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.
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).
Northern side of the Royal Botanic Gardens (when I got a little too close to this Mother’s teenage offspring).
A Male duck heads straight for me when I got a little too close.
An enormous family of ducklings (14 altogether in this one family) – Treasury Gardens, east of Melbourne’s CBD (central business district). There were originally 10 ducklings and a few days later there were 4 more smaller ones, but I never saw more than one set of parents.
The same family as the previous image – Treasury Gardens, Melbourne
(male in the front with the dark head) – Nympheae Lake, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.
Ringwood Lake, outer eastern suburb of Melbourne
The eastern rim of the large Ornamental Lake, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
Image made at the end of summer when the Maribyrnong Wetlands pond was almost dried up. (note: it did eventually dry up completely).
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.
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.
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.
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 think all the Fairy-wrens were females.
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.