Oh frabjous day! Callooh, callay he chortled in his joy!

During the Living Landscapes project, a collaboration of Guildford/Upper Loddon, Sandon Werona and Newstead landcare groups with the then DSE and North Central CMA, a number of bird surveys were carried out in areas where the project was to operate. One, on our place at Strangways, identified our little patch of bush as an area of significance for Speckled Warblers (Pyrrholaemus sagittatus). At the time, I couldn’t tell a Speckled Warbler from a Striated Thornbill, but we were chuffed.

Striated Thornbill (Acanthiza lineata)

A very hot Striated Thornbill

Naturally, when introduced to the (time consuming) addiction of bird photography by that prodigious inveigler of the unwary, Geoff Park, I wanted to photograph these birds on our place. And failed and failed and failed again. I could see them, hear them and not get to within cooee. And I would see the beautiful photos Geoff would get of this species in the Muckleford Forest and along with the admiration, felt a twinge of pain at my own lack of success. A little arrow like the sagittus indicated in the species name. So years ago, I set up a bird bath with an array of photogenic perches and a little hide at the back of our place where I’d seen them most.


My little hide

On hot summer evenings, year after year I crouched in my hide and waited. And waited. And I photographed a lot of birds therefrom. Thornbills of all stripes, Honeyeaters, Fairy-wrens and Pardalotes, Rosellas and Shrike-thrush, Treecreepers and Whistlers all posed – oblivious to the perspiring and overheated fool in the little green box.

In the stinking heat of last Thursday and Friday, there I was again. Now as my addiction has grown, so has the lens I use and it is now quite unwieldy in the little hide built for more modest glass and too long in focus for bigger birds (no zoom). So when an elegant Grey Shrike-thrush popped in for a drink, it was head and shoulders only.

Grey-shrike Thrush_19-01-21_2

Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica)

Brown-headed and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters also dropped by.

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus brevirostris)

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris)

Brown-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus brevirostris)

More of the same…

Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops)

Yellow-faced Honeyeater (Lichenostomus chrysops)

A Superb Fairy-wren changing out of his glad rags, no longer so willing to impress the ladies.

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)

Thornbills Yellow…

Yellow Thornbill (Acanthiza nana)

Yellow Thornbill (Acanthiza nana)

…and Brown.

Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)

Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)

And in with the White-throated Treecreeper male…

White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea)

White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea)

…at last dear and patient reader (bear with me, I’ve waited for this longer than you have), at last not one, but TWO SPECKLED WARBLERS!!! Not that the two would get in the same frame together – but still! I could barely point the big bit of glass I was holding due to the shaking of my paws.

Speckled Warbler (Pyrrholaemus sagittatus)

Speckled Warbler (Pyrrholaemus sagittatus)

And number two so close it just fitted in the frame.

Speckled Warbler ((Pyrrholaemus sagittatus)

Warbler the second.

Many thanks to Lewis Carroll for the wonderful line of exultation. And to Geoff for supporting my addiction and letting me post this overly long celebratory drivel on his wonderful blog.

42 responses to “Oh frabjous day! Callooh, callay he chortled in his joy!

  1. francescincotta

    Oh Patrick how wonderful that your perseverance has paid off – congratulations and thanks for sharing your joy!

  2. Beautiful work – it was well worth your work for me anyway!

  3. Congratulations Patrick. So glad your perseverance and dedication to the cause have finally paid off for you. Thank you for sharing that we might all feel your joy, certainly related to the ‘shaking paws!’ Haha Beautiful shots.

  4. How wonderful this post is! Thank you so much.Coleen Clare

    Sent from my Samsung GALAXY S5

  5. Richard Sullivan

    Terrific article Patrick

  6. Well done Patrick! I share the pain you describe, along with bafflement over what Geoff is able to achieve. He must be somehow invisible an inaudible to birds! But your work on invertebrates is nothing short of extraordinary.

  7. Mary-Faeth Chenery

    Thank you for such a wonderful reminder of the value of persistence and for treasuring the diversity of life!

