Monday, May 9, 2022

Clinch Gouldian finch - aviary sneaky cinch

Hard to get close to Gouldian Finches in the wild. Very hard to find any close to Townsville. Except ... except for rare escapee, or - shudder  - inmate. But let's swiftly bypass arguments for and against aviaries (I'm mostly against) because they're too vexing. Let's just stare at a beautiful bird and hope it's happy and as healthy as it appears to be behind the fine-mesh enclosure at Queen's Gardens, Townsville. This bird had a red-headed and four black-headeds for company. Nothing sophisticated about photographic technique, determine best settings, then press 100-500 zoom lens firmly against metal mesh and shoot. 

No such ethical questions attaching to shot of Plum-headed Finch, one of up to 200 flocking here and there at north end of Townsville Town Common Conservation Park lately. Biggest flock of the seasonal and only sometime visitors to the park in recent years.

Zebra Finches haven't been making many prominent appearances in the Common lately, but can usually be found year-round nearby in Belgian Gardens Cemetery and Mundy Creek grasslands. Pictured bird was surprise bonus as I sat waiting for Little Kingfisher to appear at one of its favoured feeding spots. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Whistling Kite whistles down, whisks up fish

Whistling Kites in my experience seldom make much of a splash in their infrequent efforts to take fish. Unlike Ospreys they lack specialised flexi-talons and grip-pads for the job, and deep plunges without plumage waterproofing could be life-threatening.

But, along with the odd Black Kite, a few Whistlers will snatch dying fish from the surface as they float up from deoxygenated water during the late dry season. Again, in my experience, few watching kites follow their more opportunistic snatch and grabbers.

So Whistling Kite's swoop down near edge of pool and take of unidentified fish in front of Payets Tower in the Town Common Conservation Park, Townsville, two mornings back, was probably because fish was freshly dead and floating in paragrass at pool's edge. The kite flew to cover in nearby trees and made short work of the small fish. A lucky scavenger rather than a skilled fisher, in my judgement. Others may disagree.

Friday, April 22, 2022

What Beauty and the Beast have in common

Fairy tales and hairy tales - how Beauty and the Beast plays out in a case from the real world. Above, Whistling Kite in the sky low over part of Town Common Conservation Park in Townsville. Not often that kites in flight present so prettily for a photographer. 

More often it's an underview, in this case two looks - right and left. Beauty! But this was just one of six birds hanging about the area. 

Which is, of course, where the Beast comes in. Maybe two beasts, depending on how one regards the actions leading to the presence of six Whistling Kites. Be warned the image below is not a pretty sight.

The beast is a feral boar without its head, sliced off by a hunter. And though Queensland Parks and Wildlife rangers routinely trap and kill wild pigs in the Common and other state and national parks - because of the great habitat damage they can do - private hunting is, within my knowledge, not allowed. 

The hunter may be doing the park a service of sorts, may even be showing considerable courage, since no dog or vehicle tracks marked the scene, but the scene remains, for me, one of beastly unlawfulness. 

So, why show it? Perhaps because Beauty is not whole without the Beast . . .


Sunday, April 3, 2022

Twitcher's twiggy twists need tweaking

Not often the birds line up for same 'natural' perch beside the road at eye level with the trusty Troopy but busy Rainbow Bee-eater and fidgety Willie Wagtail couldn't get enough of landing spot and feast of insects in air close to northern arm of Mundy Creek on Old Common Road, Townsville, this morning.

'Natural' because on first photographing the Rainbow two annoying side twigs kept getting in the way. So, naturally they were sneakily removed and birds were left alone for 10 minutes or so. On return from hunting other action further along the road both birds were still at it. 

Why not remove the other bits so out of focus? So intent on the birds I didn't twig to intruding debris. Sometime drive for perfection needs a lot more work, I'm afraid.

Second thoughts overnight. Quick tidy-up with Gimp to clone away most obvious OOF bits - and wee extra sharpen. Far from perfect, but better.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Little Kingfisher manipulated in case for freeware

Long time since I've bored anyone about my arguments for freeware. But sparked by generously informative Feathers and Photos exercise lately on post-processing workflows here's my no-cents (can't get cheaper than that!) worth. One caveat: I make no claim freeware will better pro combos of apps, but say it can come close and at big savings in time and money. So, recent pic, above, Little Kingfisher, full frame, Canon Raw.

Little Kingfisher, cropped, adjusted for brightness, colour saturation, shadow, contrast and sharpened - about two minutes in DPP4, Canon freeware.

Little Kingfisher, most of background tidied up by simply cloning much of background - Gimp clone tool (because DPP4 clone tool is simply useless).

Then, couple more little touches in Gimp - to white hot spot (select spot with lasso tool and cool it down a bit) and bill (lasso, and make tiny bit sharper). More could easily be done without ever getting into more complex time-weighty techniques. And, yes, many claim Gimp is too this, that and t'other. But let the pictures speak for themselves. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Crimson Finches cope with problem child

Male Crimson Finch had only one thing on his mind this morning - instead of maybe six or more. Where was his youngster fresh fluttered from the nest near Payets Tower in the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park?

Question of why only one would have to take care of itself. He had to find and take care - with his partner - of young bird scrambling clumsily through the guinea grass. 

The parents whizzed here, there, everywhere. Junior clambered and started low 'chirp-chirping''. Which did the trick. Well, mostly. Parents turned up - but without food! Then off the three went to sort out some breakfast. Should not prove problem for parents usually coping with many more hungry mouths. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Sunbird shows off helluva hover cover

All very well being clever enough to fly but no Australian bird has yet truly mastered doing it on the spot. Top marks though for Olive-backed Sunbird at Rowes Bay Sustainability Wetlands today doing a helluva hover cover - shown by camera settings of f7.1 1/800 ISO1600 (not expecting flight picture). Tribute also to Canon R5 stabilisation.

More time and thus more fitting shutter speed for Dollarbird, one of six in action over Townsville Town Common the other morning.

Plenty of White-breasted Woodswallows in the air at same time. 

Elsewhere, Plumed Whistling Duck ready with flaps up for landing near Mundy Creek lagoon recently.  

Clinch Gouldian finch - aviary sneaky cinch

Hard to get close to Gouldian Finches in the wild. Very hard to find any close to Townsville. Except ... except for rare escapee, or - shudd...