# A PHOTO A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY – Day 9

I think I missed my Photo-a-Day from my archives yesterday.   Like many of you, I have been exploring some more online ordering, now that we are all staying at home and ordered not to go out (except for 4 reasons as specified by the Australian Government), so a little extra time ‘surfing the net’ has occupied my spare time.

For those new to my nature blog, I thought I’d go through my archives right back from the beginning in May 2010 when I first bought a camera and took up photography.   I figured a photo-a-day would keep you all entertained while the coronavirus restrictions are in place.   Some of you may be spending more time online.

Since I have thousands of photos, you’d think it would be easy to choose one each day, but it’s not.   I am hopeless when it comes to choosing one photo over another.   I keep finding faults with those early photos too.

Anyway, this photo is for Gary in N.Z. as we were talking about Fantails. (sorry the tail got chopped off).

GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa)

On the 19th September last year. when the Japanese Maple was bursting with Spring buds and quite bare-limbed, I had the luck to be out on my apartment balcony when a bird landed on the tree in front of my balcony fence.   Initially, I thought it was a Willie Wagtail with that white ‘eyebrow’, but then noticed the white cheek patch. I went indoors to get my Australian Bird Guide book out and flipped through the pages.

It was a GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa).   I’ve never seen this species before (or since) despite them being a common bird according to the guide book.

It hopped continually from branch to branch for about 3 hours.   Yes, that long.   I went outdoors several times in the afternoon before it finally flew off around dusk.   Plenty of time to get my camera with a short telephoto lens and plenty of time to identify it.

Here are a couple more shots (below) which I took before the one above.  As you can see, the shadows made it hard to get a good shot.   If you’re Australian and reading this post, you will know what a Willie Wagtail looks like and how I initially identified it incorrectly.

You have to have a great deal of patience when doing Bird Photography.   I’ve taken hundreds of shots with the camera setting on ‘continuous shooting’ in the hope of catching at least one image in focus (when the bird species is a fast-moving one like this fantail).   I’m much better at photographing birds and animals which stand perfectly still.

GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa)
GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa)

By the way, when standing at the front door of my apartment building on Wednesday, waiting for my supermarket delivery, (the drivers are not allowed to come indoors, up the lift and deliver to my apartment door due to the social distancing rules),   I saw not only a male Superb Fairy-wren run across the road, I saw a tiny field-mouse run across the path into a garden bed about 4 feet away from my feet.   It was the smallest mouse I’ve ever seen in my life and I was thrilled to see it.

These chance encounters with the little critters in nature never cease to bring some excitement to my day and always make me smile.   Once, about 15 years ago, while walking home from work through the Royal Botanic Gardens, I stopped at the small Nympheae Lake to feed the ducks.   Next minute a small marsupial of some kind – maybe a water rat? – swam through the water, head & nose poking just above the surface.  It then proceeded to climb onto a water lily leaf with something in its ‘hands’ and sat back on its haunches and proceeded to daintily nibble away at its meal.

I stood perfectly still and watched, totally fascinated.   It was like watching a little critter from a Beatrix Potter story (for those in the U.K. who are familiar with Beatrix Potter’s children’s books).

It was BC (Before Camera) back in those days.

THE BIRD HAS GONE……….

The Grey Fantail I watched erratically flitting from branch to branch yesterday is gone this morning.

Phew!

For once in my life, I’m glad to see the absence of a bird as I was so worried about it yesterday.   The Fantail’s body was about the size of a small chicken egg to give you an idea of how tiny it was.   Similar in size to the baby Fairy-wrens I photograph in my Balcony Garden (below).

 

GREY FANTAIL (Rhipidura fuliginosa)

After such a woeful outpouring a couple of posts ago, I’ve had a most thrilling sighting this afternoon.

At first I thought it was a baby Willy Wagtail I saw out of the corner of my eye (whilst typing at my desk).   I opened the sliding balcony door and stepped out into the wild gusty wind and went over to the balcony fence.

There was a tiny flash of black darting continually around the Japanese Maple (located between my balcony and the footpath).

I went back indoors and grabbed the long 150-500mm ‘birding’ lens and quickly flipped the 9 focus points to 1 and went back outdoors to try to get that between the Maple foliage.   Not thick foliage at this stage of Spring, but thick enough for me to quickly go through something like 50 shots in an attempt to get the tiny bird in focus.

Here are a few attempts…..

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I was totally mystified by the white wing-like patches behind the white ‘eyebrow’ feathers (which would have made it a Willy Wagtail chick flashing its tail backwards and forwards faster than the eye or camera could follow).

I got my Australian Bird Guide Book out and after downloading the images onto the 27″ screen I realized I had captured some images of a new Bird I’d never seen before – a Grey Fantail.

What a thrill!

Fantails are common birds all over Australia, but I’d never seen one before.

My excitement started to die down and all those long months of photographing the fast-moving Superb Fairy-wrens on my balcony started to pay off.

I finally got some better shots……

The white chin feathers clinched it!  Besides, Northern Fantails are restricted to the far north of Australia, so it wasn’t one of that species.   If you think I’ve got the ID wrong, please let me know in the comments section.

This was about 1.45pm or so.   I was so engrossed in my efforts I nearly forgot I had a doctor’s appointment at the local clinic.

Anyway, 2 hours later, when I returned home, the bird was still frantically flying around the Maple tree, then to the hedge next to the footpath, to the young Eucalyptus sapling and then back to the Maple.

Before I left home it had crashed into the glass balcony fence several times.

It’s 6.00pm at the moment and it’s still madly (and somewhat erratically) moving from branch to branch and tree to tree.

I wonder if it’s looking for its Mother or nest?

I wonder if crashing into the balcony glass fence a few times has hurt it somehow?

I’d never be able to catch it.

If it’s still in the tree tomorrow……. crazily flying around, I’ll be on the phone trying to find the appropriate wildlife association or the local Park Ranger to come and try to catch it and take it to a vet or something.  It is probably a bit premature to phone now this late in the day.

I’ve never seen a bird flying so fast and behaving in such a crazy fashion.

Except when a Rainbow Lorikeet, who flew into my lounge window, crash-landed and fell down dead in my plant pot.   Its body was still warm when I picked it up and surveyed the broken body.   I have to admit a tear came to my eye at that moment.