Saturday Evening Post #90: What’s Fun to Shoot!

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away from Corona, I had the good fortune to be able to attend a day workshop with a visiting US based photographer, Pete Turner.

It is said, of Pete, that he was one of the founding fathers of colour photography, and more particularly graphic, dynamic and alive motifs.

His use of colour in a world of monochrome was striking to say the least.

He is known to have said, “Color is in my DNA, I think in color”.

He also talked on the day about being able to follow your instincts and not formulas. And as he would say, “And ultimately, that is the key—shoot what’s fun.”

You’ve probably seen his “Rolling Ball” image.  If not here is a link.

For many years, I thought that the image somehow was made using one of the ‘Great Pyramids of Egypt’.  Never was able to figure out the funny little hut shape on top.

Surprise!

It wasn’t taken in Egypt. It’s not a pyramid. It’s a roof top on a building somewhere in the Nubian Desert.  Ahh.  That makes sense.

But the Graphic is still so compelling.

If you like detective stories, I found this by fellow photographer, Eric Meola (another whose work in colour is simply gripping). Finding the Location for Rolling Ball

I learned a lot that day at the workshop. How to manipulate colour, how to make amazing duplicate montages (remember this was way way before Photoshop), how shape and form may bring a bold graphic to an otherwise ordinary overlooked subject. And so much more.

But the big takeaway was:
A good photograph has to be something that pleases you, that you like. That is the important thing. Does it pass your litmus test? Start on a project and stick to your guns. A project you want to work on that inspires you, and keeps the creative juices flowing.

And here is a link for the cataloge of Pete’s 2006-07 exhibition at George Eastman House.

After many twists and turns in my own path with a camera, and I can say, that just about everyone of those, (with the exception of making photos of powder-coated white laundry stands with highly polished stainless steel insert bowls, — think keeping white, white, while making the stainless steel look like bright clean metal. ((and for bonus points try to work out how to keep the studio internal reflections in the bowl from picking up all extraneous shapes, lights and colours)) that just about everything I’ve photographed has included an element of enjoyment for the subject.
I used to have the following as a sort of studio motto, “It’s hard to explain, but I try to photograph a moment or a feeling…”

The young kites were having their “hunting on the ground” lessons when we arrived the other day. Totally absorbed by their activity they seem to ignore my presence. So much so that this one was happy to make a close approach and perch on the thistle not too far from me, and like a well prepared model, turn this way, that way, lean back, and engage great eye contact.

Shoot what’s fun.

Little Journeys: The X-Rated Story

We had as the story is told, been shopping early in the morning to beat the rush before Metro Melbourne is forced into lockdown because of the stupidity and thoughtlessness of people.
As a friend of mine has put a sign in his window, “Welcome to Melbourne. The home of the stupidous people in Australia”.
Dictionary definition of stupidous: One who knows how stupid they are and still continues to act stupid; hence the ous at the end.

On a whim, as we had indeed packed the cameras, you know, on the off chance, wink wink, if the light was good, we might make a last journey to the beach area at Point Cook.

So, as The Banjo did write,  we went.

As soon as we arrived, EE called, “See, Black-shouldered Kite on the highest branch”, and of course she was right. Not that anyone would doubt.

Within a few moments of getting out of IamGrey, it was obvious that this was the female of the species, as very quickly the male swept in first with a mouse, then with a stick for the nest and then for pro-creation purposes.

Unlike the pair we’ve been working with locally, these two are pretty much about the same size, she being a bit better weighted.  They have a much more robust relationship too, as he is quite capable of giving as much as he gets. She might rule the roost, but he is definitely not subordinate.

Time passed, and as we hadn’t thought about lunch or any snacks, we were just as refreshed watching the birds going about their important business, and sitting in the sunshine enjoying the serenity around us.
We did make it to the beach, but not before an interlude with Cassia of Cinnamon, the Brown Falcon that featured here with her two young last year.  No doubt she is back and establishing a nesting territory.  Time will indeed tell.

By late mid-afternoon, with a full memory, and a full memory card or two, it was time to head for home.

The lockdown this time seems to have enough flexibility for a return visit or two so we might be able to follow the new Kite family in a bit of detail.  Just going to have to buy a set of golfclubs or a fishing rod or surfboard, to carry around, as such activities are gazetted.

