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Old Feb 12, 2011, 3:22 AM   #1
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Default [pics] Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

After my morning visit to my neighbour’s garden, I ventured down to the nearby Lillydale Lake. This man-made lake & wetlands is a nice local spot for many water birds, as well as numerous Superb Fairy-wrens & Thornbills.

I was stalking a couple of pairs of Superb Fairy-wrens in a secluded, heavily treed part of the park when I heard the unmistakable wailing of a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo close by. The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo has been high on my ‘must-photograph’ list since I started taking an interest in bird photography. I could hardly contain my sense of excitement & nervousness as I moved as quickly & quietly towards the source of the call. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I first spotted a female cockatoo! The female was busy tearing bark from a broken tree branch. As I began to creep closer to try & get a shot of her, a wailing ‘kee-aaah’ alarm call was sounded from a nearby tree! It was a male cockatoo that I didn’t notice at first, perched in a nearby tree as a look out, alerting his mate that I was closing in! My excitement quickly turned to despair as the pair took flight before I could even release my shutter!! Frantically, I began running through the bush, desperately trying to see where the birds had gone..

Imagine my delight when I watched them land in a not-too distant tree! I made my way toward them, slowly & as quietly as I possibly could. They had landed on a tree just on the other side of a creek that was separating us. This would turn out to be a blessing in disguise as this barrier between us seemed to give the cockatoos a sense of security. I managed to position myself just behind a large tree on the opposite side of the creek to where they were situated, & slowly moved my camera & lens into a position to get some shots.

Again the male was perched acting as a look out while his companion began tearing bark from a limb of the tree. I fired a number of shots of both of the birds, but they all turned out to be quite dark, as the cockatoos had quite a strong backlight. I was absolutely determined to get a keeper of this magnificent bird, so I tried firing the onboard flash. I wasn’t convinced this would work, due to the range I was firing over, but low & behold it actually worked! I was rapt when the beautiful yellow colouring of the male cockatoo could be seen clearly on the screen of my camera. At this point I will point out that I had yet to start experimenting with Exposure Compensation, which I now don’t understand how I ever lived without! It was also after this experience that I decided that I would start saving my pennies to purchase an external flash & Better Beamer, or Flash Extender.

This photograph is the ever-watchful male keeping a close eye on me. The male is most easily identified by the pink eye-ring. The female has a grey eye-ring, as well as a larger yellow cheek-patch.

August 20th, 2010
Lillydale Lake, Lilydale, Victoria, Australia
Olympus E620
Zuiko 50-200mm SWD lens
EC14 Teleconverter

http://pixelatedempire.com/2011/01/y...lack-cockatoo/




Determined to make the most of my opportunity with this pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (& after my backlighting challenges in my previous location), I decided to try & get into a more favourable position. This meant crossing the creek & approaching the cockatoos from behind. So I backed away from my current position & traveled a couple hundred metres down the creek until I found a stable enough place to cross.

As I approached the pair, which were still in the same tree as before, the male again let of an alarm call. I stopped dead in my tracks & dropped to my knees in attempt to signify that I was of no threat. I quickly snapped a few shots while I was stationary just in case they took flight. Thankfully, after a minute or so, the male then resumed chewing into the branch of the tree on which he was perched. You can imagine how powerful these birds bills are, just look at the damage to that branch!

http://pixelatedempire.com/2011/01/y...ck-cockatoo-2/



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Old Feb 13, 2011, 7:51 PM   #2
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While technically not the cleanest photo, I was pretty stoked to capture this feeding behaviour on my camera’s sensor. Note I actually didn’t use the flash for this shot as the sun had peeked out from behind the clouds for a few seconds. The male cockatoo’s efforts in stripping the bark & chewing into the branch was rewarded with a big, fat, white larvae! These grubs are the larvae of wood-boring beetles, & are one of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos favourite foods.

August 20th, 2010
Lillydale Lake, Lilydale, Victoria, Australia
Olympus E620
Zuiko 50-200mm SWD lens
EC14 Teleconverter

http://pixelatedempire.com/2011/01/y...ck-cockatoo-3/




Once the male Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo had finished devouring his well-earned larvae, he was quick to climb to a higher vantage point to keep an eye out on me while his mate continued searching for her own feed. The male took watch from a broken limb that had no other branches or foliage around it – ‘The Watch Tower’ as I call it – his towering presence a warning in itself that my movements were under constant surveillance.

http://pixelatedempire.com/2011/01/y...ck-cockatoo-4/



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