Saturday Evening Post #012 Bee-eaters

Ahh, yes, it’s Sunday, don’t adjust you clocks, one of those nights when my bed looked more longingly at me than the keyboard.

And besides, look it’s a nice new day.  Overcast, intermittent rain— I walked early this morning and came home drenched— so its keyboard time again.

One of the main reasons I’ve not prepared earlier was I was wrestling with a new way of making albums that could be linked to Birds as Poetry blog, however like so many things in the blogosphere, the idea and the application are a bit far removed for a simple click.

All this comes of course from the previous week of humming and hahhing around what I’m going to do with the database.  And its beginning to look like I will commit to moving to the “Dark Side of the Force” and take on Lightroom and all its cloud(ed) options.
But, more of that later.

We did a couple of trips to Bee-eater country.  Seems to be many less than in previous years. However we did find enough to fill up a couple of hours. And of course commit to going back again. Sometime, perhaps, if we can fit it in, maybe, who knows.

Had planned at this point to link to an album.  Click Here — See nothing happens, so here are a couple of extras from the morning.
UPDATE: This Link Should Work  beware though its on an Adobe Creative Cloud site. Shades of Rod Serling and “The Twilight Zone”. Insert spooky do do dah do music here. 🙂

The header image is a phone pano of the creek line and if you look really closely you’ll be able to see at least three active nests. (only kiddin’—the nests are there, but the detail is not sufficient.)

Hope to be back on publishing schedule for the new year.
Good luck for 2019, I hope the photo muses bring many fine images to fill your lens(es) this coming year.
Keep the vision, Keep taking photos, we do.






Saturday Evening Post: #011 Retrospective

Interesting to watch the year draw to a close over my photo database for 2018.

Some birds that previously we’ve spent lots of time with are missing.  Red-capped, Flame and Eastern Yellow Robins, Black-shouldered Kites, Some such as Purple-crowned Lorikeets have been a feature.  We are still hopeful of finding nesting Sacred Kingfishers but time, as they say is running out.

The other thing that has been challenging me the past few months is the need to change my DAM software.  Long time readers will know I’ve been committed to Aperture 3 for such a long time, but like wooden wagon wheels, and last night’s pizza, it has all moved on.  The big deal in town of course is Lightroom, and I have to say I just can’t get with the interface. Cluttery and trying to do all things at once, and demanding a straightforward approach, no rating, adjusting, tagging and cropping as Aperture allowed with minimum of fuss.

Which has left me meddling with AP3’s replacement “Photos App”.  And it would work for me, but I have no real control of the output and being the pedantic sort that I am, that is enough for me to not settle. So the search goes on.  But enough of the mundane.

Flickr of course is another of my major outputs, and at the moment it too is in the throes of change.  So how that will impact my needs, and of those folk that I regularly follow will also be work in progress for 2019.  Then there is everybody’s favourite Facebook or Instagram.  The first bores me, the second seems to treat images as adjunct to a post, and I really like to have the image as the Champion of the moment.

Here is an Eastern Yellow Robin, got all excited out at Eynesbury a few weeks back when we found the pair, and they were nurturing a couple of young birds.  But, we didn’t have time to build up a context  or relationship for them, and so like always, they are now impossible to relocate.  Been that sort of a year.

Hope your own planning for you vision of the birdlife in your life is progressing to the new year.   It should be exciting however it goes.

Good luck, and may the new year bring wonderful subjects to your lens.


Snapshots: Freckled Duck Antics

Had to wrestle with the title.  After all the majority of Freckled Ducks I’ve ever seen have been asleep on the bank or on logs.  No swimming about for these ducks.  Sleeping is their number one activity. And I suspect they have turned it into an art form.

At Eynesbury there is a small clan of Freckled Duck and they seem pretty content with the area and are to be found most days we travel out there.
We were coming back to the vehicle after spending an afternoon with the nesting Jacky Winter and had stopped at a table by the dam for a quick cuppa before the trip home.

