Saturday Evening Post #187: In Heartbeats

There is, a thought where, to paraphrase Kahil Gibran, “You and the Subject are One: The Difference is in Heartbeats.”

There can be no doubt that photographing birds can be a somewhat hit and miss affair.
Not every bird is ready for its space to be invaded by a stumbling human with a long lens attached to a camera, no matter what the good intentions.
Some birds never allow close approaches. Yet on rare occasions for their own reasons will swing in close and the heartbeats somehow synchronise for a few brief moments.

A couple of Hobbys (Not sure if they are a pair or perhaps siblings from a recent nesting) were working over the treelines. It was easy to follow their progress as the agitated calls of White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters announced their travel through the treelines.

One of the pair stopped long enough perhaps to appraise the situation and take stock of the next opportunity. This bird swung in over the top and the first bird abandoned the perch.

This moment shows the second bird balancing its landing and slowly folding up the wings in preparation for also taking its own survey.
Did it know I was there? Of course. But for just a few moments our heartbeats aligned.
A quick look around, and satisfied there was little to eat in the area, it was off across the paddock at full tilt. Gone was the heartbeat moment.

Saturday Evening Post #184: Less is More

More or less. 🙂
Much of the advice regarding storing digital ‘assets’ almost since the beginning of digital photography has been something like, Well its cheap to make digital photos as you don’t have to buy film so take as many as possible.
The corollary to that advice was keep them all, disk space is cheap, and you never know when you might need one of them. Or, like high quality wine, they will improve with age on the disk.

So, I guess we have to admit. We did.

Recent weeks I seem to have been ‘enlightened’ on blogs and newsletters, by those same experts with a new mantra. (Perhaps they forgot their old advice or needed to trot out something new)

It follows roughly similar calls, to “learn to curate you photos- delete the ones you won’t use. Choose the best ones and work with those.”

While the “shoot lots and keep all”, was a good idea when digital files were small—the first ones I made were 750kb each! (Think how many I could get on a 1 megabyte card) today’s high res, high pixel count files in raw can be as much as 65mb or each. It quickly begins to build up terabytes of files, most of which will never see the light of day.

I have to say, (mostly) I tend to edit hard after a shoot. Comes from the old days of filum I guess. Out of a roll of 36 exposures, I didn’t want to sit in the darkroom and print every one to figure which were the keepers. Make a quick Contact Print. Mark with Chinagraph pencil. Print the best. Reject the rest.

I could also argue that most of the social media sites promote poor to average photography as being ‘normal’, but not tonight.

If I do about 250 shots in a day’s outing, by the time I get home I’ll edit them down to about 20 or so useable. Then I need about 8-10 for Flickr, 1 for this blog and several for a book project and perhaps a photo-story here on the blog.
For completeness I usually know in advance which shots I want for a story anyway as I’ll have tried to assemble much of that in the field.
Now if I do 3 field trips a week, that is about 60 or so images.

If I stuck with the old mantra, that would be around 700 images I’d need to store a week. A month, it’s 3000 (boy scout math), by the end of the year—36,000 images. (Not bad for a years work). Ten years? Oh, no wonder I need a new 8tb drive this year.

Ansel Adams is reported to have said, “Twelve good images a year is an excellent crop”.

So the new advice seems to be—edit.

The other hidden advice in all that is of course the ability now to run off, for fun, as many as 20 or more shots in a second. Then spend anguished hours on the computer trying to find the best one. The software doesn’t help either as it allows the shots to be ‘Stacked’ so that you only get to see the best one, and 19 languish in the ether, never to be seen again.
Or, and I put tongue-firmly-in-cheek, just post them all and let the viewer decide!!
One ‘guru’ recently claimed to have returned from a workshop trip with over 30,000 shots. And aren’t I glad I’m not getting an invite around for that slide show!

For those of us who do lots of inflight shots, and I have to admit to leaning more and more that way in my own work, the chance of a multi-burst gives us a range of wing, head, body, lighting and expression to chose from.
And just sayin’ for my own work, if its not ‘That’ shot. Then the remainder get deleted.
I’m looking for “… an excellent crop”

Knowing how the bird is going to react is also a huge part of the inflight learning process. This young Kite was ready to go and join its siblings hunting over the grasses in the late afternoon light.

It turned on the branch, I held my breath, and then it simply launched into space. It was heading straight down the barrel of the lens. 🙂

I paused, and as its face came into the light, pressed the shutter.
Less- is more.

