Friday, 28 December 2012

Kerang Daytrip

It has been a while since I had the camera out so decided to hit the road early this morning for a daytrip to the Kerang Lakes area. Primary target was to find Orange Chat that had been reported in the region recently but also wanted to try out the new flash and Better Beamer and walk off some of the Christmas pudding.

First stop was Goschen Reserve, which was surprisingly quiet but I did manage to find a few cooperative birds:

I found a tree with a pair of Striated Pardalotes that were very active so I slowly approached then stood still for about ten minutes while they came closer and closer, this one eventually landing on a dead branch only a few metres from me.

Striated Pardalote, Goschen Reserve

I also got the chance to use the flash to fill in the shadows on this bird. For today, the first time using this set-up, I just set the flash to TTL and let it do its thing.

Striated Pardalote, Goschen Reserve

This male Hooded Robin allowed me to approach quite close and stayed still long enough for me to take a few shots with and without flash.

Hooded Robin (male), Goschen Reserve

The flash worked well filling the sidelit shadow and balancing the exposure better with the sky but shooting from below the bird gave an unnatural extra catchlight in the bird's eye.

Hooded Robin (male), Goschen Reserve

A little touchup with Photoshop makes a much more pleasing image.

Hooded Robin (male), Goschen Reserve

Woodswallows were everywhere, mostly flying high over the treetops catching insects but a few stopped in the trees long enough for some shots.

White-browed Woodswallow (male), Goschen Reserve
Dusky Woodswallow, Goschen Reserve

There were Singing Honeyeaters in most areas of the reserve. This one provided another good opportunity for fill flash (again with a little Photoshop to clean up the eye)

Singing Honeyeater, Goschen Reserve

Next stop was Lake Lookout to find Orange Chat, where they had been seen recently. I did find several among the saltbush and grasses around the lake but impossible to photograph staying under the bushes and flushing when I got within 30 metres of them. Several similar birds were also feeding on the exposed lake bed so I thought I'd try for some photographs. With no cover near the lake shore, I needed a way of getting close. After watching the birds for a few minutes, I noticed that they would zig-zag along the lake shore feeding so I found a suitable spot to sit and wait for the birds to come past. This proved to be reasonably successful but their almost perpetual motion made them difficult to track and focus on. I needed to wait for the occasional split seconds where they stood still to look around. These turned out to be Australasian Pipit but worth the stalking challenge...

Australasian Pipit, Lake Lookout
Australasian Pipit, Lake Lookout
Australasian Pipit, Lake Lookout

...mostly they looked like this

Australasian Pipit, Lake Lookout

So, no photographs of Orange Chat - maybe next time...

Last stop was Reedy Lake in Kerang, where apart from the usual ibis and waterbirds, there were more woodswallows - a third species for the day.

White-breasted Woodswallow, Reedy Lake Kerang

and several Black Kites flying around low enough for some shots

Black Kite, Reedy Lake, Kerang
Black Kite, Reedy Lake, Kerang

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