For quite a while now, I've been trying to get a decent photo of our favourite sulphur-crested cockatoo.
It (I don't even know if it's male or female) has a fairly set routine - every morning shortly after sunrise, and every afternoon at about an hour before sunset, it will land on our front balcony for a drink. It lands on the railing, squawks to say hello, hops down onto the water tray, drinks for a while, squawks again to say thanks, then flies away.
You'd think that, with a routine like that, I'd be able to plan a decent shot. The problem is that I can't just sit out on the balcony and wait, and if I were to go charging out there with a camera after it had arrived, I'd scare it off again.
My first attempt happened slightly earlier in the afternoon than usual. The cockatoo landed on the Foxtel cable (as I refuse to get Foxtel, a landing pad for birds and possums is as good a use as is going to be made of it…) and literally hung around for a while.
Unfortunately the shadows from the house were such that I couldn't get a non-shadowed shot without using a flash, which, as I want this bird to come back, is probably not such a good move.
I had no warning when the cockatoo decided to leave, so this snapshot was the best I could do. It could have been great, but I completely botched the framing.
My second attempt was a week or so later and was a pretty dismal failure, to be honest. I completely failed to sneak out onto the balcony, so there’s a whacking great railing in the road.
I was also still experimenting with different shutter speeds, and I'd thought that perhaps 1/1250th of a second might be fast enough. No such luck - the shot here isn't too bad (except for the railing) but the second one I took had far too much blurriness around the wing feathers.
I think I’m finally starting to get somewhere. I still refuse to go to the extent of setting up a hunting blind on our own balcony – how ridiculous would that look? – but I’m able to move around a bit more now without spooking the cockatoo.
And finally, two shots that I'm actually almost happy with. I just need to be that tiny bit more smooth when it launches off the balcony again - I messed up the framing in the first shot below, and had to use too much zoom in the second. Argh!