And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Picos de Europa

The heat (35+) and strong winds in Perth have made birding and videography a bit rough, but I did manage to spend the other day around the lakes and river. There were a nice pair of Chestnut Teal at Alfred Cove on the Swan River, but the conditions made video too difficult, but a nice sighting all the same. Herdsman Lake had the usual waterbirds, plus 7 Wood Sandpiper, 8 Pectoral Sandpiper, 27+ Black-fronted Dotterals and a Little Eagle visiting the area.

The computer hardrive crash last year did wipeout or corrupt some old video I had on there, but I managed to put together a short video (from remaining segments) of our visit to the Picos de Europa area in northern Spain from a few years ago. This was the first time I was using the Canon XH A1.

The local wildlife in the video are Chamois, Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough and Snow Finch.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wandering Whistling-Ducks

It's so hot and humid here in Perth at the moment, probably due to another cyclone north of Perth. It reminds me a lot of the weather in Queensland, so I thought I'd put up a Queensland bird video.

During one of our recent birding holiday trips to north Queensland, my wife and I came across this nice little group of Wandering Whistling-Ducks at the golf course just north of Cairns. I took this short video of the little group of these beautiful ducks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Red-faced Liocichla

One of the birds I wanted to get video of was the Red-faced Liocichla, a beautiful small babbler-like Thailand bird. It's usually shy and a skulker, as it forages unobtrusively for berries, seeds and insects in the undergrowth.

A lot of the video I took was of a little reddish bird disappearing into the undergrowth, but this guy came out to feed on some rice. It's only a very short video, due to a naughty Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush that scared the Liocichla away and then didn't even eat any rice.

It's name sounds Mexican, but it is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Transformer Owl Video

It is amazing how an animal can react to different threats, especially in behaviour and body posture. This is video of an owl reacting to other different owls. I think it's from some Japanese (?) game show, but the reactions of the owl are incredible!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scaly-breasted Partridge

These are videos of Scaly-breasted Partridge (Arborophila chloropus) also called Green-legged Partridge, which came out of the forest at Baan Song Nok, south of Bangkok. An often hard to see, but beautiful partridge of the Thailand forests.

When we were watching the partridges, I noticed a pair came in together and whenever they were startled, they would crouch tail to tail. I thought might be some anti-predator behaviour allowing views from both directions. Partridges and quail do often crouch to hide, but do mating pairs do it facing different directions?

I only managed to get this behaviour once on the next video at the end, just before they disappeared behind some bushes. Has anyone else seen this type of behaviour in other partridges or quail?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush

These Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes were one of the most common forest birds near the summit of Doi Lang. Cheeky, noisy and sometimes in groups, they were always coming in for food and scaring away the other smaller birds.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blue Whistling Thrush

This is video of the resident race of Blue Whistling Thrush in Thailand (with the yellow bill), the migrant race that arrives there have black bills.

The Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus) is a species of thrush in the family Turdidae. At 178 grams (6.3 oz) and 33 cm (13 inches), it is believed to be the world's largest species of thrush. Feeds mainly on insects and is found over most of asia, usually in temperate, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

An interesting fact, the brighter blue patches found on the shoulders and sometimes the head, of whistling thrushes, uniquely for a passerine, reflect strongly in the ultraviolet.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Large Niltava

This is video of what must be one of the most beautiful birds in Thailand, a male Large Niltava (Niltava grandis). This blue male came in from the forest near the summit of Doi Lang in northern Thailand, looking for worms and other food scraps. The poor female niltava is mainly just a small plain brown bird, but it helps to hide her when she's on her nest.

The Large Niltava (Niltava grandis) is a species of bird in the Muscicapidae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand,and Vietnam.

Good news about the Queensland cyclone, lots of damage as expected, but no recorded deaths.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cyclones Smashing Australia

It seems that lately a number of disasters have hit Australia, floods have ravaged eastern Australia, especially Queensland. A cyclone hit Queensland a few days ago, now one of the biggest cyclone ever seen, Cyclone Yasi is heading towards the poor people of Queensland again.

