Notes to readers of this Blog


Thank you for dropping by to check out my blog. You will see a lot of other Blogs about birds I follow down the left hand side. I strongly encourage you to check some of these out as well, they are entertaining and I love to see birds from all over the world, I hope you do too.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Disaster or blessing? Time will tell

I have had my Canon 7D for about 16 months now. The other day I used it in the car, then got out and went to take more photos and something had happened. The autofocus wasn't working. Initially I thought it was a problem with the lens, which has been playing up recently.
After trying other lenses, I started to twig something else was wrong. After searching on-line, I found a lot of threads about a particular problem with the Canon DSLRs. Extreme change in temperature can do something to the chip inside the camera. Alas for me, the issue with mine was the autofocus.
Still, I am a bird-watcher, and after a few days of just being a bird-watcher, I'd had enough. I had to head into Papunya from Mt Liebig as I had some students at Papunya I needed to do some training with at some stage. Took the camera along "just in case".
After visiting the students, I visited the Poo Ponds (as we weird bird-watchers do) and was pleasantly surprised to see among other birds, a Yellow-billed Spoonbill that had been there last week, an Australian Pratincole (which hadn't), 5 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and one Wood Sandpiper (some of which had been there last week) as well as a number of other birds including a Whiskered Tern. I was contemplating my navel or maybe I was looking at the settings on the camera, can't remember which, when I heard a mad panic among the birds on the ponds. I looked up to see a Brown Falcon had just made a swish at none of them in particular, and followed that all the way to the far side of the ponds from me. Eye up at the eyepiece, my ears were alerted to another panic session in front of me. The Pratincole was piping wildly and the White-necked Heron (hadn't noticed that there - great bird watcher I am) flapped madly as something else zoomed past me. Black Falcon! Oh no! Today of all days, no autofocus, no IS on the lens, oh well. I watched and the Pratincole managed to escape. All three birds then circled high, the Black Falcon the highest until it was just a dot under the clouds.

So, disaster or blessing? I had set the camera to the "M" dial mode. I couldn't move the F stop from 5.6 so I figured that would have to do for the aperture. I had the shutter speed at 1/1600th and the ISO at 800. I also had changed the focus point to the max 19 points rather than a single or extended spot I normally have. OK, all the settings at what I hoped might work and clicked away at the Black Falcon. Below are the results. As to the question, I have often been amazed how some photographers only ever use manual focus for their photos. Maybe not a disaster, but maybe not a blessing either. All these shots are from today.

Black Falcon

Pacific Black Duck

Whiskered Tern

White-necked Heron

Yellow-billed Spoonbill

Friday, 24 October 2014

Photos of birds, scenery and reptiles from Mt Liebig to Glen Helen

There were some enjoyable photo opportunities on the drive back from Mt Liebig to Alice Springs. Here are a few photos I took between Mt Liebig and Glen Helen.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Some photos from the past week or so of birds around the Centre

I have been a bit lax in posting so I thought I'd put a collection from the past week or so around Central Australia. There are so many birds nesting and feeding as well as lots of juveniles around the place, sometimes making it hard to identify species, or which way to look. This is not confined to smaller or larger birds, they all seem to be enjoying the abundant food, both non-bird food like grass seeds, and prey for the larger birds. The sun is baking the middle of Australia, and the reptiles are out as well, so the larger birds have a pretty good menu at the moment.

The following birds are in no particular order, but the raptors are big favourites in my family so I'll start with a few of them:

Australian Hobby

Young Black-shouldered Kite

Australasian Grebes giving me the rear view

Major Mitchell Cockatoo letting me know it was thinking what I was thinking

Young Mistletoebird demanding some food, even if it was greens!

Spinifex Pigeon pretending to be a rock

Cockatiels, Cockatiels, Cockatiels .. they're everywhere, they're everywhere,. just a few, hundred that is, oh and I took some photos

Was driving into the sun along Larapinta Drive, about 13 kms west of Simpsons Gap, when I saw a large flock rise above the trees. At first I thought it must have been Masked Woodswallows as the sorts of numbers fitted their profile. As I go closer, I noticed other varieties as well, as well as a few birds of prey. Naturally, as you do, I slowed and stopped, grabbed the camera andwent to check it out. The noise was incredible. Cockatiels everywhere, as well as Budgerigars, Zebra Finches, honeyeaters, and watching all from above was a quiet Whistling Kite, sitting on its nest. Next moment, the smaller birds scatter to every direction and the Cockatiels flee to the sky. I watch as an Australian Hobby zooms through the air, just above the ground, failing this time in an attempt to score a meal. The birds slowly return to the same spot and I notice there is a small hollow in the creek bed and there is some water. Should have known really, anywhere around at the moment where water is available is a magnet for the seed eaters and predators alike. I stayed for only about 10 minutes but managed a few photos.


Friday, 17 October 2014

A pair of Brown Goshawks, including size comparison photos of male and female

I ran into a pair of Brown Goshawks recently and was a little stunned at the size difference between the larger female, and the male. I know this is not uncommon, but the male almost looks like a different species. The pair is nesting near Alice Springs and after catching the morning feed, the female ate, then preened, then seemed to check her under sides (was wondering if her water had broken :-) ), and then flew to the nest, while the male pretty much stayed in the same spot the entire time.

"I think my waters broke!"