Little Visits: Building a Thread with a Brown Falcon

Many of my early readers and followers of this blog will recall I am a follower of Jon Young, author of “What the Robin Knows”.

His book is not so much about robins per se as about making connections with birds in their world.
Jon is among other things a skilled tracker and an outdoors trainer. He was taught by some of the best trackers and hunters from his tribe with the Native Americans. His work, and humanitarian activities have taken him around the world and he often tells the story of a Sans Bushman from Africa who said,
“I see a small bird and recognise it, a thin thread is formed between me and the bird. If I just see it no thread is made. If I go again, and again, and recognise the bird, the thread will thicken. Each time I recognise the bird the thread will grow to become a string, a cord and then a rope. We make ropes to all aspects of creation in this way.”

He also tells of the time he was at a meeting in a glass-walled office suite and said to the folk in the room, “You have a cat in your courtyard”.  No, no, they replied, there are no animals allowed in the gardens.  A minute or so later, a cat strolled nonchalantly across the manicured lawns. How did he know that, they asked. “The birds in the garden were acting in a manner that suggested a cat was nearby,” Jon replied.

Over the years I’ve managed, and its not bragging, just the way I work, of building some fine rope connections with some birds. Perhaps because of their personality, or sheer inquisitiveness, but like Jon, there a several such stories I could tell, a few of them have been subjects of this blog in the past.

EE and I have located a Brown Falcon at nest. Dangerous really, as Browns broach no interference in this serious business, and someone, even with good intentions, sticking a camera in their work space is not taken kindly. So having worked out where the activity was taking place, I’ve made a wide berth of the spot.   I also know, from past experience, that if all is well, and I don’t press the boundaries, respect their business and keep to my side of the line, that eventually the line will become narrower, and I’ll be able to see just a little more. Then sometimes the bird graces us with the chance to enter into its world, and while I might not have free access, at least I’m treated benignly.

What worries me about sharing this is that some will drag out the ‘Photographers Code of Practice”, or some such and berate me for my impertinence.   However if I’m not invited, I don’t go.

Someone will ask ‘How do you know?”
To which I have to respond honestly, “Why don’t you go out and sit with a bird and find out for yourself.”  Operative point of that is— ‘sit with the bird’.

Here’s the scoop.  She sits the nest. He hunts.  A large gleeful cackle brings an instant response from her and she is off the nest and in the air to accept his delivery.  She will feed, preen, stretch and then return to the nest.  If I’m not wanted, then I don’t see any of that.
Where it gets really exciting is this Brown, feed, then landed on a branch quite close to where we were standing, and sat.

We waited.

She realised no movement from us, and after about 20 minutes, she began the process of putting all her nest crumpled feathers back in place. Then she waited, flew past a few metres out, landed on another tree, and repeated the process.  The shots here were taken over about an hour, and neither EE or I moved much more than a metre or so.
Again she preened, rearranged, and then stepped out, and circled to land in the nest.

Now I should also add that I’ve worked with the bird a few seasons before, so we are not complete strangers. In fact over the time she has taught me quite a bit about the world of Brown Falcon. Still so much more to learn.


Flying out to meet her cackling mate coming in with lunch
This is the male. He has, unusually, a yellow cere and eye ring.
I’d guess its a pipit he’s delivering
Off to the ‘secret’ hand over spot
The male on the way out again. Sometimes he’ll return and sit near the nest, just to check things out. Most times, its back out to the paddock for another food run.
Well fed she can attend to the business of brightening up her wardrobe. I love to see them zip up all the flight feathers.
Sometimes, the one-legged stance is a challenge, but here she is getting ready to line up the feathers.
Wing and tail relief all at once. The wing markings are a treat.
Time to go. Nesting duty calls. I’m pretty certain the egg is near to hatched or just recently hatched as she did spend a lot of time away.
All sails up.
Passing by with not even a glance. Every time that happens, the thread is strengthened.

8 thoughts on “Little Visits: Building a Thread with a Brown Falcon

  1. Again, amazing captures David, and yes it is a wonderful privilege when they trust you enough to let you view them doing life up close. The Brown Falcon is one of the most beautifully patterned of our raptors, they are always a treat to photograph when the opportunity arises. You have captures so well the complexity of their plumage patterns. I guess it is cold down there today while we are on critical alert due to fires winds and extreme heat It has had a terrible toll so far, in areas where I use to live. At least you have had rain, though Tassie has snow as well, we so need it.


  2. Hello Ashley, they are among our finest marked birds I think, also the wide variations in the markings make then sometimes a bit easier to identify as individuals. I’ve seen them with chest markings from refrigerator white, through to almost choclate black, but my favs are the ones that have a slight marbling look.

    For those directly affected by the fires, it’s a most appalling time. For those of us further away its incomprehensible.
    There is in the Melbourne State Library a huge wall painting by William Strutt “Black Thursday 1851”. The size is quite imposing but more than that, the details, the looming disaster and the fleeing people and animals has a huge impact on the viewer.
    If you’ve not seen it, here is quick reference.

    I also found this, but can’t find the original source, perhaps a newspaper of the time.
    ‘Fires covered a quarter of what is now Victoria (approximately 5 million hectares). Areas affected include Portland, Plenty Ranges, Westernport, the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. Approximately 12 lives, one million sheep and thousands of cattle were lost’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A Nice read David ,thanks for sharing 😊.
    You may not remember But awhile ago I was talking to you via Flickr about the 300 f4 prime … I’ve taken the plunge and it’s on order ( can’t wait )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do remember the conversation(s). The 300mm is a cracker lens. Mine no longer carries the workload, but on days of travelling light, it still gets the spot in the bag.
      I used to have a hesitation with it with the D810 and its slower shutter speeds, but now on the D500, I would not hesitate to use it.

      Good luck with the purchase, I hope Nikon are able to deliver quickly. look forward to seeing some results.



  4. A wonderful series of images. Telling the story perfectly! What The Robin Knows is a great book, and often read!
    Yes, it is rather special when we see the thread beginning to form and develop. It is a true privilege to be allowed into the world of our avian friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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