• EDUCATIONAL TOPIC #12 The Power of Water

    I have been posting several shots recently taken in the bush using water to lure in the birds. I located a natural watering hole last year when we had lots of rain. The only issue with this location was it was very hard to get a clean background. A video of the watering hole

    Over the last 6 months it has been very dry and the water has dried up. I had read of people setting up water baths to attract birds. I took a punt and purchased a large plastic pot plant base from bunnings and placed it out in the open not far from the original location. I placed some rocks in it to provide the birds something to stand on whilst drinking. I also placed a few sticks for the birds to land on. I then placed some large branches around the water in an attempt to give the birds some security.

    The location is next to some power lines in Eucalypt Forest.

    The pot plant base surrounded by branches.

    I then started taking water to the location. Depending on the temperature I have had to take water every few days. I have read of people setting up drip systems to maintain water levels. It didn't take too long for the birds to return and start using the water.

    It was very popular with the local Yellow-tufted HE's

    The next step was placing a perch that the birds would land on. The problem I had was there were too many options for the birds to land on. Some advice from Karl and Jan was to limit the places for the birds to land. This increases the odds they would land on the perch I wanted. This is still a work in progress but I have had some success.

    The setups

    From the image above I have two setups that I am trying to get the birds to land on. The rock on the left and the wood perch in the centre.

    There is still some trial and error on placing the perch to get the desired pose of the bird. The wooden perch placed directly behind results in mostly front on shots. The rock on the left allows more side on shots as the birds land on it prior to drinking. You could move the perches around to try for different angles.

    It seems you don't want the perch too much higher than the water. I have had better success with the perches placed as low to the water as possible. I probably should have placed more foliage in the front to prevent them landing on the edge of the plastic base which they love to do.

    When selecting the location you will also want to think about where the sun rises and sets. This location is much better in the afternoon due to no trees blocking the light. In the morning the light has to try and get through the forest making it difficult. Also pay some attention to the background and ensure it is a fair distance behind the setup to allow the desired bokeh.

    I currently use a bag hide and sit on the ground with the tripod between my legs. I am probably 5-6 metres away. Most of the birds don't mind my presence and come to drink. Some such as Eastern Whipbirds are very suspicious and bolt at the sound of the shutter.

    One of the things I am still working on is the setup of the actual perch. The key is selecting a branch/rock that has some interest to it. I found a rock nearby that was were the water used to flow so it had some lichen on it. I also found the wood perch nearby which was actually a decaying stump. I have also dressed up the perches by adding some ferns that were located nearby. Often adding some plant matter increases the "natural look" of the setup.

    This is proving to be a very successful technique in getting some good images and I hope others give it a go.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: EDUCATIONAL TOPIC #12 The Power of Water started by Duade Paton View original post