BIRDS, BIRDS, BIRDS........Part Two

Well, it's been over 4 months since I posted part one of this series, so I guess it's time I got the thinking-cap on again. I've managed to sort out all the bird shots during this period, some good, some not so good, so here we go.......

The first half-dozen shots were taken on an all-too-brief sojourn in Sydney and down the south coast to Jervis Bay in March last year. I had planned on checking out all the little, out-of-the-way places that can be accessed by ferry around Sydney but the weather wasn't really conducive.

The morning after my arrival in the 'big smoke', I joined a group that had a day-trip by ferry to Watson's Bay planned and it was on that trip that the first birds appeared in the camera's viewfinder. I should mention here that I didn't use the 'big bazooka' Sigma 150-500 mm lens for all the photos in this part of the narrative.

Also, as with all my posts, all the images here are merely thumb-nails, so just click on the photo, if you want to see a much larger version quickly.
Masked Lapwing aka Spur-winged Plover
 Somehow, a Masked Lapwing seems out of place in the city but there it was at Garden Island in Sydney Harbour, which was a stop on the way to Watson's Bay.

Maned or Wood Duck
Also at Garden Island was this poor Maned Duck, which was minus a leg, so it seemed to spend quite some time in this position. 

Silver Gull aka Seagull
The ubiquitous Silver Gull. I snapped this one at Circular Quay train station, on the way back from Watson's Bay.

An acrobatic Noisy Miner
This Noisy Miner was the only bird I managed to capture during a brief walk around Sylvan Grove Native Garden, which is nestled between houses at Picnic Point near the George's River in south-western Sydney. It's maintained by Bankstown City Council.

The Sigma 150-500 mm lens was used for all the shots at Sylvan Grove and it amazed me once again, because it was quite dark there, like a rainforest, yet almost all the shots turned out well, some of them at quite low shutter speeds. [To see a photo of a different subject that I took at Sylvan Grove, click here.]

The next two shots of the one bird, taken at Callala Beach, were the only photos of birds that I managed to obtain during the southern (or Jervis Bay) leg of this brief 'odyssey' - and they were only taken with my all-purpose lens, the Sigma 18-250 mm. HOWEVER, the second one would have to be the most unusual bird photo I've ever taken! (These have both been cropped somewhat.)

White-faced Heron

Yes, a White-faced Heron, which we always called Blue Cranes as kids.

What can I say?

They say "a picture paints a thousand words", so I don't need to rave on about this, though I will say two things.

Firstly: it was just a fluke, because the bird was some distance from me, so I couldn't make out what it was doing.

Secondly: what a fluke it was! I mean, the camera was set on P (for Program), so it selected both the shutter speed and aperture; the fact that the shutter speed was such that the whole stream of the bird's 'business' was captured is simply amazing, I reckon!

These next few photos of a small flock of Little Corellas were taken on THE GLORIOUS 8TH OF APRIL (2014) and are really just incidentals, to help people overseas gain some insight into how some of our birds behave in the wild.

The two trees they were occupying were quite near my farmer-friend's homestead (house) and they appeared to be just resting and preening, alternately - and being very quiet about it, too! When they are 'on the wing', Corellas 'chat' with each other, so you can definitely hear them coming. However, they are nowhere near as noisy as Sulphur-crested Cockatoos!
Part of a small flock of Little Corellas


Closer still - and we find this one getting some shut-eye!

After that memorable day in April 2014, it was almost 4 months before I ventured out again with the big lens, because of health problems but, gee, I was SO lucky to find such a co-operative subject as this Masked Lapwing. Once again, I found that staying in the car on the opposite side of a road worked a treat. He (or she) didn't appear to feel threatened at all by my presence.
A little bit of preening......

Followed by some keeping watch......

I should point out here that there was no 'nest' in sight, just this one bird, alone in the grass.

 A nice shot. Be sure and click on it to see it larger.
This photo (above) is one of my best-ever shots of a Masked Lapwing. It was only after looking closely at this photo that I discovered the pattern on its legs!

It was running when I took this; something had disturbed it.

After that brief disturbance, the Masked Lapwing settled down to some serious feeding. 
Beats me how they can see the small invertebrates they feed on!

This shot ^ shows the pattern on its lower leg even better than a previous image, so please make sure you check out the larger version to see it clearly.

Grey Shrike-thrush

The last bird I photographed that morning ^ is one of my all-time favourites, a Grey Shrike-thrush, which is the best singer in the Aussie bush - in my opinion, of course. It certainly has the most melodious voice! Sorry about the branch in the way but sometimes you've got to take what you can get.

If you're interested, you can hear the remarkable call of a Grey Shrike-thrush that I recorded some years ago in the Wollondilly Shire near the Bargo River. You will hear a few different birds in the background but all the calls that you hear close to the microphone were made by the one bird, a Grey Shrike-thrush. The audio is here.
Just over a week later, early August 2014, I checked out the bird-life at the local Company's Dam, a small body of water that was built around the time of the gold-rush, in the 19th century.

I had no sooner left my car, when I spotted a few of these beautiful birds, the Peaceful Dove. As far as doves go, they are quite small but oh, so pretty. You simply must check out the larger image to see the colouration on its face more clearly!
My first Peaceful Dove!

The photo below shows how well camouflaged is the Peaceful Dove in its habitat.
A bit different from the usual 'camo' colours!

