Fairy Martins

I like photographing small birds that move quickly and constantly. I sometimes take squillions of images to get a few that are focused and show the bird’s head rather than its behind. Sometimes I’d like a group of birds in focus but by the time I’ve changed the f-stop the birds have gone and the next single bird image I take is blurred because the aperture was smaller which meant that the shutter speed was slower.


These Fairy Martins measure 12cm and weigh 11g. The hens’ eggs in my fridge weigh a minimum of 58g each which means that each egg weighs more than five Fairy Martins – that’s pretty amazing to think about.


 Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel)


I find these little birds particularly attractive with their rufous heads, glossy blue backs and soft white underparts. I like the way their throats are streaked with fine dark markings and their white rumps that catch the light when they fly.


Fairy Martin


The sweet image I have of them in my head is challenged a bit when I see them with bills full of mud that they use to make their characteristic bottle-shaped nests. This colony is currently nesting in a culvert at the Werribee Western Treatment Plant. I tried photographing their nests but couldn’t get the angle right and the large Tiger Snake lurking near my feet made me decide not to climb into the culvert.


Fairy Martin


I couldn’t resist posting this image of a muddy tummy – house-building is dirty work for Fairy Martins too. The perch is part of a fence that sloped up hill from the culvert to a paddock.


Fairy Martin – time for the after-work clean up


Fairy Martin


The background, or bokeh, in this image is mainly of plants in the background apart from the soft circle of sky that frames the bird’s head which I like as it seems to highlight the fact that the martin is singing.

Happy birding, Kim





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