This is a real passion of mine, it is not for everyone, it takes a lot of patience and time.
Most people love birds with all their beauty and charm, but do they have the patience it takes to capture them in their native habitat? For instance, the Azure king fisher, it took me several days, standing in waist deep water to capture this little fellow. The nest is in a bank only a meter away, I set up a bird hide in the creek and stood waiting. He only returned once every 30 mins or so sometimes longer. He was very cautious and seem to be look right at me. When I’d put my eye up to the viewer he noticed and shied away, the mirror on the camera when I fired would also frighten him. So, I decided to put the mirror up ready to fire and captured this shot, but only after he was used to me being there for a day, maybe a day and a half. They love to eat tiny fish and insect larvae. Can you see the fish fry in his beak?
The smaller birds are the most difficult to capture, like these fairy wrens, or blue wrens as we like to call them. There are plenty to see in the garden, but they don’t stay still for long. These two were attacking the mirror on my car and admiring themselves in it too. So I set up a branch just a bit away from the car and they liked to go there and rest between visits back and forth to the mirror. So I was able to set up my hide again and capture them. I probably took about 30-40 shots to get this one though.
There would be one or the other looking away with it’s back to me. This is what I mean by patience. You also need to be observant, and watch to see where birds are going, do they have something in their beak? Like nesting material or food for say their chicks. I located this little guy when I was grading a road (before I became a full-time photographer). This is a mistletoe bird, I would watch him whilst going about my job and finally I located its nest hanging above the road a few meters away. I came back the following day being a weekend, set up my hide on top of my four-wheel drive and watched and waited, it was the next day before I captured this shot of the male feeding its young.
Very vivid in color and the chicks look very hungry. Again, this is one shot of about 50 shots I took over the day. Sometimes there would be shade over the nest, other times the sun would be covered by cloud. But as you can see its worth it in the end. Plovers are birds that are hard to spot in the grass, unless they are trying to distract you from finding their nest with a clutch of eggs in. They have a very spars nest with very little to keep the eggs safe. I suppose that is why they are so aggressive when you venture into their nest site. This Spurwing plover or Masked lapwing, so called because of the spur they have on their wing which they will use to defend their nest.
And sometimes your just lucky, when your out shooting scenery and come across a bird like this cassowary. I was in the Daintree taking some shots of the rain-forest and creek, when I happened upon this fellow, he was probably also enjoying his walk in the rainforest. This is a bird you don’t want to be too close to. So you just take your shots and hurry away out of site.
All these shots apart from the Cassowary are captured on medium format transparency film using a Mamiya RB67 camera. This camera is really unsuited to wildlife photography as it is big and bulky (like holding on to a house brick) it is more suited to studio photography, but it was a great landscape photographers’ camera, for its exceptional quality and detail when blowing up your images. 250mm prime lens and a number 1 extension tube was used on the lens, this allowed for getting in close to the smaller birds, I’m talking about a metre off the bird. Without the extension tube the 250mm lens would only focus down to about 2metres from the bird, the bird would be very small in the picture. This is for all you camera buffs and budding wildlife photographers. I am talking about the mid 1980s. 35mm digital cameras are so much faster these days without the problem of a large camera.
There are more of these wonderful shots, a large variety of birds to view on my website www.owenwilson.net.au I hope you enjoyed this blog and visit my site to see more. You will find them in the category wildlife under birds. Remember patience and observation are the keys to finding and capturing great bird shots.