Some images from Queensland of the last big cyclone, Cyclone Larry, of the same strength as this one coming.

Those are chairs stuck in a school wall.

The wall in the eye of Cyclone Larry.

We in Perth just had our cyclone, Cyclone Bianca a few days ago, but we were lucky and most of the storm went to the south coast.

Northern suburbs of Perth did get a few storms.

Towns inland of Perth, such as York, had some massive wild storms.


Good luck to the people of Queensland and stay safe.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Widlife Videography

I was originally going to have two blogs, one for general wildlife posts and one dedicated to wildlife videography, but due to work commitments and a busy lifestyle, one blog had to go. I have decided to post videography information on this blog, as it’s my main enjoyment when out in the great outdoors with wildlife.

First thing, why video? I suppose because it’s harder than modern wildlife photography (yes, I must be a glutton for punishment). I have probably lost all the photography followers now, but please hear me out. I also love the way video can capture animal behaviour that photography often misses out on.

So why is wildlife videography harder?

• As a videographer, you need at least a 1000 times longer than a photographer! A photographer may shoot a photo at 1/100, but for some good footage on video you usually need about 10 seconds minium. That’s often a long time for an animal to stay around in the open!

The animal must be doing something! A photo of a still animal may look good, but 10 seconds of video of that same animal looking like a statue is boring!

Keeping the video still is so important for most good wildlife video. A photo is shot quickly, but video is going for many seconds, so any major shake or movement will be noticed and usually distracts from the animal. Video needs a very good (expensive) and often heavy tripod. Not much fun lugging a heavy tripod (plus video gear) all day on steep slippery muddy trails in Borneo! When we go on organised birding tours, I’m usually forced to only carry my small hand-held camcorder and hope for the best.

Good Pan and tilt techniques used in video need to be mastered and a good expensive heavy tripod with a good video head are needed. It’s very hard to master constant smooth speed when panning (eg. as when animals are moving) and cheaper tripods often have what’s called bounce-back. This is when you stop your panning, but the tripod head moves back slightly (very noticeable on high magnifications).

The wind is your enemy! Generally, any windy day is not a good video day, with lots of distracting background movement, video camera shake (wind gusts will shake your camera not matter how good your tripod is!) and sound is ruined. Unfortunately, Perth is one of the windiest cities in the world! Many places and habitats are very hard to video in.

Sound, sound, sound, this is one of the most important elements of video! People always forget about sound, how many great wildlife videos have I seen on YouTube, but are ruined by someone talking all through it! Most of my videos need sound editing when I go out wildlife videoing with other people, due to people making some type of noise which the video camera always records. Since starting videography, it is amazing how many human-made sounds I have noticed out there (close your eyes and give it a go next time). You can be in a remote area, but often there’s a long distance car or train noise, a plane flying somewhere. You can add to those chainsaws, building noise, dogs barking, digital camera noises (a big one when with photographers!) and the old enemy, wind noise.

• To get good sound recordings for video, you need to carry extra sound gear out into the field or go out and get them later from somewhere else.

Editing is more time-consuming and more limited to fixing (than photography), even with expensive editing programmes. Because you are working on many frames of footage and sound, many elements may need adjusting (including splicing video segments together). Videos are much more limited to fixing than a single photo. When you are panning and following a bird from a dark forest area to suddenly a bright sunlit patch, video often can’t cope or be fixed in editing, with video it’s often what you get is what you get!

Larger storage is needed. An average one minute compressed HD video sent to Youtube is about 200 MB. To keep all raw video (most of my video folders for one day of shooting have 5 GB) and edited video, you need big computer hard-drives and lots of safe storage on external hard-drives (I also leave my original video on mini DV tapes).

These are some of the things that make wildlife videography so hard and challenging, but also the things making it so enjoyable, to be able to bring all these elements together and make a interesting wildlife video.

So next time you see a wildlife video have a look and enjoy it (maybe leave a comment), and be aware that it wasn’t easy to make.