Orion. Soaking up Kite awareness

Jon Young says, “There is nothing random about bird’s awareness and behaviour. They have too much at stake…. Being tuned into the tapestry…. we are venturing into a realm of awareness, and intention and curiosity.  I’ve had some magical experiences in the natural world, and some of them have involved birds.”

He quotes a San Bushman, “One day I see a small bird and recognise it. A thin thread will form between me and the bird. I will go again tomorrow and recognise it and the thread will thicken. Eveytime I see and recognise the bird, the thread strengthens. It will eventually grow to become a rope.  That is what it means to be a Bushman.  We make ropes to all aspects of the creation this way.”

Appreciation of the bird’s perspective.

Which puts us in the vehicle, heading along the 29 Mile Road at Avalon, in the early morning sunshine.  EE, Mr An Onymous and I. And as we draw nearer to the end of the road, a thought from us all, was, “Will Orion still be here?”
We need not have worried.

Sitting on a small tree, about 10m off the side of the road.  And by the look, having just eaten.  Feathers still wet with the dew from the grass of his last capture.

At first we stop the car on the far side of the road, and they photograph through the open window.
Orion turns his head, takes note, and then develops, ‘Soft eyes’.  Jon talks to this a lot, and I’ve mentioned it here before, but its the type of eyes that look right past you, with complete confidence.  I stepped from the car, I’m on the far side remember, and approached from the sunside, and moved across the road. ‘Soft eyes’ followed me.   Because of the line of the branch, his stance, and the way the light is running in the early morning, I want to be about 10m further out in the open. And of course the chance is he will spook and fly.

I make the first few shots. Orion sinks down onto the branch, and I take that as an invitation. Purposefully, rather than creeping up slowly, (that only spooks birds the worst), I move to the open area.  Now, the backdrop is not right, so I need another 4 or 5 metres. He throws his head back and begins to hawk-up the fur ball from the last meal.  I move.  Soft eyes follow.

Because of the lay of the land, it’s going to be hard to isolate him against the backdrop without a horizon line running somewhere.  I could go lower, but then it would be blue sky.  Nice, but not encompassing.  Besides crouching down human with long lens is going to turn those soft eyes to ones of determined study.  So I opt for another step or two to put his head against the far distant tree line.  That will have to do.

Orion settles to preen.

EE and Mr A take all this as a sign of relaxation and they also move off the roadway for the better angle and the light.   Orion soft eyes. We’re cool.

In the end, we’ve enough for a game of cards, the three of us and Orion.

Preening, wingstretches, repositioning on the branch.  And all the time he seems completely settled.

After an hour of standing in the fine sunshine, carrying a long lens, and working with a bird that seems to have no fear of us, a great deal of understanding, awareness and connection emerges.

The others move back to the car.   I bid this able bird ‘good morning’ and follow them back. Soft eyes follow me.

All is well.


Well, good morning. Hunting's been good.
Well, good morning. Hunting’s been good.
Rolling up the Fur-ball from the meal.
Rolling up the Fur-ball from the meal.
Took awhile to get the material up.
Took awhile to get the material up.
A bird that is this relaxed is interested in preening
A bird that is this relaxed is interested in preening
A wing stretch to the right. Lean into it, that feels good.
A wing stretch to the right. Lean into it, that feels good.
Lean into the Left. Big body angle here.
Lean into the Left. Big body angle here.
Wings to help balance on turning on the perch.
Wings to help balance on turning on the perch.
How to fold up big wings
How to fold up big wings
All of us remark on the softness of the grey on the cap. Its like soft cat’s fur. Never noticed it until we are this close.
I don't mind you coming but did you have to bring the wagtail with you. Willie just can't help but get into the act.
I don’t mind you coming but did you have to bring the wagtail with you.
Willie just can’t help but get into the act.





Orion: The Kite of many poses

And just before you think I’ve run out of stuff to write about and am uploading a few older images.
These are from a visit this afternoon.  I’ve been laid up at home in bed with the flu for most of the week. And EE decided that it was such a nice sunny afternoon, that I’d be allowed out for a bit of ‘fresh air’.

So down to 29 Mile we went. And there was mr casual, Orion, sitting on the usual post eating a usual mouse. Well obviously not the same mouse as before, but you get the idea.
Interestingly enough there was quite a track made through the long grass and marsh weed, by photographers tracking in and out over the weekend.  EE says, if she’d have known it might have been a good place to sell hot scones and tea!

Orion seemed all the more oblivious to it all, and went through an entire preening and resting program with two photographers at arms length —so to speak. Well not quite, but in its relaxed way we enjoyed vicariously its company.

Here is a small sample of the afternoon.  And yes, I do feel better from the fresh air.


Bird of mystery
Bird of mystery
Is that a mouse I see? Yep.
Is that a mouse I see? Yep.
A quick extraction and discard of the bits that don't taste too nice.
A quick extraction and discard of the bits that don’t taste too nice.
Mouse trap
Mouse trap
Did you ever wonder what was under those wings?
Did you ever wonder what was under those wings?
The delicate rezipping of the tail feathers is always a delight to see from a raptor
The delicate rezipping of the tail feathers is always a delight to see from a raptor
A wing stretch and its time to go a hunting.
A wing stretch and its time to go a hunting.

With Orion, the mighty hunter

Not sure how you’re Greek mythology is, but Orion was a hunter who was going to kill all the wildlife.   A bit miffed with his hubris, the gods took umbrage— they seeemed to do that a lot, over the least, and perhaps even looked for opportunities to be offended, but I digress.

In the end of the myth, well he gets bitten by a clever snake, and is consigned to turn for ever in the heavens, he at one end, and the snake at the other.  When one lot of star pattern is visible at night, the other is below the horizon.  One sets as the other rises. All very mystical.

There is a lot of the life/death, rebirth and restitution in the entire story, but that is probably enough for most average bird photographers to take in at one sitting.

After several sessions with the Black-shouldered Kite down on the 29 Mile Road, it dawned on me that Orion, the mighty hunter, would be a good, well, unisex name for our hero(ine).

So we went down to see Orion, discuss the matter with him/her, and see what he/she thought.

Seemed to go pretty well, and just to confirm it all the bird dropped off the  post, flew a few wingflaps, hovered, dived and returned with a mouse. One can almost here Mt Olympus turning.


Addendum: Just to be very clear.  These birds are not baited, called in, or in anyway interfered with.   We are simply recording the activities of a very relaxed and completely confident bird.  We strive for connection and if a bird exhibits any ‘stress’, we leave it in peace.  No photo is worth stressing the bird.
Now you know!

Warming up the wings for the next sortie

DWJ_0779 DWJ_0822

BIrd of mystery and mystique
BIrd of mystery and mystique
I take that gesture to be an acceptance of Orion as a good name.
I take that gesture to be an acceptance of Orion as a good name.
Hand me a camera and I’ll make a shot for the Fluker Post
Fine tuning under the hood


Orion: Portrait
Orion: Portrait

Blogging 101 Week 2 Day 4

Impressionist, Pictorialist, opportunistic or just too late.

Yesterday after a spin around the block, I came upon the site Hoof Beats and Foot Prints and today Emily has posted a few shots and a bit of musing on “Impressionistic” results. When sometimes the wrong settings are the right settings.  See Here  A Friends Filters

Which is as it turns out fortuitous as today’s Blogging 101 assignment was to write a post on thoughts that linked from yesterday’s visits. As coindicene goes, I’d put this picture of a Black Falcon in flight up on Flickr.

Impression: Black Falcon at speed

And one of the comments from Peter pointed out that sometimes we do indeed become over emphatic about getting the clinical result.  I follow Ming Thein, and he too from time to time explores out beyond the formal result.

My thoughts on gaining an impressionistic feel or a “pictorial” atmosphere is that its just as difficult to get a great artistic alternative, as it is to make the clinical shot.
Sometimes even more difficult as we have balance, subject movement, shutter speed selection, composition, lighting and exposure.  It’s why it’s easier to stick it into ‘photoshop’ and mess with the controls there.  Or look through the blurry shots destined for the waste bin and rescue one, tart-it up and try and pass it off as really a Strong storytelling impression  of the movement and mood.

