Tuesday 20 June 2017

Fairy Pitta

I'd been thinking of going to look for Fairy Pitta at the weekend but decided to have a lazy couple of days at home after a string of full 48-hour Hegurajima trips recently. However I didn't have to go to work today and as the rainy season officially started in our region a week ago (blue skies ever since) I thought I'd better take the opportunity while photography is still an option and also before the forest turns into a leeches' playground. The forecast says heavy rain tomorrow but the sky has already changed from blue to a premature dusk in the last hour so I think the met office blew their second bite of the precipitation cherry.

I arrived not long after 4am to find a phalanx of photographer already in place, I was the twenty first on site. The first seated row comfortably strung across the track, the second row, also seated, had their tripods further extended at the ready and I joined the third row... not seated. In the half light it was easy to imagine ranked musketeers but the front row wouldn't need to reload so I wouldn't be stepping forward to take their place. Lucky I'm not short.

It was all well orchestrated, we first comers had taken station looking back up the track the way we'd come, only 10 metres from one of the Pittas' favourite feeding spots, and the subsequent tardy and ever-growing mob (I counted 42 vehicles when I left) camped at the top of the slope facing us, a good 100 metres from the hoped for action.

Then we waited... and waited.

We heard Pitta singing on four occasions but it wasn't until we'd been there nearly six hours that someone spotted a bird to our right coming uphill from the rear. I could hear leaf-tossing just over the ridge, it was close. Another anxious 30 minutes passed. Then there it was right in front of us, shutters clattered, the mob up the hill probably couldn't see more than a speck.

It stayed foraging then collecting nesting material for half an hour before flying off left. No sooner had it gone than someone in our group received a call that there was a Caspian Tern in Osaka. Cue a charge up the hill back to the cars as the many Osakans happy with the mornings outcome needed to get back in a hurry. The mob at the top of the slope offered little resistance as we pushed (politely) through, I must say I felt a little sorry for them. But hey, if your going for a bird, a woodland bird in particular, get there early; you don't want to arrive at half passed morning. Hmm, that's probably a bit harsh considering everyone was well behaved.

Perhaps it was the location and that a feeding spot was known but today was far more orderly than in previous years, the bird was given its space, no were recordings used and a large group behaved as well as any large group can. Splendid.

And this was the bird, just a few shots of many.

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