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  • White-winged Fairy-wren

    White-winged Fairy-wren.   Photographer: Sandy Castle

  • Black Swan

    Black Swan.   Photographer: Ian Wilson

  • Southern Giant-Petrel

    Southern Giant-Petrel.   Photographer: Mark Lethlean

  • Pheasant Coucal

    Pheasant Coucal.   Photographer: Murray Chambers

  • Intermediate Egret

    Intermediate Egret.   Photographer: Glenn Pure

This has proved to be a tough assignment for many photographers because of the harsh light and heat haze often encountered in arid regions of the country.  Most of the best images were captured early or late in the day or on cloudy days.  In dry country, water points attract birds so it was not surprising to find over a quarter of the images were captured around water.  There are few ‘action’ shots and I was surprised not to find some outback raptors.  Nevertheless, there are some outstanding images that reflect considerable credit on the photographers. 

Small is Splendid, indeed.  To be honest, there were numerous fine images here that would not have been out of place in the Advanced Level competition.  Technically, in terms of sharpness of focus, accurate exposure, and negligible digital noise, a great many were on a similarly high level, which made my final selections task as difficult, and conflicting, as ever.  But there are of course many other elements that contribute to an image’s appeal or impact, and what my final five do have in common is that they are outstanding in their own, individual ways; my sincere congratulations to each of the respective, talented photographers.

It has been a pleasure to review images of the smallest representatives of Australian avifauna.  To photograph these tiny birds at all is a challenge in itself.  Anyone who has tried will know that small birds naturally favour thick foliage, and they either keep to thickets of tangled twigs, leaves and branches, or they feed very close to such cover in order to flee from danger at a moment’s notice.  Others represented here are often among the foliage in the very tops of trees.  To photograph them well therefore, is an additional challenge that has been accepted by those who have entered this competition.

I want you all to know I tried this, and it was darn hard!  If you live in a city, and wanted to have more than a rare or fleeting glimpse of a “blue” subject in the wild, you were probably restricted to a limited choice of Rainbow Lorikeets, Purple Swamphens, a duck or two or maybe a less likely opportunity with a Crimson Rosella.  Or maybe a Corella if you were lucky.  This meant that one generally had to go further afield in the wild to find an appropriate colour subject, and this I feel is why the number of entrants for this competition was nearly half of previous challenges.  Although, it did occur to me much later that a long overdue trip to the zoo could have achieved a worthwhile result, too.

A most interesting and challenging theme, and one that attracted 94 entries to the Intermediate Level competition.  As in previous competitions, entries were at a high standard and the interpretations of the theme by those who participated were creative and stimulating.  This made my task extremely difficult, requiring three rounds of selection from which to choose the six finalists.

What does the term “being blue” mean?  To be honest, I don’t really know.  However, as you have been asked to submit pictures of birds that either have “blue” in the species name or which have “blue” in their plumage or other features, I take it that “blue” refers to a colour and not to a state of mood or anything else.

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