Here is a few from the day, and a link here to the X-Rated Material on the webpage.

Looking remarkably refreshed after two successive nestings, the female is preparing for another round.
Meanwhile down in the forest the male is collecting the necessary building materials.
Personally beak picked and ready for installation. It took me a few minutes to locate where he’d settled.
Heavy lifting done, time for the next step in baby-making
His next mission it to provide some top-up snacks
She has the casual one legged approach to landing
This was an interesting transfer, as he bought in the mouse, and then set for quite a few minutes before she flew in to wrestle it from him.
The handy dandy workman at work.
Each twig or branch has to come from just the right spot, and he often has a hard time getting the branch to break off.
In bound with just the right piece.

 

Saturday Evening Post #89 : Sharing Space

For once the weather tv talking heads had managed to get it right.

Rain.

EE and I had an appointment at the medical precinct very close to the nesting site of the Black-shouldered Kites. How close? Well, we could see the trees just down the road as we parked at the clinic.

“You know,” she had said, “we’ll be in the area, why not just take a few minutes after we’re through with the doctor, and go on for a look to see what the young kites might be up to?”

Good thought.

But, as they say, by the time we’d finished with the medicos and were back in iAmGrey, the weather had closed. In!

Still a quick look wouldn’t hurt would it.

The showers had turned to a light drizzle, and we rugged up, grabbed the cameras and walked down to the nesting area.  The young kites were up and about on some trees nearby.

A glance across the paddock behind them revealed a slow moving grey mass, that was more than ‘just a passing shower’.

In the open paddock it was intriguing to see the grey mass, slowly, and, inexorably heading toward us.
The drizzle turned to a half decent shower, and then to incessant and increasing as the grey mass loomed even closer.

Dad, was out hunting, and it was thought prudent to stand under a tree and try to keep the cameras dry, and hope that he could bring in a mouse for a bit of aerial action.
One of the young kites sat, ready to make its presence felt should a food offering be made.
But

The rain was now intensifying, and after a few shakes of the feathers, it must have concluded that it would be drier under the trees. It took off.

Headed in my direction, and landed on a branch about 5-6 metres from where I stood.  We both looked at each other.
I offered it a, “It is getting wetter isn’t it” But the young one just shook its feathers and tried to hunch down a bit to avoid the rain that was now coming through the tree canopy.

“Time to head for the shelter of the car….”, I heard in the distance, as a bedraggled EE set off toward the vehicle.
I stepped back just enough to fit all the of the young bird in the frame, messed with the exposure, and made the shot.

The young kite had second thoughts about this being a dry spot, shook its feathers again, and flew across the stand of trees to what must have been a much drier area. Perhaps it thought if I wasn’t going to share the space with it, it would go elsewhere.

Smiling, I slogged back to the car.

Photographic Essay: Three Up

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m just about to save you from reading 6,849 words.

The young kites are well on the wing, and just about able to look after themselves.  Dad is more a mentor than a ready-food source.

While a kite’s life is usually one of isolation, sort of makes sense in the current lockdown pandemic: Note I did not say pandemic lockdown :-), the young kites have spent more of their young lives together in the nest and around, and so are often quite happy to sit together.  They rarely squabble over food, although are prepared to put their case for the next meal quite forcibly.  Fortunately Dad has his rules, and they are followed.

But getting all three together is not a regular occurrence.

So here are a few that I’ve been fortunate to capture, and on this link, https://adobe.ly/3eSgpC3  
there are several more variations.

Enjoy.

Photographic-Essay: Annoying Relatives

It happens just about every-time.
You settle in for a quiet meal-in peace, and a hungry, noisy relative drops by looking for a little bit of the action.

One young Black-shouldered Kite had just recieved a top-up from Dad.
Time to find a quiet branch.
Then, with the usual racket, one of the close relatives drops in to see if there is a handout.

This looked like a good branch to enjoy a quiet snack
Hey, hey, here I come, any for me?
I’m here, are you going to share?
Short answer is obviously No!
Checking that it didn’t leave anything behind.
Now to find a better spot
Lunch in the sun. More than picnic.

Photographic-Essay: Landing Right(s)

As the young local Black-shouldered Kites have continued to grow, they reached the point where all the necessary training had ended, and they needed to take a leap-of-faith and step off the trees and taste the thrill of flight.

