Sunday, August 2, 2009

Brown Honeyeaters and Grevillea Flowers

Part A: The Birds
These Brown Honeyeaters are quite common around my area but they are so small and fast that they are more often heard than seen. They start singing before it even gets light and have a very loud song for such a little bird. They have a range of calls including a very soft contact call that is like a tongue click. This bird is in an 'Orange Marmalade' Grevillea bush which is growing in a friend's yard.
They were constantly flying in and then off again while I was watching and I managed a rather blurred flight photo as one flew off.
The video has the sound of the Brown Honeyeater. It was taken outside a friend's house which has a Paperbark Tree just coming into flower in the front yard. There was a Brown Honeyeater singing in the tree and another one answering from close by – as well as a dog barking somewhere in the distance!

For more bird photos visit the Bird Photography Weekly

Part B: The Grevillea
Some time ago Denis over at The Nature of Robertson challenged me to try some macro photography on some of the grevilleas in my yard. He also very patiently told me what to look for and gave suggestions about photographing. Thanks Denis for your help and encouragement. I now have a much better idea of the difficulties of macro work – even harder than photographing an LBJ! I also know from practical experience the limitations of both my lens and my own photographic technique. Again – practice and patience required!

Grevillea 'Orange Marmalade' is a cross between G. venusta and G. glossadenia. It is one of the group known as “cat's paw” grevilleas. I planted it less than a year ago in my garden because I saw the number of birds that it attracted to a neighbour's yard. It is an open shrub which grows 2.5m tall by 2m wide. The flowers are certainly not as showy as other common grevilleas but the small birds seem to like it even more.
The flowers are short terminal racemes. When they first appear they are a green color and the style is tightly tucked into the floral tube (perianth). In this photo the styles are just beginning to come out of the of the perianths. The top part of the flower has ones where the style is not visible at all. The styles are covered with long brown hairs and the leaf (on the lower left of the photo) is also covered with grey hairs.
In this next photo the flower tubes are now an orange color and the styles are springing out of the perianths. The base of the style has tufts of brown and grey hairs. The style does not spring out of the perianth until it has been polinated from other flowers. This staged development avoids self-pollination.
The styles stand right out from the rest of the flower and the perianth is now swelling at its base with developing seeds.
Looking at the perianth from a different angle the anthers are clearly visible. The tufty hairs at the base of the style (top of the photo) are clear.
A seed pod developing. The floral tube has all dropped off although the style is still attached.
Unfortunately my photo skills were not good enough to show pollen on the presenter at the end of the style. I also could not find any fully developed seed pods on the plant. Maybe it is too soon to expect that, as it has only been flowering a little while.


  1. Great photos I like the close up ones they show a lot of detail.

  2. A very interesting read Mick.
    Well done on the photos of the Brown Honeyeater and even more so on the beautifully clear macro shots. I always have difficulty with depth of focus. Maybe I should change to a proper macro lens some times as the lens I normally use has no macro facility.

  3. It is so wonderful to hear the sounds of Australia again. I loved the paper bark trees too.

  4. Thanks for commenting Neil, John and Gwendolen. The lens I am using is not a dedicated macro lens. It is the one I use for distance and birds but has a little button on the side which changes it to macro - a Sigma 70-300mm DG Macro. An all purpose lens I guess! Nothing nicer than paperbarks in flower with all the birds around, Gwendolen.

  5. That is a very beautiful bird, and it has a beautiful song to go right along with it. Lovely BPW post!

  6. Hi Mick. Thanks for sharing the sounds from 'down under' together with some more excellent shots. I don't yet have a dedicated macro lens so use a similar set up like you...sometimes it works & sometimes not! Cheers & have a good week.

  7. Great shots of the Brown Honeyeaters Mick but those macros are awesome dude! I have gotten some close-ups with my regular zoom lens but nothing like those. Well Done!

  8. Great photos of the Honeyeater, Mick! I'm glad you're getting into macro. I recently tried (re-tried, I used to this long time ago - pre-digital) taking photos of flowers and insects.

  9. Thanks for your comments and encouragement Heather, Frank, Larry and Bob and Cynthia.

  10. Love the photos and the close ups are awesome Mick! Great video depicting the sounds of the Australian birds.

  11. Hi Mick, have been away from blogs for a while, an enjoyable report and some incredible photo's here. Some of the close up flower shots in particular are very nice!

  12. G'day Mick,
    Nice bird, nice Grevillea, great shots. I think you've risen to Denis's challenge rather well indeed.

  13. Thanks BirdingMaine, James and Gouldiae

  14. Always worth taking up Denis's challenges! Grevilleas are wonderful plants.

  15. I agree Snail - or at least I do now!
    I nearly gave up at one stage.