Which is when for some Duck Reason, the Freckled all sailed off the little island were they had been preening or snoozing and came by for a quick swim about. Didn’t take us long to replace the cuppa with the camera and here are a few of the more exciting moments.




There is always time to declare territory or pecking order


Just perhaps in this case the victim turned out to be the victor



Out of my way, or I’ll peck your tail!


This is the first time I can recall seeing the wings outspread


A little water bath and a good wing stretch. Time for a nap

Enjoy, We did

Eynesbury Gems: Take #3

Been pondering anew, my approach to Bird Photography, again.  Yes dear reader, tis that time of year again for tinsel, things red and white, muzak that dumbs the mind at the shopping centre and of course my annual “where is my photography going to bend in 2019”. But

Fear not, this is not that blog.
Great gasps of relaxation and sighs of relief heard across the ‘blogosphere’.


I really wanted to get the remainder of the shots from our Eynesbury excursions, (incursions?) out.

So rather than belabour, here is the best of the rest sort of feature.
There is still one more chapter to put up, but I’m going to do that as a Snapshots type blog as it concerns our favourite Jackys and their now well fledged young.  Might even get that done the next few days.

Here tis.

After about 20 attempts this is as good as it got. A Tree Martin flying in with food for the young. I think that Tree Martins have multiple families at nest inside the hollows.


A very young Black Kite. We sat with the young bird for several hours over three days, but didnot see the adults come to the nest.
However there was a constant overflying as they kept check on the young one for above.


Another from the Black Kite at Play series


Another from the Black Kite at Play series. It is coming out of a turn and heading into the wind using all the speed it gained on the run with the wind


Black-faced Cuckooshrike


Overenthusiastic young one just about unperches the adult. I love the look on the adutls face.


This looks like family fun, however food is involved and when the adult arrived to feed the lower bird, the upper one flew in. Then to get in a better position to be fed, it ‘stepped’ over its rival.
The adult sovled the problem by flying off the end of the branch, circling and landing nearer the lower bird. It’s not always the loudest and largest beak that gets filled.


Little Eagle. Eynesbury has a resident pair of Little Eagle. I suspect, from the calls, that there is a nest located on the western side of the forest, but have to say I’ve been out of luck locating it.


And of course Jacky Winter

Watching Jacky feed is quite interesting. The young don’t cry out for food. Most times they don’t even respond to Mum or Dad arriving. Then there must be a quiet call, and they quickly pop up, the food is delivered and they both settle straight down. It’s also not unusual for the adult to spend a few minutes alongside the nest making sure all is well before flying off.


Saturday Evening Post #010 Gone at the Speed of Light

Latham’s (or Japanese) Snipe.

Not a bird I have to say that I’ve spent much time pursing. Given they are a skulking creature around wetlands and the only real time I’ve ever seen them is when someone flushes from a “Snipe Count Day”.  And from that I learned they go fast.

Fascinating creatures that have the ability to hop from northern Japan to southern Australia in less than a week. There is an apocryphal story I can’t track down tonight of one, fitted with a satellite tracker that may have achieved the journey in three days.  And just before you reach for the pocket calculator or uncle google, that is about 7,000km.

There are a number of sites on the web about the research projects and this one seem among the best.

In a wetlands in the very heart of Werribee township, at the Heathdale Glen Orden wetlands to be precise, a number of Snipe have taken up residence. Perhaps 15-20 by a moderate conservative count.   And down the road a bit at Harpley estate another wetlands holds perhaps as many again.

So suitably armed with appropriate Snipe photographing equipment, I have the past few Friday afternoons ventured out to Heathdale Glen Orden.

The wetlands is in a flood retarding basin with houses and football grounds, swings and slides around its periphery. Once the main water channel becomes full, it overflows across the surrounding low-lying land and of recent weeks has had between 10 -20cm of water among some lovely low grass tussocks, and mud.  Ideal for your visiting Snipe it seems.

They feed in the early morning and late afternoon and then squat for most of the day. But walk past one, and it takes the air with a rasping “Chakzak”, and well, its gone.
Irritatingly for the average in flight photographer they zig zag as they go making it next to impossible to keep them in the viewfinder.

