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Happy Family

Happy Family

Queenslanders call these delightful barrel-of-fun creatures "Happy Family". They don’t seem to have a word for one Apostlebird, only for a group of them — which makes sense to me. After all, they were called Apostlebirds in the first place because "there are always twelve of them".

I have never yet seen a picture that you could call "the definitive Apostlebird shot", a picture that sums these noisy pranksters up such that you don’t really need any more pictures of them to feel that you have them covered. (Compare to something like a robin, a heron, or even a honeyeater, where you could take just one top-class picture and feel that you didn’t really need to do any more.) Nope, with these chaps, you just go on and on and on, taking more and more pictures.

I well remember a time up in far northern Queensland when I was physically unable to take what would have been a ripper sequence of Apostlebird shots because the little beggars had me laughing so hard I couldn’t hold the camera still!

This one is from Popilta Lake in western NSW, about half-way between Wentworth and Broken Hill. I’m usually doubtful about any bird picture on a flat surface, but here the beautiful early-morning light brings out their seldom-noticed pretty grey-brown plumage patterns, and allowed me to stop well down for just enough depth of field.

Apostlebird

Struthidea cinerea

Popilta Lake, NSW

August 2008

Canon 1D III

Canon 500/4

3.2° 500mm 640i

f/10 1/1250th