I’m Marie Read and I’m a wildlife photographer and nature writer. And I want to share with you some of my experiences on the photographic trip I took to Australia’s Northern Territory. I heard about this place, Kakadu National Park, from some friends and from seeing other people’s photographs, and I really wanted to go there. We’d been told about various places that were good for birds and bird photography. And there was a wonderful place there [Wandering Whistling-Duck] that’s very, very well known for bird life, which is called “Yellow Water”, which is a huge wetland complex in the center of this very, very arid park. [White-bellied Sea Eagle] Full of birds. So we knew that we would likely see lots of birds gathered together [Peaceful Dove] interested in courting, and maybe some waterfowl and herons, and all kinds of wonderful things. So, some of the birds we particularly wanted to photograph in Kakadu, and particularly in this wonderful wetland, was a fabulous creature called the Comb-crested jacana. And you can see what a strangely proportioned bird this is – little tiny head, a little tiny body, and these incredibly long legs and even longer toes; these widespread toes that enable it to walk around on floating vegetation. The jacana was just bizarre and wonderful, and very colorful. One of my goals was to actually get them in motion, you know, walking along over the water lily leaves in action. This is a Black-necked stork foraging for food and that’s what it’s doing here. It’s chasing in the shallow water after what presumably is a fish or a crayfish or something that’s trying to scuttle out of its way. And it put on this great show for us running up and down with its wings opens and making a lot of splashing and then stabbing into the water with is bill and catching the prey. And here’s a flock of Magpie geese at sunrise. They have a very strange shape. They’re called Magpie geese because of their black and white, but they’re also called knob geese because of this strange knob on the top of their head. And they really don’t look anything like what we think of as a typical goose. This is one of the first birds I tried photographing. It was one of those situations where I was trying to figure out what on earth, how on earth do I go about photographing any of these birds? How can I get close to any of them? And I noticed suddenly that there was this forest kingfisher that came and sat on a perch, the same perch a couple of times in and row. And I thought, hmm, that’s a pattern of behavior, I can use that predictability to now anticipate that bird will come back. And so to be able to photograph it I basically hung out there for an hour or so, and low and behold it did come back again. And its got a katydid in its bill at this point. And I was kind of surprised to see a songbird attacking this kingfisher. I’m not quite sure why it would be – maybe the kingfisher is a threat to the songbird’s nest. But this songbird’s called a Willy wagtail, and it really does wag its tail, but instead of what we think of as a wagtail, where a bird wags its tail up and down, this one wags its tail from side to side, so it’s very strange to watch. So one of the other birds we were interested in photographing is called the Rainbow bee-eater. And bee-eaters actually do eat bees as well as other insects, and they catch them in midair up in the trees and then they’d swoop out and chase around in midair and catch insects with a snap of their bill, take them back to a perch and then they’d whack the insect on the perch and swallow it. But what was really delightful was as the day began to dwindle and it began to be dusk, several of the bee-eaters came down on the ground in the dust and they started dust bathing – shimming around in the dust to m ake the dust fluff around in their feathers. And that’s the way they clean their feathers. [Crimson Finch] So, as always when you go into a new place you never know what you’re going to get, [Orange-footed Scrubfowl] you never know what the situation’s going to be, you never know what you’re going to come away with. It was a wonderful experience and I’d love to go back there. So I felt like I’d come away with a lot of great photographs from Northern Territory, especially from Kakadu National Park. [Audio Recordings: Peter Wrege; Photographs: Marie Read]End of transcript
Ever seen a bird that gets around by walking on lily pads? Join wildlife photographer and keen observer of bird behavior Marie Read as she documents the bird life in Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory.