I have the most marvellous app on my phone and iPad – Michael Morecombe and David Stewart Guide to Australian Birds – it is not free, but is a great source of information, plus each entry includes recordings of the bird songs for each species. It is a very useful tool to use when photographing birds – see the bird, play their song, and the bird in question comes in close to investigate who is in their territory. Obviously one takes care how one uses it, so as not to cause any distress, but I have used it a couple of times recently. There is a pair of Superb Fairy Wrens that visit my back garden daily, the male is only just beginning to get his grown up plumage, so his feathers look a little like a tatty patchwork of colour, while his missus is just a pale brownish colour. These are shots taken over the last few days using a 70-200mm lens.
I have posted photos of Bird before, a male Currawong that over the last couple of years, has become fairly tame, and will perch on various spots around the house and wait for a feed. Often he will sit outside a window to make his presence felt. For the last few days he has brought Mrs Bird with him, but she is much less blatant in her approach, and generally more timid. Recently he has begun to call in addition to making himself visible, and is becoming more brave about coming close. I love having him around, and there seems to be some sort of competition developing between Bird and a couple of Ravens, who have obviously realised I’m a sucker and they are likely to get food too if they get close enough. This is Bird today, a bit damp but as handsome as usual.
Most folk refer to these big birds as crows, but it is in fact a Raven – Corvus coronoides. It is a passerine member of the Crow family – large, impressive and vicious looking with it’s bright eye and gleaming plumage. This one has begun to appear when I feed the smaller native birds, and bullies them out of the way. Ravens eat anything from plants and seed to other animals or carrion and it looks like this one has been doing just that from the dried blood around it’s beak. Much more cautious than the other garden birds who are used to me being around, I happened to be photographing my friendly Currawong when this one landed in the tree nearby to steal what it could.
These following shots were all taken at the Desert Springs Wildlife Park in Alice Springs where our group had several sessions learning about capturing birds in flight, macro and low light photography plus many other techniques. There was a walk through aviary, a free flight display with several bird species and a section with reptiles and small desert creatures. Our tutors were great – well informed, experienced professional photographers, friendly and patient. I would thoroughly recommend any of their workshops and hope to do another one in the future. For information about Trekabout Photography Workshops follow the link. As usual, click on any photo for a larger image and screenshow.
I occasionally feed seed eating native birds during winter, and today took advantage of another dry day and a borrowed 300mm Sigma lens to capture some of these beautiful Crimson Rosellas (Platycercus elegans) in my back yard. They are very common in this area, and although gorgeous to look at, they are also very destructive, eating new shoots on roses, buds on flowering fruit trees, and of course fruit during summer. This was a small group of about seven birds who took turns to feed while others waited in the nearby tree.
Today I took my 5D and all my lenses that fit it to my son, for him to calibrate the lenses to the camera. I’m very glad to have this done as now the focus of each lens will be perfect instead of focusing behind or in front of where it should. He then took these photos of birds in his back garden, using a HUGE 300mm lens. I have cropped them a little to make the birds more obvious.
Click on any image for a larger view, or slideshow of the lot.
For those of you who have been following the adventures of Bird I am delighted to tell you he has two youngsters. I have only seen these juveniles in the last few days, but both Bird and his less bold Missus have been seen busily hunting and gathering for them. The young ones can fly, in a blundering sort of fashion, and can obviously feed themselves as I have seen them foraging too, however, they also spend a lot of time sitting under cover in trees, squawking loudly and waiting for a parent to come and feed them. The paler, fluffier bird in this gallery is a young one, its sibling was hiding higher up in this leafy tree. Interestingly the beady yellow eye has not yet developed – it must be a sign of being a grown-up!
Bird is becoming more courageous!
Currawongs are large birds, native to Australia and related to Australian Magpies and butcherbirds. They have a beautiful call, but are an omnivorous and opportunistic feeder, eating just about anything, including small birds. Note the feathers stuck to this one’s feet in one photograph – they are not his! This Currawong, called Bird for want of a better name, is now quite tame and unafraid of me, appearing once or twice a day, to sit expectantly on the veranda rail, back step post or a table until I give it something to eat. Sometimes it will sit opposite a window and peer inside until I notice, or sometimes he appears if I go outside and call his name. I expect before long he may even eat from my hand as today he came within a couple of feet to collect some bread crusts from the grass. The dogs are very excited by its proximity, but he does not appear to mind the racket, stuffing his big beak with as many pieces of bread possible before flying off to eat them in peace.