More birds of a feather…….

As I reported on my Flickr site, yesterday was one of those days. When the birds were good the light was bad. When the light was good the birds were, well, not so good. So once more I resorted to a little innovative processing alongside what I could squeeze out of the small intersecting area on my good birds/ good light Venn diagram. (That’s about all I remember from O’level maths back in 1970-something.)

Northern Shoveler

This reminds me of a woodcut. A fairly rough one admittedly but a woodcut nonetheless. In dramatic terms this is a case of Exit Shoveler, stage right.

Now an image described on Flickr by loyal commenters as “like a Chinese broad brushstroke impressionistic painting“or alternatively “inky duck swimming in a pool of milk“.

I honestly intended the former but am quite happy with the latter. Harsh but fair, I would say.

Northern Pintail

Now I feel no post these days is complete without the Black-faced spoonbill tribute gallery. As you all know, despite the endangered nature of the species they are generally rather jolly types. Look at this merry gentlemen, a Marty Feldman doppelganger:

The Happy Spoonbill

I think I shall start a campaign to name one of the local pubs “The Happy Spoonbill“.  Come on over here, chaps. The mud’s lovely and the bitter is great.

Then back to business:

Slurping spoonbill

And what about a fly-past to salute all those hard-working photographers on the slipway?

Wing Commander Spoony

Eyes………. wait for it……….. RIGHT!

This was a thoroughly bright session despite the gloomy light. I introduced a fellow-Flickrite to the joys of bird photography. He had a good time, took some excellent pictures and I sense we may have a convert.

I am always happy to see people genuinely captivated by the sights and sounds of the birds. So if you live in Hong Kong and you have a passing interest in birds for HK$168 you can buy a field guide (The Birds of HK and S. China) and learn a little about what there is to see in HK, where to watch them and some birding etiquette. Day-Glo Orange waterproofs may not be the best kit for keeping the birds calm. Indeed if you turn up kitted out like that I may not be so calm either. And please learn how to switch your mobile thingy to vibrate mode. Otherwise I may be tempted to feed it to the spoonbills. Join the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society for field trips, education and good company. Don’t worry, I won’t be there. I’ll be down The Happy Spoonbill.  And join WWF Hong Kong too. Go on, you know it makes sense.

Birds in the buff.

Now before you get too excited these are birds with feathers and they live on mudflats mainly. I went out for a day in the field and it was grey, cold and thoroughly bad for photography. Generally speaking good light improves the aesthetic appeal of a shot immensely. When I looked at the shots at home at the end of the day’s shooting I realised some of them looked more like monochrome images. And so, I took my RAW/DNG files and processed them in black and white. Perhaps I should have captioned this Birds in the RAW.

Here is my selection:

The Shoveler shake


You staring at me?


Stilts on Parade


Moving Waves and not a trace of Jan Akkerman


Come on punk, make my day

And all that in search of a Glaucous gull. Which is mainly white anyway. Happy monochrome days.

The Great Butterfly Conundrum

For no reason other than idleness I opened up a lot of my old folders on a back up drive that has been untouched in many months. As always I was surprised at the rubbish I had taken the trouble to photograph in days gone by. Equally I was delighted to find some forgotten gems. Amongst the latter was a photograph of a butterfly. I do not recall having seen this species so it is evidently not one that visits any of my regular haunts in any great numbers. Either that or I am simply blind to it. My initial examination left me ignorant of where I took this photo. The folder is dated September 09 and it appears I took it at 6pm on the 27th. Closer review made it obvious where it was taken as the butterfly was resting on a window pane and behind the pane I could clearly see a pair of my wife’s shoes. That clinched it. It was taken at our old home in Clearwater Bay. Never have I been so grateful to my wife’s shoe collection.

The hard bit done, I wanted to identify the species. Easy. All three of my butterfly guides confirmed it is Tagiades litigiosus. The Water Snow Flat. An Hesperiidae or Skipper. And that is where the fun started. How common is this species. I started in Paul Lau’s Butterflies of Hong Kong. Actually I started with some rude words as the glued binding rent asunder and I was left with an ugly gap between the two parts of the book. PL describes it as Uncommon, Hard to get close, very rapid and erratic (Flight). Hmmm. Not bad for a flutterby resting on the dressing room window camouflaged against my wife’s shoes.

So let’s try the AFCD’s Hong Kong Butterflies, a snappy title if ever I saw one. First improvement – the binding remained intact. It agrees that TL is a swift flyer but often seen resting. So not hard to get close then? Distribution: Most country parks.  Doesn’t sound that uncommon.

Third go – the mighty Butterflies of Hong Kong, Bascombe, Johnston & Bascombe. This is a serious scientific tome that retails for about GBP150 I believe. I bought my copy many years ago on E Bay, where it was described as a lavishly illustrated coffee table book. Under 50 quid. A bargain. BJB also plumbs for erratic flight but uses brisk as well. A nice variation. BJB says it is fairly common and found in small colonies. So there we are. It is common where you find it but uncommon everywhere else.

Problem solved.

Tagiades litigiosus

The only question remaining is whether it was worth the effort and the broken binding. Of course it was. It is indeed a very poor quality shot. At best a record shot. It does however add another species to my (known) image collection and more importantly it illustrates perfectly the value of backing up your files and keeping the stuff that would otherwise be just another speck of detritus floating somewhere out there in Ether Ether Land along with Peter Pan and Wendy. Or do I mean Peter, Paul and Mary.