Saturday Evening Post #183: …Worth a Thousand Words

A motif we all have a nodding agreement with.

Perhaps first used by an adversting man in the United States as early as 1911. Arthur Brisbane is reported to have said, “Use a picture it’s worth a thouand words.” However even that might not be the orgin, earlier Leonardo Da Vinci has expressed the thought that an artist could depict in an instant—what a writer would wrestle with overnight.

I don’t have a lot of wall space to hang photos, so any image I make that deserves to be printed and considered for a space on the wall comes from a file that is titled “The Signature Series.”

My first Signature print goes back nearly half a century. So this one is in good company


Saturday Evening Post #182 : Continuation

Life is an infinite continuation
Deng Ming-Tao

Sounds like stating the obvious really. The sky is blue, the sun has set. Grass grows.
He goes on to say, that as you come to the end of one cycle, a new one will begin. Fulfilling a cycle means completion. Yet new horizons are always there, with each turn of the wheel you go further. With each turn of the wheel comes continuation.
Celebrate every turning, And perservere with joy.

As an aside there is a Qigong sequence called, “Turning the Big Wheel”, first to the left then to the right.
Some things can be instructive beyond their normal course.

Just as the three young Black-shouldered Kites have reached the end of their training and are moving on to make their own lives, we watched them go, a bit like parents whose children have left home for the first time. And with a feeling of completion of that chapter. My photo library says that over the past three months we’ve made some 26 trips to work with them.

We had spent the morning searching the tree-line and the open paddocks for a glimpe, but they are now independant of the male feeding them, and he has not been around with handouts for nearly a week. He might still flyover but they knew that he was no longer on Uber service.

Finally we spotted one far away across the highway and perched. Then watched as it hunted and successfully carried its prize back to a tree.
It was time for us to move on too.

I blogged about this time last year of the arrival of the Flame Robins at Point Cook Park, and we decided to continue on down there and as we hadn’t been in the area for many weeks, wondering what might have changed.

It was very quiet.
Last season was a disaster, just like the one before, as covid restrictions for most of the time kept us house-bound for the season(s)

We waked down to see Cassia, of Cinnamon, but she wasn’t too keen on visitors and took off across the paddock avoiding a squadron of agile magpies.

Then, a Red Flash. And Another!

They were indeed back. A quite large family of Flame Robins. Eventually we spotted three males and several females and at least two juvenile males. So they have had a good season. The year before they arrived looking a bit exhausted after their summer season. But this time each of them seemed resplendant in their winter dress and highly active.
It is interesting to see them working in the forest, but out in the open fields like Point Cook, they behave a little differently. Having flown over 100km to get here, 500m down the paddock is nothing really, and they are constantly on the move. However like in the forest settings they seem to follow a set pattern, and while it takes a few sessions to learn the cycle, getting ahead of them and waiting is still our preferred method. It is a case of, if we sit they should come.

So as our season with the Kites ends, it looks like a rich season with the Robins might be opening up.

In the end, the wheel turns—indeed continuation.

Saturday Evening Post #181 : Exposure

We all did it.
Every budding beginner photographer gets excited about a subject, then, struggles with the technicalites of making the image.

In dayhs of yore, we’d take the camera out of the box, and pour over the instruction book, looking for that gem that would help make a correct exposure. These days the first thing to do is Google for a vid by an outspoken ‘expert’ opinion (OEO) on the right way to set the camera up, how to rotate all the dials and what settings are best. And don’t we all want to use Manual Exposure and have beautiful bokeh.
The thing I find with the outspokenexpert is that rarely do we get to see any of their work, not the stuff they shoot for some test or other, but real work—but that is an aside.

Then we ponder what is the best way to determine the exposure. Spot? Centre-weight? Overall? Matrix? Does it make a difference? Now it’s my outspoken-expert-opinion (OEO) that the camera manufacturer wants you to be able to get good exposures. Not too dark, not too light, the Goldilocks effect. After all it’s to their advantage for you to tell everybody, “Oh my LTZ7132ii is getting great exposures every time”, in the hope others too will rush out to buy the LTZ7133iii update.

Then, we wrestle with light. At first we just thought, oh, well, there is light. Enough, or not enough. But tricky stuff that it is, and so essential to our craft, it comes from in front, above, behind, to the left or right, below or even subdued and filtered through, and sometimes it hides behind grey porridge clouds. Tai Chi it is said has 13 movements. Lighting near matches that.

Then there is the lens and all that silly aperture stuff: f/2.8, 4, 5.6 Why not 1, 2 3, or small medium and large?

