May 6, 2010
This morning I finally photographed a male Mistletoe bird, Dicaeum hirundinaceum. Now while not uncommon in certain areas, such as within the grounds of Fraser Island’s Kingfisher Bay Resort, what makes them a difficult subject is that they are so busy.These tiny birds, only 10-11cm, have a brilliant scarlet throat and under-tail that catches not only the sun but also the eye of any avid bird watcher. Well, the boys do. Mistletoe birds are known to show marked “sexual dimorphism”. What this means is that the males get to be flamboyant in their colourings while the females are far less glam.
Early morning insects have them snapping their beaks as they dart swallow like in flight, fluttering and calling to their mates in the bush surrounding the resort. They have sharp little voices but a choice of calls including a high double note and a warble.
We had joined Ivor Davies, Group General Manager of King Fisher Bay Resort for a bit of bird spotting. Ivor is a keen twitcher and knows his bird ‘stuff’. Indeed, he’s just returned from a trip to the Red Centre where he added a further 10 birds to his personal ‘spotters’ list.
He not only tells, but also acts out the performance of the Mistletoe bird, a canopy bird, passing the digested mistletoe and how it ever so gently wipes itself along the branch three times, only three, bobbing between each wipe. It’s a rather elegant performance for the six foot three man. The wealth of information on birds acquired not only on Fraser Island but across the world over the years flows eagerly.
It’s a top spot for those who would like to try their hand or those that are already accomplished in bird photography with the abundance and variety of birds around the resort.
With canopy birds another challenge photographing them, aside from their quick movement, can be blow outs of highlights particularly in the areas containing leaves, clouds, and sky.
Exposure is critical as is accurate focus (continuous focus here will only frustrate you). I also find a polariser a great advantage.
I only had a few regrets: that I didn’t have longer day, an extra day or had discovered it sooner, and I wished I’d stopped and put on my x2 converter.
Bird Week, now in its ninth year kicks off on the 8th May till the 15th. Birdos from around the world meet at King Fisher Bay Resort and try to spot and record some of the 354 species found across the world’s largest sand island. A highlight of the week is tours of one of the RAMSAR listed wetlands and various presentations.
Also of interest to many will be the Bluedog-Kingfisher Bay Resort Fraser Island Photography Tours. An ever popular tour where we showcase the best that Fraser Island and Kingfisher Bay Resort has to offer while concentrating on the photographic skills that go along with such a great adventure. Click for more information on this fabulous tour.
King Fisher Bay Resort
Tel: 07 4120 3333
Tollfree: 1800 072 555
Male Mistletoe Bird, Fraser Island
Image by Danielle Lancaster