A walk down the beach is about my favourite form of exercise, one I’m privileged to be able to indulge regularly. These days, I always have my camera by my side, ready for a photo opportunity. But this day was… well, I have to say it, ordinary. Grey and dull, with small waves chopping up the surface. The wildlife seemed to have stayed in bed, even the seagulls and terns which regularly patrol the shallows. The thing is, though, you never can tell what may arise. Many’s the day when I thought ho hum – and then something magical occurred.
On the way back, I spotted one of my regular photographic subjects, a Brahmani kite, perched in a conifer. There he is at left. It was a different environment from their usual haunts and these majestic birds are always worth a photo, so I approached, camera ready. I took two shots, then Pete called out “look behind you” at the same time that I heard whistles from the trees beside me. The kites had a nest and the second parent bird was bringing in a fish to the nestling, a few handspans above my head. Oh, wow. I spun around, firing shots. One, two, three… bloody hell. The camera refused to work! The second bird took off, joining its mate as they circled down to the (invisible) nest. Bugger bugger bugger. The camera’s battery was flat. (Insert a string of profanities of your choice)
Birds grow very quickly and this young Brahmani kite was no exception. On our next visit, two days later, we saw him launch from the nest, chased by an irate blue-faced honeyeater. The parent bird had landed on rocks exposed at low tide and waited for the youngster to make its way out there.
As you can see, the young bird’s plumage is very different to the elegant mature bird – but it would have been camouflaged in the nest.
And the moral of this story is… patience is a virtue. And make sure your battery’s charged before you go out.