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.

Busy Little Bees….

…. er that should read busy rainbow bee eaters.

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Walking down by the Avon this morning there was a lot of commotion. A steady “prrrp-prrrp” sound followed by a flash of bright colour. Scanning the trees I found what I was looking for in the branches of a big old dead gum tree. A male rainbow bee eater bashing a large insect on the branch till it was dead so it could take it to its young brood. On further inspection I noticed that there was a holding pattern going on with mum and dad taking it in turns to take food to their ever demanding young.

 

Mum taking off to make the delivery while dad waits patiently to be cleared for take off.

 

A further shufti and I find the burrow and settle myself in to watch the parents fly in the food supplies. It was non stop, no let up at all. First off we see dad make a trip.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

As soon as he is clear it’s mum turn.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

Rainbow Bee Eaters (Merops ornatus) catching insects and taking them to their chicks in their burrows.

 

All pictures taken with a Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic Leica Vario Elmar 100-400mm f4-6.3 lens.

 

Below is a short video clip containing footage of the birds and some more stills.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Mugged

 

I was at Lake Leschenaultia and it was a lovely winter’s day, the sun was out I’d just finished a bush walk. I decided to have lunch at one of the picnic shelters by the lake when it happened. There was no warning. One minute I sitting there alone and happy the next minute these two ne’er-do-wells are demanding with menace. To make matters worse I had nothing to give and they just would not accept that. They were merciless in their onslaught. Would I recognise them again? You bet I would! Their visages are engraved indelibly upon my mind. But better than that I managed to get pictures of them so others could be warned. Here they are.

 

Lake Leschenaultia Lakeside Walk by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The eponymous Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) will happily relieve you of your picnic lunch at Lake Leschenaultia.

 

This was the ring leader. He was ruthlessly determined to relieve me of my lunch. He was brazen in his approach, like he just didn’t care.

 

Lake Leschenaultia Lakeside Walk by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius subspecies semitorquatus). One of the cheeky bandits that will help eat your lunch at Lake Leschenaultia

 

 

This one was a sly beggar! He quietly got into my bag and ransacked it looking for goodies. When discovered he just countered with a manic laugh.It was like something out of that Hitchcock film The Birds albeit with less blood and more sandwiches.

 

So if you go to Lake Leschenaultia watch out for these two. They are merciless – no picnic is safe! Be warned, or as the Australian Federal Government would say “Be alert but not alarmed“.

To Twitch…

…  or not to twitch. That is the question. I fear I could be on the brink of another obsessive hobby – photographing birds. It is a worry. Oh well at least it’s not train spotting! Now where did I put my parka and thermos?

Striated Pardalote by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A striated pardalote (Pardalotus substriatus) found on the Avon Walk Trail in York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/2000th sec, f7.1 at ISO 800.

 

White-faced Heron by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White-faced heron ( Egretta novaehollandiae) on the banks of the Avon in York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/1600th sec, f8, ISO 800 and +1.7 stops exposure compensation.

 

Red-capped Robin by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Red-capped robins (Petroica goodenovi) can be found in the sheoak trees on the banks of the Avon River. York, Western Australia). Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/1250th sec, f7.1, ISO 800 with +0.7 stop exposure compensation.

 

 

Willie Wagtail by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Willie wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys) can be seen bobbing around catching insects along the banks of the Avon River, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/160th sec, f8, ISO 800 with +1.3 stops exposure compensation.

 

 

Zebra Finch by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A female zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) perched near the Avon River in York. They are not native to the mid Wheatbelt, but can be found further north. They are common in York and are most likely the offspring of escaped cage birds. Canon EOS 6D with EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM +2x converter. Exposure: 1/2000th sec, f7.1 Iso 800.