Jump to content

Alex Rogers' Big Year 2019 (a slow starter!)


Alex Rogers

Recommended Posts

Alex Rogers
11 hours ago, Galana said:

Congratulations on your first Century. It is often the hardest so you never know.

Curious bird the Miner. It almost looks to be binocular. Is it?

You are building up a great selection of Aussie birds.

 

Thanks Galana. No, the Noisy Miner has regular bird vision - simply the yellow eye-patch gives a bit of an optical illusion that the eye faces forward. Their superpower (as my kids would put it) is their aggression, but also their function in the bush as an distant early warning system for the other birds - a lot of birds use their alarm calls or mobbing calls (where they rally the troops to tackle a big intruder) as warnings that birds of prey are in the area. As a new birder, I'm also learning to look up when I hear that :-) 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 97
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Alex Rogers

    46

  • Galana

    14

  • Zim Girl

    6

  • Dave Williams

    5

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

And then on to Kasane, where I did a river cruise and a bit of bird spotting around our riverside campsite. I would love to go on a dedicated birding trip off Kasane, the birdlife on the Chobe River i

Time to get posting.    103) Australian Brushturkey. Familiar sight in some suburbs, but not mine, so I'm always surprised to see them in suburbia.      Then, escaping fr

Sunday I visited 2 sites near me - first was the Botany Bay Foreshore walk, from the Mill Stream Lookout near the airport, to Penrhyn Estuary at the container wharves. Again not a very productive walk

Posted Images

Alex Rogers

Thanks Dave Williams, Peter Connan , PeterHG and TonyQ - appreciated. I am really enjoying the challenge. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Zim Girl

Wow, that was a really quick 100 birds, well done!

Link to post
Share on other sites
lmSA84

Congrats on 100! Some great additions 

Link to post
Share on other sites
pedro maia

Congrats on the century!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers

Time to get posting. 

 

103) Australian Brushturkey. Familiar sight in some suburbs, but not mine, so I'm always surprised to see them in suburbia. 

 

75674461_TurkeyBrushDSCN2517_cr.jpg.c80a6e04b356780f379d2f88d08106d3.jpg

 

Then, escaping from suburbia, I did a lightning run to the Wollemi National Park to take the kids camping. They are of the age where they would far rather spend time with each other than me, so I happily walked my legs off in the wonderful bush around Dunn's Swamp. I'm still at that very frustrating stage of birdwatching where I see and hear so many birds I don't know, and often can't identify - but the camera really helps. Even if the photos are really poor (and most of them are) I can still often use the resulting images to identify the bird. I won't inflict the worst on you - at least these ones are clearly identifiable. 

 

104) Superb Lyrebird - unfortunately the photos don't do this incredible bird justice - but you'll get a sense of how this bird hangs around in deep dark undergrowth, and often all you get is a view of its magnificent tail disappearing into the distance. So often I won't bother trying to lay eyes on it - just sit quietly and listen to the avian world's most accomplished songster. This guy woke me up at dawn, and even though I'm rubbish at bird calls, I could hear snatches of 6 or 7 birds that I could identify (yellow tailed black cockatoo, kookaburra, currawong, etc) in his song, interspersed with his own pure clear accompaniment. Glorious. 

 

83732432_LyrebirdSuperbDSCN2527.JPG.29fbe5147c21ec8c92722fe18ae9eb06.JPG

 

270001208_LyrebirdSuperbBumshotDSCN2537_cr.jpg.6b43069664469dd9ec35d2144613f7c8.jpg

 

105) The Eastern Yellow Robin is much more confiding - often if you miss the shot you can reset, look around, and he'll be posing in this characteristic pose on a nearby tree trunk, checking you out. 

