“The photo I was going for of the perfect dive, flawlessly straight, with no splash required not only me to be in the right place and get a very lucky shot but also for the bird itself to get it perfect.”
“I would often go and take 600 pictures in a session and not a single one of them be any good.”
“I never really stopped to think about how long it was taking along the way as I enjoyed doing it but now I look back on it I’m really proud of the picture and the work I put in.”
“I remember my grandfather taking me to see the kingfisher nest and I just remember being completely blown away by how magnificent the birds are.”
Chris Filardi is director of Pacific Programs at the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. This month, he’s blogging from the remote highlands of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, where he is surveying endemic biodiversity and working with local partners to create a protected area. He writes, “In the western Pacific, first among these ghost species is the moustached kingfisher (currently classified as Actenoides bougainvillei excelsus), a bird I have sought for nearly 20 years. Described by two female specimens brought to collectors by local hunters in the 1920s, the bird has only been glimpsed in the wild once. Scientists have never observed a male. Its voice and habits are poorly known. Given its history of eluding detection, realistic hopes of finding the bird were slim.
Until on our third morning we heard an unmistakable “ko-ko-ko-kokokokokokokoko-kiew” of a bird that could only be a large forest kingfisher. We paused, waited for what seemed like eternity, and then heard another cry from the mossy forest. It had to be the bird.
Within moments our eyes caught movement: a large shadow of wings and a thick body abruptly stopped in a tangle. Our recordist Frank Lambert saw the bird first and called me over. There in plain sight pumping its tail, crest alert, in full colors, was the moustached kingfisher. And then, like a ghost, it was gone.”
The Blue-winged Kookaburra is a large species of kingfisher native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea. It is sexually dimorphic, with a blue tail in the male, and a rufous tail with blackish bars in the female. The Blue-winged Kookaburra hunts and eats a great variety of animals that live on or close to the ground. In the summer wet season, insects, lizards and frogs make up a higher proportion of their diet, while they eat arthropods such as crayfish, scorpions, spiders, fish, earthworms, small birds and rodents at other times.They have even been recorded waiting for and snatching insects flushed out by bushfires. The Blue-winged Kookaburra is a cooperative breeder, a group being made up of a breeding pair and one or more helper birds who help raise the young.
Today the Department of Extraordinary Upcycling is enjoying the marvelous scrap metal sculptures of Llanarth, Wales-based artist John Brown. Drawing inspiration from his lifelong love of wild animals, Brown welds together salvaged materials including bicycle parts, cutlery, keys, nails and bolts, to create animals and insect sculptures in wonderfully lifelike poses. Sculptures of colorful animals such as butterflies and birds are completed with delicate oil painting on their wings and feathers.
Visit John Brown’s Etsy shop, Green Hand Sculpture, to check out more of his beautiful recycled creatures.
The Kingfisher has the
poise of an Olympic diver. The bird dives in the blink of an eye, snatching its
prey and flying away in a blur. Alan McFadyen recently captured a kingfisher’s
riveting dive in a gorgeous photo that shows the bird the moment before it nabs
a fish, its body reflected as a mirror image in the water’s surface. McFadyen
estimates it took some 4,200 hours and 720,000 exposures.
Read more about the
perfect photo, 720,000 pictures in the making.
Today the Department of Teeny-weeny Wonders is catching up with the exquisite embroidery by Oxford-based illustrator Chloe Giordano (previously featured here). Working freehand on an incredibly tiny scale, she treats different colors of thread like color pencils, layering them to create beautifully shaded illustrations of tiny animals and even constellations made of textiles instead of pigment.