Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Barwon River Estuary

The Barwon River forms a broad estuary between Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. View Map

There are usually gulls, terns, cormorants, ibis, herons, pelicans and ducks on the beaches and mudflats and in the river as well as a range of other birds in the surrounding mangroves, saltmarsh and coastal scrub.

Another quick lunch stop today in one of the turnoffs on the Ocean Grove Spit Riverside camping area (only in use as such over summer) overlooking the estuary and immediately found flock of 24 Royal Spoonbill feeding in the shallows right on the bank approx. 800 metres up river.

Royal Spoonbill, Barwon River Estuary, Ocean Grove

I walked slowly along the riverbank as the spoonbills walked towards me, concentrating on feeding and preening.

Royal Spoonbill, Barwon River Estuary, Ocean Grove

For most birds, it's best to shoot with as close to full front lighting as possible but for white birds like these spoonbills, getting correct exposure is challenging in bright sunny conditions. Back or side lighting can be effective highlighting the subtleties of plumage and, in flight, makes the wings almost translucent. Made no difference here as without wading 200m or more into the river, I was stuck with side lighting anyway. Even backlighting was going to be difficult as the beach is only a few metres wide where the birds were, leaving no room to maneuver.

As I was approaching the flock to try and get some side-lit portraits of individual birds, a walker coming the other way spooked the flock and they flew off, fortunately in my direction, which gave me a few shots of them in flight.

Royal Spoonbill, Barwon River Estuary, Ocean Grove

As usual with wildlife photography, you take what you get, so it was back to the car to finish the sushi lunch (if you're in Ocean Grove make sure to drop in to the Noodle and Sushi Bar across the road from the Post Office) then back home to work.

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