I was glued to the computer screen reading Steve McCurry’s latest blog post this morning when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.
It had been raining overnight and the forecast had said a 60% chance of further rain, (albeit in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne – I currently live in the west), so I had my floor-to-ceiling glass lounge sliding door closed (to my balcony garden).
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I slowly turned to the left and saw a tiny Fairy-wren hop all around my potted garden and then sit on the bamboo cane of my Sugar pea climbing frame.
%$@&!! (I said to myself).
I had re-arranged my bookcases yesterday and put all my cameras away, in the camera bag or soft pouches, in the bedroom. At the last minute, late last night (before going to bed), I brought the bags out of the bedroom and put them back next to my desk chair, but didn’t take the long telephoto out of its zip-carrying case as I hadn’t seen any birds up close for about 10-14 days (?). I assumed my ‘at home‘ bird photography had finished for the season and I’d actually have to go for a walk to get any bird shots.
When I saw the 1st wren, I very slowly bent to one side and unzipped the bag with my left hand and lifted the heavy DSLR and long telephoto lens out and prayed the wren wouldn’t move.
It did (and I missed the shot).
Next thing a female Splendid Fairy-wren jumped down on to the ground and ate a Cabbage-moth Caterpillar as it slowly crawled its way blindly across the paving tiles looking for, or sensing, some greenery. Then the wren flew up to the edge of the Capsicum plant and then proceeded to inspect every other space in and around the potted plants and herbs.
The male did the same.
“Well done, you dear little wren” I said to myself. The ‘pillars’ had decimated my garden in the last couple of weeks and the Harlequin Bugs had sucked most of the leaf colour out of some plant leaves.
I was beside myself with excitement as, while I often see these tiny wrens across the road, or on the walking path down to the nearby Maribyrnong River, I’d only seen them up close on my balcony about 3 times in the last 18 months.
And they had mostly been female.
I did get a fairly decent shot of a female in a tree once.
And I did see a male last November sitting on an empty plant container.
With the sliding door closed, the window frames and reflections of my lounge chair muddled the scene.
%$@&!! (I said again).
I couldn’t hold the heavy lens steady in my lethargic half-awake state.
Although set on Shutter-priority, the shutter speed was far too slow for the deep shade of the pots under the overcast sky and a fast-moving tiny wren. When I say fast-moving, I mean hopping every couple of seconds.
I slowly lowered the camera so as not to cause a sudden movement and changed the camera settings, but the deep shade due to the closely arranged pots and overcast sky, did nothing to improve my confidence in capturing any photos of the wrens.
I also changed the setting from single shot to continuous shooting. That was the best my brain could manage in its morning state.
I tried a 3rd shot and managed to get the tiny male(?) in focus.
But what species was it? It certainly didn’t have the blue head of a male Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens). I looked up my Australian Bird Guide Book, but it only showed the male in its bright all-over-blue breeding colours. My wren was very tiny and looked very young. It had a few flecks of pale blue on its head.
Could it be a Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)?
I am not a morning person (for those new to my nature blog) 🙂
Maybe I’d been calling all the male wrens I’d photographed, Splendid (Fairy-wrens), when they were Superb (Fairy-wrens). Google images were no help as there were many called Superb Fairy-wrens when they didn’t have the dark chest of that species. Google Images can be a great help finding bird or flower names, but many amateur photographers fail to notice the tiny differences between some species and there are many incorrect ID’s. In fact, I’d picked up a totally incorrect bird name in the Australian Photography magazine last year. I think the editors hadn’t checked the photographer’s ID and caption. The Bird name was not even remotely close to the bird species – totally different feather colour, beak and body shape/size.
Here’s another image of a male wren I’d photographed near Dight’s Falls on the north-eastern side of Melbourne.
Well, whatever the species, this morning I saw a male and female wren in my garden and that put a warm glow in my ‘photography’ heart and a smile on my face (and stopped me swearing at the Auto Spellcheck).
I noticed through a gap in the Japanese Maple in front of my balcony a tiny wren on the other side of the road (centre of the frame below), but my 150-500mm lens doesn’t reach that far, especially with a hand-held shot, so you’ll have to use your imagination.
And for those new to my nature blog and there have been quite a few recently – thank you for following – here is the scene from my desk where I sit and read/answer my emails and do any photo reviewing or ‘tweaking’ in the morning natural light. I usually photograph in the direction of the left hand side of my balcony as that’s where you can see the tall trees and hedges on the other side of the road.
If I look straight ahead you can see there a vacant block on the cliff face where they are going to build another apartment block in the near future (to my dismay).
So while I live in a newish housing estate built about half way up a steep hill, my 1st floor apartment just happens to be opposite a gap in the 3 large buildings and townhouses where the developers have planted rows of trees and 2 different hedging plants. That greenery plus my balcony herb, flower and (sometimes) vegetable garden makes it a very green space indeed.
I am exceptionally lucky in this location.