Australia / Bird Photography / Wildlife

Insight and advice for Bird Photography

12 Sep ’12

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Paradise Riflebird Ptiloris paradiseus Lamington National Park

It’s been, again, such a long time since my last post. I hope this one will make up for it. I’ve been out and about for quite a few weekends in the past months now. I’ve gathered some new bird images, added quite a few species to my birdlist but more than anything else I’ve again witnessed the amazing Australian birdlife. it is great to be surrounded by such a diverse bird life. within an hour of the Gold Coast whether on a boat or in the Hinterland, you can see some trully inspiring birds.

Encore une fois, je laisse bien trop de temps entre mes posts… J’ai passé pas mal de weekends en sortie ces derniers temps. J’ai pu faire pas mal de photos d’oiseaux, rajouter un bon nombre d’espèces a ma liste mais surtout continué a découvrir l’avifaune Australienne tant passionnante. C’est vraiment un régal d’etre entouré par tant d’espèces. A même pas 1heure de la Gold Coast, que ça soit dans les montagnes ou en mer on peut observer une variété d’espèces impressionnante.

Bird photography has always been of great appeal to me since I started focusing on wildlife. Most probably because they are everywhere and make good subjects to learn with. Brolgas (Grus rubicunda), part of Queensland’s coat of arms, were a great encounter. I’ve briefly seen them before but never in a context where I could stop to photograph them. Not that I had a lot of time to do it this time either but I got a few minutes. Cranes, a family that comprises brolgas, are recognised worldwide for their intricate and spectacular courtship dances. I observed the male crouching, grabbing grass in his beak and jumping around the female while throwing the grass in the air. Such a beautiful sight.

Tip: Increasing your shutter speed is a good idea to freeze the action.

J’ai toujours apprécié la photographie d’oiseaux, très certainement du au fait que c’est un sujet présent en grand nombre, a la portée de tous même dans son propre jardin. Ils sont un parfait sujet pour apprendre. Les grues Brolgas, faisant partie du code d’armes du Queensland, ont été une superbe rencontre. Je les avais déjà vu auparavant mais jamais d’occasions pour faire des images. Ici elles m’ont fait un festival, a danser, sauter dans tout les sens ce qui représente leur parade nuptiale.

Brolga courtship

Brolga courtship

Brolga courtship

Brolga courtship

The light is different from the 2nd one down since I saw different groups over several days. It was not the easiest to get the focus right on their head as it is a pretty small part of the image and they were consistently, although slowly, moving. I also spent a weekend in the Main Range National Park, defying the bad weather on the coast and it paid off with great walks and a few good images as you can see below.

La lumière est différente de la 2eme car j’ai vu différente groupe sur plusieurs jours. Ce n’est pas facile d’avoir la mise au point sur la tête vu qu’elle n’est pas très grosse. j’ai aussi passé un weekend dans le Main Range National Park défiant le mauvais temps et cela a payé. Des bonnes marches et des images correctes a la clef.

During a really windy whale survey, where whales weren’t really active, I got to see two amazing sea birds, a Indian yellow nosed albatross (Thalassarche carteri) and a Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus). The wind and swell made it hard to catch them in flight. After landing next to the boat, the petrel floated around for a little while. It is always so impressive to witness those giants glide without efforts in the wind, but it is another story when they have to take off.

Tip: Try the AI SERVO (on Canon, I think it’s AF-On on Nikon…) option for birds in flight, if you keep the button half pressed, the focus will be continually done on your subject and effectively track it. You can then press the last half to take your shots when the action happens.

Pendant une journée d’observation de baleines, ou elles n’étaient pas très présente et le vent était très très très fort on a pu observer deux espèces d’oiseaux pélagique. Un Albatros de l’océan Indien (Thalassarche carteri) et un Pétrel géant (Macronectes giganteus). C’est magique de les observer voler sans efforts dans les rafales, mais quand ils doivent décoller c’est une autre histoire…

Indian yellow nosed albatross Thalassarche carteri Southport Australia

Southern Giant Petrel in flight Southport

Bird Photography Southern Giant Petrel Southport

I spent 3 days in Noosa, the Noosa National Park was the perfect ground to test my new 300 2.8. Once again amazing bird life, amazing coastal heathland forests… Rachel, my lovely girlfriend, played the wingman and took my 40D+300 F4 to take some shots too. We stalked the variegated fairy wren for a little while and I am quite happy with the shot I got. Above the fairy wren is a Lewin’s honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii), proudly sitting in his Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata).