To be honest, they are not a bird I have info on, other than what I can google and chat to a few folk who have done serious bird counts.  More of that to follow I suspect.

So to Friday.

We have have had a couple of day of torrential rain. As much as 60mm or more over the two days.
And Friday morning looked like it was going to continue.  So I put aside ideas of a trip down to Heathdale Glen Orden.  But by lunchtime it had cleared up and blue skies were the order of the day, and with a cheerful heart I grabbed the D500, the 300mm PF and a pair of gumboots.
But, and you knew that was coming.

But, by the time I arrived, and its only a 10min trip, the sky had gone leaden. Still, I concluded, I was here and I may as well go look see.

And as I wrote on Flickr the other night, you’ve got to picture old dude, with camera sloshing about in gumboots in 20cm of water and really sticky mud, looking for an impossible find. When Chakzak, there goes one. Swing camera, locate bird, wait for for D500/300PF to do its thing. Bird gone. Oh.

Take two sloshing steps.  Chahzak, there goes another, Chahzak, oh, now two, and I can’t get the beasts focused no matter what. Except I’ve some nice sharp shots of the lignum they flew past.
Chahzak, and another and another and… well you get the idea.

It’s the zig zag that does it. They have an ability to turn at speed, that has to be seen to be understood.

This is from a previous week with sunshine

And as I worked my way across the waterlogged landscape the light began to turn to porridge and the shutter speed went down, and that wasn’t the only down as a light rain began to hiss out of the darkening clouds.
The next couple that took off gave me a chance as they ran along a fence line with plenty of open space, and the camera/lens combo kicked into life.  And the raindops became larger and more frequent, and I was now about 10 minutes from the car.
One last Chahzak, and a brief view in the finder and it was over.  Slosh back to the car.

Funny really, old dude, water, mud, rain.  No wonder the little 8 year old kid used to love to follow Magpie Larks around. Although then we called them Muddies for obvious reasons. Still among my fav birds. All very Taoist to have returned to the beginning.

By the time I was back at the car reality had set in and the raindrops were now serious.  In the 10 minutes to home it turned into a major downpour, and I’d only put the kettle on for a cuppa when the thunder and lighting began, and the rain gauge began to fill up for the first time in a very long time.

More work to be done on Snipe.  Just needs some good light and patience.



Eynesbury Gems— Take #2

You can guess that it is raining here today. ‘Cause I’m stuck inside and I’ve cleaned the cameras and formatted the memory cards, (twice) and charged the batteries.  And its still raining.  Beaut really as it will freshen up a very tired bush.

But on the other hand the only thing left on the todo list is to finish off the Eynesbury Series.  So here is episode #2.


Not much to add from the previous ramble so here we go with eight more shots from the day.


Varied Sittella, showing off its usual pattern of going down the tree in hunt for food


Brown Thornbill. Not often I get a shot of it out in the open. Usually only just hear them or see a movement in the bushes


Speckled Warbler, and this is as good as it got. There seems to be four or more pairs at work in various parts of the Grey Box. Hearing them is one thing, getting a view another, but photographing them an whole new ball game. Still it keeps us going out


Striated Pardalote


Pretty excited with this find as its the first Sacred Kingfisher that I’ve seen in Eynesbury. Given the number of “Pee Pee Pee” calls I’d be certain of a number of them being in the forest.


A very young Pacific Black Duck. I’ve included it as its a rather special little duck. Somehow it has been seperated from its family. We’ve seen it from a very small duckling and each time have been a little surprised that it has managed to survive on its own. There certainly are other families of young ducks out there, but none that are at the same age as this loner. Good luck little duck.


And of course it wouldn’t be a trip without a visit to Jacky Winter. Shows how far I am behind in the Blogging business. They have since fledged the two young they were nursing. So there is two new Jackys in the forest. Will do a blog on their exploits in the not to distant future.

