Jim Thomson | Kayak, cockatoos, corellas and a harrier

Over the last month my subjects have been varied ... Sacred Kingfishers, Rainbow Bee Eaters, and Pardalotes, so it was time for a change.

Out came the Kayak for a paddle up the Hunter River. I started a few kilometres north of Maitland and the river was flat and calm making paddling easy.

There was a bit of fog as I moved off upstream in the early light, at first I was not seeing much wildlife.

When the sun appeared I heard some birds before they came into view – Red-tailed Cockatoos.

I slowly moved upstream into a position to get some shots of this magnificent bird, and was ready when they came past. I was able to get some nice flight shots. 

Black Cockatoos are often seen in large flocks, though you will also see them in pairs and trios. It is an active, noisy bird which means you often hear their distinctive screeching call before you actually see them. It’s good for photographers as it means you can get ready for the shot.

They moved off and so did I, but there wasn’t much to get excited about for a while.

I decided to pull in under a tree for a break and was rewarded when a few minutes later the pick of the day, a Spotted Harrier, glided past low to the ground hunting. I had to be quick – I could have been in a better position and I could have been closer – but with no time I did the best I could.

A few minutes later the pick of the day, a Spotted Harrier, glided past low to the ground, hunting. I had to be quick.

It was all over in a matter of seconds, but bingo! I got the shots.

Harriers will glide and soar, on the lookout for small birds and mammals on the ground, and then dive or drop onto their quarry. To spot one low down was a bonus.

Time for some tucker, quite pleased with my efforts.

I continued upstream but the river was getting narrow in places, so it was time to turn back. Fortunately there were plenty of birds along the banks to keep my attention, especially Bee Eaters.

I have taken lots of shots of them recently so I continued on until I came on a pair of Corellas , either inspecting a nest site of checking on chicks – it was hard to tell because it was high up in a tree. 

I managed a number of shots all the same – nothing spectacular but decent enough.  What a great day.  

This story Kayak, cockatoo and harrier first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.