The other day I’d been up on Mount Brown (which is a grand name for a moderately sized hill) looking for interesting birds to photograph. The conditions were great, but the birds uncooperative so I gave up and started driving home. At the bottom of the hill I caught out of the corner of my eye a nankeen kestrel hunting on an empty block. It swooped down into the long grass and quickly took off again obviously holding something. So I did something I’d never thought that I’d do. I’ve just been really getting into this bird photography malarkey and have been watching YouTube videos for tips. Mostly British videos, but the occasional American one. I’d noticed that quite a few of the American ones had the photographers driving around looking for birds and photographing then from the car. Well I started to follow this bird in the car. It didn’t go far. It landed on the power lines outside of Marwick’s Barn obviously to catch its breath. It obviously decided that the power lines was no place to deal with the kicking and struggling mouse so it moved to the top of a nearby power pole. So I pulled up on to the dirt shoulder and hanging out of the driver’s side window I photographed madly.
There were no niceties, the kestrel didn’t even both to dispatch its prey before eating – it just pulled the mouse apart. I continued snapping frantically. When everything was finished the kestrel noticed the sound of the camera and gave me a hard stare. Rumbled! With a look of disdain it flew off.
… it’s a bit like fishing. There’s always the one that got away. It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are the opportunity presents and disappears in a nano second. One of my photography lecturers used to talk about what he called ‘the retrospective drive home’ where you analyse everything you did and didn’t do that contrived to create that missed opportunity. The frustrating thing is as you try and tell someone about it they invariably say “A photograph or it didn’t happen”. Well this time I’ve got the photos to prove it! Sort of.
The other day I was walking along the Swan River foreshore at Claremont when I saw an Osprey drop like a stone from the air and scoop up a fish. In less than the blink of an eye it was over. I was ready the camera was out of the bag and had a long lens fitted, it was switched on and the settings were optimised. So what did I get?
With some Photoshop magic this is what I got.
That was the best I could get – pathetic isn’t it? There I am with (hang on the other half may read this) an untold amount of money tied up in photo equipment and this is it! I remember watching the original Bladerunner where they had a fancy doodad that could extract a useable photo out of some ridiculous enlargement. You know that film was set in 2019 and it is now 2018 and we haven’t got that fancy photo doodad let alone flying cars. The future is such a disappointment. So as I walk away from the scene looking dismally at the LCD on the back of the camera I’m mentally kicking my backside.
Half an hour later I hear a commotion coming from the water. A shoal of fishing flapping on the surface coming on to the shoreline. Low and behold a fin and then a head break the surface. It’s a pair of bottle nosed dolphins driving fish into the shore. With the relaxes of a dead cat I leap into action and fire off a burst.
Well this time I got a sharp photo of something recognisable as a dolphin. But that is the best I got. This wildlife photography lark is hard – the wildlife aren’t giving me chance.
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.
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.
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.
The raptor only left when I tried to move closer to get a better photo.