Saturday Evening Post #009

Had been looking forward to getting a second Eynesbury story to the blog this week, but sad, to say between bad weather, bad organisation, a day at Hanging Rock with Werribee Wagtails,  and a couple of family events, time just frittered away.


This is from my Enyesbury journal.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have been feasting among the black wattle now that the flowers have gone to seed. Plenty of work for a large flock, and each individual seems to have its own technique for dealing with the rich smorgasbord.
And because of their ability to deal with the human condition a close approach didn’t seem to be all that hard.  All I had to do was wait for the leaves to be in the right spot, and the bird ready to draw up the next offing.

I’ve been using the Teleconverter TC1.7 on the PF 300mm f/4 lens of late.  It makes it a bit on the slow side, but it is quite a light and easy to handle kit for many bush birds.  Not my favourite for inflights, but life as they say is a compromise.
I’ve done a few tests and while it is sharp, it’s not as sharp as the Sigma 150-600 Sport. But that kit is a lot heavier.
Just for the record, I think the TC 1.7 works better at higher shutter speeds and the VIbration Reduction (VR) turned off.  The net has so many arguments about how the VR performs when left on, but you’ve only got look at EE’s Flickr site to see how good it can be on the TC1.4  EE has had the TC 1.4 on from day 1 and the VR set to Normal.  Sometimes we get to be too gear conscious and miss the simplicity of working at the photo rather than extolling the equipment.  As David DuChemin says, “Gear is good, but, Vision is Better.


This shot is nearly a full frame, cropped only for effect.


Keep takin’ photos. We do.



Saturday Evening Post #008: Book Review

Normally I don’t do book reviews, nor equipment boosts and the like.  I also have refrained on this blog from entering into discussion on Politics, Religion or Sport.  Except of course for the occasional swipe at these hot potatoes.

So what is a book doing here?  Hardly birds.
And right you are.

However Obama an Intimate Portrait is by a photographer.  Pete Souza by name.  Not one the average birdo will have heard of, but stay with me on this and we’ll see where it goes.

First I’m not asking, suggesting or hinting you go out and buy this book.  Its big, bold and expensive.  Interlibrary loan is a good option. Worked for me.

I first found out about Pete’s work from The Online Photographer (TOP) blog.

Mike Johnston has been an editor I’ve followed for many a year, he used to be editor of a magazine called PHOTOtechnique, which used to explore some great photographic processes in the days of film (I refuse to call it analogue or Analogue).

Anyway here is Mike on the book,

And a link to Pete Souza’s site about the book.

For those who enjoy people photography there is so much to like about the book, and dare I say it out loud, but also to gain an understanding of the man at the center of the photos. Obama.
Pete spent most days, and many hours of the day with the President.  He collected over 2 million images.
And it began to dawn on this old brain, that had I not pursued my photographic path,  I might have enjoyed being able to photograph, not as a paparazzi, but working with people to make compelling intimate portraits.

And ding!!!!!

There is the connection.

Much of what I either show here or on Flickr or place as wall art, or calendar or book work, with the wide variety of birds that I have the privilege to work with, is to bring intimate portraits of fascinating moments in their lives.

Now, I’m not comparing to Pete’s work, just pondering the way roads diverge and converge at the most unpredictable times.

Obama writes the foreward to the book, and I’m going to take the journalistic license to quote one small piece.  See if it resonates with your own work, or your interest in birds.

“… what makes Pete such an extraordinary photographer, I think, is something more than his ability to frame an interesting moment. It’s his capacity to capture the mood, the atmosphere, and the meaning of that moment. And for all the unique and often historic images he captured, he never made himself part of the story those images told.”

You’ve probably noted the “No Shape No Shadow” trailer I added to the site. (a Tai Chi thing), I think Pete might have been happy to accept that as his working mantra.

Back to birds next week. Promise.

I really liked this spread as it shows the man, “POTUS”, as Pete nicknamed him, putting his foot on a weigh machine for one of his staff, and relaxing as any Dad would like to on the lawn with one of the kids.