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

Little Journeys: The Inner Eye is its Own Reflection

Last Saturday Evening Post #46 broached the subject of awareness, mindfulness or appreciation of the around.
I recieved some great comments on the post, and also several followup emails.  Thanks for your input, it helps define the greater bubble of creativity a little more.

Little did I know that the following morning, like a cycle of karma, I’d be recalling my own words.
Instead of walking all over looking for birds, we (EE and I), found a pair of Purple-crowned Lorikeets that were also enjoying their time together in the sunshine.

A sunny Sunday it was, and so, for once, we changed plans and headed on down to The Office, (Werribee River Park for new readers).

As we walked down from the winery carpark off K-Road, we soon heard the sounds of Purple-crowned Lorikeets at work among the leaves high above.

Then, on a whim, I turned off the main track followed a little used path along the rivers edge, and came up a pair of them brushing up their feathers.
They were down low, and it wasn’t that hard to move around them to get the best of the light, the angle and the action. After nearly an hour of watching them, with a head toss, a chirrup, and a wing turn, they were gone.

Here they are as a gallery.  Click on an image for a larger view

 

Moments: Sharing a Little Love

We don’t get many Little Lorikeets down around The Office area. But there are several pairs that seem to come and go on a regular basis, and I suspect they might always be in the area, just too high up to notice.

With reports of Purple-crowned Lorikeets in the general area, we wondered if they might be at The Office, so took Dolly on a bit of a traverse to see what we could find. Despite EE’s best attempts, we couldn’t spot, let alone hear them.  We were getting ready for the trek back out, when the “rattley rolling, squeaky” call came from a tree behind. And there was a pair of Little Lorikeets engaged in some preening and pairbonding alopreening.

I think the photos tell the story.

Enjoy

Moments: Whistling Kite does Takeaway

It’s beginning to look like I’m getting in a rut with raptors and food.
Mostly just a bit of a backlog of other work and the natural progression of things.

Interesting to be posting such work on the blog, as it fulfills a learning process I’m journeying on at the moment.
Exploring photography, my own work in particular, as an iterative process.  Or a journey of versions that lead to new discoveries.

That is: the repetition that builds on the previous shot. It is where the concept of ‘multi-burst’ and I diverge.  I need to  have thought out the changes, or the visual differences from shot to shot. Not just blaze away and pick out the ‘best looking one’, to tidy up in Photoshop.

Not, as I’m sure you can imagine a simple step by step process when it comes to birds that are unpredictable at best, and downright difficult to get to understand at the worst. Which I think is why ‘iterative’ is such a useful motif.

EE and I were at The Office.  The Red Gum picnic area to be specific. Its a short trip down for Dolly, and if all goes well, there can be an interesting array of birds on a good day.
We were sitting enjoying the Grey of Earl, and a snack, when a grey shadow moved over our heads and flew toward the large dead skeleton of a tree by the river’s edge.
“A Whistling Kite,” quoth she.

Then it became, as we moved nearer, that said Kite also had bought a snack too. It had found a discarded Shingleback Lizard carcass remains. Now, it might be that the Kite had made the kill, but the condition of the carcass suggested it more likely had retrieved it after it was abandoned. Most of the rich middle parts of the hapless creature were already gone.

So we sat and watched it play with its food, and all went well until a ‘murder of crows’ in the form of a group of ravens moved in to help the Kite.  They believed it seems, in ‘share and share alike’, so long as they got the goodies to share.
Our hero was having none of that and scooping up its meal, it departed to a more secure area.

Enjoy

 

SnapShots: The Account of The Magpie and the Little Eagle

All good tales have a protagonist and of course the antagonist.  From Romeo and Juliet to Jane Eyre, or a Hitchcock movie, the ‘player of the first part’, has always to experience the consequences of decisions.

So as our hero the Little Eagle made its way across the paddocks in the sunshine, oblivious of the dangers, it was soon to learn that not all skies are clear, blue and free.

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All in a Day’s Work, at The Office

 

After yesterday’s relatively quiet day, we had planned a day at home as those weather prognosticators were falling over themselves combing their various thesauri for even more gigantic, huge, colossal, mammoth, immense, tremendous, immeasurable, Brobdingnagian(Ye of Gulliver’s Travels will understand),  humongous, astronomic, ginormous words to describe what was to be a weather of mass destruction, headed our way, so we had decided that it would be a doonah day, and we’d sleep through it all.  The patter of rain on the roof and window shutters seemed for once to confirm their cosmic, epic, giant, stupendous, mega predictions.

However as I peeked out from under the protective, shielding, defensive, safety, preventive, insulating, warmth of the doonah, what was it I spied coming in under the window shutters.
Gasp, horror, elation, joy, disbelief.  Was that sunshine.
No prizes Sherlock. It was sunshine.

In quick succession t’was breakfast, pack cameras, (I think there should be a get dressed in there somewhere) pack a thermos of Green Tea, (I’m off the Grey of Earl at present), tuck in the Drizabone Jacket, and head to the Office.  Also we beat the Mother’s School run, so the roads were fairly, rather, a little, slightly, comparatively, after a fashion, reasonably, kind of, sort of ish, quiet.

But the wind across the carpark sang a different tune. Large gusts, of huge, colossal, mammoth, immense, tremendous…. you get the picture… winds that made even the Drizabone Jacket feel a bit challenged.

And what was that on the fence line up the track!

