A photographic offering in praise of the surprisingly beautiful New Holland honeyeater.
The New Holland honeyeater is hyperactive. It would make a blowfly around food at midday on a hot summer’s day look lethargic. In the time it took to take the photos below, I didn’t see one sit still for more than a few seconds. Capturing a photo at all, much less one that was in focus, was not easy. This bird is present in large numbers around Apollo Bay, and seems to favour the coastal vegetation belts. One of my bird books claims it is one of 76 species of honeyeater found in Australia. It is found along the southern coast and immediate hinterland of southern Australia.
These photos were taken on the banks of the Barham River at Apollo Bay (on the south east coast of Australia) during the hour before the sun set yesterday evening. These birds seem to fly around and feed in groups, and most of the photos below are of different individual birds. The vegetation beside the Barham and its tidal mud flats is dense and lush. Reed stalks and small bushes seemed to be favoured perching locations for this honeyeater. It feeds on nectar and insects. Its capacity to manoeuvre and dart in any direction in the blink of an eye would give it the upper hand over many if not most insects in the area.
I have sorted the selection of photos into those showing the bird perched, flying and looking tough. When this bird flies past you get a sense of it being small and dark, perhaps with a flash of white or yellow depending on your vantage point, and quickly gone. I have included photos to show the bird from most angles in an attempt to show its full beauty. The shots of the bird in flight show off the wonderful colour scheme which is really only evident in full flight.
Some of the shots of the bird in flight are of a different quality to the other photos. I won’t claim intentional artistic effect, even though I don’t mind the unintended graininess of some of them. The explanation is that the low light as the sun set (with a few clouds around) required a high ISO and a less than optimal shutter speed. The image was further pushed during editing by cropping significantly from a larger image, to show the detail of this small bird.
On the wing
I’m not sure if this look is some sort of defence mechanism, or just an accidental product of the markings around its face when seen straight on. This look simply cannot be seen with the naked eye with the bird flying around or perching momentarily. I had my big telephoto lens set to a focal length of 600mm, and still had to crop and enlarge the image to enable this seriously cranky look to be enjoyed.