It is interesting to watch how they tackle this major step, and I’ve often wondered if there isn’t some internal brain function that kind of switches on the ‘Let’s Go’ signal, and they finally ease their grip on branch or leaf, and suddenly find themselves free.

However.

All the training does not prepare them for the next event.

HOW DO YOU STOP THIS THING?

With no aeronautical skills to speak of, they resort to a simple, crash into the leaves at the top of the tree. Surprisingly, they are not very heavy, and the whole momentum thing doesn’t seem to harm them in anyway.  After a little they even begin to figure out how to slow things down a bit, and sort of just ‘lob’ into the leaves.

Within a couple of days, they have most of the skills for landing on branches, and soon they can practice high-speed manoeuvres and swing in on just about any branch from any angle.

So here is a week or so’s worth of flight and landing shots.  They are but a smallish collection as we’ve had a few good days with them over the past week.

I’ve also begun to make some Shared Photos Albums on Lightroom Web.

Here is the address for this current set.  https://adobe.ly/2N38chS

I’m thinking in future to put the bulk of the story pictures there, and then insert a link in the weblog. This means I can share a few more of the event without filling up  the page here on WordPress.

Hope it works for you. Feedback welcome.

Before you can fly you must stretch the wings and build up the muscles. Not easy when you siblings won’t give you any room.
EHHHH yaaaa!
Help!!! Look out here I come
No speed control, and not much finesse.
Error of comedy. The top one had landed successfully, its sibling wants part of the action. But landing on a vertical branch offers new challenges
Ok, locked on, now to fold up the sails, trying not to knock off the other bird
Simply not enough room for both to balance, the first bird yields the space.
This one missed the branch and tumbled through the gap.
Balance, balance, balance, hold tight, balance. I think I can do it.
Full on hit the leaves, and get close to the other bird
It couldn’t get a grip and nearly knocked the other bird from its precarious perch.
Long distance shot. The little bird had wanted to get close to Dad, but knocked him from the stick, unfortunately it grabbed his foot as a landing spot. The big fella was not happy.
Rocking back and forward trying to right the body angle.
Trying to land on the top of close comms tower.
Up, Up, Up, but.
It ran out of lift before it brushed off speed and hit the tower sideways
Two weeks on the wing, and the smallest of targets are achievable.

Photographic-Essay: Training Your Black-shouldered Kite, an Attitude of Gratitude.

The blog has been a bit quiet of late.  And as one of my mentors David DuChemin says, “My heart has run out of words.”  Between social changes, and restrictions, to a world-wide outpouring of grief and cry for justice, it has left some with mental whiplash.

Yet as David says, “We’ve got so much, we are healthy, safe, and have gratitude for what we do have.”  For those who don’t know David’s work, he has been involved for over twenty years with several NGOs (Non Government Organisations) at work in several countries, including Africa, India and Afghanistan. And he says of the current situations, “I hope it has long been abundantly clear that I will always fall on the side of compassion, justice, the oppressed and the broken. I just don’t have words right now.”

Words just don’t seem sufficient.
So while I’ve been quiet, in-fact there have been a few things happening in the field.
All of them items for which both EE and I are grateful that we have been graced to enjoy.

  • My Flickr friend, and commenter on our blog, David Nice, was kind enough to advise of the location of a nesting pair of Black-shoulded Kites.
  • We managed a week of really great weather.
  • Shivering cold mornings and glorious sunny days.
  • Windless weather.
  • Right in the middle of the young Black-shoudlered Kites fledging and learning to hunt.

There are a lot of images here. Mind, it is but a tiny part of the bulging folio of photo-story that EE and I have been able to make over the past couple of weeks.

Let’s begin at the end, today, and see how these amazing little creatures are beginning their lives.

Dad herding one of his young back to the nesting area. It had decided to see if it could join him on a hunt. Not likely. To move it along he gave it a wing clip as he went by.
Suitably chastised it headed for the tree.
The rich colours are impressive
Dad arriving with a mouse and getting plenty of attention
This snack goes to the nest area, and the young are quick to follow.
Next food top-up he hovered out in the open, dangling the mouse. But the young one’s didn’t quite get the idea
Another delivery and this time one of them decided that it was worth the effort to get its own snack.
Locked on and speed slowing down.
Hard to imagine the calculations going on in the young head.
Looks like its locked on to use the left claw for the contact
At the last moment, instead it swings in with the right claw. Also Dad has repositioned the mouse so that it will make contact.His legs are closer together as he moved the mouse over.
Target acquired
Dad waits until its all secure before releasing
Success!
“My work here is Done”
To the victor the spoils.
Here is another transfer, this time on a branch. A dangerous move as the young one can easily knock him from the branch.
Again he waits until it is secure before letting go.
No mouse here!
Youngster mantling over its successful transfer.

