Esther Beaton


Victoria’s Coast and Photo Tip: Charming the Birds

There are some great bird photography locations in Victoria, but during my January trip the drought was playing havoc, with days of unexpected rain, paralytic heat, and dust storms.

But even with a little persistence, even in the worst of weather you can still find a few plucky birds.

Focusing back and forth between an adult and a juvenile Pacific Gull, resting on the dark tidal flats of Western Port Bay, Victoria
I focused back and forth between an adult and a juvenile Pacific Gull, resting on the other dark tidal flats of Western Port Bay, Victoria

The scenery along the shores of Western Port Bay, might not be as attractive as other parts of the Victorian coast but it certainly is tantalising to shore birds. The dark, rocky tidepools and outcrops hold feasts of crabs, shellfish and worms for the oystercatchers, terns and huge gulls.

Even the quaint little townships held surprises, like the cemetery at Corinella. I thought to myself while strolling among the quiet, overgrown graves, “there should be some good parrots here” and moments later, an elegant parrot flew over to check me out.

Now here’s a good PHOTO TIP, one that’s worked for me over and over: USE YOUR GUT.

elegant parrot, western port bay, Victoria
A nice elegant parrot, but I asked her for a profile view. She obliged and that’s the main photo.

Although the elegant parrot flew away before I could get a shot, I just “knew” it would be back. I continued walking around, searching for what would make a nice backdrop. The bird did come back, posed on a limb, and I grabbed a few frames before it flew away again. 

But I wanted more. So I talked to the “spirit of the bird”, explained what I was doing, that I would cause no harm and only intended to make it more beautiful. She came back again, and this time I had plenty of time to position the background just as I wanted it – no gaps of sky in the foliage and lots of colour. As the parrot watched me, I kept communicating how I wanted her to pose, and asked her several times to lift her head, turn it sideways, and so on. 

Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans) Corinella Cemetery, Western Port Bay, Victoria
An Elegant Parrot (Neophema elegans) against an elegant background, the result of our “communication”. Corinella Cemetery, Western Port Bay, Victoria

When I was finished, I thanked her heartfully and moved away quietly.

Dr Doolittle, St Francis of Assisi, James Herriot, they all knew how to chat with the animals.

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