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.




Some of you non-bird photographers probably think it’s quite easy to photograph birds on my balcony.

After all, I am using a 150-500mm lens mostly……and the birds are about 5-15 feet away (the closer shots are made with the Sony a6000 and it’s 55-210mm ‘kit’ lens).

I can assure you it’s not.

Some days, I seem to manage ok, other days its near on impossible as the birds face the wrong way, or walk on the pot rim behind the plant.   There’s a definite skill to getting the one focal point through the plant foliage and onto the bird’s eye OR moving the camera slightly to stop it autofocusing on the dusty rain droplets on the glass windows.

A sharply focused eye is what usually makes for a good bird photo.  The eye is where the viewer’s eye goes straight to (even if the rest of the bird is ‘soft’ in focus).

2 days ago, the Japanese Maple only had faint knobs where the leaf buds were starting to show.

Example below:

Today, the leaf buds are starting to open.

The Canon & 150-500mm lens was too long so I went back to get the Sony a6000 out of its soft pouch and went out to the balcony fence to get the following shot.

I spent some time trying to get the buds in focus on the main tree but the autofocus kept weaving in and out on various small branches.

Then I noticed some small branches which were easier for the autofocus to catch.   This branch was in front of the stairwell/lift wall where the corrugated surface bounces the hot sun onto my balcony garden.

…..and while too far away for this lens, I saw a New Holland Honeyeater sitting on the other Japanese Maple in front of the building’s entrance.   I knew if I went back indoors to change cameras it would have flown away before I could get the shot.  It was lovely to catch sight of a different species of bird now I’m more housebound with this ‘dodgey’ hip and knee etc.

Here are some images (again 😀 ) of the New Holland Honeyeater taken in 2017 just to remind you of what it looks like.

Apart from a crow (or House Raven ?)  landing on my balcony fence for a few seconds last week, I haven’t seen much in the way of the 6-7 bird species that frequent this area this year so far.   I certainly hear the caw-caw of the crows more since the construction workers have been here.

When I went out yesterday I noticed an awful lot of rubbish on the construction site – perhaps the crows/ravens are coming for a rummage around the rubbish?

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Sometimes I wonder if I grow herbs for myself, or for the birds.

The House Sparrows, (and Fairy-wrens), are particularly fond of  Mint, especially the young leaves.

(excuse the soft focus in some of the images below, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the fast-moving little birds as they jump from pot to pot in search of tasty titbits.  Other times, after a long ‘photoshoot’  my arms ache and I find it hard to hold the heavy long telephoto lens still enough).

I’d clean the lounge windows for some clearer shots too, but the forecast is for rain this afternoon so no point cleaning them today.