It was nearing 5:00pm in what has been a long but rewarding day spent exploring within the Fitzgerald River National Park, WA.
Having not seen another car in the park since leaving Point Anne an hour or two earlier, we were driving along one of the parks backroads on our way back to our camp site at Bremer Bay. Our map coordinates of 34°12’38.72″S 119°20’7.92″E we had just rounded a left turn at a t-junction in the middle of nowhere on one of the parks north-western boundaries. and started gently accelerating up a steep’ish incline when we saw too our right, a cluster of possibly Eucalyptus Lavida (Native to WA), approx 4-5M in height …and we could hardly believe our eyes as to what was perched atop of them.
Balancing on the new growth were perhaps 20-25 endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo’sfeeding – most likely having their final feed before nightfall. By the time we fully realised this and managed to pull the D4 up on the heavily corrugated road, we had driven approximately 100 or so metres past them. As we came to a stop, I could see in my sideview mirror our passing had spooked at least a half/two-thirds of them away and were all but out of sight …but still hear their highly distinct far-carrying squealing in the distance.
We quietly hopped out to gaze back at what numbers remained and to see if they too would fly off. Half dozen or so were peering back at us. A shy bird by nature and too our surprise didn’t fly off and kept on feeding whilst keeping one eye on us.
I quickly grabbed the camera, changed lenses to the 90mm Elmarit f2.0 lens (the longest focal length lens I took on this trip), took a few paces towards them, stopped, and fired off a couple of frames at first.
This was the 1st frame …all attentively watching me.
I then slowly eased a little closer towards their tree but veered slightly more down the centre of the road so to appear i’m not walking directly at them – the whole time holding the camera up to my eye and every 20-odd metres taking another frame.
The 2nd frame…
To my astonishment, after 80-100M, they are still not too concerned in what I was doing and probably because of the thunderstorm we had earlier in the day, very little sound was coming from under foot when walking. It was strange, I fully expected them to take flight well before getting this close.
The 3rd frame and some now appear to be not even watching me…
I was well & truly muttering quietly to myself by this stage that is not suppose to happen – not like in this anyway. I can’t believe they are still there.
I stop once again and take a 4th frame and now they start to appear to be uneasy with my presence and pretty much stop feeding altogether and stare down at me…
I am now almost at the base of their eucalypt and looking directly up at them trying not to make any sharp sounds or sudden movements that may spook them. The whole time still peering through the viewfinder whilst continually adjusting the focus (manual focus camera) should they take flight at any moment.
And they finally do…
In a big combined shriek, a pair head left and two other pairs flew straight in a line across my field of view and I fired off a 5th and 6th frame, with the 6th frame resulting as the feature image of this blog.
***This image is the 6th frame which is not a time-lapse image which I know it could be mistaken for. These birds are two pairs with a 5th mate still in the tree at 6 o’clock on the image which was taken as a single frame as they all take flight. Update: This image has been ‘shortlisted’ in the 2016 Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the year award to be announced in September.
Several seconds later as I’m standing and watching them disappear out over the park and out of sight and ear shot …just as quickly as we found them …they’re now gone.
I stood in the middle of the road for a moment kicking a few small stones around at my feet and reflecting on what had just happened not wanting to take a look at the frames I took in case I had stuffed something up, often focus.
Did I get any of them well enough, are any in sharp focus, was the compact flash card reformatted …all these types of thoughts.
I then turn around and look back up the hill to see Celia and the boys smiling back at me like “Cheshire Cats” not knowing themselves if I have taken a single frame, many, or none at all. It must have been funny and amusing to watch from a distance an unusual and privileged event such as this …and one I personally will remember for a long time.
I jog back up to the car and I finally take a peek at the last frame (as is 1st when you play them back), and without looking with my glasses on, hand the camera straight to Celia with the image showing. After a couple of moments gazing into the screen, she looks back at me with “that smile” she often shows.
I apologise if all of this sounds somewhat contrived or dramatic. However these were the events of how things panned out. Rather than post a random shot or two of the Carnaby’s within a general trip log like we often have done, because of the special occasion, Celia and I thought we would re-live the story behind the picture(s) and hopefully by doing so place you in the scene as well?
All comments and questions very welcome!!!
May the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo live on strong, long and prosper and hopefully at some time in my lifetime be removed for ever off the endangered list.