Or plan for it!

One of the elements I always think make it work is it approximates what we would have seen had we been standing there.  The motion. That fleeting glimpse of the bird as it passes.

Further pondering lead to really thinking of two possible opportunities.  One is panning with the bird.  At least part of the bird should be sharp, and depending on the shutter speed, the backdrop should be  streaky to milk smooth.

The other is the bird movement.  And again the street smarts would say that part of the subject area should be sharp to highlight for the eye the impression of movement.

Well my Black Falcon doesn’t fall into much of any of that. The ugly truth is that we were simply too late, too late too late.

Had we entered the WTP in our usual way from Paradise Road, we’d have encountered the birds, the harvesting, and the right evening light.  I’d have had a bit of a chance to work out the bird’s movements, where they turn with the tractor, where they perch between flights, and would have set up to get the best from that.   But, we were too late.

The sun was setting as we drove by.  Birds were all over the sky,  Black Kites, Whistling Kites and one lone solitary aerial speedster.
“A Black Kite” she called.  “Yes,” said I, slamming on the brakes and opening the door and grabbing the camera and trying to find the streaking black dot in the gloom.

Oh, 1/50th at ISO 400.  Who am I kidding?

It sped past, dropped onto a branch nearby, and glared at some Black Kites.  Slowly I advanced, knowing it was futile. But. I wanted at least one record shot to show that Black Falcon is in WTP over the summer.

So did it make the waste bin?  It is just a dolled up average shot.  Or does it give an impression of the beauty of this bird of speed.

Over to you.

Another photographer who has struggled and succeeded with the impressionist approach is William Neill  check out his work here.

William Neill

And I’ve included a couple of shots from other days.  Welcome Swallow at high speed wingflap.

Brown Falcon a few weeks back, in about the same sort of light “We might have had!!!!”. And about 2 km from where the harvesting was taking place and about an hour earlier so the light was ‘golden’.

Such powerful direct flight.

Such powerful direct flight.

Might have missed the light, but the old dude can still manage to pan successfully!
Might have missed the light, but the old dude can still manage to pan successfully!
Approach for landing in a resting perch.
Approach for landing in a resting perch.
Now imagine what the light might have been like.
Now imagine what the light might have been like.
Really, my favourite of the unfortunate series. The wonderful milky smooth backdrop is delicious.
Really, my favourite of the unfortunate series. The wonderful milky smooth backdrop is delicious.
They are flying in and picking insects of the flowers. As the light deteriorated as the sun set, I watched the shutter speed disappear.
They are flying in and picking insects of the flowers.
As the light deteriorated as the sun set, I watched the shutter speed disappear.
What might have been. Brown Falcon in that light about a week earlier.
What might have been. Brown Falcon in that light about a week earlier.


No matter what, the fun of experimenting is one of the great challenges and true joys of our medium.

Blogging 101 Week 2 Day 2

Dah dah,  An easy one today.  Add a Header Image.

So I’ve chosen a new header image, and it will be static for a few days, then I’ll add it back into the random set.

Falcon at the Harris Gate

A mentor of mine John Harris by name, well he was both a mentor, torMentor, inspirational creative, and all round great bloke, came down to the Treatment Plant with me one day.  We drove around and he was more impressed by a gateway than perhaps anything else. “Always look at the details, look at the obvious as there is always a highlight there somewhere, that others aren’t seeing.  That is the diamond.  Look for it always.”  to somewhat paraphrase a long lecture.

On the way home he discussed a Gateway he’d seen and wanted at some stage to make another trip down in late evening light to photograph it, in his inimitable manner.

But, life didn’t play him that card, and he passed on to finer scenery not long afterward.  In his honour, I’ve searched out that gate and named it the “Harris Gate”.

The other night on the way back home we passed the Harris Gate and lo and behold a Brown Falcon was enjoying both the gate, and the evening sunshine.

So John, it might not be the series that you saw in your minds eye, but old mate, here is the best I could do.

