Sunday, 3 February 2013

Oswin Roberts Reserve: Fairy-wrens and Fantails

I spent the late afternoon walking the tracks of Oswin Roberts Reserve on Phillip Island.


For most of the walk, the best description of the birdlife was high density but low diversity. I saw only five species of birds and heard another two in the first 30 minutes BUT I have never been anywhere with as many Superb Fairy-wrens and Grey Fantails.

I saw at least 10 male Superb Fairy-wrens along the path, each with its accompanying females and non-breeding males.


You don't really notice, until you manage to photograph it serendipitously, that small birds such as fairy-wrens don't flap their wings to take off, they leap into the air first.


Some of these birds got very close while I just stood on the track. These two shots are almost full frame (I just did some minor cropping to clean up the edges).

Superb Fairy-wren, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

I saw at least 50 Grey Fantails, with as many as 20 seen from one location

Grey Fantail, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island
including some very fluffy juveniles.

Grey Fantail, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

As the clouds covered the sun, the low light became a challenge working with such fast moving birds but it did give some nice muted colours

Grey Fantail, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island
  and another one of these shots...
Grey Fantail, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

With such tame birds, I took the opportunity to try out the flash in the low light.

Grey Fantail, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

I don't really like the harshness and shadow of the full TTL flash at this distance. Here's the same shot take a few seconds later without flash--not as sharp but more pleasing to my eye.

Grey Fantail, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

Obviously I still need to do some work on getting the flash settings right...

This Australian Magpie continued the theme of tame birds when it walked along the track about 15-20 metres in front of me for at least 400 metres. Eventually the sun came out so I took a few shots (I see magpies nearly every day but rarely photograph them).

Australian Magpie, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

The last section of the track, looping back to the car park through denser woodland, proved more productive with some rarer birds, including this Satin Flycatcher, the first I have photographed on Phillip Island.

Satin Flycatcher (male), Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island
Not a great shot because of the severe backlighting (which took a lot of work in Lightroom to make it usable) but good for a record of the sighting.

Right at the car park, I found this Grey Currawong (again, not a great shot but happy to finally see this bird having heard calls for most of the way around the track)

Grey Currawong, Oswin Roberts Reserve, Phillip Island

and, of course, it wouldn't be a bushwalk on Phillip Island without the mandatory wallaby shot...even if this one does have grass stuck up its nose...

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