Moments: The Little Warrior

This series was shot a couple of years back.
EE and I had been working with a pair of Black-shouldered Kites for over a year, and they had managed two successful nestings.

The nest was at the very top of a small pine tree inside a farm paddock, the birds would often fly out over the roadway where we were parked.

Just about fledging time a troupe of Black Kites moved into the area and took great interest in the young ones sitting high-up out in the open.  This resulted in some great aerial battles by Mum and Dad, yet the Blacks persisted in coming back and getting closer.
Of the three young in the nest, one was obviously a few days ahead of its siblings, and while not a great aeronaut yet, it could fly well enough to look after itself.

On this morning the Black Kites were even more intense on their attack, and swooped right over the remaining nestlings.

Mum and Dad flew frantic missions to see them off, but were not having much success.
It must have gotten all to much for the Little Warrior, as it burst out of the trees and joined in the foray.  Dad then had a new problem, and that was to hunt the young one away from the far more skillful Black Kites.

However the young warrior was not having a bar of that and continued to press attacks against the larger birds. What the big birds thought of it would have been interesting.  But it tired quickly, and needed to drop down on to the tree for a rest, followed very closely by one aggressive Black Kite. Fortunately nothing came of the attack, and the bigger birds became bored and like teenagers in a shopping mall, moved on to see what else they could find.

Dad flew out and caught a mouse, and quickly returned to reward his Little Warrior.

Black Kite over the nest.
Leave my family alone.
The big birds would not take NO for an answer.
Dad doing his best to keep the young one away from the bigger birds
Swinging in past Dad, and heading for an attack
Well if noise was enough to intimidate the Blacks, the young one certainly gave its best shot.
Defending upside down and Dad watches for other danger.
After a few minutes in the air, the young Warrior needed a rest, but the big birds did not stop their pursuit.
As a reward Dad arrived with a nice fresh snack to reward his Little Warrior.

The Fine Art of Feeding

Over the past few weeks I’ve managed to collect a few Black-shouldered Kite feeding routines.

It always involves the male of the pair doing the hunting. Often times the female will fly out meet him and take it from him in the air.

It seems to me there are at least three techniques used by the birds.

1. Scary:  He hangs motionless in the air with the mouse presented on an extended foot.  She sweeps in at a great speed, flips upside down, claws out, and takes the mouse. The stress on his leg must be quite large as this a non-stop movement.
2. Dainty:  Again he hangs midair, she lines up from underneath and plucks the mouse with her beak.  She is practically motionless at the point of contact.
3.  Easy, but under pressure.  This is always a branch transfer. The main reason I think is that it might be easier on the male, but most times its because of prying eyes circling about to see what chance they have of taking off with a free lunch. Usually once it has been transferred she will sit mantling the food until she feels safe to deal with it.

When the young are very small, Mum will prepare the food, and then go to the nest and feed small pieces to each of the youngsters.  As they grow, she delivers, but they feed, and before fledgling Dad will deliver straight to the nest. The young will share the meal.

Once they are on the wing, some feeding takes place on the nest, and as they grow more confident in the air, the male will hang the mouse down and give the young a chance to hone their flying skills.  It has to be said that a hungry young one is more enthusiasm than skill, but that improves rapidly. In the end they can gracefully take it from his dangling claw.

So let’s illustrate some of those techniques.

Lining up for an approach
All systems Go!
Precision
And away

 

Another mid-air claw to beak transfer.
Transfering from a branch. She has rushed in and nearly knocks him from the branch.
The female, mantling over a mouse as a squadron of Black Kites waits for an opportunity to help themselves.
With no flight skills to speak of this is not going to go well for the young one.
Juvenile, “Hold still Dad, I’ve got it.”
Missed by… That much…
Turning back for a second run
You can’t fly through Dad to get to the mouse
All wings, legs and loud voice, but the angle of attack is all wrong
Sailing past, but no mouse.