So what is the right exposure? And so we resort to more vids and OEO, all the time wondering why our photos, are not…just so.

Like all training: football, tennis, piano or Tai Chi, the magic slowly begins to show through.
Exposure: Not correct, not under or over.


From the Heart.

Saturday Evening Post #180 : Location, Location

Hopefully by the time you read this, we will be in Ballarat for the weekend.  Big family shindig.

Deng Ming-Doa has a seveal lines of poetry about location.

Just by choosing where you stand
You alter your destiny.

Now, I suppose, from a western thought process it can be a bit too literal. As in where you live, where you stand polictally, how you see the world about you.
Yet, it has been my experience that if you change where you live, life doesn’t radically change.

Yet at another level, each choice we make does alter and affect how we live. Same for photography.

Which camera?   If I make a change of brand, will my work improve, 10%? 25%? perhaps 50%?  Or will I just have more fun playing with the new toys?

As  Deng goes on to write,  “there are no double-blind studies on my life”. Each choice I make be it lens, or camera, location, subject, lighting, or time of day brings with it its own magic.   Each study of we take is of course a choice of so many options.

The delight is being there and seeing it all unfold, and having the vision to bring it to share.

I had been waiting for this female Australian Shelduck,(Formerly Moutain Duck), to follow her mate as he took off to the other side of the pond. I suppose I expected the usual,  head out, wings up.
But my location on ground gave me a new view of this lovely duck in action


Saturday Evening Post #179: In the Blink of an Eye

Well it could be the blink of an eye, but perhaps a better descriptor would be the instant between the Nikon D500 mirror going up. And then… Coming down.

I was having a little portrait session with two of the young Black-shouldered Kites. They had been spending the morning gaining skills at working on the ground and in the long grass. Not yet able to ‘hunt’ but at least getting familiar with the process.
I had been moving about a little around the tree they were encamped in, looking to get the best from the backdrop.

So here is a bit bit of a departure from Saturday Evenning Post style of one photo, and a bit of rambling about the virtues of great photography and more a doco on the few milli-seconds between one event and the next.

Let’s settle down for a small portrait session.
What was that noise! One of the young birds is on the alert that something is happening
Suddenly, out of nowhere, and this shot is just after the shot above, the Collared Sparrowhawk barrelled through the treeline and put the young birds to wing. You can just see a tail disappearing at the top. The speed and stealth of the Sparrowhawk was so typical, and so impressive. That the Sparrowhawk is in focus is only because it now occupied where there kites had been sitting. Your erstwhile scribe was as surprised as could be when I reviewed the results and found one sharp frame.
Looking a bit perplexed as to what just happened, each of the young seemed unsure how to respond
Dad turned up to try and protect the young, and one of them followed him around very closely. To add to the drama a Black Kite and its two Magpie Attendants, also flew through the area. The male is checking to see if they pose any threat to his charges.
This one decided that if you were going to rest, then do so in the top of the tree among the leaves so a sneak attack would be less likely.

Saturday Evening Post #178: Studio Werkz

Some long time readers will remember the story of the ill-fated Studio Werkz project. The brainchild of several photographers as we wrestled early in our ‘careers’ to establish a multi-facted studio operation. Like many ‘great’ ideas the cold hard light of day came crashing in with reality and of course we all went on to follow our different paths.

But I’ve always liked the name, and often when the light is right, the subject working and the muse is bubbling along Studio Werkz comes to mind.

Such was the case the other morning working with the recently fledged Black-shouldered Kites. I was working with a polarising filter attached to the 500mm lens and the birds were pretty much on the very important angle of polarising light and it kept the sky rich and bought out the details of the feathers.

Front light is one of my fav lights for working with bird, and infact any colourful subject. What I lose in drama I make up for in rich detail and intense colour and the polar screen only enhances that.

I also came across the other day on the Topaz Labs Software site a link to one of their blog posts on “5 Tips for Amazing Wildlife Photos” by Bill Maynard.
We all know this stuff (I hope), but Bill’s points are quite succinct and his reasons for each is well shown.
I hope provides some good thinking about the photos we make as we wrestle to bring out the best of the character of our feathered subject(s)

(Be careful as its on the Topaz site, so the Topaz software will be featured-but I’m not in the business of recommending it, so just read over that if necessary)

Saturday Evening Post #177: Cow in the Kitchen

Roll up, roll up for tonight’s photo challenge question:
How do you get a Cow into a Kitchen to photograph it?

The Cow in the Kitchen photograph link. I don’t have access to the photo, as you’d expect. So you’ll need to click on the link to get an idea of what the challenges are, and the result.

Given the size of the average kitchen and the size of your average milk cow the challenge seems a bit difficult to complete.
Enter Joe McNally, legendary Joe, if you will. He reveals the answer on a page on his blog, but you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find the photo and the story.
Here is the Capture One Interview blog address

Briefly as part of his new book, The Real Deal: Field Notes from the Life of a Working Photographer Joe explains that while working in Romania he noticed that at the end of the day, the cows feeding out in the pasture, all turned for home and each went to their respective owners land. Creatively, Joe thought, wouldn’t it make a great image to have the cow in the kitchen and so he gained permission from a home owner to have their cow with its head in the kitchen.
Average kitchen, v Average cow. And how do you get said beast into the kitchen. Not being a farmer, Joe didn’t quite know, but being farmers, the locals provided the answer.
Job done!

One of the things I really like about the image is the very even lighting on the highly polished tiled floor. Makes it sing and dance. And of course the matching choice of tablecloth. It’s the little things sometimes.

As you scroll down you’ll also see the portrait Joe made of the young Vietnamese napalm girl, Kim Phuc, who went on to have a child of her own. A harsh reality within a tender moment.


Oh, and by the way the header image for the blog is mine. But as it’s the only bovine pic I could find in my collection, the cattle aware people will know this not your milking variety 🙂

Saturday Evening Post: #176 No Man is an Island

John Donne’s famous line, is quoted in Australian Magpie by Gisela Kaplan.
It’s in a chapter about,”Social Rules and Daily Life”

I shared a link on Flickr to a post regarding Magpie behaviour. Here it is.
Magpies and Tracking Devices,
Seems our erstwhile scientists in need of a research project for the old PhD decided that Australian Magpies needed some help to deal with climate change. Had they taken a few moments to read a few pages from Gisela’s book —subtitled, “Biology and Behaviour of an Unusual Songbird”, they might have saved themselves a wasted theory.
Gisela tells many interesting stories of personal interactions with Maggies and each one helps gain a little understanding of the ‘smarts’ these bird inherently possess.

Perhaps one of the more interesting lines of thought is in the opening story of the First Nations Legend of the Magpie. I’ve shared the story before, so briefly, Once in the Dreamtime the sky was very close to the earth and everything was dark and gloomy. The Magpies got together and with small sticks propped up the sky until some light got through. Encouraged by their success, they worked together to get larger sticks and open it up more… and so on, until the Sun-mother was able to shine through on the first real Sunrise. Excited by their success the Magpies still sing in the sunrise each day to celebrate, I guess, both the warmth, and their cleverness.
So attaching ‘radio’ trackers to a Maggie seemed to me to be doomed for failure, from the getgo.

Here are a couple of links to the Morning story
Peter Hancock Sydney Morning Herald
Uncle Dave Tournier with the Northern Victorian version

For a lighthearted look at the failed science attempt you can’t go past
First Dog On the Moon: Magpies: Courageous heros or little feathery b…..ds

In the final chapter, Gisela, says, ” There is no doubt that the Australian magpie is a very successful bird at many levels. … The magpie’s impressive range of social activities, its willingness to interact with people, and its propensity to invent even leisure-time activities have made the magpie almost accessible company.”
…”They have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to different climate zones. (Across the Country).

And just to show that the First Nations stories were more than just fairy-tales, but rather used as teaching tools at a number of levels here is one that shows how Magpies and Currawongs worked to make it rain on the parched earth.
And how a Magpie’s Special Song brings rains.
The Earth sang a song of happiness as the rain fell, and the Peoples of the Raven danced in the falling rain.

Magpies love to Sunhaze.
To stretch out in the warm sunshine and allow the rich warmth to penetrate their bodies. Passersby may think that the bird is ill, but rather, it seems to be in a trance. I am sure they always do it when there is a partner or family member that can warn of any danger.

A small transmitter didn’t stand a chance. 🙂

Saturday Evening Post #175 : Like Nectar

Deng Ming-Doa writes:

Sleek sky of cobalt blue;
Water like nectar satisfies deeply;
Air sweeter than the best perfume;
Sunlight warms a grateful cat

He then goes on to point out that we should take happiness when it comes.

The world comes into us via our tv news or doom scrolling on the internet.  The conversation at the coffee shop quickly deteriorates to this or that trivial woe.
My Ballarat connexion daughter once pulled that sort of talk up by exclaiming, “It’s not that important to people in Africa suffering from Covid!”

