I was editing the pictures from the zoo, deep in the geekery of levels and saturation and tone colour. I glanced back at this image and my visceral, limbic predator response fired. “I have been spotted by an apex predator and I am so fucked.”
I think this is the single best picture I have ever taken. It deserves its own post.
“I have seen you and I will eat you and you will die.”
The new lens is regarded by some as the best lens for zoo photography in the world. There’s a rather good zoo an hour or so from here. They have tigers.
In this case, they had one tiger which they had just moved into an enclosure on its own. It was sniffing around and quite literally peeing in all the corners. Some portraits:
Licking its nose. The vomeronasal organ was getting a good wotkout.
Bengal tiger. She’s seen something.
Looking at the camera
“Why are you eating grass?”
“Because I’m a tiger and can do anything I want.”
A friend from work has a niece or god-daughter or some-such. Apparently, said child has a thing for giraffes. When I mentioned we were going to the zoo this weekend, my colleague asked for giraffe pictures.
Happy to oblige, Erica.
Three more giraffes.
Giraffe in profile
Staring at the camera
Another picture of three giraffes
Nibbling some leaves
Sharing from the haybag
No leaves left
We came across a pair of Masked Lapwings today. They are thinking about making a nest. Actually, that is far too sophisticated a description. These birds are legendarily fuckwitted. Just have a look at their tiny little heads and consider the tiny volume that has to contain their entire minds while leaving space for an advanced avionics package. Deep thinkers they are not.
They nest on the ground, choosing (although that verb gives them far too much credit) a location in the open clear of undergrowth. I assume this is because they hate their chicks and want to facilitate faster predation. Having selected a spot, they scoop out a shallow indentation (if they remember) and start laying. Last year a pair decided that a random spot in the middle of the car park was just the ticket. You really have to wonder how that behaviour evolved in.
The pair we met today seemed to have selected a location and were scratching around in the leaf litter in a fairly desultory manner. As we approached to within about 30 metres they started their other signature behaviour: vicious defence of their rubbish location against all interlopers by any means necessary.
They both took off (leaving their laughable ‘nest’ entirely undefended – I told you – complete shitwits) and started strafing us from altitude. While Other Bloggers retreated to avoid stressing the birds too much, I pointed the long lens at them and started shooting.
Making another pass
Wings on the upbeat
We left them alone after a few minutes. No matter how entertaining it is to annoy sub-sentient avians, it does come at a large cost to their energy budget. We watched them terrorize some noisy miners, a magpie lark (which is neither a magpie nor a lark), a currawong, several turtles and a duck. Speaking of ducks, this one was being photogenic.
Male Hardhead (Aythya australis)
This new lens (the Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II) is nothing short of brilliant.
Australian White ibis
Obligatory Arty Black and White shot:
Art, that is.
The coots have had an excellent start to the breeding season with six chicks hatched and none lost so far.
They are now about 4-5 weeks old and are starting to wonder what their wings are for. I think it will be a while before this one works it out.
“Mummy, what are these for? I flap them and flap them and nothing happens.”
Also: look at its feet!
Swifts hunt late in the afternoons over the new lake at the botanical gardens. They fly in great swooping turns, then dart along the surface, occasionally diving down to grab a hapless insect.
They’re a challenge to capture. Small, very fast and crossing the field of vision you have to spot them by eye, lift the camera at wide zoom, keep them centred as you zoom in, pan like hell and hope the autofocus is fast enough. The light is fading this late in the afternoon, so the ISO ramps up and the water starts to get noisy.
But, like much photography, take enough pictures and you’ll get a few worth sharing.
Caught a pair
Making a Splash
Flying away from the lens
In a cloud of droplets
Putting power on after a dive
This is why we wait for the afternoon sun
The new lens is bloody awesome.
A duck, beating its wings.
A moorhen, taking objection to something. They do that a lot. Their binominal classification is Galinula tenebrosa, which sounds like a spell from Hogwarts.
Because cockatoos are awesome.
First wingbeat and we’re airborne
I was in the wrong shooting mode. Because I’m an idiot. Still not a bad shot.
More to follow. Many more.
A flock of 25-30 sulphur-crested cockatoos joined us in the botanical gardens today. They were happily demolishing the freshly-laid grass in the new extension area.
We were able to sit amongst them as they rootled around, grumped at each other, fought the lizards and propositioned their prospective or actual mates.
The Other Photographer will have photographs of them interacting on the ground. I practised shooting them in the air. The camera rig now weighs about 4kg, so it takes a bit of hefting to get a shot.
Here are some of the results.
Flying in ground effect
Boots down, wings furling