Monday Morning Musing: Surprise!

Funny how somethings just catch up on you, when you least it expect it.

A few days ago, I’d left the Black-shouldered Kite nesting area with a few shots of the two just-fledged juveniles sitting on top of a tree.  Also had the feeling that it would be the last we’d see of them due to the travel restrictions and the like that were about to settle in.

However as  EE had not been out for the week, I had need to do both grocery shopping and also we were both in need of some well earned ‘exercise’, and we decided to combine both activities into the one trip.

We thought the local park to crowded and restricted, so to relieve the pressure on that location we motored on a little further.
I must admit to feeling much more secure in the middle of a 40 acre paddock than pushing a shopping trolley around a bustling supermarket.
No one at the carpark on our arrival, so we set off through the scrub.

Well, fancy that. What a surprise; we were in the area of the nesting Black-shouldered Kites.  🙂

What was even more astounding, and taking tongue-out-of-cheek for a few seconds, was that there sitting in the tree together, enjoying the morning sunshine, was not two juveniles, but three!

The one on the left in this shot, seems much darker and richer brown, so I suspect it is a couple of days behind the others, as they have already begun to lose some of that lovely ginger colour.

So clever mum had not only survived all the heavy rain, hail, strong winds and cold snap, but had hatched three young ones for her trouble.
We waited a few minutes before moving on, and one of the older ones took to the air.  Bonus.

It made our journey home a much more enjoyable time, and I quickly dashed through the Woolies lines—that’s why I pick Woolies.  🙂
and we were home in isolation in no time.

I recently came across, a link to the benefits of “Forest Bathing”, shinrin-yoku (Japanese) 

Here’s a quote:

This is not  hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge.
By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

And if someone should challenge you here is a detailed scientific study on the benefits to the body.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/

Jon Young’s “Sit Spot”, is another example of such a practice.

I am not disputing the Government’s current stance, as firm action is needed, but a touch of wonderful chlorophyl generated good-will makes the heart sing.

A proverb I read somewhere said, “A merry heart does good like a medicine”.

May your time of isolation bring you harmony and the opportunity to enjoy the small things in your around.

Remain

Davyyd

The wonderful rich ginger colours will fade so quickly, but so good to see them on the wing.
Hard to pick from a single image but this one is practicing hovering.
Tricky stuff for the over enthusiastic but clumsy flying young one. In the end, dad took the mouse back to the nest for safe and easier transfer.

 

 

Little Visits: Out of the Box

For those who follow my Saturday Evening Post, and #75, last weekend, in particular, here is the next installment.

We had guessed the young kites would be on the wing over the weekend, and so decided that Tuesday would have the best morning light, and we were gearing up to go first thing.
On Monday, on the way back from a shopping trip—essential groceries only-of course— the ABC radio informed us as of 11:59pm today (Monday), everyone would be required to stay at home and a $1602 fine would be imposed. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Shane Patton, said there were no exceptions and police leniency would be minimal.
I looked at the four allowed activities, and couldn’t see; “Ok to go and photograph Black-shouldered Kite fledglings” anywhere.

I suppose I might have rationalised that a ‘walk’ for health reasons, might get by, but no leniency is a bit ominous.
I also pondered Scomo’s definition of “Essential” the previous night and how the good lady wife, Jenny, had gone out and bought the stay-at-home-kids, jigsaw puzzles, considered by the pm as “essential” to keep said offspring amused while at home.
But again I pondered trying to argue such a case with a uniformed officer writing my ticket as I spoke.

So we bolted home, skipped lunch, and grabbed the photo gear and as the Banjo says, “Went”.

We were much later than we’d like to be, feeding the young happens early, and then everyone in good Black-shouldered Kite practice settles down to snooze until later in the afternoon, when it’s time to trip down the road for the male, to bring in fresh supplies.

The young had indeed fledged, and one flew over us almost immediately and landed at the top of the a nearby pine tree, and stayed there the next couple of hours.  I concluded later, that it was the one that had recently been fed, and its sibling was still waiting for “Couch Potato” to stretch his wings and bring in another mouse. The giveaway was the continual “sraaarcking” call.  In the meantime it amused itself by climbing through the branches of the trees and jumping from one tree to another.
Eventually it ended up on the same tree as the other one.

Then “Ubereats” turned up with a mouse, and it was finally able to get its meal.

