Flat calm water yesterday, blue skies, but the tide at the Inlet was wrong.
At the ponds near the fixed bird hide on Gray’s Road, there was total stillness. Even without birds, it was a place of serene beauty. Its reeds made eyes at me.
I found myself at the Motukaraka Point with Chris and Danny, two very accomplished bird photographers. Not much was happening since the tide was low. My friends decided to modify the environment a little and planted a couple more driftwood perches for the kingfishers. My task was to relocate some of the car tyres. Though the kingfishers often perched on the tyres, the presence of such man-made objects generally disqualifies resulting images from nature competitions. My thought was that, if the tyres were further away, the kingfishers would opt to use our perches. And anyway, they were ugly.
As we were sitting back in the sun, discussing our strategy, a hawk (Circus approximans) cruised overhead. To my surprise, this visitation struck fear into some quite large birds including the big Black Backed Gulls (Larus dominicanus) and ducks, all of which I would have thought immune from attack. The thunder of departing feathers was mixed with the machine-gun clatter of three shutters in burst mode. This did not deter the hawk which circled lazily overhead with minimum effort.
I suffered a little lens envy as my two companions each had superb bright optics with an effective focal length of 800 mm or better. I was running with a mere 640 mm equivalent (400 mm on a camera with a 1.6 crop factor). I could expand this to almost 900 mm equivalent with the 1.4x extender I had been given, but in most circumstances, it doesn’t let in enough light to allow the autofocus to work, and it does degrade the image quality. I shall just have to keep hoping my periodic “Saturday night investment plan” pays out one day.
As we sat back and peered at our cameras to see what we had got, a flash of blue in the corner of my eye alerted me to the arrival of a kingfisher.
Hallelujah, it came straight to one of our new perches, from where it began harvesting crabs. I read that in some estuaries, there are up to 450 mud crabs per square metre. Looks like an almost inexhaustible supply of food.
Later in the day, back at home, I set my camera on its tripod and pointed it at the hedge again. I am quite intrigued by the variety of birds that come calling.
Time for some domestic duties.