucked his head away, they started on each other.
When he tucked his head away, they started on each other.
Gottem settled down at last
Gottem settled down at last
Even time for Dad to take a quick nap.
Even time for Dad to take a quick nap.
The wonderful wing feathers are just starting to come through.
The wonderful wing feathers are just starting to come through.
He stretches out his wings over the sleeping pair
He stretches out his wings over the sleeping pair
In the apartment above, the female has settled in to hatch her clutch.
In the apartment above, the female has settled in to hatch her clutch.
The nosey neighbours.
The nosey neighbours.
A fledged but not very agile young darter is preparing for a quick flight to the next tree.
A fledged but not very agile young darter is preparing for a quick flight to the next tree.
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5 thoughts on “Checking up on the Darters

  1. Dave, I always enjoy your photos and am curious about how much they are cropped and how close you are to arrive at such quality.

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    1. Hi Allen,

      Yep, good questions.
      Generalising, as close as possible, and crop as necessary for composition.
      In this case the birds are 18 m from camera position on a bridge. Crop is about 25%.
      For smaller bush birds I try to get them in the range 6-15m, and crop as necessary. (I usually use a 500mm with a tc 1.4 for the smaller birds, in bright sunlight).
      Once I crop too far, the feather detail goes, and its all too hard.

      I don’t do heaps of post processing, generally, the crop, set White/Black Points, a light pass with Sharpener, resize for Flickr. A pass with a Brightness brush to enhance the eye and sometimes a very slight vignette. Anymore and I’d not bother putting the image up.
      I put a work ethic disclaimer on the first page of the blog to explain the process.

      Hope that helps.

      Regards

      David

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  2. Whatever process you use, the end result is just perfect! You’ve really captured the essence of the family here, and the titles under the photos are so apt.
    Thanks for sharing these delightful shots.
    Cheers,
    Christine

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  3. These are great photos and so rare to see the darters from such perspective!
    Your observations much appreciated, as usual.
    Cheers,
    Adam

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