Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sandspit River Track

Yesterday, the first half decent day for sometime, saw me heading off for the Wielangta Forest. The weather lately, while not producing much rain, has been blustery and cold--I have to admit to having turned the heater on a couple of times last week, a first for any Tasmanian February that I can recall!
I followed my usual routine, a stop at the picnic area
, and then on to the Northern end of the Sandspit River track. This area is fast becoming one of my all time favourites, only soured slightly by being an hour's drive from home.
The stop at the picnic area produced the usual Pink Robin (top left), and I could hear it calling as I opened the car door. I spent 20 minutes or so here, waiting for an opportunity to get a shot and it graciously allowed me to take a few images. While I waited, I watched several passing Tasmanian Thornbills gleaning insects from the underside of leaves, and listened to the calling Strongbilled Honeyeaters high overhead in the towering eucalypts. Having snared my shots of the robin, it was time to take the short drive to the Northern end of the track.
Another Pink Robin greeted me as I parked, which I took as a good omen. It was still fairly cool, but very still, with warmer air from the sunlit patches, wafting over me as I walked. Little stirred over the next 3 or 4 hundred metres, except small groups of Bennett's and Rufous Wallaby scuttling off through the scrub, and the local Kookaburras putting on a noisy show. I moved quickly, deeper into the forested areas.
As I reached the first of the Man Ferns, I heard, and shortly flushed the first of many Green Rosellas, and I could hear a lone Golden Whistler calling. I stopped and listened at a spot that I had previously seen and photographed Scrubtits. I was glad that it was so still, as I soon realised that, right on cue, I could hear a group of Scrubtits feeding in the light scrub 20 or more metres away, and occasionally calling. A little "pishing" (an imitation 'scolding' bird call), saw them approach to a few metres, and I managed a record shot, but no more. A few Tasmanian Scrubwrens put in a wary appearance too, as did several Tasmanian Thornbills. Moving on, 2 Brush Bronzewings momentarily startled me, as they flushed from among the scrub only a few metres away. But it must have been my lucky day, as I shortly found the Brush Bronzewing (pictured), standing mid track, obviously well aware of my presence, but staying long enough to get a few shots in, before it too, flushed, with much 'clapping' of wings. I was to find several more during the course of the walk, probably totaling a dozen or more, quite the most I've seen in one area, for some years. Another stop for a glimpse of Scrubtits, more "pishing", but this time I only got a response from a lone Olive Whistler. It came and had a look at me fr
om among the dense scrub, and obviously unimpressed with what it saw, disappeared back into the bush! The next highlight was the sight of the first of several Bassian Thrushes, feeding along the track,
culminating in one that allowed sufficiently close approach for some shots. In fact the individual pictured, instead of scurrying off into the scrub, actually chose to run toward me for a closer inspection (obviously a bird with taste!).
With increasing cloud cover, and with a forecast of rain, I thought it prudent to retrace my steps to the car. It had been a great morning, and I had managed a few shots of species that are among the more difficult to photograph. The amount of light penetrating the forest here is low, and all the shots were taken at speeds of less than 1/50th of a second, with a telephoto lens. Those with photographic knowledge will know that is 'pushing your luck' and indeed many of the shots suffered accordingly, but I got away with the few shown here. A recommended walk on suitable days.


John Tongue said...

these shots came up very well, despite the conditions. I'v a few shots of Robins and Bassian Thrushes, but am still to manage any decent ones of Scrubwrens, Scrubtits, or Tas Thornbills, so once again, I am quite envious.

John Tongue said...

your blog is not good for my envy levels! Still, it helps me to dream.

Duncan said...

You're not the only one John, I think I'll give up bird photography. :-(

BirdingTas said...

Hi John & Duncan,
I do appreciate your comments, but there are a couple of points. Firstly, given you have the right gear, digital bird photography is a whole lot easier than film (and cheaper). Secondly, I too look at other people's bird photography with envy, realising I'll never reach that standard, but it helps to spur me on. Fortunately, people don't get to see the rubbish shots!

John Tongue said...

There is that, Duncan! People sometimes comment favourably on the one or tow decent shots I show them, and don't realise how much rubbish I've deleted....

Kloggers said...

What a beautiful bird. In fact, all of these photos are magnificent and almost put our British birds to shame. I wonder if their bird song matches their beauty. Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog. Best wishes, Kloggers

Gallicissa said...

You Pin Robin is a stunner!
It looks a bird drawn by a kid.

Michael Nelson said...

I love your photographs. I hope you have a few on the wall.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Michael,
Thanks for the compliment, I see that your bird photography isn't too shabby either! I must say that I print very few of my images, I'm really too focussed on what I might take at some future point. I do spend time looking at my shots and thinking how much better they might have been if only!