As I left the Company's Dam, I decided to try my luck heading north on Newton Road and I came across this little chap, all by itself, which is unusual for Apostlebirds, because they were given the name on account of they are 'always' seen in groups of a dozen or thereabouts.

Once again, the car was used as my bird hide......
The same bird

.....and I came away with this ^ which is one of my best-ever bird shots - and I didn't even get out of the car! You have to see the larger version, though, to appreciate it.

However, I DID get out of the car to obtain the next two shots of the beautiful Eastern Rosella, which can be a very difficult bird to photograph, because they mostly alight high in our eucalypt trees. Fortunately, this pair (they're almost always in pairs) was slightly more co-operative than normal.
Eastern Rosella

If the colour seems a little 'out of whack' in this shot ^, it's because the bird was in shade, so I've had to work on it more than a little...
Eastern Rosella Two-step

......still, that sort of helps to make this one look better than it is! It was looking like a really good morning - and it wasn't over yet!

Just as a 'by the way'...... the Eastern Rosella, with its beautifully coloured plumage is used as the logo for a couple of well-known food manufacturers in Australia, Arnott's Biscuits and Rosella Preserving and Manufacturing. Oh, and in case it comes up in a trivia quiz, the Arnott's people apparently call theirs Arnie. Cute!

This wonderfully productive morning ended on a definite 'high', with the addition of this beautiful bird of prey. It is known by two names, Australian Kestrel and Nankeen Kestrel, so take your pick.
Nankeen Kestrel

I had travelled quite some distance from the spot where I bagged the Eastern Rosella to Iandra, where the famous Iandra Castle is located and where I'm sure that I glimpsed a Peregrine Falcon once. Well, there was none in sight, so I pointed the car back towards Grenfell and, along the way, there was this lovely, little raptor, perched on a roadside guide post. I only just saw it as I drove past and, after some debate with myself, finally decided to turn around ('do a u-ey' in the Aussie vernacular). I was sure it would have flown away but, no, there it was, still sitting, looking for prey. I drove as close as I dared and took this from the other side of the road, again using the car as my 'hide'.

A little over a week later, I was in my kitchen, when I noticed a large waterbird coming down low, as though it was going to land on the house next door. Well, I grabbed the camera, changed the lens to the 'big bazooka' and went out onto the back porch. From there, I had a great view of this female Maned (or Wood) Duck, which had made its way to the highest point of the house, the chimney. (Disregarding the TV antenna.)
Maned or Wood Duck, female

The photo below is the best of about 9 that I took but I've included the one above, because, if you check out the larger image, you can actually see the blue of the sky through its nostrils! Very unusual!
Maned or Wood Duck, best

It was getting ready for take-off, when I took this shot.

A week later, the big Sigma lens got another 'airing'; this time, I headed towards the Weddin Mountains, though I stayed in farming country.

Now, I'm accustomed to seeing - and hearing - this bird, while out riding my bike around the countryside but mostly in summer. Here it was only September but it was doing its usual, little song-and-dance. It stayed in the general area, so, when it alighted, I was able to grab a couple of shots, though not very good ones, I'm afraid. What you might call 'record' shots, i.e. just to show that I've seen one and photographed it.
It is, of course, a Skylark, which is a British bird that is one of several that were brought here in the 'colonial' days, to help make the poor British colonists feel more at home. Its song-and-dance, as I call it, is quite interesting, though, and having only heard them sing 'on the wing', I had thought that's the only time they do - until I caught this one singing from a perch! 

Skylark singing

While still in the same spot, this lovely, little parrot suddenly landed right in front of me. The RAW data says 4.49 metres, so it was pretty close for a lens that has a 35-mm film equivalent of 800 mms!
Red-rumped Parrot, female

I wasn't really sure what it was at first but, of course, it is a female Red-rumped Parrot, which some people call Grass Parrot, because of their habit of grazing on grass.

Red-rumped Parrot, female, portrait

These parrots are usually seen in pairs but, as I was concentrating on this female, I hadn't yet seen the male. However, when they took off and landed in a tree much farther from me, I saw them both and here they are.......
Red-rumped Parrot, female

Red-rumped Parrot, male

Both these shots ^ are huge crops from the originals, so they are nothing to write home about. However, at least we can see the actual red feathers from which their common name is derived. The male Red-rumped Parrot is one of the prettiest birds I've seen.

My last, brief foray with the big Sigma on the camera was to Lake Illawarra in Wollongong, N.S.W., on the coast south of Sydney. I was actually just killing time, waiting for a cousin to return home in a nearby suburb. It didn't work.

The only birds I managed to capture successfully at the lake were - surprise, surprise - waterbirds. There were several Australian Pelicans 'fishing' from this small landing on the western shore of the lake. All these were taken hand-held, as are most of my bird photos.
Australian Pelican

Australian Pelicans

Australian Pelican on Lake Illawarra

Australian Pelican, standing

This last shot was taken from approximately 25.7 metres away, according to the RAW data. It has been cropped very slightly top and bottom but not overall.

This was the last time I had the large Sigma 150-500 mm lens in my hand, before I headed north for a couple of weeks holiday on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland over Christmas and New Year. I will shortly prepare another post of the birds I photographed on that trip, though I made a HUGE goof by not taking the big Sigma lens with me!!!

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