Please note, if you have a slow internet connection, the video files may play back erratically. If this is happening, it is best to pause the video until the progress bar reading is well ahead of the video play head position – then press the play button.
If you have a reasonable internet speed, I would encourage you to watch the videos in high definition – which you can do by making sure the HD symbol is highlighted at the bottom right of each video.
Most times when you’re filming nature very little happens, which often leads to you thinking or talking about the good filming times in the past.
This short video captures me and a good friend sharing some memorable times, when we filmed young Black Falcon & Spotted Harriers in the previous year after they had fledged, and how special it was to witness the bond between the chicks.
We always enjoy getting away from work and switching off from life pressures, and filming such special birds is always exciting. I think for us both, we are re-living the good times we had as young boys, when we would get out in the bush and enjoy nature.
I hope you enjoy watching.
Shots of Pug & I talking: Canon 1DC (one of my favorite cameras) & Canon 24 – 105mm F4 lens.
Bird footage: Panasonic Varicam HS & Canon HJ18x28 lens.
Audio: 2 x Zoom H1 recorders.
copyright 2018 David Gemmell
I am trying to make my videos a bit more interesting by showing more “behind the scenes” footage.
In this video, I decided to go for a walk for a few hours locally and just see what I could film.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find too much of interest but it was nice to get out and play around with my camera gear. It also provided an opportunity (as always) to switch off from “life’s pressures” and just enjoy being outdoors.
After a long break from filming, it was nice to get out with a good friend on a beautiful Autumn morning.
We chose to visit a grain silo just north of our home in Central Victoria where we knew a pair of Peregrine Falcons had taken up residence. It was a bit of a long shot, as we were focused on capturing a hunting scene – which we felt might be difficult outside the nesting season. This proved to be ill founded as the birds put on quite a show once the fog lifted.
I always considered the Peregrine as a very successful hunter however, I was surprised to witness this pair of birds make so many unsuccessful hunting attempts. Having said this, the lack of success on the birds part was wonderful for us, as we got to see the birds hunt non stop over a 15 to 20 minute period.
Unfortunately, the birds always went hunting away from our vantage point – so the footage is not the best (the strong heat haze did not help either), but it did give us high hopes for what we might be able to capture when the birds are rearing their young in the months ahead. Hopefully as we spend more time in the area, the birds will become more accustomed to us, which might lead to them hunting closer to us.
Camera gear used was Sony A7S II for all wide angle shots and Panasonic Varicam HS for telephoto scenes.
A short video of me filming Brown Goshawks from a mobile hide.
A few long days in the hide paid off nicely with some reasonably nice footage of a pair of Brown Goshawks. Unfortunately, they came to feed on the dead kangaroo late each afternoon, and the light was very poor for photography. Nonetheless, the video side of things worked out well and once again, it allowed me to get out in the bush, switch off from day to day stresses and learn a bit more about my camera gear.
I hope you like the video and please feel free to ask any questions.
All bird footage filmed with Panasonic GH5 and Panasonic/Leica 100-400mm lens.
All other footage shot on a Sony A7S II and Sony 28 – 135mm video lens.
Drone footage – DJI Mavic
Music by Epidemic Sound – epidemicsound.com
During a recent trip to the Birdsville Track, I noticed a pair of Black Kites sitting in the grass, and decided to sit back and watch them from the comfort of my car. After watching them with the binoculars for a few minutes, I realised there was another bird with them – which got me very excited. I drove a little bit closer and realised it was a Grey Falcon.
I was a bit curious as to what the attraction was and immediately assumed a dead carcass however, my primary thoughts revolved around filming and I quickly worked out the optimum filming position, after allowing for the light and wind direction. This would mean taking the 4×4 off the track across some pretty rough ground however, I thought if I took it really slow, I might just get close enough. I knew it was pointless filming from my current position as they were just too far away.
