When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
- Lao Tzu
Yesterday, I went out birding with my new birding friend. We went to our new favourite bird of prey place and stood with our cameras in the cold morning wind, waiting for the perfect shot. We took hundreds of photos, but both thought we hadn’t managed any outstanding ones.
It was worth going out though – it always is – because what we see is so wonderful. This time we saw the Black Falcon several times, but always up high.
We had the thrill of seeing a Black Kite trying to steal food off a Black Falcon.
The Black Kites often chase other birds, like Black Falcons …
and White-bellied Sea-Eagles.
Then, for the first time, we saw two Black Falcons together. And they showed us some courtship behaviour!
Later that evening, I saw my friend’s photos on her web site. They were sharper and better exposed than mine, as they always are. I felt discouraged and wondered if I would ever get better.
But I told myself I’m on my own journey to being a better bird photographer and not to compare myself to anyone, even someone who is taking the same photos under the same conditions.
I have to remember to just be me, and to concentrate on being a better me than I was yesterday.
Last Friday when I was mowing, I looked up and saw a dark bird of prey flying over my neighbour’s house. I ran inside to get my camera, flinging off my earmuffs, hat and sunglasses as I went.
When I ran back outside, the bird of prey was gone. As I scanned the skies, pivoting like an ice skater, I heard the alarm calls of noisy miners in nearby gum trees. I watched and waited and the bird of prey flew out of them.
I fired off some shots and couldn’t resist taking one as it flew near the moon.
I downloaded the photos and discovered that the Square-tailed Kite had paid me a visit.
The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.
- Jessica Lange
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I didn’t want huge presents or a grand outing, I just wanted to relax and spend time with my children. They gave me some wonderful presents. My daughter gave me a sterling silver eagle charm, which I wore on a necklace. It must have been magical because while we were talking outside, I looked up and saw a bird of prey circling above our backyard. I ran inside to get my camera and managed a few photos before it ascended. The settings were completely wrong (ISO 3200!), as I had been trying to photograph flying Little Corellas the previous afternoon, but the photos showed the markings clearly.
I asked friends on a bird forum to help me identify it and they said it was the uncommon Little Eagle, dark morph! It was a wonderful Mother’s Day sighting, as I have only seen three Little Eagles – and all were light morphs – in all the years I’ve been photographing birds of prey.
My son gave me some camouflage fingerless gloves for cold mornings and some khaki bamboo socks to wear under my anti-snake boots. So I went out to my previous favourite bird of prey place and my sightings got even better. A Brown Goshawk rocketed past and I was able to get my best photos of one yet. I don’t see them very often either.
I stayed a while then went to my new favourite bird of prey place and snapped some photos of birds of prey by the golden-red late afternoon light. I got Black Kites perching
and Whistling Kites flying.
I couldn’t see the Black Falcon but I felt lucky anyway. Especially when I went home to a delicious takeaway dinner!
Yesterday Birdie Num Num laid her fifth (fourth unbroken) egg on Mother’s Day. Sweet!
One of our cockatiels, Birdie Num Num, has started laying eggs. I thought she wanted to lay one a few weeks ago, so I made her an emergency nesting box out of a shoe box lined with aspen shavings.
Although she paid attention to the box straight away, widening the hole and going inside, she laid her first egg on a high perch and we found it smashed on the bottom of the cage.
But she laid the second one in the box and started to sit on it.
Then she laid the third…
then the fourth.
And there could be more to come. We’re almost certain the eggs are unfertilised, because although Teddy Yellow Bear was sold to us as a male, he has only just turned 1 and there is no sign of pair bonding.
But Num is determined to sit on her eggs and defend them against all of us, so we’ll just have to wait this out with her.
Thought, creativity and learning arise from experience.
- Carla Hannaford
On Saturday I woke up early, but seeing clouds, went back to sleep. I spent the day washing clothes and planting grevilleas and bottlebrushes to attract lorikeets and rosellas to our garden.
By lunchtime the clouds were clearing and by mid afternoon they were gone.
I decided to reward myself for my hard work by heading out to my new favourite bird of prey place. I have seen lots of Black Kites there over the past few weeks – maybe 50 – and I wanted to get some more photos in the afternoon light.
When I arrived, there were quite a lot of Black Kites, and some came quite close.
The Black Falcon made several appearances, flying straight past me at top speed. At one stage, it was carrying food.
Then I saw a scene I’ll never forget. Hundreds of Black Kites were slowly moving towards me. I don’t know where they all came from, but I stood there with my mouth open, unable to believe my eyes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were 500 in the air that day.
As I stood there, all alone on a deserted piece of road, I tried to drink in the sight and imprint it on my mind forever. Because these wonders of the natural world are things we may only see once in a lifetime, and some of us will never see them at all.
Although they are common, Rainbow Lorikeets are beautiful parrots. Here is one in my backyard today, in my grevillea ‘Superb’.
The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.
- Norman Vincent Peale
On Saturday, we did lots of chopping, lifting and moving at our house. It was hard, constant work. In the end, we took two full trailer loads of green waste and miscellaneous junk (mattress, fence, kennel etc) to the tip.
I saw some birds of prey that morning, and although the cleaning had been hot and heavy work, I couldn’t wait to go out and take photos. I zipped out and got some gorgeous shots in the late afternoon light. Black Kites are spectacular birds.
When I went home, I felt happy and energised, not tired at all.
I realised how important it is to do something you love, so you have the energy to do all the other things in life.
I love Australian animals and I’ve found this new release :
The Sword of Demelza by J.E. Rogers
The Sword of Demelza is a Middle Grade Fantasy, where endangered animals roam the pages.
The Sword of Demelza
You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
- Dr Seuss
Over the last week, I’ve been going through my photos and deleting the bad ones, setting myself a target of 500 a day. While doing this, I noticed that some of my photos of birds in flight are not sharp even when the shutter speed is high (1/1600 sec or higher). I realised that something must be wrong with how or where the camera is focusing.
On Saturday it rained and rained, so I made the most of my time inside by reading about the automatic focus functions on my camera. I realised that even if I do photography courses, they won’t help me to understand my specific model, so I need to help myself.
The more I read, the more I realised that focusing is vastly more complicated than it used to be. There are all kinds of custom settings that I hadn’t been aware of. And neither my manual nor articles on the Internet gave a clear indication of which settings are best for birds in flight.
Overwhelmed, I sent an email to a bird photography forum friend. He spent time looking up the optimum settings for me. I made the changes he suggested and waited eagerly to try them out.
On Sunday morning the weather was perfect! The sky was blue, with no clouds at all. I met another bird photography forum friend at our new favourite bird of prey place and we spent a fantastic morning taking huge numbers of photos.
We saw some fabulous battles as the Black Kites hounded the White-bellied Sea-eagles.
The birds often circled us so low that we couldn’t fit them in the frame!
We moved to another place and watched White-bellied Sea-eagles fly right past us, once even in a group of three (which I missed!).
I couldn’t wait to see my photos. Sadly, although some are pretty good, most still don’t have the sharpness that I want and that I know my camera is capable of. I did get some sharp ones though; so I guess I’m making progress.
Strangely, some of my best photos were taken with the birds against cloud. I’ve always avoided taking birds against cloud in the past because I thought they’d just be silhouetted.
It looks as if the learning is going to be an ongoing process.