Blurs, bottoms and blinks

It’s quiet, the pre-dawn light is soft, a flurry of Silvereyes are busy on the fig tree and then the sun rises and the scene is bathed in magical light. I’ve spent many mornings watching birds enjoy the ripening fruit and I’ve taken many images of blurs and bottoms and blinks as they play fig tiggy.

The frenetic movement amongst the figs is rarely conveyed by posted images which give the very false impression that the birds pose for more than a split second. There is rarely time to focus and shoot, it’s one or the other or the bird has gone. Back-button focusing is the only way to go as I can focus on the bird, wait for a pleasing pose, hope the sun doesn’t go behind a cloud and shoot.


Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)


Silvereyes are one of Australia’s smallest birds measuring just 11cm and weighing 11g. I love being able to photograph tiny birds and managing to capture sharp feather detail makes me smile. The bird above has just landed and is already twitching its wings ready to move on, despite how relaxed it looks there was no time for a second shot.


Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)


Silvereyes attack figs from any angle, they land, check around, move closer, check around, stab at the fig, check around, stab again and are chased away by the next Silvereye wanting its turn.


Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)


Though the concept of ‘turns’ seems a bit too polite for the hustle of fig-tiggy. Watching them reminds me of Zebra Finches taking turns at desert water holes, as shown in Little Aussie Zebras.  It’s difficult to count even a small group of Silvereyes as they move so quickly and constantly but there often seem to be about a dozen in the group.


Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)


I had high hopes of this fig when it ripened, and another beside it that was stolen holus-bolus by a Common Myna, but the Silvereyes rarely landed on top of it, preferring to feed from the stem and rarely giving me the chance to shoot a pleasing head angle. Land, check, move, peck, check, peck, fly …


Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)


If only this sweet bird had flown towards me! Most of the bottom shots aren’t quite this interesting. I can hardly believe the length of its wings at full stretch..


Patiently waiting fig …


There I was, barely awake, hungry for breakfast and staking out a beautifully ripened fig that was looking splendid in the early morning sun with raindrops glistening and a background that would enhance the look of any Silvereye. And I waited, and waited, and waited … and finally decided to take a shot of the fig without a Silvereye and go and get some porridge. Such is the lot of a bird photographer.

Happy birding, Kim



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