Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lamington National Park - Morning Bird Tour at O'Reilly's

Early morning just after sunrise O'Reilly's arranges a ca. 1 hour bird tour around the estate. It has become a many year old tradition to take guest around meeting some of the feathered inhabitants of the area and as always with animals it simply has to be on every single day to nurture the relationship that has been established between guides and birds. The tour is simply a must for all visitors, it is amazing to see how a few raisins, a bit of cheese(?..!) and years of patience have loosened the usual apprehension birds have towards us humans.

Before the tour really began, we could celebrate the first highlight of the day - a female Regent Bowerbird decided to perch itself in an exceptional photogenic position right outside the O'Reilly's reception - That was a new one for me :-)

After a quick walk around the grassy areas close to the complex and a visit to a Satin Bowerbird bower we dived into the rain forest where a little army of birds were ready to welcome us. I have seen Wonga Pigeon being very undisturbed by the presence of humans before, but Eastern Whipbird is notoriously difficult to get good photos of and here it was jumping around few meters from our feet - "Mister Whippy" was apparently in a great morning mood :-)

As always it is great value being taken around by one of the locals, we were taught how to spot "hidden" hanging bird nests and we saw the hollow tree where the Nightjar was spotted last time - unfortunately it looked like the Nightjar had left the spot - and a flood of tree and plant related knowledge was flowing freely after a couple of inquisitive horticultural questions were asked by a certain tree loving WA gentleman that had joined the birding excursion.

Great stuff and a fantastic opportunity of getting some excellent close-ups of some great birds. Anticipating the darkness of the early morning rain forest I had luckily chosen the fast macro (Sigma 150mm f/2.8) and could continue shooting it quite wide open and with assistance from the on-board flash, as I had done up in far north Queensland. In manual mode with an aperture of f/4.0 and a shutter speed of 1/160s I could control exposure by flash output compensation alone.

Great stuff! I am pretty happy about some of the Eastern Yellow Robin shots - it was a particular photogenic participant. The Yellow-throated Scrubwren is a bird that I do not see everyday, so nice with a close encounter. A Lewin's Honeyeater came along for the shenanigans, but there was no doubt that it was the bowerbirds that were stars of the morning - Great to finally see a Regent Bowerbird - we only saw females during the morning walk, but we managed to spot a male later during the day down at our "rain forest"-terrace - and a male Satin Bowerbird is always a treat.


Jarrod said...

Some of those photos were bordering on respectable. I'm impressed.

AGL said...

Thanks Jarrod, I am taking that as a compliment :-D Yeah, it was pretty easy with the birds literally flocking around us.

Cheers Allan