One of the nicer small birds around North Sydney’s reserves is the Red-browed Firetail or Red-browed Finch (Emblema temporalis or Neochmia temporalis or Aegintha temporalis depending on the bird-book you favour). Whatever you choose to call it, an adult bird looks like this:
The small bird flitting through the thickets of our Murraya hedge was not one I had seen before, at least in our garden. I got my camera, hoping for an opportunity to photograph it. I stayed inside the house so I wouldn’t spook the bird, and waited. And waited. The bird flitted rapidly from spot to spot, usually in the dark thickets of the hedge, never keeping still long enough to let me aim the camera, let alone focus properly. After several minutes, I was losing hope. This was the best shot I had managed to get so far (the bird is the orange blur in the middle of the frame):
And then it broke cover to pause on our antique water pump, allowing me to get a couple of shots. The second of these caught a classic fan pose. It was a young Rufous Fantail (Ripidura rufifrons), the first one I had seen. Shortly afterwards the bird flitted off, leaving me free to check on fantail facts.
A couple of days ago I was at Olympic Park, and saw several darters amongst the cormorants on Lake Belvedere. I’ve seen darters in North Sydney, too, but the local ones are usually less easy to photograph.
Australasian Darters (Anhinga novaehollandae) look like a cross between a heron and a cormorant, but resemble the closely related cormorants in their habits. The males are black and handsomely marked, like this one pretending not to notice the bin chicken (ibis):
The female’s neck and head are paler, and creamy-white underneath, like this one drying her wings: