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.
Came upon a small band of Banded Stilts and Red-necked Avocets the other morning.
We had been looking for some locations for subjects for my book on “How to Sneak Up on a Swamp Harrier”. Needless to say the next chapter or two will for the short term be blank pages.
On one pond we happened in the best of traditions on a flock of Banded Stilts, and some companions.
So we settle down for about an hour or so. While we were enjoying the birds, the sunshine and a cuppa, we were joined for a short while by a hunting party of Black Kite and a Black Falcon. We counted around 25 Black Kites and there were plenty spiralling down from a great height that we didn’t count any more.
Sort of added that sparkle to the day.
Tight formation to fool the Black Falcon
Spot the odd one out. Red-necked Avocet looking for a landing space.
Settling in to land
The arrival of the Black Falcon kept everyone on their toes—or wings
Doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends, the Black Falcon.
Ready Set Go. I’ll race you to the end of the pool.
We’ve been sitting in our mobile hide (the little i20), near a tree that has a Black-shouldered Kite nest and the female in residence.
As is typical of her species, the nest is just below tree top and hidden well in among the fine uppermost branches. Once she is under the canopy she is gone!
He off course is on hunting duty, and every so often turns up with a nice fresh mouse. So all we have to do is point the camera, (attached, I might add to the WImberley Gimbal head), and wait either for him to arrive and/or her to emerge or reenter.
Now, if you’ve ever watched them, the first thing you’ll recall is that it can be a long long long time inbetween feeds.
Sometimes even she gets a bit anxious and sends out some pretty interesting Kite calls just to make sure he gets the message.
So we wait.
And of course in the waiting is the challenge. So we, well at least I, keep the shorter 300mm f4 PF on a second camera and practice my flight shots on anything that spins past.
So here are a few from the other day.
Oh, and Mr Grey-head just had to come and see what I was upto.
Fantail Cuckoo, first I’ve seen at WTP
Fantail Cuckoo, airborne
The male on a mission. He has been told in no uncertain terms what the requirements for a snack are.
Just a quick look at any weather forecast over the past two weeks would draw the conclusion we’ve been having a spot of weather at the moment. And you’d be right. The mushy cloud days, the biting cold, the wind and the rain. And mostly the lack of Sunshine.
Its not much fun for a photographer to venture out for small birds as the forest is wet and its hard to get much light in under the canopy. Big field birds become grey blobs against even greyer backdrops.
So it was a bit unusual last Wednesday afternoon to see the sunshine sweeping along streets. “Grab the cameras and let’s go to Twenty Nine Road”, EE suggested.
So we did.
Two of the major roads that run through the Western Treatment Plant complex,- and don’t require a permit-, are The Beach Road, and Twenty Nine Mile Roads. They both have huge paddock areas that these days are no longer used for the original purpose (the disposal of the waste from Melbourne), and are now farmed over for a range of farm products. (Not for human consumption). One of the crops is maize and it is ready for harvest. I assume they use it to feed the stock cattle.
One of the benefits of all this production is off course that the mice see the left over and dropped seed and corn as an indication of bounty, and begin to multiply. And as they do, the raptors, not likely to forego a mouse dinner move in to match the increase. Which of course helps the mice produce more, and more raptors move in. …. fill in the blanks.
On a sunny afternoon, its nice to be able sit along the roadway near the harvested paddocks and watch the various hunting techniques. Kestrels and Black-shouldered Kites hovering. Whistling Kites and Black Kites hunting from the air, Goshawks swooping through prepared for anything that moves, and of course the Kites being prepared to wrestle food from the smaller hunting falcons. Add to that the pair of Black Falcons who believe any food is rightfully theirs and are prepared to out-fly anyone to get it, and a fine afternoon’s entertainment is assured.
So, rather than ramble here is a small selection from a few hours work.
As I needed to go do a medical thing near the Point Cook Coastal Park, the thought came up, that we could go photograph Flame Robins (astute reader that you are, you’ll have noted that the positive side of that is – not look for robins to photograph- Well noted)
As it turned out the sunshine came out and EE found an really interesting pair of Black Kites, interesting in that they were both ‘very’ interested in one another. One, which we concluded to be the male, kept sweeping into the perching tree carrying things to ‘offer’. She on the other hand kept encouraging him, and eventually they stopped to mate. EE has those shots. (Of course).
We decided that little hard to get close to red robins, were no match for the the challenge of two eager Black Kites and walked around to a gateway, and entered the paddock…
Been awhile since I’ve posted, but its been lack of good weather more than anything.
The area close to home, on the Werribee River Park, that I’ve taken to euphemistically calling ‘The Office”, has an amazing number of raptors, and I thought I’d introduce them and what they are up to.
On the roadway in, just over the Geelong Freeway, there is a fence line and a few old pines. Here a pair of Black-shouldered Kites have just flown their two orange and cinnamon young. In the same tree line a pair of Black Kites appear to be setting up house, if not already at work on brooding. Next tree or three down, is a pair of Brown Falcons. Not nesting yet, but certainly staking out their claim to the territory. Much to the anger of the Black-shouldered Kites.
Down the road a little just before the carpark off in the paddocks a second pair of Brown Falcons are at work on territorial rights. Also regularly in the area a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, although the moment, it probably is just a convenient perching location.
At the carpark proper, a pair of Black-shouldered Kites and their recently fledged three teenagers. Not more than a dozen trees down from them is a pair of Black Kites and a nest that is work in progress. I’ve not checked up close, but there is either brooding or feeding going on. The male seems quite adept at pursing a laden Black-shouldered Kite and getting it to release its mouse capture.
A pair of Brown Falcons are constantly in the trees just off the river cliffs line, and I’d be tempted to say its a likely spot for a nest.
Further out in the field and well away from my prying lens is a pair of Australian Kestrels, and again they are too early for nesting, but are certainly building good pair bonding.
Combine that with the regular visits by any number of Whistling Kites and the area is certainly busy. A few days back an arrow shaped bird sped through the trees and caused quite a stir among the smaller birds and the one really good look suggested Peregrine Falcon, and I’ve seen one briefly on the fence line on the way in.
So here are a few of the birds at work. The food in the area must be exceptional to support such a range of nesting and preparing birds.