Unless the ban is lifted in the next week or so, I guess this is the last of the series we’ll be able to enjoy.

A shout out to the female in this case, as she has bought this clutch through some of the worst weather, driving rain, hail, strong winds and freezing cold days. All from high atop her open penthouse. Little tiny featherless young in wet stormy weather must be hard to protect.

Remain

At first a bit hard to find through the trees as there was no real access.
The rich golden colours show up so well
The second one turns up scrambling through the branches
Perfect little birds
And a comparison of front and side colouring
“I can do a wing stretch”
“Mine’s better”
Look, look, its Ubereats delivery
“Who’s been a good bird then?”
Dropping into the nest area for the young one to come and collect
“Hey, that one has my name on it.” What is interesting is they do not squabble over who’s turn it is. Well at least not yet.
Let me show you my cute little tail. See its still got the brown edging.

Saturday Evening Post #75 : A New Beginning

Hope everyone is well, and for those in lockdown where-ever that may be, that you are keeping sane.

I’ve completely given up watching tv “Fear News”, when it was ‘Fake News”, it was a bit laughable.  Now it seems that the media want to make everyone into a skulking paranoid.
I’ve locked in the Gov and State web sites. I check them and avoid the overworn adjectives that seem to have cluttered modern reporting (having trouble labelling it journalism)

Years ago I was called “anti-social”, for not being a social butterfly, but it seems that the introverts may finally have their moment.

Mr An Onymous always dreams of being a Lighthouse Keeper.  Isolation plus.

Melbourne Water have closed all Bird Watching Areas in the Western Treatment Plant. Sadly, I think I felt more secure in the acres at the middle of a sewage treatment works, than negotiating the byways of the local shopping center. 🙂

EE has been following a pair of Black-shouldered Kites since August last year. After a bit of stopping and starting, they eventually nested and managed to fly two healthy young.  Then strangely within a few weeks, the male had hunted the young ones off, and refused to feed them, they were soon off on their own.
EE thought that the pair would move on so we only dropped by once a week or so.  Then to our surprise, he started to provide mice, and carry sticks, and conduct other more serious relationship activities, (they bonked).

It took a few trips, but eventually EE was able to locate the possible nest site. High in the very tops of a huge pine.  Not easy to see, nor to photograph. And by mid-January, it was obvious she was in a nesting cycle.
Then, the weather turned feral.  We had 10 days of miserable cold, extremely wet and very gusty weather.  No doubt the the nest and its precious cargo would not survive.
After the deluge had passed we called by and again to our surprise, she was still at work on the nest, and was conducting running repairs with a new layer of twigs and sticks.
It says much about the tenacity, and dedication and perseverance that the female had to suffer the rain and wind, and still not abandon the project.

Because of the position and height of the nest, its been next to impossible to follow the growth of the young.
We went out last Friday, figuring it might just about be the final trip we can get in before more travel restrictions catch up with us.

We’d had in previous trips seen glimpses of movement and the occasional little brown head peeking, but had not had any chance to work out their progress.

So here we are.  Climbing out on the edge of the nest, surveying the area around.   Combine that with a range of wingflap activities and no doubt the next few days will bring both young out in the open. Not sure if we’ll be able to travel out to see them, but no doubt Mum and Dad will bring them on without our help.

So while one part of the world leaves us in despair, another part is doing its best to keep a species going.

Remain.

Saturday Evening Post #71 Wings Out

One of the most sought after inflight poses for birds is the “Heraldic” form.

The doyen of the craft was an Englishman named Eric Hosking.  It is hard to appreciate the complexity and technical difficulties that Eric had to overcome, in this day of High ISO values, Ultra fast f/2 and f/2.8 lenses and long focal lengths, electronic flash and electronic release systems.  Yet some of his earliest and most influential work was made with a glass plate or sheet film camera.  Each darkslide had 2 exposures.
Yet, if you take the chance to view the EricHosking Gallery online or obtain a copy of some of his books, the work still is modern, fresh and extremely well detailed.

In any discussion of his work, several points will always be made.
1 His meticulous attention to detail.  His field note books contained observations and details that  advanced our understanding enormously.
2. His care for the subject he was working with. No photograph was worth endangering the bird. He went to great care to work in the bird’s world at its pleasure.
3.His endless enthusiasm for the subjects, their surrounds, the technical issues and opportunities to share his work with others.

