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Welcome Everybody

Hello - Welcome. The purpose of this site is to document my experiences photographing wildlife and nature throughout Australia and abroad.  I hope you find the content interesting and educational, and the images  cause you to reflect on how important it is preserve natural places and their inhabitants.

All wildife has been photographed in the wild and animals are NOT captive or living in enclosures.

For me photography of the natural world is more than just pretty settings and cuddly animal photos. It's a concern for the environment and the earth all living creatures must share.

Note that images appearing in journal posts are often not optimally processed due to time constraints.

You are welcome to comment on any post.

 

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Conservation Matters.....

Entries in Birds (4)

Wednesday
May202015

Eastern Spinebills (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) - Tasmania

The Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) is a species of Australian honeyeater that is inhabits dry sclerophyll forests, scrub and woodland from Northern Queensland through New South Wales, Victoria, parts of South Australia and the Island state of Tasmania. The species is highly adaptable and is often found in urban gardens in which there are sufficient vegetation to act as cover and food.

LEFT:  Male Eastern Spinebill feeds on introduced flowers (click to enlarge).

The eastern species is not to be confused with the Western Spinebill which inhabits Western Australia; this spinebill, although belonging to the same Genus is a separate species.  Evolutionary scientists believe that both species derived from a cosmopolitan ancestor due to climatic change.  At some time in the past, desertification separated the species into two geographical locations on each side of Australia.  Over time, each population evolved into a distinct species.

Spinebills are small and fast and vary rarely perch for an extended period of time.  To provide the energy to support their fast lifestyle the birds rely on nectar from a number of indigenous and introduced plants.  The beak of the spinebill has evolved into a long and slender device that is ideal for removing nectar from a number of plants including the blooms of gum trees, mistletoe, heaths, grevilleas and banksias.  In addition to nectar (akin to rocket fuel) spinebills frequently prey on small insects and other invertebrates which are often captured on the wing.

The spinebill has evolved an interesting adaptation to counter against periods in which flowers are abundant, but the nectar supply is low.  During mast flowering years, plants may product copious numbers of flowers, but not a lot of nectar.  During these periods, the spinebill will store fat, increase the amount of time feeding, or lower its metabolic rate to a level similar to night-time levels.

LEFT:  Female Eastern Spinebill.  Note the differing pattern on the chest and the slightly drab colours in relation to the male in the upper image (click to enlarge).

Male spinebills sport rufus coloured feathers with a blaze of white across their chest.  The colour can appear very bright, especially in the low light of the morning or afternoon.  By comparison, females have rather dull colours.  It is with these bright colours that the males present to the females, in the hope of a successful application to reproduction rights.

Spinebills breed from August through December and make a small cup-style nest constructed from bark and grass and lined with feathers.  The clutch produced is usually two; however, four can be produced in good years.  The female incubates the eggs for around 16 days.  Both parents care and feed for the chicks.

To see further photographs of spinebills, navigate to the photograph archive and type in 'honeyeaters or spinebill'.

Glossary

Cosmopolitan – A term referring to wide ranging

Mast Flowering – Flowering events in which plants produce large numbers of flowers, often with a overall resultant decline in nectar.

Wednesday
Jul012009

Ranch Shooting, Carmel California

I've spent the last two days at a property (called a ranch in the US) located 30 miles inland from Point Lobos and approximately 3 hours drive south from San Francisco.  The ranch is located within an area called the fly zone and comprises rolling grass and shrub covered hills, and is dotted with numerous oak trees, some of which are as old as 400 years.   The fly zone is an area in which migratory birds fly along during their migratory routes.  As such, numerous birds can be observed at differing times of the year.

The owner has established a number of small permanent watering holes (ponds) with a drip water system.  This permanent water is favourable to any birds living in the area or migrating through the region as California is a desert environment and water is a relateively scarce resource.  During my stay temperatures reached 102 F and were stifling until an warm afternoon breeze started.

The main target species we were after were the numerous birds that visit a small pond located on the property, however, other wildlife seen include the Common Gray Fox, bats, jack rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks.  

All the shooting was conducted from a camoaluged blind set up adjacent to the pond.

This fox, made a very fleeting visit to the pond on the second morning of shooting and was probably attracted to the pond by a large family of California Quail that has taken up residence in the area.  Unfortunately, the fox did not hang around and only made three passes in front of the blind, stopping only to mark a tree with its scent.

I'll post some of the bird images in the next few days.

 

Monday
Apr132009

Avian Splendour - Port Augusta, South Australia

Arrived in Port Augusta, did some local housekeeping and decided to visit a local area just north of town to see what bird activity there was.

Unfortunately, there wasn't as many species as I'd seen on earlier trips, but the flowers were not really blooming so avian activity was on the light side. Despite this I did manage to capture a few snaps of passing species.

The low afternoon light, just after 530PM was sparkling and the colours fabulous, although the colours do not seem to show up as well on this blog for some unknown reason.

I learnt another important lesson today. NEVER walk away from the camera. I was feeling a bit tired, so decided to walk not more than 5 feet from the camera. As soon as I moved a honeyeater came and rested on the tree in perfect light, in perfect position. And where was I - 5 feet from the shutter button.

Birds, like many animals are habitual. Therefore, if you hear two honeyeaters washing in the water, but cannot see them because of your blind or cover, be assured that there is a very high probability that will roast, albeit, quickly on the same sapling/branch that they used earlier. You have to be ready and be patient enough to bite your tongue and not move your camera rig to a supposedly better position, Once you have stacked out your perch, based on earlier bird movements, habitat, and what you want in the image, maintain your position. This is how the good photographs are taken - not by running about the place everywhere chasing something....

One of my favorite land bird species are the pigeon family. Australia has several native pigeon species each endemic to a particular habitat.
I am shooting at this location in the morning (an early start at 500AM), so hopefully there will be more species in the morning light.
Then, from there it is onto the yellow foots. As this is the last area where there is Internet, there probably will not be any additional posts until I return in 10 days or so.

Somehow I have a feeling I will end up back here for a final evening/morning shot - the draw of the "little fluffy dinosaurs" is too great.


Wednesday
Jan282009

Wading Birds, San Francisco, California

California obviously has many beaches as the state sits adjacent to the the Pacific Ocean. The beach near my accommodation in San Francisco was habitat for a number of wading birds.

At low tide several "waders" make their way along the shoreline feeding between wave surges for mollusks (bi-values) and worms.

To capture these images I hiked to the beach just before dawn and waited in the cold winter morning for the sun to peak above the sand dune. As soon as the rays struck across the beach the birds were illuminated in a soft morning glow. I always find the best times to shoot are early morning and late afternoon where you can take advantage of "golden hour" (the time of day 1 hour after/before sunrise/sunset).