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Tawny Frogmouth

Discussion in 'Birds' started by PJohnP, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    When I've visited Australia, especially Tasmania, I had wanted to see a particular bird, the tawny frogmouth. Masters of disguise in trees, nocturnal in nature, I didn't see one. And I looked every night quite diligently, but in vain.

    But today, shooting at the Tracy Aviary again, I had a quick last minute opportunity with a tawny frogmouth, but in an area that was nearly dark. I quickly pulled out my 85mm f/1.4, and then tried to shoot a few "frames" handheld. No flash, of course, as this would have been cruel to the bird. I should have thought faster and upped the ISO, but time was fleeting (and madness takes its toll). And getting the focus... well, it wasn't straightforward.

    And this was one of the results...

    D100, 85mm f/1.4, ISO200, 1/10s, f/1.4, uncropped, processed in NC

    Perhaps not perfect, but finally, finally, I did get to see a bird that I'd wanted to see for decades.

    Always shoot.

    John P.
  2. 1/10s f1.4 handheld?? Fantastic!

    That lens is currently on my wish list, but alas it's likely to stay there for a while yet.

    Very interesting looking bird -- never heard of it before. Those eyes definitely look like they belong to a nocturnal animal, though.

    Thanks for posting!
  3. That is the most unsual little bird I have ever seen. Looks like a cross between and owl and a sparrow. Nice capture!! :D  :D  :D  :D 
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    David :

    My hands don't always work so well with arthritis, but they're passably steady. Most of the time, at least.

    The lens is everything it's cracked up to be. I don't regret getting it for the slightest instant.

    Frogmouths are related to nightjars, not owls. They have different talons, and their beaks are different. Neat critters.

    John P.
  5. Hi John, very nice image taken with a great lens. I am going to have to stop by Tracy Aviary one of these first days.
  6. NeilCam


    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Great shot John.

    Tawny Frogmouths are fascinating birds. I used to work with a vet and we had one we'd raised that used to sit out on a log on the front counter. As camouflage they'll sit dead still looking like a branch for hours. You can see from their coloration how effective this could be. It would freak the clients out when George (the bird) would suddenly move. They hadn't even noticed him there.

    Used to piss me off no end when George would decide he wanted to visit the neighbourhood and fly out the door. I'd have to go knock on someone's door so I could go up and bring him down off their balcony. Fortunately, he was quite content and didn't wander too often.

    George got to be quite famous and one day, he even got to be on TV. It was a kid's show and my girlfriend of the time (who was the nurse at the vets) was giving a talk on him. At the very end of the segment George decided to fly up into the lighting gantries. Greatttttttt. At the end of the segment they cut to cartoons and Anita and I spent the next 15 minutes calling for George to come down. Fortunately, he got bored and came back down to land at my feet and just looked at me innocently and waited to be picked up. Lucky he didn't fry himself on the lights.

    We dealt with a lot of raptors and so had a mouse breeding program going to feed them. George would get his morning and afternoon mice. We'd stun/kill 'em and he'd open his mouth to have them dropped in and then just swallow them. Regurgitate the pellets later.

    The wild ones we had in to treat (they get hit by cars a lot) were fearsome. We'd keep our fingers well away as that wide mouth packs some serious strength.

    Sorry for the rambling stories, but they're really fun birds! Glad you finally got to shoot one. All my shots of them are on film and weren't that good to begin with. :) 

  7. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Neil :

    Thanks for the kind words.

    You're right, they're neat birds. I'd read about them years back, and then wanted to see one. That mouth is, as you note, pretty fearsome. They also have some stiff whiskers around the mouth that don't get justice in this photo.

    The lighting in this was really really tricky. The building had some fluorescent lights a distance away, but the cage area was shielded from those, so the overall light level was similar to about a half hour after sunset (but not in colour of course). The red tones in the background are from a heat lamp used to warm another area !

    If I'd planned this, I'd have upped the ISO to 400, and also taken a bit more time to get the shots set up. The "closeups" I took suffer from a very shallow DOF (no surprise there, eh?), and focus wasn't good a few others.

    But it was great fun, nonetheless. I'm very lucky and privileged to be able to take these shots.

    John P.
  8. John:

    Not bad for an old guy.

  9. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gil :

    Oh, we're going to go down that street, eh ? Hmmm... I'll have to look through through my photos from the December session to determine other means to address this... {evil cackle}

    Oh, wait ! I don't have any photos like that. I guess I'll have to create some.

    John "Dr. Evil was a rank amateur" P.
  10. John:

    I was just responding to an ailment you mentioned in one of your replies. But, you are not alone. Just got back from NYC and I feel like s---. To much walking and sightseeing in three days wore me out. Now back at work and at least I can get some sleep there. hope to post some pics soon, but still traveling: Boston this week, Charleston the week after and San Diego after that.

  11. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gil :

    Heh. Know what you mean about running around - I'm in the middle of more than a month of travel. I got home Saturday at mid-day, washed clothes, paid bills, and was out the door at 0700h the next morning. I'm in SLC this week, then off to Wisconsin. It's a bit of a grind, but I've at least been able to get out for about a half-hour or so each weekday and shoot (even a couple of hours yesterday), albeit with that danged pain in the hands sometimes.

    But I'm not old. Yet. {chuckle}

    I'll be looking forward to your photos, especially San Diego.

    John P.
  12. John, that looks like a fairly young bird, do you know if it was? Very nice shot.

    If you ever get a chance, get up the East Coast of Australia to Port Roberts. At the entrance to the town is a Wild Life Habitat and one of the things you can do is "breakfast with the birds". Quite a treat to be sitting in a room full of tables, food and birds dining right alongside you. One of the real attractions is the quite friendly Tawny Frogmouth that was there. Unfortunately, I was not "digitally equipped" at the time, so now I have to figure out a way to get our behinds back Down Under again.

    Absolutely gorgeous birds. In Tasmainia, did you get down to Port Arthur to do the Ghost Tour through the old prison? Quite unique.....
  13. now that is a interesting looking bird, great capture and so sharp under those conditions.
  14. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I like to use the "old is my age plus fifteen" rule.
  15. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Well, I am old, and I sometimes feel it too. :? Guess I shouldn't complain though as the alternative is much less interesting to me. 8)

    Nice shot of an unusual bird John. I really enjoyed all of the discussions in this thread on this species. Very interesting. :wink:


  16. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Bill :

    No idea about the bird's age, offhand. I'll check if I can get some data.

    Never made it to Port Roberts. Sounds interesting.

    I did go to Port Arthur. Taz is a fascinating location, and I especially liked Cradle Mountain area, although Stachan was also fun.

    John P.
  17. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Mike :

    Thanks for the kind words.

    It's very much a learning experience to shoot like that. The distance between us was short, the DOF shallow, and the autofocus function limited.

    And it is a rather interesting bird, eh ?

    John P.
  18. Very nice

    Great subject and capture (especially when rushing). Very cute bird.

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