Define 2 output.
Brown Flacon Sitting Pretty on Harris Gate
Typical Brown Falcon Exit. Low ground hugging and fast
The Absolute Master of the bush top Flying


Another Master at Work. John Harris at WTP. The handkerchief is to remove nasty lens flare from backlighting. “It’s all in the details, look closer, that is where the story is. It’s all in there” OnyaJohn

Sneaking up on a Swamp Harrier. Chapter 3

Time to add another chapter to the Complete Guide for “Sneaking” up on a Swamp Harrier.

By now we have established some golden rules to ‘sneaking’ up on a Swamp Harrier.

For those who skim read, here they are.

Rule 1.  You Don’t Sneak up on a Swamp Harrier.
Rule 2.  None known in the universe.

We adopted a new technique the other evening.  Find a spot to park, setup chairs, open picnic basket, ignore Swamp Harriers.  Actually the real reason of course for the visit was the ever elusive White-bellied Sea-eagle.
The tide, Mr An Onymous had revealed to me in a private conversation was a low-low tide around sunset.

Armed with this vital piece of data, EE and I decided a picnic evening meal watching the sun set over other bay would be as good as any reason to travel down to the WTP, so as the Banjo has often been quoted. We went.

To Picnic Point.  Well its actually 175W Outflow and there is a big blue sign there warning of E coli and all sorts of other nasties, (but not about Swamp Harriers),  but for the sake of the exercise we’ll call it Picnic Point from here on.

The technical term, low-low tide means this is one of those tides that makes those funny tidal graphs drop really low on the page.  And it means in practice that the water level drops dramatically and reveals the mud/sand flats out several hundred metres. With such exposed areas, the small shore birds, (waders), come in their tens of thousands to gobble up as much rich food as they can.

And because of that low-low tide, the Sea-eagle can patrol looking for an easy snack, either to take alive, or to find carrion. Its an either/or for said Sea-eagle, and if all goes well, from our Picnic Point, it will patrol along the mudflats in great light, in close and will do some really clever Sea-eagle activity and we’ll get some good images.

Which of course as you can see leads us to sneaking up on Swamp Harriers.

Not to be out done the Clever Brown Bird has also worked out the low-low tide might just bring it the snack it so deserves.
We are hull down among the bushes.  The Swamp Harriers patrol through the scrub.
From previous chapters, its pretty obvious to me that the Swampie has the area well and truly mapped.  Nothing is a surprise to the average head-down hunting bird.  There is no “Oh look a fox killed duck, I might just swoop down and pick it up”.  No, it knows the carcass is there, because it wasn’t there the time before.   And humans, well they either drive around in circles or are large blobs standing against the horizon and easily spotted and avoided.

And for those fortunate souls picnicking at Picnic Point, well they stand out among the bushes as much as anything and from a distance can also be avoided.  Needless to say, based on these facts.  We didn’t get a close encounter with a Harrier all evening.  But. We did see a  Sea-eagle.

Still the weather was kind.


Head down, comparing the present information with the stored data
Nothing escapes that radar gaze
Oh, look, humans, they weren’t there before. Turn away
Humans. Turn away
Turning away in the evening light. Our presence didn’t come as a surprise to this bird, it simply continued its business along another track.
The elusive, White-bellied Sea-eagle made several runs along the low-low tidal flat. For some reason it was carrying grass from a previous swoop.


My New Book: “Sneaking up on a Swamp Harrier”

Oxymoron: (def).  is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory.
Hence “Sneaking up on a Swamp Harrier”.

And just to be sure that I am clearly not misunderstood; there is no Book.
Just my bemused attempt of dealing with a bird that seems to be lightyears ahead of my feeble attempts to get a good shot. If there was such a book it would be very short on in pages.  A real theoretical experience. And the first chapter would be the last.  Sneaking and Swamp Harrier are not compatible.

They are the masters of the bunds along the Treatment Plant. Wafting in the breeze, dropping on unsuspecting prey, harriering the water birds until  exhausted they fall easy pickings.  And, I believe, they have the area ‘mapped’, so that anything out of place is either open to inspection or senses danger and the bird shys away.  Do I then have some respect for these birds. Absolutely.

wouldn't you know it that was the moment the autofocus in the camera decided to recalculate and settle on the reed beds

So take your average evening light, hope its sunny, sit among the reeds and wait.  Trying to chase them down only results in a flurry of white tail feathers disappearing over the next bund, and they don’t return.

