Spring is here and so are the Honeyeaters – Owen Wilson Photography

Spring is now in full swing. The honeyeater Birds are out in force. We have a weeping bottle brush (callistemon) in our backyard which is only half covered in blossoms. The honeyeaters however are out in huge numbers, maybe it’s the drought but it’s wonderful. We have eight different varieties feeding on the nectar at any one time.

Scarlet Honeyeater - Owen Wilson Photography
Scarlet Honeyeater – Owen Wilson Photography

Nikon D810 camera, 1/500 sec shutter speed, f5 aperture, 400ISO, 300mm lens

The most gorgeous of these is the Scarlet Honeyeater, with its brilliant red head, chest and back. The red is so vivid they are almost hard to distinguish from the red blossoms. Although only tiny they make a wonderful show as they flit in and out of the tree, this as all the honeyeaters in our tree is their breeding season, they can be seen chasing each other while they are feeding. White-faced Honeyeaters are larger than the Scarlets and just as beautiful. They have a white patch on each cheek, streaked black and white chest feathers and some greenish yellow on their backs and wings, very striking. The yellow tufted Honeyeater is so called because of the yellow tufts of feathers near each cheek. Also, one of the larger honeyeaters. Yellow faced Honeyeaters are the most prolific in our tree at present, there are plenty of them, luckily there are also plenty of blossoms to go around.

Eastern spine bill
Eastern spine bill

Nikon D810 camera, 1/500 sec shutter speed, f5 aperture, 400ISO, 300mm lens

The Eastern spine bill is also busy with breeding and feeding, they are very colourful and seem to love the nectar our blossoms have to offer. These little honeyeaters love to pick a special branch to preen and rest in between feeds.

All these species of honey eater inhabit much of the east coast of Australia with the Silvereyes habitat stretching along the south coast and into Western Australia.

Perhaps the rarest of the birds in our tree are the Silvereyes, with just eight counted so far, each year we seem to have another pair visit our 40+ year old tree. We also have a wisteria draped over our fence just a meter away which these little birds like to supplement their feeds with. Silvereyes are many a greenish yellow in colour with a very distinctive silver circle around the eyes, thus giving them their name.

Noisy Friar birds or leather heads

Nikon D810 camera, 1/500 sec shutter speed, f6.3 aperture, 400ISO, 300mm lens

The largest two species of honeyeaters we have visiting our tree are the Rainbow Lorikeets and the Noisy Friar birds or leather heads, due to their leathery heads. These make a joyous sound as they feed amid the blossom and always a joy to watch. They are not very striking in colour, being mostly white and greyish white, they more than make up for this with their joyous sound.

Rainbow lorikeets
Rainbow Lorikeet

Nikon D810 camera, 1/500 sec shutter speed, f8 aperture, 400ISO, 300mm lens

The Rainbow lorikeets are here pretty much all year as are the Noisy Miner birds feeding on one tree or another, unlike the other honeyeaters Which only visit when there are nectar luring blossoms. The Noisy Miner is the watch dog of the bird species, alerting to dangers.

Mistletoe bird
Noisy Miner bird

Nikon D810 camera, 1/500 sec shutter speed, f4.5 aperture, 400ISO, 300mm lens

 Later on, around late November and most of December we are graced with another stunning Honeyeater the Mistletoe bird also a vivid red chest with a very glossy black to the rest of the body, the females are rather plain mainly grey with a hint of white and a red washed chin area.

Mistletoe bird

The breeding period for all the above honeyeaters is between July and March varying slightly for some. The honeyeaters are extremely active during this time making it nearly impossible to photograph them as they flit in and out of the tree feeding briefly on the blossoms and very quickly moving on to the next one. It requires a great deal of patience and skill to capture these birds in their wild state.

What’s in my kit for this project.

Nikon D810 camera, 300 2.8 prime lens and my trusty Manfrotto tripod.

Photographic tips: All these images were shot without a hide. You need patience and just sit not too much movement wait for the birds to come into view.

For more of these wonderful images visit www.owenwilson.net.au