  8. Helen Schofield

    A great article and set of photos, Patrick. Thank you. Love the comment ‘All that for a LLB!’ which someone else posted. I hope in this hot weather that there are still sufficient insects around to feed all your friendly visitors.

  9. Well done Patrick. What a lovely read over breakfast. I love Natural Newstead.

  10. So does this mean you’re pleased?

  11. Kerrie Jennings

    Thank you Patrick! I thoroughly enjoyed your journey and your pics. Well done!!

  12. I’ll have a smile on my face all day after all that ‘drivel’, Patrick.
    I have spent too much time this morning watching a small raptor (I think a first year Collared Sparrowhawk) trying to catch one of the flock of Long-billed Corellas around the house, and saw the poor thing taking off with one of the bigger birds in hot pursuit. It still continued to call at frequent intervals, and that call seemed to precede its launch after another bird, for perhaps another quarter of an hour before all was quiet.

  13. What a delightfully told story. So pleased you were rewarded at last.

  14. Thoroughly enjoyed your account Patrick and glad you had such well earned success. I always enjoy your posts.

  15. I share your joy (sans frustration) Patrick, Beautiful images.

  16. Very nice. Your celebration is well earned.

  17. A beautiful set of pics and a beautifully told story. Had a chuckle all the way through, and do so admire your perseverance.

  18. You’re crazy being out in that heat, but I can’t deny your craziness yielded fantastic results. Beautiful images all of them.

  19. Still fabulous pics Geoff. Your tenacity is to be admired. Stay cool.😎

  20. Well done beautiful

  21. That was a delightful piece, Patrick. Thank you for the insight into what you bird folk are prepared to do to get a good photograph. I love that you were out there last Friday! Keep those pictures coming.

  22. Fabulous Patrick. I laughed all the way to the bottom – your story is a tad familar. Congrats on the Warbler. Geoff P has a lot to answer for….. See you round on IG.

  23. it’s all been said but i also congratulate you on your patience and tenacity Patrick .. so glad it paid off for you. Beautiful photos , every one!

  24. Well done Patrick, I often wondered what was down the road to Strangways, great to see you also have a blind for us all to use. Fantastic result with the Speckled Warblers mate, a truly beautiful bird. . .

  25. Fantabulous!

  26. Spectacular images Patrick. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Mr Patrick Kavanagh,

    I think the photography is of a very high quality and the images of the subjects beautifully shown in the photographs.

    Many years ago I knew a Patrick Kavanagh who lived in Sydney and taught at Macquarie University. If you are that person I would really like to catch up with you.

    I have been a little confused as there is also another Patrick Kavanagh who is a photographer in Canada.

    My name is Max Cluff and I moved away from Erskineville and purchased a house in East Balmain. I now live in Newington which was part of the 2000 Olympic Village.

    I hope you are the Patrick I knew as it would be great to catch up.

    Max Cluff


    ph 428 792 777

  28. A great post Patrick, it is good to see that your patience has been rewarded.

  29. Yeah..congratulations Patrick – and brilliant photos too!!!

    Helen Greenwood

    0408 688 696



  30. Ha – lovely photos and most humorous post!

  31. I so enjoyed your story Patrick and just had to congratulate you as the others have done. Marvellous story and photos. Patience wins again! 🙂

  32. Wow! Would that we were all such fools! Enjoyed your story and photos (and all the insects before as well)!

  33. Fantastic Patrick. Well worth the wait, and I think Geoff must be looking over his shoulder – your bird shots are excellent!

  34. ah Patrick – joy to my heart

  35. Wonderful post. Great story!

  36. Patrick Kavanagh

    Thanks everyone!

  37. Patrick I’ve just found this wonderful post and I absolutely love it too.
    We have used a hide too and it really works well.
    Heather Enders

  38. You’ve made my day. What a lovely post!

  39. kristinmundaygmailcom

    Fantastic, I know your pain. Along the way you have some breathtaking shots as well as the scoop at the end. Your writing is a lot of fun too.

  40. And his vorpal camera went clicker-clack
    he left it there and with his pics
    He went galumphing back.

    Wonderful tale of perseverance, and as with many others I have enjoyed your insects.

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