Tip: Including the environment gives a new perspective. Sometimes it is good to step back to include the surroundings, the image will tell a different story and give a different feel than the close-up we see most of the time in wildlife photography.

J’ai passé 3 jours a Noosa, et le Noosa National Park était l’occasion parfaite pour tester mon 300 F/2.8. Rachel, ma copine, a piqué mon 40D et mon 300 F/4 pour faire quelques images aussi. On a pu s’approcher a bonne distance de Mérions de Lambert (2eme image en dessous, la 1ere est un Méliphage de lewins).

And to finish, we did a half day hike at Oreillys with friends last weekend. The f2.8 is invaluable in such environments, dense closed canopy rainforests and twigs and branches everywhere. You quickly forget the weight of the beast and just enjoy the fact that for once, you are well exposed (and not under-exposed) at 3200 isos. I took 99% of my shots at 3200isos that day and as usual I am pleased with 7D’s performance on this ground.

Tip: In dark (i.e. rainforest environment) using higher isos increase your chances of getting a steady shot (by enabling you to have a higher shutter speed). Most of the new cameras can handle high isos quite well and I feel like a sharp shot with higher isos is better than a blurry one at lower isos!

Et pour terminer, on a fait une demie journée de randonnée dans le Lamington National park. La grande ouverture est vraiment un plus dans la foret tropicale ou la lumière est vraiment faible. 3200 isos et F/2.8 seront le moto de la journée et je suis bien content du résultat.

Those king parrots (Alisterus scapularis) where really inquisitive, at that time we were deep in our hike (Box forest circuit) and focused on locating Green Catbirds (Ailuroedus crassirostris) who we could hear but they were to far in the canopy to be a potential subjects.

Ces perruches royales (Alisterus scapularis) ont été tres curieuse. A ce moment de la randonée on était au find fond de la foret dans le Box FOrest Circuit a essayer d’avoir une bonne vue de Jardinier vert.

It is really easy to attract Eastern yellow robins (Eopsaltria australis) like the one below when you know how to whistle properly. My friend Matt was doing such a great job that I thought the little one was going to land on the lens hood.

Tip: We are blessed with a  high bird diversity in Australia and in places that are not too far from cities. Make most of it to practice because practice is key.

Bird Photography Eastern Yellow Robin

One of the highlights of that day was getting a quick glimpse of a Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus) and being able to get a few photos. It was a juvenile female and although she is not as spectacular as the male with his irridescent feathers, it was a superb encounter. I would love to be able to photograph the male’s coursthip behaviour one day.

Un des point forts de la journée fut l’observation de paradisier festonné (Ptiloris paradiseus). Il s’agissait d’une femelle juvénile. le plumage n’est pas aussi spectaculaire que le mâle mais ce fut vraiment une de mes observations favorites de l’année 2012.

Paradise Riflebird Ptiloris paradiseus Lamington National Park

I photographed a few more species that day such as wonga pigeons, logrunners, a really tame satin bowerbird around the guest house, etc… The big one missing is the Albert’s Lyrebird! I am going back there soon to try and spend more (and earlier) time in the forest in the hope of seeing, and if i am lucky, photographing one.



I am a nature photographer specialising in wildlife photography. I have a special passion for this type of photography which comes from my background as an ecologist & conservation biologist.

Comments (10)

  • September 12, 2012 by Sarah Shark

    Sarah Shark

    Absolutely amazing stuff Nico!

  • September 13, 2012 by Donna Treby

    Donna Treby

    Beautiful as always Nico!

  • September 15, 2012 by Hugh Scarlett

    Hugh Scarlett

    Beautiful work, maybe you need to visit and watch the tree beside my home, I think you will be truly amazed at the life inhabiting it, its 200+ yrs old. Give Sarah a call for my number.

  • September 24, 2012 by Maanav


    Brilliant shots, canonbaba!!

  • Pingback: Bird photography – when you’re good, you’re good. –

  • October 1, 2012 by kat


    love the yellow robin, and the riflebird is special! i have never seen one! 🙂

  • October 1, 2012 by James Webley

    James Webley

    My favourite’s the variegated fairy wren..but of course they’re all fantastic. You must have fast reaction times Nico.

  • December 22, 2012 by Béa


    Belle série 🙂 La troisième m’a vraiment fait rire : le dépit(é) amoureux ^^ Bonne continuation et comme dit le dicton, vaut mieux tard que jamais…!

  • March 10, 2015 by Jane Hall

    Jane Hall

    Thank you for sharing Nico. Very motivating.

    • November 7, 2015 by Nicolas Rakotopare

      Nicolas Rakotopare

      Thank you 🙂

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