Golden shouldered parrot
Mature male golden-shouldered parrot – ©Tony Neilson

Six years to get one perfect shot

Maybe you’ve heard the one about the first-time visitor to New York struggling to find Carnegie Hall?

Seeing a woman carrying a cello, he approached her. “Excuse me, he said, “but can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”

“Sure,” said the woman, “practice, practice and more practice.”

To be a good bird photographer you certainly need plenty of practice. But to be really, really good you also need luck, skill, a good ‘eye’ and, above all, dedication – bordering on madness!

The perfect shot

The most extraordinary example of commitment to ‘the perfect shot’ that I know of is that of Scottish wildlife photographer, Alan McFadyen. He spent six years and shot 720,000 frames getting the perfect, flawlessly straight pic of a diving kingfisher at the very point its beak touches the water.

At my own modest level, there are many such frustratingly elusive quintessential compositions. One is the iconic mature male golden-shouldered parrot (GSP), standing sentinel atop his termite mound nest.

Immature golden-shouldered parrot
Young male golden-shouldered parrot on termite mound – ©Tony Neilson

Numerous trips to remote areas where small populations of these seriously endangered birds exist have produced many sightings and some good studies . . . on the ground, in trees and flying. But when it comes to the brilliantly coloured male perched proudly on the termite mound – zippo!

The first to know

I’m not sure if my quest for perfection will match that of Mr McFadyen, but I will be back up Cape York next breeding season, and if successful, you will be the first to know.

Footnote: I’m reliably informed that in cases where an immature male GSP takes over from a dead mature male during nesting (which happens all too often it seems), the ‘replacement’ is not allowed to enter the nest. He feeds the female and she takes the food into the chicks until such time as he sires his own brood. (An lesson for the human race perhaps?)





©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.


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