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Snapshots: New Visitors at The Office

Ahh, dear reader.  Bet you didn’t expect so soon an update 🙂

Chatting, as I usually do with my current mentor, and it was suggested, that the challenge of writing a full page blog with scintillating patter that is both cogent and helpful may only be causing the blog, well,  to blog down. Err bog down.

So welcome to a new addition to the world of blogging at Birds as Poetry.  Snapshots

Snapshots will be a quick collection of  shots from a given event or location.  Not a lot of pretty patter, but rather just the images to do the talking. After all that is what I really do best.

That leaves, Postcards to be a bit more in-depth on either an event, or more likely an  encounter with one or two birds.

Then Studiowerkz will carry on doing the in-depth photographic detail from a shoot. Kind of the ‘Day Book’ of photography of yore. Interestingly enough we concluded that a photo might get a boost in Snapshots,  the pop up in Postcards, and finally make an appearance in Studiowerks with info on the whole studio-like encounter.

Then there will be those times when verbal virtuosity takes hold of me and the muse connects with the spirit of the universe and the words literally write themselves and I can wax lyrical about happenings of all sorts of birding activity.  Expect to see Sea-eagle pics in that one.

Well we’ll see.

So here is Snapshots.
And an important one it is.
EE and I did a trip to “The Office” this afternoon. Had a particular Australasian Darter and a probable nest site as our goal.

But when we arrived in the carpark, the first thing we noted were Flame Robins!

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Surprise! A Hobby at the Office

Hope you survived the little tirade in the last post. All is forgiven.

EE and I thought, based on the last couple of adventures to The Office, that we needed to make a quick looksee if the Black-shouldered Kites had settled.
Many will remember Kitty and Kalev (The Brave), and their nesting attempts over the last couple of seasons.
They are fairly tolerant, and as she makes some of the best, most secretive nests, the chances of interrupting her on nest are pretty slim. And he has no problems about bringing mice in for her virtually above our sit spot.

So it was with a bit of an expectant parent  looksee, that we turned up on a mostly cloudy day and looked around the carpark. And there they were, clever pair, way down the range, and out of camera reach.

“Perhaps he’ll come over to hunt along the river edge,” says she. So we meandered on along the river bank.

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Purple-crowned Lorikeet: The Art of the Impossible

“Forget the years, forget distinctions. 
Leap into the boundless and make it your home!”
― Zhuangzi

 

Here’s a quick one as I’m still smiling after watching it happen

Take two Purple-crowned Lorikeets in preening mode.  Have one of them decide that its more fun on the other side of the branch.
Imagine (if you will), it can fly across to the new spot.

But.

Our hero of the moment takes a much  more direct approach.  Had I but known this would have been so much more fun to see in video.

Enjoy

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Nothing like a preen and a wingstretch to build a pair bond

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Enjoying the Evening Light at The Office

 Flow with whatever is happening 
and let your mind be free. 
Stay centered 
by accepting whatever you are doing. 
This is the ultimate.
Zhuang Zhou

Truth be told, its been quite a long time between drinks at “The Office”.
A lot been happening, but mostly, the weather, a sore heel that slows down my walking, lack of birds and perhaps general sloth has kept us away from The Office at the Werribee River Park.

You could also add the amount of time spent looking for and not finding those elusive Sacred Kingfishers, but that would be at tad churlish methinks.

So it was with quite a high degree of expectation that we loaded up Sir Perceval, and headed on one of his amazing Quests.

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Re-decorating the Office

Well it is indeed that time of year when the seasons change and with that change the birdlife at the Office begins to take on a new look for Winter.

So a change of colour scheme is definitely on the agenda.
Out with the mottled tones of Summer, and in with the bold colours of cooler days.

And the first of our Winter collection is ready for show

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The Tale of a Wagtail

When it comes to nesting and bringing on a new clutch, Willie Wagtails seem to go from one extreme to another, in more ways than one.
The weather can take a turn and dash the plans of quite a number of nesting pairs.  And around the Werribee River area at the Office, they all seem to start within a day or two of each other and a change of weather takes out most of the nests.  That has happened once already this season.
Plucky little birds, just shake off the wet feathers, take a wagtail deep breath and start again.

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Graced by an Osprey at The Office

We have had some rain.  70mm in 3 days, the gauge says.
And, this morning, I set out for my weekly Tia Chi class.  Start of a new semester, so I was pretty excited about getting back to class.  And at 8:00am, as I was getting ready, the rain, was, well, sheeting down. So any ideas of spending a few hours with the birds at The Office, were not even a glimmer of hope.   But a we settled into such routines as “Waving hands like Clouds”, “White Crane Cools Wings”, and “Monkey offers a Peach”, it was possible to glimpse a shaft of brilliant sunshine making an appearance through the clouds.  By the time we paused for a break, it was definitely bright sunshine warming me though the window, and stirring the possibilities of a chance to venture out in the early afternoon.

EE soon agreed and we headed out right after lunch. To my despair, the road into The Office, was waterlogged. And we picked our way along through the water, and the puddles and the inevitable mud pools.  On arrival at the carpark, Kitty and Kalev were nowhere to be seen, and despite looking for a while, we still were Kiteless.  So we wandered down to the river area.
Which as it turns was a great move.

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New Work at The Office

Toward the end of last year, a pair of Black-shouldered Kites— we named them Kitty and Kalev-the Brave— set up and successfully fledged three young.

Well, they are back!   Or so it seems.  Of course they could be completely different birds, but given their relaxed and settled manner, and the way they interact, I’d be pretty certain that we are looking at Kitty and Kalev-the Brave.

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