The birds were sitting on the ground doing nothing, but I would check with the binoculars every few seconds or so to make sure they were still settled. Eventually, I got close enough and started filming.
The Black Kites took to the air almost as soon as I was set up however, it was the Grey Falcon I was interested in – which still seemed quite relaxed on the ground.
The wind direction was perfect, blowing at a reasonable rate from behind. This suited the light direction and I started filming the falcon as it performed what appeared to be a “searching” flight, as if it was looking for something. I didn’t really have time to give this much thought, as I tried to maintain the camera focus and get good composition.
My adrenalin levels were pretty high as I knew the birds wouldn’t hang around for too long. As it turned out, I believe the whole scene lasted for 30 seconds or so, before both falcons joined the Black Kites – which had repositioned themselves down wind of my position. I did try to reposition myself again near the birds, but they cleared out as soon as I headed in their direction.
My guess is that the falcons were searching for grasshoppers, as I cannot imagine the Black Kites were chasing live prey. Having said this, I did not see the birds feeding on grasshoppers at any time. Black Falcons are particularly fond of grasshoppers and so too are Brown Falcons, Hobbys & Kestrels.
The second part of this video clip shows a pair of Emus which decided to run alongside my car as I was heading home late that day. It was such a beautiful sunset so I decided to stop and try out a new camera I had recently purchased (Sony PXW-FS7).
As is usually the case, I went back to the same area over the remainder of this trip (another 3 days) and could only find Black Kites and two Hobbys – which were clearly feeding on grasshoppers. Unfortunately, no more Grey Falcon sightings.
I really had a lot of luck on my side this day. The falcons could easily have joined the Black Kites as soon as they took flight. Instead, they hung around for 30 seconds or so, which allowed me this opportunity. The wind direction and light also worked out well – which would not have been the case if I had driven directly to the birds.
Filming/photographing nature can be very frustrating, where you can go for days where you just cannot locate anything of interest – sitting in likely spots for hours on end. However, when it all falls into place, it can be very special and makes it all worthwhile.
The Harriers are well known for the flight maneuver often referred to as the “food pass”.
I had been filming the Spotted Harriers close to my home town for some time and watched the birds perform many food passes. Unfortunately, most of these scenes took place in the distance, or behind a tree. In this short clip, the food pass takes place close enough and in an open area – which allowed me to capture some reasonable footage.
Whilst filming some farmland scenes, I was pretty excited when a Spotted Harrier appeared and started hunting over the barley crop.
It didn’t take long before the harrier found a flock of Starlings and caught one of the birds as it flushed. Unfortunately for the harrier, its good luck was about to change as a Brown Falcon had obviously been watching the action and quickly appeared. This is where the story took a different course…
After a few busy months at work, it was nice to get away to do some filming.
Magnetic Island is a favourite place for me and with some good friends, we headed off to film and photograph the fish eating raptors on Magnetic Island, Queensland. The birds we focused on were the Brahminy Kite, Osprey and White Bellied Sea Eagle.
This short video shows some snippets of the action as well as some behind the scenes footage.
White Bellied Sea Eagles hunting Royal Spoonbills at a swamp near the Murray River, Southern NSW.
I was really excited about the possibilities in filming these scenes, especially if the eagles hunted the Spoonbills towards the direction of my camera. I say this as most of the footage was captured from around 3-400 meters from my hide.
I filmed these scenes outside of the nesting season and hopefully I get another chance to film the parent birds hunting in this area later in the year.
A short video of an old Wedge Tailed Eagle rearing two healthy chicks in Australia’s desert outback. It was a bit sad watching it struggle to lift its prey, but its determination pulled it through.
I also was fortunate to film the rare Letter Winged Kites as they enjoyed some relief from the heat in the form of a cool southerly change.
I finally managed to arrange a day filming at the Western Treatment Plant – which is about two hours drive from where I live.