The spot we’d chosen was on a short bund, with plenty of reed cover.  The car was about 150m back buried in some more reeds.  We set up the cameras and waited.  There are some rules about this-  not mine, just the birds.  First: Don’t move.  Second: Don’t Move  Third Don’t MOVE.
Riders to said rule. Don’t get all excited and exclaim to no one in particular. “Look, its coming toward us”.
And don’t make that the moment that you move the tripod/camera for a better shot, or swing said camera toward the bird.

A head down searching Swamp Harrier is a committed bird.  It knows what was down there last pass, and knows if anything looks out of place.   And will react accordingly.

After about 15 minutes, (no fidgeting please), along the far bank a lone Swamp Harrier began  its run.  And about the same time, the sun slipped for the last time behind some cloud and the light went to porridge. Enough to make me prepare to go home.

However, back to said bird on said bund.  By now it had worked its way along about half of the 300m or so of reedbed. I’d begun to take the occasional shot.  Too far away for much detail, and not enough light now for much interest.

Mark Knofler  (Dire Straights) wrote lines for such occasions.  “Too far away from me. ” and  “It’s just that the light was wrong, Juliet” (apologies for word change)

Because of the moderate breeze blowing, the most amazing thing was in the over 300m of its flight path, it didn’t flap a wing once. Just turned its body on an angle and simply sailed along like a kite in the breeze, or canoe crossing a fast running water.
Not sure what I was most impressed by, but the almost energy-less movement was certainly something to behold. With unconscious awareness it came on.

When it reached the end of the bund line, it changed direction, and wing tactics and began to pull up the reed bed in our direction.  Lower now, because of the need for wing flapping, and also because the reeds were blowing over.

We waited.  (see above)

And sure enough on it came.  Head down, completely absorbed; in eloquent silence.

Then, the moment I had anticipated. It pulled up, saw a change that was unexpected.  And turned in an instant.  And wouldn’t you know it that was the moment the autofocus in the camera decided to recalculate and settle on the reed beds 250m away.  I dream of the days of manual focus.

A bitter sweet result.

Yet I still have the memory of its almost effortless track across the bund.   We shall go again.


High in the evening breeze. Simply drifting along the reed beds
High in the evening breeze. Simply drifting along the reed beds
Reaching the end of the first run.
Reaching the end of the first run.
A change of direction along the bund toward us.
A change of direction along the bund toward us.
Working harder in the head wind
Working harder in the head wind
Still engrossed in its mission.
Still engrossed in its mission.
The moment of awareness. I checked the EXIF there is about 1/10th of a second between this and the next shot.
The moment of awareness. I checked the EXIF the is about 1/10th of a second between this and the next shot.
On the Turn, those big surgical legs swinging out like a pendulum.
On the Turn, those big surgical legs swinging out like a pendulum.


Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend

A White-bellied Sea-eagle with a catch is as Jane Austen once wrote, “in need of friends”,(well I paraphrased the good Jane just a  bit).

We are at Lake Borrie in the Western Treatment Plant,  early morning, far out in the middle of the Lake a young Sea-eagle has scored.  (Best guess is a Pink-eared Duck).

As it settles down to prepare its meal, out of the sky drops all the Kites and Harriers in the area.  Each one wanting to be the Sea-eagles best friend.  “Comeon mate,  share it about, I’m your best mate, maahte.”

The Sea-eagle doesn’t see that opportunity to increase its Friends list on FB and doggedly proceeded to pluck and consume the feast.
Not that the big birds didn’t try.  The Harriers tried their usual ‘spook’ tactics, the Kites a variety of out staring and then hostile aggression, the ravens a mixture of sheer cunning and brute force, but in the the end, the Sea-eagle persisted.

