Back Yard Birds 3

Carnaby's Black-cockatoos, by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Carnaby’s black-cockatoos, Zanda (Calyptorhynchus) latirostris, preening prior to roosting. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm f5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/250 sec, f6.3 at ISO 6400.

Ok Ok if the last backyard birds was a little stretch over what is my backyard this one is a huge leap – across the road. From my neighbour across the road’s front garden came this delightful occurrence – Carnaby’s Black-cockatoos roosting. These large cockatoos are now endangered thanks to widespread land clearing so it was fantastic to have them visit the neighbourhood.

Backyard Birds 2

Welllllllll…not strictly true. This Nankeen Kestrel was on the power pole on the nature strip in front of our house. Another metre and it would have been in the front garden so I’m claiming it. They often perch there in the cooler months to either observe the field opposite for small animals or to eat the small animal they’ve just caught. This one was running an observation post.

 

Backyard Birds by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A nankeen kestral (Falco cenchroides) uses the power pole on our nature strip to watch for prey in the field oppersite. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f7.1 at ISO 100.

 

Birding On The Avon

 

Like many people at this time I’ve had my movements curtailed. Where I live we are allowed out locally for exercise so I’ve been going out for walks along the river to photograph and video the birds that can be found there. This is the third time I’ve tried to video wildlife and it is very hard.I don’t work from a hide so I have to set up quickly and quietly and often the birds will move on before I can get filming. Shooting mainly just after dawn or just before sunset has meant using high ISOs and made focusing difficult. But, the more you do it the better you get. The purpose of the video was to make something, learn something new and help keep me thinking positive thoughts during this time.

Just out of interest I’ll put the stills up below. They were shot on either a Canon EOS6d with the Sigma 150-600mm f4.5-6.3 Contemporary lens or the Olympus OMD EM1 mk ii with the Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f4-6.3 lens. I wonder if you can tell the difference at web size without enlarging to 100% or checking the EXIF data?

Rufous Whistler by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A male Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris). York, Western Australia.

 

Laughing by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Laughing kookaburra, dacelo novaeguineae. York, Western Australia

 

Yellow Rumped Thornbill by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Acanthiza chrysorrhoa, York, Western Australia.

 

Yellow-billed Spoonbill by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes), Avon River, York, Western Australia.

 

Great Egret by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Great egret, Ardea alba, feeding on the Avon River. York Western Australia

 

Tatty Robin by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Tatty robin. Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii), York, Western Australia.

 

Brown Honeyeater by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Brown Honeyeater, Lichmera indistincta, York, Western Australia.

 

Yellow-billed Spoonbills by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A pair of Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) feeding on the Avon River in York, Western Australia.

 

Dawn Hunt by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A great egret (Ardea alba) and a white faced heron (Egretta novaeholladiae) hunting in the early morning light on the bank of the Avon River in York, Western Australia.

 

Great Egret by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A great egret (Ardea alba) hunting in the early morning light on the bank of the Avon River in York, Western Australia.

 

Red-cap Dawn by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii), York, Western Australia.

 

 

Backyard Birds

Well it seems that the COVID-19 restrictions have been in place for an age. Here in Western Australia the social distancing requirements aren’t as strict as some places, but we still aren’t able to go where we want and do what we want. It makes me more appreciative of what my parents went through growing up in the Great Depression and then after that the Second World War. But anyway to keep myself from going totally mad I’ve been working on a few projects. This one is to document all the birds that come into our backyard. I’ve not got them all by any means. Some are very elusive and just don’t want their photos taken for some reason. Can’t imagine why. Here is a selection form the last couple of weeks.

 

Backyard Birds by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Willie Wagtail on the back fence. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Contemporary lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f7.1 at ISO 1600.

 

Backyard Birds by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Contemporary lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 400.

 

White-cheeked Honeyeater by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White-cheeked Honeyeater, W, in my back garden. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS550d with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f7.1 at ISO 500.

 

Backyard Birds by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White browed babblers (White) breaking the social distancing rules by communal dust bathing. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 5000.

 

Brown Honeyeater by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Brown Honeyeater, Brown, in my back garden. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 550d with Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 320.

 

Backyard Birds by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Australian Ringneck aka twenty-eight parrot,Aus. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3, at ISO 6400.

Well that’s it for this week. Stay safe, keep positive and try and keep busy.

Angry Birds

Angry Bird by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Brown goshawk, (Accipiterr fasciatus.) called Matwelitj, by the Nyoongar people of Western Australia. Avon River Walk, York, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f6.3 at ISO 640 with + 1/3 stop exposure compensation.