 

94677734_RobinEasternYellowDSCN2541.JPG.08d59b2acebccbba8f7a166cf75a74ee.JPG

 

I'm trying to learn all the little brown jobs I've always ignored - and of course once you really start looking at them, they are beautiful and varied and I can see a day where I'll be able to really "get" thornbills or gerygones. But some of them just dont play fair, like this one - he comes in a thousand possible variations of colour, and I needed help from more experienced birdwatchers to identify this one. The apparently upturned beak  and undertail barring is the main giveaway for sitellas. 

 

106 Varied Sitella

 

714982156_SitellaVariedDSCN2586_cr.jpg.d7a736e7ac74a8cee8995c75dcbb7a1e.jpg

 

1665505155_SitellaVariedDSCN2585_cr.jpg.fb9dac4cb79b3ce9ab41a9af2eccae7b.jpg

 

Again photographs (no matter how poor) helped identify this guy as a 

 

107 White-throated Treecreeper

 

685932523_TreecreeperWhite-throatedDSCN2546_cr.jpg.0f9ad575738c45d909144cb74de25a87.jpg

 

108) I did get a nice pose from a Little Pied Cormorant. They (cormorants in general) are very obliging, and sit in the sun without moving, so even I can get a decent in focus picture. But I don't seem to be able to control for super high contrast - sigh. I underexposed, overexposed, shot a lot of pics (he was very obliging) - but I just don't think the little sensor on my P900 can handle extreme contrasts / light range. 

 

1368081711_CormorantLittlePiedDSCN2558_cr.jpg.e67f8ef5fa7eba3def868ea0673656d8.jpg

 

109) Grey Shrikethrush - plain bird, but a lovely clear whistling call

931062794_ShrikethrushGreyDSCN2583_cr.jpg.8ba8ab8d6e324a2fe9cffb91fe079dd2.jpg

 

And on the way back from the Wollemi, I stopped at a lake where I'd heard there were sometimes interesting birds - and found 2 new ones for my life list. Very exciting! Rubbish shots,birds were a long way out on the water, but ID is clear enough: 

 

110) Hoary Headed Grebe. I think I've possibly seen these before, and never distinguished them from the more common Australian Grebe. The grey-streaked head is distinctive. 

761574403_GrebeHoaryHeadedDSCN2642_cr.jpg.d4e95eaeeff363f7bd821a345c7efd4f.jpg

 

111) But I'd certainly never seen a Musk Duck before. I'd specifically hoped to see one here, and when I saw a couple of black ducks that looked quite different (dark, very low in the water), I was hopeful - and then the male swam into distant view, confirming my suspicions. The male Musk Duck has a very peculiar flap under his bill in the breeding season, unique - and the duck is the sole member of an ancient Gondwanan genus 

798497830_DuckMuskDSCN2645_cr.jpg.104f62e6a0094723106ce1ad9ca50db8.jpg

 

112) Overall, an awesome weekend of birding - saw a good few new birds, photographed a couple, and had a wonderful time getting to know a few familiar birds better. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Zim Girl

Hmm, addiction coming along nicely, I think!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers
11 minutes ago, Zim Girl said:

Hmm, addiction coming along nicely, I think!

 

Don't know what you mean.  I think I'll go now, I need to research more expensive cameras

 

:-) 

Link to post
Share on other sites
lmSA84

Great shots! Never be afraid to share even the EBC shots - we all do! 

 

And @Zim Girl ‘s right - I think they’re is no saving you :P

Link to post
Share on other sites
Galana
2 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

Hmm, addiction coming along nicely, I think!

Well he started this session on cold turkey so hopes of a cure are fading faster than the light with woodland birds.

 

I keep my P900 one stop underexposed on the 'theory' that it won't blow out the white highlights.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers
13 hours ago, Galana said:

Well he started this session on cold turkey so hopes of a cure are fading faster than the light with woodland birds.

 

Well played sir. I'll admit to the addiction if you'll stop with the puns :-) 

 

13 hours ago, Galana said:

I keep my P900 one stop underexposed on the 'theory' that it won't blow out the white highlights.