For the Technically Ept:  These images are shot on the D810, mostly with the TC 2.0iii on the 300mm f/2.8, Tripod mounted, with a 4kg bean bag to weigh it all down.  And the new addition in the D810, the Electronic First Shutter ,which eliminates shutter/mirror bounce on long lenses.  (Wish I’d had that with the old 600mm.).

Huge crops as the bird is so far away in the middle of the lake.


Dancing with Brolga

Over the past couple of weeks, the Brolgas that are down in the WTP have been a bit more open and readily noticeable.  Either because of their walking along the roads along the bunds, or by flying in from seemingly nowhere.

At first I took to them as  photo challenge. Big bird, easy to spot, fairly photogenic.

However after a couple of weeks of working with them, I am enamoured.  These wonderful creatures with personalities all their own have walked, sung, and danced their way deep into my heart.

Not that its a two sided partnership.  They are very people averse and make their feelings on the subject well know, both vocally and by voting with their feet, or wings.

We had decided EE, Mr An Onymous and I to take advantage of the cool of the morning as being the best way to get the best light and to make a concerted effort to locate the Brogla.  Now like all birds, they don’t leave signs, or calling cards, so we left an hour or so after sunup and began our quest.

By mid-morning the score was photographers 0 Brolga 3. Then as we were going along the bund to Murtcaim(n) outflow, we saw the Helmutmobile on the other side of the pond, and on the road in front of him. A pair of Brolga. Apparently on a shopping expedition, or perhaps a philosophical stroll in the morning.  As Mr An has rightly pointed out, they walk fast on those big legs. And it was as much as I could do to follow along on the opposite bank, as they headed on down to the other end of the pond.

At one point we (both) came upon a mob of Black Swans in the pond, and they were startled either by me, or more likely on reflection, the Brolga. Much wing clattering, foot splashing and eventually they got airborne.
The Brogla stopped, turned their heads, and I thought “Oh, No, they’ll fly too!”  But instead they set up a constant calling and looking in the direction of the Swans, and I think I learned some Brolga speak. “Well, Look at those silly swans,  we sure scared them. ”

See Helmut’s shot of the Swans in complete disarray on the wing.

Here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/88560281@N06/11941596805/

Black swan

Another view is here.

Black Swans

Satisfied that honour had been done, they turned and walked nonchalantly off down the road.

I moved to the end of the road, and the pool. There is a road running along there and I figured,  they will either turn left and be gone down the road or they might just as well turn right and walk pretty much right past me.  However, like all good stories, there was a third possibility that I hadn’t counted on.  They walked over the roadway, down the bank on the other side and disappeared into the grass.  Brolga 4.

We stopped at the Murtcain(m) outflow, but the tide was in and the best we could do was a nice cuppa and a chat.

When silently as stealth bombers, 3 grey shapes came over the paddock, dropped into the lagoon and immediately started walking. They were much to far out for anything really decent, Brolga 5.

However not to be outdone, I walked down to the end of the roadway and slipped along the roadside trying to get as close, and hoping they would feed across toward my position. Photographer 1.

What happened next was the highlight of my day, probably my month, and might even be my year. (I don’t aim high!).

One of the three, the smallest, stopped walking. Turned about and danced.  Now most have heard of the prowess of these birds as exceptional dancers.  Don’t believe it. They are much much more than exceptional.  To see a video is one thing. To see the elegance, lightness, the subtly of turn, and the wing movements is nothing else other than breathtaking.   Its ability to step, and twist and turn and jump in a co-ordinated manner can’t be explained and a few still shots, don’t even begin to touch the scope of the repertoire.  Photographer 2.
And it was doing it for itself. The other two took no part and took no notice.

I’ve concluded they do it because its fun. They enjoy it, and it’s an expression of being alive.  I know anthropomorphism is frowned upon. I don’t care, I think they have emotions and this one wanted to enjoy the moment.

The heat haze over the water affected most of the shots, but none the less, its only encouraged me to continue working with these birds and hopefully they will grace me with another performance.