No matter how much we’d prefer it another way, we get the weather that  is coming to us. Standing outside in sunshorts, suncream and a beach umbrella will not stop the momentous storm coming on the horizon.   Similarly putting on a Drizabone and waiting for rain won’t bring it any faster.

Sometimes a trip to a birding area is like that.  We turn up with all the ‘right’ equipment and the birds are no where to be seen.  Or we take a minimum of gear and wish for that ‘magic’ piece that is at home in the camera cupboard.

EE and I were sitting quietly on a picnic table at Point Cook just recently, the tide was in, the birds were gone, and all we had was the music of the wavelets on the sand, the gentle sigh of a breeze in the pines and the warmth of the sunshine.
Sometimes it’s good to be a grateful cat.

The Welcome Swallows were feeding among the tall grasses on the roadside.  Everyso often it was time for a rest.  Some perches were more preferred than others.


Saturday Evening Post #174: Connectedness

Was talking with my highly-creative writing, daughter the other day, about the complexities of story development and the attention span of the  current reading population.  Those in particular who are connected to each other through TikTok.  None of the old ‘Facebook’ for them.  So old fashioned, how did anybody ever spend the time to read all that stuff?

We also discussed what is really a post-covid-lockdown phenomenon.  People now live in a ‘bubble’, of their own making.  Physically, emotionally, community—just about every aspect of our  lives. Each bubble has its own moveable boundaries.  Do I want to go shopping. I’ll have to wear a mask, do I want to wear a mask. I’ll have to log-in, do I want to log-in.  Each answer depends on where the bubble edges exist on any given day.  Will I read, or do I want to chill out.  etc, etc.

The conversation got a bit hairy from there, but I suspect at some levels we all are making adjustments regularly to ‘our’ bubble.

I rambled a bit last week about the Zone System, and regrettably mistakenly mis-named Fred Archer as one of the designers of the system.
Sorry Fred!

I also spoke of contrasts as a tool to establish relationships. (Which is where my conversation with said daughter comes into this).

Contrast is not just about the value of tones in the photo, but also the elements.

Following on, Relationships between those elements in our photos help to give clues to the viewer about the story within the frame.

An object larger than another, the space between or around then or a change of viewpoint, or camera angle, or even lens can change the connectedness or the implied connectedness.It places the main character of the photo into its setting. It can even imply things that are not seen in the frame.

Sometimes reducing the photo to humble monochrome brings out a relationship between tone, shapes and texture.

The young Collared Sparrowhawk was playing chasing games with its siblings.  To mine, and its surprise it landed on a log quite close, but behind a small clump of boxthorn.  It stood its ground long enough to realise the boxthorn was not enough of a comfort barrier and a moment later it was gone.

I looked at it in colour and it lacked the seperation I wanted, but the connectedness between the bird and the bush was an important element of the story, so over to Silver Efex Pro it went.
SFX has a very clever ‘Zone System’ visualiser and I turned to it to help me to see how the shadows and the highlights support the story, but not overpower it.
The SFX visualiser does not make changes, it simply shows what happens as the tones are moved up or down.

Photography is like that, as with creative writing, sometimes its the experiments that allow the photographer to become a bit more conscious of how to make the story more intentional, and perhaps compelling.


Saturday Evening Post #173: Nature Doesn’t Make Long Speeches

So says Lao Tzi. Tao Te Ching Chapter 23

Photos tell a story. One frame at time.  We don’t get the backstory.  We might never grasp the ongoing drama. There is no character development in a single photo.

Photographers and their photos are sold into a slavey of having to make the point of the subject, decisively and distinctly.

Henri-Cartier Bresson (HCB) spoke and taught the concept of “The Decisive Moment”.  And thousand of acres of trees have been cut down to  turn into paper, countless websites have come and gone explaining the author’s concept of HCB’s small statement.  So much so that photographers have pondered when is the right time to press the shutter, what should and shouldn’t be included, and how does that all support the vision I had of the scene at that moment.

Fred Archer and Ansel Adams, created  “Pre-visualization” (sic) and although it applied to their ‘Zone System”, it too has gone into the photo-psyche as a necessary tool to learn to make good photos.

Many current photographs, the ones made on handfones bound for Instagram (so 2020ish), or TikTok, are made with no knowledge of the Decisive Moment or Pre-visualisation, the audience doesn’t care.