 

Yep, I've been keeping mine on -1/3rd as a rule, and more in situations like this, but I think the dynamic range for this camera is very limited. I'll stick with it until I'm competent with it but as I start to understand it better, I'm finding the limitations a bit frustrating. Still, it does make it very satisfying when I DO get a good shot. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Galana
4 hours ago, Alex Rogers said:

I'll stick with it until I'm competent with it but as I start to understand it better, I'm finding the limitations a bit frustrating.

Same here. There are times when I would cheerfully throw it in the river but when I accept the limitations and work round them I still think it beats a hernia inducing 600mm lens. It's a balancing act. I have lost/missed some shots I should have got but in turn I have got some shots I could not have got with anything else.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Zim Girl

I agree with both of you.  I use a bridge camera - Panasonic FZ330, and I keep the 'highlight' function switched on and just keep underexposing until it stops flashing (within reason).  We do  lot of walking and I always have the camera with me so a heavy DSLR isn't going to work for me.  But yes, it can be very frustrating sometimes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers

Can't afford a big prime  - but would love to get something like a Nikon D500 + 200-500 zoom and see what I could do with that. Anyway, I DO have a P900 for now, so lets see what I can do with that. It does pack small as you say @Zim Girl, so I can take it on business trips and sneak off in the evenings. Last week I was down at Victoria, staying at Torquay, and got an hour or so in the evening to explore the beach near Point Impossible, and the Breamlea reserve. I'd heard they had some Hooded Plover occasionally - these birds are really quite rare now, and are listed as vulnerable - so I was very pleased to find a couple on the beach. I couldn't approach close as I didn't want to scare them off, and the light was poor so the shots are ordinary - but I was very excited to see them :-) 

 

112) Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis)

 

186724637_PloverHoodedDSCN2775_cr.jpg.608d1ff7e6c38356c25d5d093d922793.jpg

 

638098435_PloverHoodedDSCN2769_ed1.JPG.7e5bb216306da49c082564840d1adc5f.JPG

 

113) Little Raven - almost identical to the Australian Raven, but I'm assured that these ones in Torquay were little ravens, you can tell by the bifurcations in feather tips on their throat hackles., or somefink. They also have a different voice, but this one had his gob full. 

 

1627228066_RavenLittleDSCN2756_cr.jpg.2bc271746666f69c3133e9ca91b6abf7.jpg

 

114) Grey Fantails are common, and not shy - but quite fast moving. This guy gave me a great display, then stopped for a sec 

 

1192434642_FantailGreyDSCN2780_cr.jpg.4a6e976c4baa2dc8bafd7115cce02d80.jpg

 

115) the Red Wattlebirds were in full colour down there, and seemed to be bigger and more aggressive than ours in Sydney. They were in great form, and in the evening did a type of display flight I haven't seen before, shooting vertically up out of the scrub like bottle rockets, then swooping back down again. Good show. 

 

247281339_WattlebirdRedDSCN2739_cr.jpg.e50f64debc44bf2c0ef0afe09d92ac80.jpg

 

116) There were a bunch of Crested Tern out at the point, some very smart adults as well as some juveniles just coming into their smart crests. 

 

1038343426_TernCrestedDSCN2702_cr.jpg.4dfa039a7ec721cae6ca1761c539d0b1.jpg

 

711410325_TernCrestedjuvenileDSCN2716_cr.jpg.d781613b37b564c98811e5c230924334.jpg

 

Lovely place for sure - this is the mouth of Thompson Creek at Breamlea Reserve

 

1604853125_BreamleaReserve-ThompsonCreekDSCN2798.JPG.9617cf3102916a86d70911825617315f.JPG

 

And the final rays of light showed me 117) a Singing Honeyeater - my first :-) Just scraped a shot. 

 

2024522680_HoneyeaterSingingDSCN2801_cr.jpg.b763d487aa7017a6e869a671d1d62fb3.jpg

 

I stopped near the Avalon Airport the next day, and got another familiar bird: 

 

118) White-winged Chough

 

734868992_ChoughWhite-wingedDSCN2930_cr.jpg.4d03bd71182925382f08188693d2b0fe.jpg

 

But the big win of this trip was another lifer for me - complete with chicks!

 

119) Cape Barren Goose family

 

1098868781_GooseCapeBarrenDSCN2875ed1.JPG.e71173d4e9c719c78f805e46ba333e19.JPG

 

Chicks!

1972381505_GooseCapeBarrenGoslingDSCN2883_ed1.JPG.28b6d3fc154890ef50239239d657ce13.JPG

 

Not bad for a work trip - and yeah, probably wouldn't have had a big SLR on hand. The best camera is the one you have on you. (No, don't look at that guys kit over there, size doesn't matter)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Galana

Nice. Just shows what a compact can achieve. Nothing wrong to my eyes in any of those.  Love the goslings.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Dave Williams

Agreed, the last batch had some excellent images. I just think you need to restrict the size of the crop in the finished article to maintain as much detail and sharpness as possible.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers

Thanks Galana, PeterHG, Dave Williams.

 

12 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Agreed, the last batch had some excellent images. I just think you need to restrict the size of the crop in the finished article to maintain as much detail and sharpness as possible.

 

Dave, thanks for commenting, I really appreciate input and advice from all of you. When you say "restrict the size of the crop" are you saying don't crop too much, because that makes any flaws more evident? OK, thanks, I'll work more on that. I have been cropping (and sometimes zooming / composing) much too tight and am learning that more space is often better. With regards to flaws being more evident - I certainly see that too, but normally am cropping out distracting elements or (in the case of very distant birds) simply for visibility on an EBC! But yes, I will consciously try to leave more space in composition and cropping. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers

Had a couple of good before-breakfast expeditions this weekend. A few new birds for my rapidly expanding life-list (one of the joys of being a beginner is that you stack them up fast :-) and a few more for the BY. 

 

120) Red-necked Avocet - beautiful birds, unfortunately a long way away, and they definitely look better with a wide crop :-) 

 

1777903902_AvocetRedneckedDSCN2984_cr.jpg.2f1f61f31b3fcec14e29d1f7db31c592.jpg

 

121) Australasian Grebe - a tiny grebe, and also shot at very long range. Cool little birds, and great underwater swimmers

 

555007834_GrebeAustralianDSCN3135_cr.jpg.fe18ad8d67d75f6d71b9d69ed38565c7.jpg

 

122) Figbird - being a bit raucous. They are a type of oriole, one of only 3 in Australia. 

 

1924793775_FigbirdmaleshoutDSCN3158_cr.jpg.266f8b75c785b7ccf5d7d99cef524abb.jpg

 

123) Olive-backed Oriole - another in the family. Much less common, this was my first, and he posed and sang beautifully for me. 

 

2060170725_OrioleOlive-backedDSCN3115_cr.jpg.34a67665ef952cf7bde93fd1d6430f80.jpg

 

1492933627_OrioleOlive-backedsingDSCN3112_cr.jpg.00f17e824730fa45114aef0b06a42aa8.jpg

 

Free bonus shots are of Superb Fairywrens - I posted one on BY before, but they are now in full breeding colours and looking very pretty

108276359_FairywrenSuperbmaleDSCN3058.JPG.a7ae7b0b0cdf700d605a24c5b236fa54.JPG

 

 

693811122_FairywrenSuperbmaleDSCN3064.JPG.3e5bbd105c3a7a24cf4fb14b0bb60b3d.JPG

 

Mrs Superb (love the eyeliner)

 

1753088332_FairywrenSuperbfemaleDSCN3043.JPG.2da8490dcf949c79fcae79b393b0258e.JPG

 

I learned something recently - have been labouring under the misapprehension that as soon as you let ISO get above say 400, the grain is horrible. These last 3 were taken in the rain, flat low light, and these birds are always moving - so I let the ISO run to 1600 to get the 1/500th shutter speed I needed at minimum - and it worked MUCH better than shooting at slower speeds / lower ISO. Therefore - grain is better than shake. Must try more experiments. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers

And this morning went to a little wetland near me - called the Landing Lights wetland, it is right under the Sydney airport runway, and I wasn't expecting much. I was blown away - not so much by the wetlands, but by all the birds inhabiting the lantana overgrowth. Lantana is an introduced plant in Australia (and South Africa) and it takes over in a horribly prickly profusion in any cleared or degraded land. But some of our local birds have obviously taken to it (it has nectar in abundance, and dense thorny shelter for little birds) - I imagine they are also spreading it by seeds and helping it by pollination too. The next 3 were all new to me - what a great day! 

 

124) Golden-headed Cisticola - in full breeding colours, and singing his heart out. 

 

657721937_CisticolaGolden-headedDSCN3229_cr.jpg.c4bfb2c39482ad393aba43e8b348e7e7.jpg

 

124) Double-barred Finch - awesome little birds that look exactly like a tiny owl from the front. I wonder if that scares anyone? 

 

1925282032_FinchDouble-barredDSCN3293.JPG.4d01bcfbf8beb0f5a2e7cbf938c5509a.JPG

 

126) Scaly Munia (Nutmeg Mannikin) apparently introduced to Australia in the 1930s, these have integrated well, and have spread from Sydney to north of Brisbane. I've never seen them - or perhaps never noticed them, thinking they were one of the more common finches. Had a great sighting of a dozen of them sheltering in the lantana, then coming out to feed on grass seeds

 

725305876_MannikinNutmegDSCN3257_cr.jpg.50d20a2f310e48d2951827def41447be.jpg

 

127) Brown Honeyeater - one of the most plain honeyeaters, with only a tiny yellow triangle behind the eye to help with ID. This is where the photos are a huge help! This honeyeater is specifically adapted for nectar, here enjoying the lantana. Another first for me.

 

869648986_HoneyeaterBrownDSCN3312_cr.jpg.c8e6124bb4fe3ad0b04ea5d6c356912b.jpg

 

1390782565_HoneyeaterBrownDSCN3305_cr.jpg.b3f54afc55319f1920b9079be7e39eb2.jpg

 

128) Silvereye. I've seen these many times, but they are tiny, shy and flit through the dark undergrowth, so I've never managed to catch one. Not a great photo, but it will do for BY purposes. 

 

402079359_SilvereyeDSCN3330_ed1.JPG.9675f2ab74202ccea8a4f47cbe0b4524.JPG

 

And the bonus birds are red-browed finches enjoying a bath

 

2107439802_RBFIbathDSCN3171_cr.jpg.168b5d9782b36ec8b2db09fa3dbf1038.jpg

 

9470796_RBFIbathDSCN3199_cr.jpg.a82c6a42e8a27b4a651521551866fbe9.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Alex Rogers said:

Therefore - grain is better than shake.

Any time of the day! You can do something with grainy photo in post processing but nothing with blurred one.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Peter Connan

That double-barred Finch is a really pretty little bird!

 

If I may also add some photographic advice, try not to get the bird right in the middle (unless it is facing and looking straight at you.

It is often better to leave a bit more space in the direction the bird is facing, than there is behind it.

 

As for noise, you will notice that the less you crop an image, the less apparent the noise is. The background also has an effect, with darkish backgrounds often accentuating the noise. Unfortunately this knowledge is not of much use when shooting though...

Link to post
Share on other sites
Galana

More great captures there and some of the birds are just lovely to behold. Cute names too. Nutmeg Mannikin is very evocative.

As a P900 user I can agree with all the helpful tips above. (Remembering them out in the field when a juicy subject presents itself is the hard bit!:o)

"Noise". With my old Fuji XR I knew never to go above ISO 400 as there was too much grain (although it did have a nifty device that took 3 photos and superimposed them into one that helped out in poor light) but with P900 I have found I can go up to to maybe 1600, or even 3200 with a following wind, and still get a useable picture. The faster shutter speed possible has the edge over 'noise' much as @xelas suggests.