Nothing like a morning constitutional stroll.
Nothing like a morning constitutional stroll.
Oh, look I missed a feather, just there.
Oh, look I missed a feather, just there.
"Silly Swans"
“Silly Swans”
When you're casual walking there is always a time of for a quick preen.
When you’re casual walking there is always a time for a quick preen.
Reaching the end of the road, would they turn and walk toward me?
Reaching the end of the road, would they turn and walk toward me?
A threesome, perhaps two adults and a juvenile, flew quietly in for a walk along the pond.
A threesome, perhaps two adults and a juvenile, flew quietly in for a walk along the pond.
For no reason, only that it could this bird decided to dance in the sunshine.
For no reason, only that it could, this bird decided to dance in the sunshine.
Wings widespread help to control the dreaming drifting down sequences.
Wings widespread help to control the dreaming drifting down sequences.
At the height of the dance. Float like a butterfly.
At the height of the dance. Float like a butterfly.
Performance over time to rejoin the walking group.
Performance over time to rejoin the walking group.

Go you little Black and White territorial policeman.

We’re in the WTP.  So is a resting Black-shouldered Kite. It however has made the tactical error of landing in a Willie Wagtails favourite tree.  Or perhaps it was just on patrol, and it’s “Time to move along”

Either way, the immovable object verses the unstoppable energy is on display.

The wagtail made numerous passes at the Kite, its only reaction was to once raise its wings, but I suspect that was just a balance thing more than anything else.

In the end the kite gave ground, and the wagtail, chattering as it went, moved on to the next tree to see if the Magpie was also moveable.  Such is the life of a little black and white location police person.

This was shot from the car with a 500m mounted on “David’s Folly”, a beautiful engineered window car mount that I purchased from Outdoorphotogear.com.

It is made in Germany and really is the best thing. Probably stronger than the car door.  The folly like all follies is that it will do the impossible. But when it comes to holding the camera, keeping it ready, securely attached to the car, and rock steady in mounting, it really is a great piece of kit.  Just people keep stopping to ask, “Looks like you’re ready for anything'”, or “What is that”.  My answer, David’s Folly.

Think I will put up a page to show it in action, then it will be simpler to explain.

Its all about position position position.
Just being the larger bird in a dispute does not necessarily give you landing rights.

Werribee in the evening

The forecast looked good. There should be open sky through to sundown.  I like the evening light on the Treatment Plant as it’s interesting direcitonal light across the ponds.  On a good night with plenty of birds it gives that lovely crispness that we struggle for.

Along The Spit area, the terns were resting on the outgoing tidal flats and in some places, it is possible to get reasonably close.


There is always a Black-shouldered Kite or two to be found and this evening was no exception.  This is one of those images, that has only been cropped.  No clever manipulation, as shot. Love the deep red glowing eye.


As the sun dropped toward the horizon, it left a soft haze that draped itself over the You Yangs and made a lovely light grey and then an orange curtain against which the birds, although backlit, became intriguing silhouettes.


All in all a magic evening.

Buff-banded Rail and young

Most of the time these birds are not only hard to find, but hard to see.  This bird and its mate had brought the young down on to the exposed low-water mud flats and they spent a lot of time feeding, and foraging among the grass overhangs.

A Whistling Kite patrolled down the waterline and she took the young back under the grass overhangs, and here they are just coming out again.

Buff-banded Rail

Black-shouldered Kites at Western Treatment Plant

This pair of kites are roosting on a tree near one of the main roads around the WTP, we were hoping that they might be going to nest, but over the past few weeks we have not seen any indication of intent. Perhaps she is resting after a brood earlier in the season.

Pair of Black-shouldered Kites
A pair of Blackshouldered kites in the afternoon sun.

There are a few extra pictures of Kites in the galleries

Brown falcon and young bird at Western Treatment Plant

We have been watching a Brown Falcon for about 6 weeks, she is usually agitated and quite agressive swooping over the car and calling aggressively.  We (Dorothy and I) supposed she must have nested close by.

On Thursday 1 Dec 2011, we found the reason why.  She has a newly fledged young bird

This is a shot of them together, she will shepherd it about often flying interference against ravens and magpies.

Brown Flacon and Juvenile
This is our first glimpse of Mother and Child. The young brown falcon is a really rich chocolate and ginger colour

More Brown Falcon Pics in the Brown Falcon Gallery