July 17, 2013 … almost fully feathered

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.

Reflected reeds

There’s a touch of Tolkien to this place … can you sense the presence?

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.

Australasian Harrier

This is the top of the avian food chain. Its greatest threat is the motor vehicle which catches them feeding on other road kill

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.

Kingfisher chasing crabs from one of our new perches

The speed with which these birds pick up a crab is amazing

 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.

Kingfisher eating crab

This one seemed equally at home with the old or new perches

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.

Emergency exit

A sparrow and a greenfinch panic at the approach of a cat

Time for some domestic duties.

 

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About wysiwygpurple

I am a family man, a passionate amateur photographer and a retired academic . What's the purpose of this blog? Well in the first instance it provides me with a platform from which to resume writing, an activity I greatly enjoy. What will the blog be about? Anything that takes my fancy but it is likely to arise from things I see and experience, in my family, in my travels, or anything else I feel like. Each daily post will contain one or more images made the previous day. Sometimes the image will illustrate the points made in the prose, and sometimes the prose will attempt to interpret the image. What kind of images will they be? Always safe for work and family. Usually they will be representational, and sometimes they will be impressionistic or experimental.
This entry was posted in Birds, Light, Pauatahanui, Plant life, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to July 17, 2013 … almost fully feathered

  1. Toya says:

    Love the shot of the hawk, I still don’t have a good one of these. Nice set of images 🙂

  2. Adam Rosner says:

    Was the vignette on the picture of the harrier hawk artificially added? Or is it due to the lens??

  3. John Titchener says:

    “The speed with which these birds pick up a crab is amazing”
    Shouldn’t this read, “The speed with which these photographers pick up a bird is amazing”???

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