DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster)

From the archives………

In my efforts to reduce my photo library, I’ve come across several bird images that I don’t think I’ve ever shared before.  Mainly because they didn’t have particularly sharp focus.  This image of a Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne is one of them.  The image was made in July 2013 – Winter.

This cormorant-like bird was standing near an old wooden jetty on an island way out in the middle of the large Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens and I didn’t have a tripod at the time, so a hand-held shot with the heavy 150-500mm lens was the best I could do.

I went back many times over the following days with a tripod in the hopes of a better shot, but never ever saw the bird again.

It’s a very large bird with a long sinuous neck and very distinctive feather pattern.

With its wings outstretched in the image in my Australian Bird Guide Book, it looks so much like many of my Cormorant shots of birds drying their wings out.  My Guide Book says it swims down low, often with only its snake-like head and neck out of the water and dives frequently, so I was pretty lucky to catch this Darter sitting quite still on a tree bough.

Advertisements

AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK (Chenonetta jubata)

……………From the Archives

The Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata), is one of the commonest ducks to be seen around Melbourne’s public parks and gardens and I seem to have photographed them more times than most other birds (except perhaps the Nankeen Night Heron and the Pacific Black Duck, that is).

Young teenage female at Maribyrnong Wetlands about 30 mins walk from where I currently live in the Western Suburbs.

Looks like a couple of clear sunny winter days coming up next weekend according to the weather forecast, (which is always wrong 🙂 ), so I hope to have some new images to share afterwards.  I’ve been out and about in recent days with shopping, errands and/or appointments, but not doing photography.  There was a time when I’d take a camera everywhere, but not so these days.

PIED (or LITTLE PIED) CORMORANTS?

I see Cormorants everywhere along my stretch of the Maribyrnong River, but now I’m starting to look a little more closely.

When a fellow bird-lover informed me the Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) has a hooked beak (and more orange coloured), I think I’m starting to see the differences between them. The Pied Cormorant is larger for sure, but when you’re photographing them from a fair distance away and there only one bird, size is a difficult concept for me.

I’m wondering if I’ve identified Little Pied Cormorants (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) when they should be the larger species.  (same issue with Little Black Cormorants and the larger Great Cormorants which are both black).

Some examples below.  I think the 4th image is the only Little Pied Cormorant in this post.  The other 4 images are the larger species.

SPLENDID FAIRY-WREN (Malurus splendent)

I’ve been trying to get close enough to the small birds that feed on the low-lying field of Frogs Hollow on sunny afternoons, but either I haven’t got my 150-500mm lens with me on my walk OR they fly away before I can get close enough.  Finally I decided to just share these images.  I accept I will never get closer to get a really decent shot.

First I saw them next to the wood pile between my apartment building and the path leading to the river. I couldn’t get close enough, but there were about a dozen wrens hopping around on the grass or on the newly cut trees. Apparently these trees were cut as they weren’t native to the area and will soon by taken away by the Nature reserve ranger/staff. Shame about that in one way, as the pile were good cover for small birds from larger predators.

Mostly, in trying to photograph small wild birds, I am having trouble hand-holding the heavy lens as I follow the tiny birds as they continually hop around.   A tripod would be of no use in this type of situation.

About a week and half ago, I managed to capture them in a bit better focus, together with a flock of red-browed Finches and Red-rumped Parrots.  All together there must have been about 30 birds of the 3 species in the one area.

I managed to catch one in the grass.
Than I caught the backside of one walking down the gravel path.

I think all the Fairy-wrens were females.

Than I followed about 5 birds as they hopped down towards the river, eating grass seed at the path edge along the way.

I have to say that I find trying to photograph tiny wild birds more than a bit of a challenge.  I realise how lucky I was when I was living next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne for 15 years.  Most of the birds I photographed were used to humans and I could get quite close.  Even the herons or cormorants on the large lake island usually stood still in the afternoon sun and I was able to use a tripod.

The following 2 shots were the closest I ever got to the wrens when living on the north-eastern side of Melbourne next to the Yarra River.  They are males.

This shot was made in deep shade so I’ve lightened the shadows in PP as much as I could without getting too much ‘noise’ or graininess in the image. In this case I had to watch the patch of blue flitting about among the green foliage and brown tree trunks as the rest of the bird was hard to see in the deep shade.
This shot of a male Splendid Fairy-wren was the best I’ve ever shot in the past. Apparently the males change to all-blue in the breeding season, but I’ve never seen one completely blue.