Square-tailed Kite, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Plummies

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Square-tailed Kite, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Plummies
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2004 11:45:05 +1000
We had a Square-tailed Kite over the garden yesterday, and a lot harder to
photograph in flight with my digital camera than it was with the SLR!

They're quite often around in the valley, but we've only had them at
Abberton 7 times in the 16 years we've been here, so I don't think we can
quite claim them as 'regular'. Once again, I was struck by the distinctive
primary feathers on this long-winged raptor, and its gorgeously rufous
underwing-coverts and breast. Just a beautiful big raptor that you can never
tire of seeing.

A Shining Bronze-cuckoo attracted our attention by calling from a tree near
the house, and we got on to it just in time to watch it fly across in front
of the verandah to a tesselaris where it posed, first front, then back, to
give us classic views of a perfectly marked and brightly-coloured bird. I
feasted on it just too long before trying for a photo and of course, it
disappeared forever somewhere in between my lowering the binoculars and
raising the camera.

But I had the opposite luck this-morning. A party of about 40 Plumheaded
Finches came high across the garden, twittering their distinctive call,
before landing in the upper branches of the same tesselaris. This is a
normal part of their daily pattern, as they arrive in groups and pause
somewhere to take in the options before deciding on the next course of
action, which can be to come down for a drink at the rock-pool, or to take
advantage of some rampant 'lawn', or whatever.

I grabbed the camera and pointed it at the pool, and sure enough a few of
them turned up there a couple of minutes later. It's too far away from where
I was standing for any great pictures, but it's hard to resist always trying
for a better one. However, as I stood with camera in hand two Plumheads
landed on the verandah wires, maybe six feet from me, and I discreetly
grabbed some quick shots, hopefully without them noticing me twisting in
their direction, and without having time to change any settings, which can
be fiddly and time-consuming with the digital if you're in a hurry - you
almost need to keep your fingernails sharp to work the buttons efficiently.
So, it was all a bit pot-luck.

Anyway, I'm quite pleased with one shot, which I'm attaching for the non
birding-aus recipients of this note. I'll put it on the website asap. (Not
another Plumheaded Finch photo!!)

Late in the afternoon, a group of seven Brown Quail took a slow scurry from
a garden bed, past my window, and up to an even more unkempt area. Lazy
gardening has its rewards.

Bill Jolly

Lockyer Valley, Queensland.

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