I am also finding that 3/4 zoom often beats full zoom in many situations due to reduced 'shake'. Perhaps we can share each others tips?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

Lovely additions and that superb fairywren is sharp and beautiful, while the double barred finch is clear and attractive. 

 

thanks to your helpful ID tips, I've just ID-ed a blurred picture of a hoary head grebe which I couldn't recognise - i thought it was just a female australasian grebe. Thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex Rogers

Thanks all for your comments :-) 

 

16 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

If I may also add some photographic advice, try not to get the bird right in the middle (unless it is facing and looking straight at you. It is often better to leave a bit more space in the direction the bird is facing, than there is behind it.

 

Thanks Peter. I knew that  - but now that you mention it, I see I crop with the bird dead centre (and too tight on the bird) far too often! Thanks for the reminder, I'll work on it in practise. 

 

12 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

Lovely additions and that superb fairywren is sharp and beautiful, while the double barred finch is clear and attractive. 

 

thanks to your helpful ID tips, I've just ID-ed a blurred picture of a hoary head grebe which I couldn't recognise - i thought it was just a female australasian grebe. Thank you!

 

Thanks for the kind comments. Glad that you ID'd that HH grebe. I have a LOT of tiny blurry pics of grebes, they are [pretty small and always seem to be working the other side of the lake! And they never stay still for long...

 

14 hours ago, Galana said:

More great captures there and some of the birds are just lovely to behold. Cute names too. Nutmeg Mannikin is very evocative.

As a P900 user I can agree with all the helpful tips above. (Remembering them out in the field when a juicy subject presents itself is the hard bit!:o)

"Noise". With my old Fuji XR I knew never to go above ISO 400 as there was too much grain (although it did have a nifty device that took 3 photos and superimposed them into one that helped out in poor light) but with P900 I have found I can go up to to maybe 1600, or even 3200 with a following wind, and still get a useable picture. The faster shutter speed possible has the edge over 'noise' much as @xelas suggests.

I am also finding that 3/4 zoom often beats full zoom in many situations due to reduced 'shake'. Perhaps we can share each others tips?

 

Thanks @Galana. "Scaly-breasted Munia" is the officially suggested common name - but Nutmeg Mannikin is the only name I've heard people refer to it by. Who wants to be called "scaly-breasted"?! It was also the name that they used for it in the cage-bird industry, where it came from - along with "Spice Finch" (which I think is even more evocative, and less accurate :-) 

 

I would love to share experiences with the P900 with someone like you who is trying to squeeze the best out of it on similar subjects. Learning by trial and error does tend to cement learnings - but learning from someone who has encountered and solved the problem is so much more efficient!

 

"I am also finding that 3/4 zoom often beats full zoom in many situations due to reduced 'shake'." Yes, completely agree. I'll very often start with full zoom on distant birds just to get a shot or two in the camera - then if I can, work my way closer and reduce the zoom. It definitely reduces shake, as you say, but also I think optically the lens just doesn't work as well at the extreme long end either. I don't think I've taken any photo at full zoom that I'm really satisfied with - but it is super useful for those ID shots. 

 

"The faster shutter speed possible" - yes, I'm learning this. I started off with the camera's Birdwatching Scene settings, then a "P" mode setting which I customised more to the way I like, but more recently have been using Shutter Priority with 1/500th being the minimum, and getting a LOT more keepers. I've been a bit scared to try full manual for some weird reason - but now that I'm coming to understand the camera, I think that must be the way to go. And it cant be too hard - aperture is constrained to 6.5 anyway at the long end, I want the fastest shutter speed I can get (less than 1/500 is dicey unless full strong sunlight) and I think I can let the camera decide on the ISO automatically even in Manual - and control exposure compensation as normal. I'm going to start working on that. Any advice you have is very welcome. 

Edited by Alex Rogers
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy