Moments: Learning (Brown) Patience

At “The Office”, there are a resident pair of Brown Falcon.

(Called the Office, because we spend a bit of time there as in—Just another day at the office—)

One of Brown’s qualities certainly must be their patience. Happy to sit quietly, seemingly disinterested, they take the scene in, work out where the food is, and then strategies to get to the spot, and return with the least amount of energy dissipation.

Not unusual to see Brown, sitting with its distinct upright stance on a post, branch or roadside sign for what seems hours. Passing traffic has little effect on the bird’s demure stance.

We’ve worked with this pair for a few years, and when they are around, its interesting to see them favour one or another perching locations.
I’ve featured this bird several times on the blog over the years, and have called him “Bernie”. Late evening sunshine ‘burnishes,’ his rich mottled chest, and so the name seemed appropriate.  Not that he seems to care it must be said.

He was hunting for small crickets and the like on the edge of the river cliffs.  A large melaleuca bush is one of the favoured perches.  Gives a great view along the cliffs and he can prop into the branches and so be protected from attacks from the rear.  Magpies, mudlarks, other raptors might swing by and attempt to dislodge him, but clever bird that he is, he simply sets back further among the branches and any attack is thwarted by the branches.

We had been working with him for about an hour or so and the light had been good, and as we headed for home, I peeked over the rim and there he was in the bush. But the light had diminished, still it was worth waiting for him to throw as it would have to be toward or at least to the side.

I don’t often shoot multi-burst, but figured that by the time he left the bush and got settled he’d have to stay pretty much in the same focus plane and most of the shots would be sharp (ish). Pity about the light and slow shutter speed.

So EE and I waited.  Things happen slowly in Brown Falcon time. But you’ve got to keep your eye on the bird, as they don’t give a lot of warning that they are going to move.
So we waited.

Brown waited.

It’s one of the reasons why with a long lens we invest in a good tripod, and a Wimberley gimbal head. Takes all the weight off the arms. But, who wants to carry all that heavy gear out just on the off chance it might be needed. So, I was shooting handheld with the 500mm PF. Light enough, but after 10 minutes my aching muscles needed a rest.  And then there is always the risk that is the moment the bird will throw.

Waiting.

Another round or two of holding until the muscles cramp, and then releasing.
Waiting.

I was just regrabbing focus and had the shutter half-pressed, when with barely a feather ruffle Bernie took to the air, straight toward me, and I ripped off a sequence.
“Oh No,” I heard on my right.  And it was just at that moment EE had taken a muscle relief stretch.  Sympathy doesn’t cut it.  Gloating is not part of the process.

Here are all the frames from the sequence.  I thought it was interesting  how the wings are deployed to get him out of the bush, and turned for the run along the grass.

{EDIT} It wasn’t until I re-looked at the shots here on the blog that it shows that on the upwing strokes the rocks his legs forward pendulum like, on the more powerful down stroke, the legs go  back to close to the body.  Just like a kid on a swing. Brown, you always amaze me.

Enjoy

Bernie arriving at the bush. I shot this one earlier in the day, and you can just see the edge of the river cliff in the bottom of the frame.
Snug, safe and on the alert

Typical Brown Falcon flight. Ground hugging radar in action
This is a close flyby from earlier in the afternoon when the light was good. Go Bernie
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