The last few mornings dog walks have been spiced up by some very territorial brown goshawks. As we walk along the river and then down onto the river bed we can hear them calling and chattering. It then goes quiet for a second or so and then there is a loud whoosh as you are buzzed from behind. As the bird passes overhead you can feel the air current generated by its wings. At first I thought the birds were objecting to the dog but I and this pattern persisted for about a week. But then something happened that disabused me of that notion – my hat suddenly became the victim of a bird of prey. The last time it happened they managed to knock it off my head. I’m beginning to think my bicycle helmet may be more appropriate headwear.

 

Tricky Landing by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
You know what they say “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing”. Brown goshawk, (Accipiterr fasciatus.) Avon River Walk, York, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f6.3 with +1 1/3 stops exposure compensation.

 

What you Looking At? Brown goshawk, (Accipiterr fasciatus.) called Matwelitj, by the Nyoongar people of Western Australia. Avon River Walk, York, Western Australia.

 

Get Lost! Brown goshawks, (Accipiterr fasciatus.) called Matwelitj, by the Nyoongar people of Western Australia. Avon River Walk, York, Western Australia.

Bibra Lake Bird Walk

 

South of the Swan River is a string of lakes known as the Beeliar Wetlands which are a chain of twenty six lakes stretching from Manning Lake in Hamilton Hill to Madura Swamp near Mandurah Wetlands. Nineteen of those lakes and associated wetlands have been incorporated into the Beeliar Regional Park. This extensive belt of wetlands that has been widely acknowledged as a biodiversity hot-spot having a greater number of endemic species than most other regions in Australia. Within this the Nyoongar with their hunter-gatherer life-style managed the land with their fire-stick farming and survived by hunting and trapping a variety of game, including kangaroos, possums and wallabies; by fishing using spears and fish traps; as well as by gathering an extensive range of edible wild plants, including wattle seeds.  Since colonisation three-quarters of these wetlands have been drained for urban development. What remains has suffered untold damage through the introduction of feral animals and plants. Thankfully Australia is a signatory of the Ramsar Convention and several key wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain have been set aside for conservation. Bibra Lake is the fourth lake (heading southwards) in that chain of lakes that makes up Beeliar Regional Park. Whitefellas believe that they discovered the lake in 1842 and named it after the bloke who bought the land in 1843, one Benedict von Bibra. The Nyoongar say they have known about the lake since time began and to them it known as Walubup.

I first went to Bibra Lake about thirty years ago and thought it was a bit boring and hadn’t been back until the other week. I was called upon for driving duties for the Beloved Significant Other (BSO) and I was left with a morning to kill. So I looked in my copy of Birding Sites around Perth by Ron Van Delft (sadly out of print and unavailable now) and saw that Bibra Lakes was nearby and rated as a good location for birding. The down side to this was that we were experiencing the first major cold front of winter and that meant it was bucketing down and blowing a gale. So suitably swathed in Gore-Tex and equipped with a suitably weather resistant camera I headed off to walk around the lake not expecting to see much.

 

Live Here by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A comforting warning painted on the cycle path that runs around Lake Bibra. It was cold and wet in winter so not much chance of a snakey encounter.

 

Initially I thought that with it raining I had more chance of photographing ducks as it was the perfect weather for them. There were quite a number of different species on the shore and the water. I was quite taken by the Shovelers and the Pink Eared Ducks. The Shovelers are quite a string looking duck with colouring and almost disproportionately large bills. They can often be seen foraging in shallow water where they filter water through their bills insects looking for insects, crustaceans and a variety of plants. Such a specialised mode of feeding means that they are limited to certain types of habitat such as freshwater swamps and lakes with large reed beds. Shovelers also tend to hang out with pink-eared ducks which are so called because of the patch of pink feathers on the sides of the drakes head. Like the Shovelers they too are filter feeders. As the walk moved through areas of paperbark and sheoak trees then smaller insect eating birds were seen such as Willie Wagtails, Grey Fantails, Silvereyes, and various types of wrens. Over all as I did the 8.5 Km walk I saw 18 different species of bird which I felt was a pretty good haul considering the weather conditions. So I’ve revised my opinion of Bibra Lakes and will not wait another 30 years before my next visit.

 

Australasian Shoevelers by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Australasian Shoevelers, Spatula rhynchotis. Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f6.3 at ISO 250.

 

Keeping A Low Profile by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A pink-eared duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) keeping a low profile while amongst Eurasian coots (Fulica atra). Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 3200.

 

Brown Honeyeater, by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Brown Honeyeater, Lichmera indistincta. Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 2500.

 

Varigated Fairy-wren by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Varigated Fairy-wren, Malurus lamberti. Bibra Lake, western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3, ISO 320.

 

Willie Wagtail by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys, Bibra Lake. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600.

 

Mistletoebird by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A female mistletoebird, Dicaeum hirundinaceum, at Bibra Lake in Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 2000.

 

Bibra Lake by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Bibra Lake is part of the Beeliar Wetlands which is an internationally recognised birding hotspot. This is one of two bird hides that have been buit at Bibra Lake.

