Archive for November, 2011

Flying Black Kite, Mannum

Black Kite over the Murray River, Mannum, South Australia

A skill I admire in nature photographers is getting great still photos of moving birds or animals. It’s something I am still very much a novice at and will need to practise much more to get it right.

While this photo of a Black Kite soaring over the Murray River at Mannum taken a few weeks ago is not brilliant, I’m still quite pleased with it. Mind you, it has had a little treatment on my computer to enhance certain elements.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Australasian Grebe, Mannum, South Australia

Australasian Grebe, Mannum, South Australia

Grebes are not easy to photograph – well, that’s my experience, anyway. They are either too far away way out in the middle of a body of water, or they dive under the water as soon as you have them in focus.

Oh, the joys of nature photography!

Still, I should be pleased that his Australasian Grebe cruised around on the Murray River at Mannum a few weeks ago long enough for me to get some shots. It wasn’t all that interested in diving and it was close into shore. Sometimes the birds either enjoy being photographed – or the take pity on me!

Mmmm…having a closer look at the photos now I can’t help wondering if I’ve actually taken shots of two different birds. The one above looks different compared with the one below. (My memory is good enough to remember that the two shots below were a few seconds apart; the top photo was taken six minutes earlier according to the digital properties of the photo.)

Australasian Grebe, Mannum, South Australia

Australasian Grebe, Mannum, South Australia

Two strange ducks at Mannum

Pacific Black Ducks - but with orange bills?

Over recent days I’ve been sharing about bird sightings on a trip to Mannum on the Murray River recently. While I was sitting in Mary Ann Reserve watching the birds on and near the river these two Pacific Black Ducks swam past. I took the photo without noticing the orange tips on their bills.

It was only when I enlarged the image on my computer that I noticed the orange. That’s not normal in this species. The only explanation I can offer is that they have hybridised with Mallards at some stage. There are feral populations of Mallards in the region. Mallards are an introduced species and feral groups exist where they have been released or have escaped from farms or back yards.

I’d be interested in readers’ comments on this little mystery.

Meanwhile, I took the following photo just before leaving to go home. These two Pacific Black Ducks had been sitting on the grass alongside me while I photographed all the other birds shown here recently. They didn’t seem at all concerned that I was only about 2 metres away.

Pacific Black Ducks, Mannum, South Australia

Birding around Mannum, South Australia part 4

Murray River at Mannum, South Australia

Over recent days I have been sharing some photos and my experiences on a birding trip to Mannum a few weeks ago. This river town is about 20 minutes by car from my home. The afternoon was a classically beautiful Sunday afternoon in spring. To add to the wonderful weather the birding was also good.

I know that Silver Gulls are a very common bird here in Australia, but I do enjoy photographing them. The bird in the photo below was particularly photogenic, but I had to be quick with the camera as it was on the move. I’ve also included a few other photos taken on the same day.


Silver Gull, Murray River, Mannum, South Australia

Silver Gulls, Murray River, Mannum, South Australia

Silver Gulls, Mannum, South Australia

Silver Gulls, Murray River, Mannum, South Australia

Birding around Mannum, South Australia part 3

Murray River at Mannum, South Australia

A few weeks ago I spent an enjoyable afternoon birding in and around Mannum, about 20 minutes drive north of home. It was a beautiful spring day with bright clear sky, a gentle breeze and plenty of birds. I sat for a while in the Mary Ann Reserve on the river front, watching and photographing the birds on, over and near the Murray River.

I was rather puzzled by the behaviour of several species of birds in and over the water. Several Little Pied Cormorants and Little Black Cormorants were swimming around in the one spot about 30 metres out into the water. I can only assume they were fishing but I didn’t actually see one catch a fish. Over head several White-necked Herons and one Great Egret flew around low over the water sometimes almost landing and snapping at the cormorants in the water. A Silver Gull even joined in, harassing the heron as they flew (see photo below).

Great Egret, White-necked Heron, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants

White-necked Heron being harassed by a Silver Gull

Bogey bird

The White-necked Heron was an interesting sighting for me. It’s been one of my bogey birds over the last 25 years. I went from 1987 to 2001 without seeing a single one of them. Then only one – with another 6 year wait to see another one! Unbelievable. In fact in more than 35 years of birding I’ve only ever seen this species about 20 times. Then on this day at Mannum I saw 4 all flying around in close proximity. Unreal.