Nature Stuff

Cute Stuff

Okay, time out for a bit of fun. These critters sure look cute when they’re little. In a feeble attempt to make this page informative I’ll also include pics to show what they grow into.

Pacific Black duckling Pacific Black Duck adult

Pacific Black ducklings somehow manage to match the paddling speed of the adults. That’s an adult bird in the second photo.

Purple Swamphen chick Purple Swamphen

A one-day-old Purple Swamphen chick peers out of a tiny gap in the reeds surrounding its nest. An adult bird is shown in the next pic.

Dusky Moorhen chick Dusky Moorhen

When Dusky Moorhen chicks are young they resemble black tennis balls.

Black Swan cygnet Black Swan

A cygnet and the creature it grows into: a Black Swan

Gosling Goose

A gosling and a goose from the same flock

Wood Duck duckling Wood Duck

A young Wood Duck and some typical mature specimens

Darter chick Darter

Darter chicks and an adult Darter

Eurasian Coot chick Eurasian Coot

A Eurasian Coot chick and adult

Noisy Miner chick Noisy Miner

A Noisy Miner chick shown alongside an adult

Brush Turkey chick Brush Turkey

Brush Turkey chick shown with the bird it grows into

Masked Lapwing chick Masked Lapwing

One-day-old Masked Lapwing chick shown alongside an adult

Young freshwater turtle Freshwater turtle

Young and old freshwater turtles

How I took the photos of the young birds

There’s no doubting that baby birds are cute, but taking their photos involves a bit of thought and care.

When birds are nesting, they can be extremely nervous. And who can blame them? Their entire survival as a species depends on their fragile offspring living long enough to produce a new generation. That has big implications on how you photograph them.

For starters, I always closely watch the behaviour of the parents. If it changes in any way while I’m around then I back off. You see, some birds are so easily spooked that if you frighten them at this stressful time then they might even abandon their young altogether. I’d much rather get no shot at all, than a shot of a chick that was going to die because of me frightening the parents away.

So how did I get these pics?

Well, for some of them I used hides. In other cases, I took the photos in public places like parks. The cool thing about parks is that the birds are already used to people being around. Even then, I watched the parents and didn’t get very close.

I also used my longest telephoto lens.

Sometimes the birds were partly obscured by a few leaves. In those cases I tried to photograph ‘through’ the leaves. Now I should rephrase that. My camera is not some X-ray thing that can see through solid objects. But if the foreground leaves are sufficiently out of focus then you can often see through the blurred edges.

I’ve heard of some photographers cutting away any foliage that gets in the way of their shot but I absolutely will not do that. You see, that foliage is not only concealing the young from camera lenses — it is also concealing them from predators. So the photographer might get a fancy shot and then leave the nest in full view of a hungry monitor lizard.

I’ve taken thousands of photos of birds but not many photos of nesting birds. And the things I describe above are some of the reasons for that.

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