The pleasure of peewees

nature shorts colour

I’m an average nature photographer. I don’t use manual mode and have just started to using aperture priority/f-stops (AV mode) to control depth-of-field. 70% of the time I still use Auto or P (ISO only control) settings on my Canon 100d.

I don’t own amazing equipment. I don’t have a dedicated macro lens, but with my Canon 18-55mm lens I can take decent close-ups. I don’t have a serious bird photography lens but if I’m close enough and the lighting good I can take a reasonable shot with my Sigma 18-250mm.

I don’t travel a lot (maybe one day) – many of my photos are taken in my local area and in most cases very local (my backyard).

In other words, I won’t win any photography competitions. There will always be those with better equipment, greater expertise and more exciting subjects.

But that’s fine because that is not why I take photos. I take photos to

Practice patience

To be observant

To learn about the natural world.

It once took me twenty shots and half an hour to get two decent shots of yellow robins as a family of these tiny birds flitted amongst the sheoaks (Warning! Nature photographers can be very boring company on outings). During this time of intense observation I was totally lost in the robin’s world. It was pure escapism. Environments, even familiar ones, take on a much more complex and exotic nature when I think like a nature photographer. Appreciation and quiet joy go hand in hand with close observation.

The fun part doesn’t end with taking the photo – at the end of the day I go to my computer and books. I identify and learn about the flora and fauna captured on my sd card.

I didn’t expect to learn anything about the pee wees I snapped in the backyard. After all peewees – also called magpie-larks or mudlarks (Grallina cyanoleuca) are one of Australia’s most common and unassuming birds. My bird book shows that they have an impressive range over the whole of Australia excepting an area of Western Australian desert. My only real thoughts on peewees were that they have a perchance for pecking at their reflection in shiny surfaces. That night my research revealed I had snapped a male and female pair. It turns out that male and female pee-wees have different plumage patterns. All my life I’d been looking at pee-wees and hadn’t realised this. The pleasure of finding facts like this, that will stay with me forever, is the reason I take nature photos.

Females : Females have a white throat and white face (around beak). From side view you can see they have an unbroken strip of white extending from chest up the neck to head.

Males: Black throat and black face with white ‘eyebrow’. *

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Female Peewee

 

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Male Peewee

  • I think of an old man with whitish eyebrows – such as an Albert Einstein – like figure or one of the grumpy old men on the muppets to help me remember this feature belongs to the male.

 

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