Heads down, tails up, weld mesh and a wallaby

Red-browed Finches, once called Red-browed Firetails, are tiny birds that forage on the ground for insects and seeds. They are 11cm long and 11g in weight and can be difficult to see amongst blades of grass.

 Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/500, f/11, ISO 800, focal length 350mm

 

Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/640, f/8, ISO 160, focal length 400mm

 

The two images above show typical ‘heads down, tails up’ Red-browed Finch feeding behaviour. It’s easy to be a just few metres away without realising they are so close until they dart for nearby cover. I have many images of foraging Red-browed Finches and haven’t yet taken one that delights me but I do like the frozen moments that show their activity, including hopping to the next seed head.

There is a large group of finches that often work their way towards me, sometimes flying onto low perches to eye me curiously. When they are so close that I am looking at them without the lens I am always amazed by their tinyness.

 

Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 400, focal length 370mm

 

It can be difficult to show scale when photographing birds, particularly for images that meet the stringent requirements for official Nature shots which must not show evidence of the ‘hand of man’. The image above, and two that follow, are taken of finches perched on 5cm (2″) weld mesh so unless you’re using your phone it’s likely that you’re viewing the images larger than life-size. With the three weld mesh images I’m not sure which crop is most effective, though I’m leaning towards the third one. If you have a preference I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.

 

Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1250, f/5.6, ISO 400, focal length 370mm

 

Red-browed Finch (Neochmia temporalis)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 400, focal length 370mm

  Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/30, f/5.6, ISO 1600, focal length 340mm

 

Early one evening I was walking back from a bird hide when this sweet wallaby was watching me from the edge of the track. The light had faded and I wondered if it was worth trying to get a shot but it looked too cute holding the bouquet of leaves: a nibbled leaf can just be seen behind the brown leaf. The light was poor and even with the aperture wide open at f5.6 and the ISO cranked up to the maximum I use on the 7D, I could only get a shutter speed of 1/30 second. Luckily I had my monopod handy, there was no wind and for this image the wallaby kept still and didn’t blink!

Birdlife Australia has launched a petition to help give threatened bird species a voice. If you’d like to sign the petition you can do so here – thousands of volunteers, beautiful birds and our planet will thank you, and so will I.

Happy birding, Kim

 

 

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