The Zone System was at its base, and this is not the blog to explore all that in some detail, was to understand or predict in the final print how dark the dark areas would be, how light the light areas and where the mid-tones might fall.  Not a panacea for “Will I or will I not press the shutter.” Nor the countless articles and lectures given to explain it

The single image offers us some visual challenges. One way to imply the story for our viewers is contrast.
Oh yes, I’ve got one of those sliders in my Photoshop program, push it one way and it all goes murky grey, push the other and it washes out the whites and clogs up the blacks.
Contrast is a bit more than just a slider solution.

Dark tones create a sombre mood. Light tones give us bright excitement, and the mid-tones carry the bulk of the detail and content.

With colour, we can also contrast one colour against another. Blue on yellow perhaps. Those who’ve seen Spielberg’s Schindler’s List will know the significance of a red coat.

A different type of contrast is ideas, or points of difference.  Large round shape against small rectangular. Wet against dry. Moving verses stationary. It provides visual pull that lets the viewer explore the frame. Scale or juxtaposition are part of the visual contrast.

Perhaps  dead trees in a wilderness with some soft green shoots poking through the parched ground?

I’d seen this Black-shouldered Kite approaching, and as it flew by the dark trees, its light shape and form became more than just the bird in flight.  Once back in the digital space on the computer I loaded up the trusty “Nik Silver FX Pro” and just like in the old days of choosing a filter to modify a colour tone, I worked the darkness back into the trees and also picked out the lighter area with a different filter.  Time to add a little extra density and contrast by matching a film type and adding a little grain to give some texture.

Whether pre-visualised or at the decisive moment, the contrast helps to infer—if not enhance —the shape and form of the bird.


Saturday Evening Post#172 : Story Tailoring

Another week that the weather has controlled.

EE said the other day, “This is the first time in the 8 years since we’ve moved that I can recall being so hot. Almost to the point of not being able to breath.”
Needless to say we’ve not be out doing much fieldwork, and when we did venture out one morning, we found the birds were pretty much on to the same thing.  Stay quietly out of the heat.

But then in the same breath, EE tells me she saw 4 Latham’s Snipe on the local David Creek on her early morning walk.
Then.  It rained.
So the old Doona Hermit has been cuddled up following the occasional blog and equipment report.

One writer I follow, Dan Milnor, recently wrote about “Documentary Photography”.   Not a new concept, I agree. He roughly defines it as, ” Basic, Accurate representation of people, places, object and events.”  Adding “Of significant or relevant history.”
That is the challenge for photo-journalists.  Do you tell an unbiased story, or… does even recording it from your viewpoint carry a bias.
Dorothea Lange’s Dustbowl images are more than just a ‘record’.  W. Eugene Smith’ s Minamata campaign was much more than a record of some dodgy Aluminium smelter.
The harrowing pic of the young girl running from napalm by Nick Ut, can hardly be thought of a just a record.  Perhaps it is the defining image of the change of attitude to the Vietnam War.

Australian Press Photography Walkley Awards have shown some work that is far more than just a record, and Matthew Abbot the 2020 winner is a great example.  More than just the event

Don points out some of the skills needed for Documentary Photography. Essential traits like, Patience, Focus, Curiosity, Perseverance, Empathy and Determination.

And Story-telling.

A fundamental question he says needs asking, “What do you love?”  Photograph it.
It’s not just a habit, or an occasional adventure.  It is an obsession! I read somewhere a long time ago about a preacher who said something like, “Woe is me if I don’t preach.”

We work with small numbers of birds.  Most never allow us to become ‘friends’.  However from time to time we might find a bird, or a pair that are ready to tolerate our presence, and at some stage the thin strand becomes a rope. (Jon Young) and we are able to enter their world at a little more intimate level.  Then the season changes. And they are gone.

When we are given such a privilege, we work hard to make the best work we possibly can. There may not be a next time.

This pair of Willie Wagtails have now successfully completed their clutch.  We found the nest on a branch overlooking a well-used walking track.  Willie, instead of being ‘furtive’ about the nest built it out in the open.  No protection.  Perhaps the bird logic is that being in the open, it would be overlooked by predators.
She had also chosen a spot with some great foundations.  The branch had four seperate branchlets coming from it, and she had built in the middle.  A solid and secure base.  One of the better wagtail nests we find.

The young were a close to flying, but Mum was ready to ‘sit’ and protect them as we walked past.   One of the young wanted to know what was going on, and poked its head up from under Mum’s protective feathers.

They flew the next day.