It is so difficult to think of sitting in a hide, with just one piece of film (a glass plate of ISO less the 10) and having to prefocus where the bird ‘should’ be at the time of exposure, and then making just the right judgement to press the shutter. No burst at 16fps for Eric.

He had a most unfortunate accident early in his career with a Tawny Owl.  A hide had been built to photograph a Tawny Owl family, but late one night he had to return to the hide as he thought poachers were at work.  On entering the hide, the Tawny flew in, and and to quote from “Any Eye for a Bird”
There was not a sound, not even the whisper of a wing. But out of the silent darkness a swift and heavy blow struck my face. There was an agonising stab in my left eye.  I could see nothing. The owl, with its night vision, had dived-bombed with deadly accuracy, sinking a claw deep into the centre of my eye.”

Eric would lose the eye.

But he soon went back to work.

One of his greatest images is the heraldic owl.

This was made in 1948, and Eric describes it as a “One in a Million Pose”.

The basis of the shape of the image is the typical heraldic form of family crest.

That such a pioneer was able to give us so many fine images and be an inspiration to so many people, not just photographers, but naturalists and the general public is part of the tribute to his skills, and concern for his subjects.

I was working with a pair of Black-shouldered Kites.
The male lifted off the tree, and soon after the female took off along the track.
He was back in less than 30 seconds flat with a mouse.  And he immediately began work on devouring it. She turned up a minute or so later, carrying a freshly plucked stick, no doubt intending to do some work on a nest.
On seeing him, she changed direction, swung in, expecting I guess, to get a share of  his dinner, and wings out dropped the stick. (the header photo)
Then in a million to one moment, the wings were out in the heraldic fashion, and I heard Eric say, “Well done!”

Both shots have been through Nik Silver Efex Pro, just to keep the historic theme going.

Enjoy.

Moments: Hiring a “Tradie”

EE spent much of November and December working with a Black-shouldered Kite pair that were raising two new, fine looking, young.

By the end of the year, the pair had given the young ones their marching orders and apart from a week or so of occasional visits the young now seem to have taken the hint and moved away.  Interesting to see, mostly the male, fly round them and keep them away from the resting female. Try as they might to slip past him, his diligence and vigilance, and fly skills meant it was all a bit in vain.

So, we thought. That will mean the adults will move on soon, as this area hasn’t traditionally had a ‘resident’ (not that Black-shouldered Kites are resident), pair.

So we thought.

On the way through the forest in the morning, and we were surprised to hear the pair contact calls.  She with a harsh “SCRaaaCH”, and he with a plaintive ‘Pee, pee”.

And there they were both sitting together on the edge of a clearing.   Ok. Time to get some pictures before they leave.

So we thought.

Surprisingly, after just a short break—less than a month—  they are back in business with a new nest site.
So while she sat and occasionally gave encouragements, he took on the role of a ‘tradie’. Lifting and bumping branches, twigs and long sticks. Then rearranging them into the chosen treetop.

While all this anecdotal, and is for this pair only, its been interesting to watch the progress.

Each stick is very carefully selected, and cut, or broken from a surrounding tree. He spends many minutes in the selected tree, and then either nips off the short small twigs or flys at them and pulls them off, or failing that flys at them full tilt and carries off the main branch by force.  Doesn’t always work, as occasionally a stick just doesn’t want to break away. 🙂

Then back to nest, much ‘pee, pee’ing as he approaches, and parachutes down into the treetop.  Then there is quite a bit of activity as he carefully threads it into the right place and satisfied, he usually spends a few minutes (say about 10!), sitting in the nest, and working out perhaps, what is needed next.

Then its off to “Bunnings” for the next load of building supplies.

In the hour or so he made about 6 visits, and she remained on her branch a long way back from the activity, and occasionally added her thoughts to the procedure.

What is interesting of course is that they have settled in for a second nesting. Perhaps the food in the area is likely to improve.

Time will tell as to their success.
In the meantime, here’s the Tradie.

She was quite happy to preen and watch proceedings from afar.

Stepping out of the nest to continue the work.

Off to Bunnings for another visit. Perhaps he likes the sausage sizzle on Tuesdays.

The early morning smokey light has given him a richer colour, and at first I thought it must have been one of the young birds in their ginger dress.