MAGPIE-LARK (Grallina cyanoleuca)

I nearly missed the shot altogether.

From outdoors a faint sound of fluttering wings was heard and I saw a medium-large black and white bird through the window.

I have felt like I was in a bird hide in recent days (since I re-arranged some of the furniture).

I just have to remember to leave the block-out blinds up, not down, during the afternoon for bird viewing (on a hot day).

The trouble was I had left the camera body with the telephoto lens on the sideboard.

I slowly stood up and moved (even slower) towards the camera, trying hard not to scare the bird.  It had finished its drink from the birdbath and was now standing on the balcony fence railing.

I knew I would only have seconds to lift the camera, take the lens cap off, turn it on, raise it to my eye/glasses and press the shutter button.

Certainly, there would be no time to see if the lens glass was clean of dust or what the camera settings might have been (from the last bird shot).

I zoomed in as close as I could, then snap without actually looking through the viewfinder properly.  I suspect I wobbled a bit and didn’t hold the camera completely still either.

I instantly realised I had captured a new visitor to my apartment balcony but was too close to the bird so I quickly zoomed out a bit.

Snap! I had managed to get a 2nd (and final) shot.

I recognised it immediately as one of the common Magpie Larks that frequent this parkland and nature reserve setting.

 Often in noisy pairs or family parties, associating with other flocking birds.  It’s voice is varied, but commonly duetting ‘tee-hee’ with response ‘pee-on-wee’ accompanied by wing raising. Alarm call a piercing repeated ‘pee’.

…….says my Australian Bird Guide book

The Magpie Lark must have seen my movement indoors as it promptly flew off into the nearby trees.

Note to self:  I really must clean the exterior of the windows.  Then, the avian visitors would only see a reflection of themselves in the glass, not my movement indoors.

Mmmmmm……I think this is about the 8th bird species that have visited my balcony in the last 6 years since I moved to the western suburbs of Melbourne.

When I downloaded the photos I could see straight away that they definitely weren’t my best bird images, but hey, I did manage to fire off 2 shots so my efforts weren’t wasted.  I was reminded of this quote I’d recently read.

The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.

In 2010, when I bought myself a little point & shoot Canon Camera, I would take 500-600 photos in a single afternoon always aiming for the perfect shot.

I knew I could do it if I just practised hard enough.  I knew one day I would get the perfect shot sometime in the future.

Now, between COVID lockdowns, worsening chronic pain and major surgeries, I just make lots of images and remember that all photographers, amateur (like me) or professional, have good days and bad days.

Now I just make the shot and am thankful for all the wonderful birdlife I see out the window or on short walks to the local pond/wetlands.

Life is too short to spend rehearsing

Treat every day as a final performance

Live in the moment.

Live Mindfully (I try to, but don’t always succeed).

And make the shot.

Good or bad shot? Does it really matter when you’re doing what you love?  If I was a paid professional, maybe.  But if you’re an amateur, or professional doing personal photography, just aim and press that shutter button. You can always delete it in this age of digital photography.  Or you can keep it as a memory of that Moment in Time when you saw a new visitor on your apartment balcony.

Here are a few more shots of Magpie Larks that I found that were actually filed in a folder.