Our daughter Anne is down from Auckland visiting with Eddie, her Border Terrier. She and Eddie are great walkers, and for my sins I get dragged along. The afternoon started with Iris, Anne & I plus Eddie and our own two Borders … a real procession … doing my rat trapping round.
This is a local environmental protection project managed by SIRCET. And although we can never hope to eradicate rats from the village, it certainly does appear as if we are keeping numbers down, to the benifit of local bird life and the local flora.
Some years ago Anne spent almost 3 years in the UK, and did remark on her return how much better the bird life appeared. Less obvious to us, as the improvement is quite gradual. Again for anyone wishing to understand more about the potential for animal eradication on Stewart Island I can really reccommend reading a paper by Brent Bevan, Dept of Conservation Biosecurity Officer.
After the rat round.. we got three, all Rattus rattus…. I took Anne and the three Borders over to Lee Bay to give the dogs a run on the beach. And what all this is leading up to was a couple of fantails playing above the road, and I had my camera for once.
Fantails are really difficult to photograph. A bit like the Rifleman they have the avian equivalent of ADHD syndrome. Never sit still, and even while perched they are continuously hopping about through 180/270 deg. And of course when flying they use their huge tail to flit about chasing insects.
The small flock I found were quite close, but as it was a dull day my camera had issues with exposure and shutter speed. But on the upside has a very good burst rate. I tend to just “keep the finger on the button” and will do a sequence of 15 to 20 frames over 3 or 4 seconds before the buffer fills. Using a high speed card helps enormously. A slower card
would probably limit a burst to perhaps 5 to 8 shots. Add in a stabilised lens and out of the 50 or 60 photos I took, actually managed to “keep” around 5 good images. The flock I found were all “pied”. The all black morph is much harder to find, although there is at least one living around Observation Rock. But as usual when I do see that one it’s sans camera. A couple of years ago I came across a pair with a juvenile… all black. I had never seen a black pair, let alone a trio and have heard the ration pied:black is someting like 40:1. Interestingly there doesn’t seem to any half pied birds. The “pied” are pied and the blacks are totally black, not a sign of a white feather.
And of course spring is here…. and it’s raining.