Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Morning on the Gold Coast - Part 1: Mangroves and Mudflats

After a bird free morning yesterday on the Sunshine Coast, I was out early this morning on the Gold Coast to see if I could find a few birds.

First stop was the mud flats on the estuary at the end of Colman Road in Coomera. There were a few gulls and an egret a long distance away but only this Black-winged Stilt close enough to be worth photographing.

Black-winged Stilt, Coomera, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

It seemed to be approaching me slowly so I had hopes it getting close enough for some portrait shots but a low-flying pair of gulls scared it off. I did manage to get this Crested Pigeon in the car park as I was heading back to the car so the spot was not a total dead loss,

Crested Pigeon, Coomera, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/500

although I did get some funny looks lying down in the dirt on the edge of the car park to get the pigeon.

Next stop was the Mangrove Walkway at Coombabah Lake. In hindsight, I would have been better coming here first as, by the time I got here, the tide had receded a long way leaving extensive mudflats and the bird life was all a long distance off, with only this Eastern Curlew close enough to photograph.

Eastern Curlew, Coombabah Lakes, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/640

Gull-billed Terns flew by providing a new focus. Photographing birds in flight is always fun but even more challenging from inside a bird hide with restricted viewing. With such a narrow angle of view out of the hide and between mangrove trees, you cannot track the birds as they fly past, waiting for the best angle to start shooting. I just had to keep the camera pointed near the edge of the tree, wait for a bird to appear and hope I could frame and focus before it disappeared on the other side.

Gull-billed Tern, Coombabah Lakes, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/500
Gull-billed Tern, Coombabah Lakes, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

I spotted a blue and white flash come out of the mangroves to my left and caught it just as it was landing, albeit a long way away (this shot is heavily cropped).

Sacred Kingfisher, Coombabah Lakes, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

As I walked back along the boardwalk through the mangroves, a cacophony of calls could be heard in the eucalyptus woodlands. It was not hard to find the culprits - a large flock of (probably more than 50) Noisy Friarbirds feeding on flowers in the treetops. This is an almost impossible scenario to photograph, moving birds, silhouetted high in trees with mottled light behind them. This is the best I could get of one bird that sat still long enough for me to focus and adjust the exposure to account for the bright backlighting.

Noisy Friarbird, Coombabah Lakes, Queensland
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/8, 1/800

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