 

Feed A Bird? by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Don’t feed the birds sign at Bibra Lake complete with Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500, f4, ISO 250.

If you are interested in the birds that can be seen at Bibra Lakes, and indeed throughout the Beeliar Wetlands Birding WA has a useful webpage that gives info on the species that can be seen and where. Birdlife Australia put out a couple of useful brochures which can be got from regional visitors centres or downloaded as PDFs from their website. The brochures are:

 

White-headed Stilt. by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White-headed Stilt, Himantopus himantopus subsp. leucocephalus. Bibra Lake, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600.

 

Nice and Easy

Splendid Fairy Wren by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Splendid Fairy-wren, Malarus splendens subs splendens, out of the breeding period. Lake Leschenaultia, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6D with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens. Exposure: 1/1000sec, f6.3 at ISO 6400.

Sometimes I think that have got to be easier ways to enjoy birding and bird photography than dragging 3.5Kg of camera and lens quietly through the bush and trying to get a picture of something that is literally so flighty that the slightest sound sees your subject leave at a tremendous rate of knots.

 

Western Thornbill by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Western Thornbill, Acanthiza inornata. Lake Leschenaultia, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6D with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1000.

 

Case in point. Not so long ago Beloved Significant Other (BSO) went for a trip to Lake Leschenaultia in Chidlow. I spent an age crawling around in the bush looking for a cooperative subject. In that time every small twig that I inadvertently trod on sounded like a thunder clap that sent all the wildlife scurrying for cover in a 5Km radius.

 

Silvereye by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Silvereye, Zosterops lateralis. Lake Leschenaultia, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6D with a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens. Exposure: 1/1250 sec, f6.3 ISO 2500.

Even if you manage to creep up on a suitable subject you then have the problem of photographing something that is 5-10cm and hoping and twitching around like a meth user suffering from St Vitus’ dance while you are trying to track it and keep it in focus as it darts in and out of the foliage. So I’ve come up with an easier method. The BBQ. If you have BBQ in Australia every animal in the neighbourhood will be trying to relieve you of your food. The little buggers will climb into your lap and pose for photos if food is involved.

 

A picnic feast with the birds of lake Leschenaultia by Helen Amyes (aka BSO). Panasonic Lumix LX5. Exposure: 1/160 sec, f2.8 at ISO 80.

 

Seeing Red

Red-capped Robin by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Red-capped Robin,Wei. Avon Walk Trail, York, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f6.3 at ISO 640.

 

Being originally from England I automatically associate Christmas with cold weather, and by association Robins as they are part of iconography of the festive season. So when walking along the Avon River on a 40º C day seeing these Red-capped Robins seems a little incongruous. For such a small bird they are as bold as brass and will let you approach quite closely. The other confusing thing about Australian robins is that they don’t just come in red.

 

Lake Leschenaultia Lakeside Walk by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The Western Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria griseogularis). Lake Leschenaultia, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f8 at ISO 800.

 

When we were in Tasmania we had proper winters with snow, and that meant we had robins in their proper setting, but not at Christmas. Oh it’s all very confusing!

 

Pink Robin at Silver Falls by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A pink robin (pink) at Silver Falls, Mount Wellington in Tasmania. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R lens. Exposure: 1/160 sec, f5.6 at ISO 200.

 

 

Breakfast Interrupted

The other morning just as I was about to have my shower I heard a commotion on my front veranda. Quickly putting on my dressing gown (I don’t want to scare the neighbours) I went and looked out to see what was going on. To my delight a collared sparrowhawk had perched on the rail to eat its prey. I quickly ran to my office and grabbed a camera and long lens and started shooting.

 

Breakfast Interupted by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A perching collared sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocehalua) preparing to eat its freshly caught prey. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/320 th sec, f4 at ISO 200.

 

 

The commotion was caused by the resident Willie Wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys). For the non Aussies among us the Willie Wagtail is a tiny insect-eating bird whose bossiness and boldness knows no bounds and they will often attempt to chase off larger animals from their territory. That was what happening here hence all the noise.

 

Breakfast Interupted by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Willie Wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys) are a tiny insect-eating bird whose boldness knows no bounds. Here one is trying to chase off a feeding collared sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocehalus). York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f4 at ISO 800.

 

 

The Willie Wagtails made several sorties to no avail. Although the collared sparrowhawk’s feathers became a little ruffled at the constant harassment of the tiny feathered furies it did not move on and eventually the small birds gave up and left.

 

Breakfast Interupted by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Willie Wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys) are a tiny insect-eating bird whose boldness knows no bounds. Here one is trying to chase off a feeding collared sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocehalus). York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f4 at ISO 800.

 

 

The raptor only left when I tried to move closer to get a better photo.

 

Breakfast Interupted by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A perching collared sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocehalua) preparing to eat it’s freshly caught prey. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/400 sec, f6.7 at ISO 800.