It’s certainly a great location to see many species of birds however, I was keen to capture some footage of Swamp Harriers and White Bellied Sea Eagles. Unfortunately, the footage of the Swamp Harriers was a bit too distant, but I did manage to capture some footage of the sea eagles doing some aerial manoeuvres, and also a half hearted attempt at them hunting the huge flocks of Pink Eared Ducks in the area. An Osprey also appeared on the scene for a short while and I was quite surprised at its interest in the ducks (I thought Ospreys ate fish exclusively).
It would have been nice to get closer to these birds as the footage is a bit distant however, it will give would be visitors to the treatment plant an idea of the scenes they could expect to see.
Short version of “The search for the Grey Falcon”. This short version only shows the Grey Falcon hunting scene. You can watch the full version of this trip below.
An incredible experience filming the rare Grey Falcon hunting in the open gibber plain (red stony desert areas of Australia).
A mother Black Duck tries in vain to save her ducklings from a male Swamp Harrier. Normal speed footage along with some 3x slow motion. Captured with Panasonic Varicam HS and Canon Hj18ex28 HD Lens.
Normal speed and slow motion shots of the female Swamp Harrier in flight, along with a pretty poor quality long distance “food pass” shot at the end of the video. I will shortly add narration and audio. Captured with Panasonic Varicam HS and Canon HJ18ex28.
Osprey fishing techniques – from vantage points such as trees and posts, and from the air.
White Bellied Sea Eagle takes a small fish.
With the burn off season about to start, it was nice to get some nice flight shots of the Black Kites as they look for casualties. This video also shows the filming platform we used to capture these shots and how we managed to combat the terrible heat haze on this day.
I have been filming a family of hobbys hunting from a telecommunications tower in my home town over the last few weeks. The footage comprises many scenes of the birds hunting – including on the wing insect hunting, as well as the parents hunting small birds. I hope to post some footage shortly but thought I would upload a short scene with one of the young hobbys feed on a freshly killed bird. Stay tuned for the full video.
This pair of Collared Sparrowhawks nested in a small conifer plantation next to a farm house in Central Victoria. Unfortunately, the chicks were well advanced when I found the nest, but still provided a great opportunity.
A short video showing the beauty of the Brown Falcon in flight, as well as a young Wedge Tailed Eagle being harassed by a very brave Crow.
A short video which shows some of the raptors I filmed on a recent trip to the Strezlecki Track. I was very fortunate to locate the rare Letter Winged Kite and also film the Black Breasted Buzzard as it put on quite a flight display whilst trying to scare some crows near its nest. I particularly enjoyed filming an accommodating pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles as they happily fed their two chicks on the nest. This was a very memorable trip into the arid and extremely remote areas of Australia’s inland, and one I hope to embark on again soon.
A short video of the male and female Nankeen Kestrel hunting in the long grass by the road side. This pair of birds put on quite a show hovering in the wind – and seemed to be very successful in the short time I was filming – catching mice, small lizards and insects. Whilst the kestrels are a common bird, they are still a joy to watch as they hover along our grasslands and roadsides.
I wasn’t quite ready for this scene, as it all happened so quickly. I had been filming on the side of the hill for a few hours – as I knew it was a preferred hunting ground for eagles preying on rabbits – but I had never seen or heard of eagles hunting Cockatoos. It was all very tranquil – but that was about to change. The Cockatoos always make their loud screeching calls when eagles are in the area, so I assume this scene is quite common.
Whilst patiently waiting for some Black Falcon action, it was nice during another long period of inactivity to capture this little beauty hovering behind me. The Black Shouldered Kite, a beautiful small bird of prey (similar in size to the kestrel) that regularly locates its prey of mice, small lizards and insects by hovering or from a vantage point (tree branch, fence post, etc). A most enjoyable diversion – which was fortunate as I didn’t get the Black Falcon footage I was after.
I filmed this young Wedge Tailed Eagle and Brown Goshawk in a forest just south of Bendigo. I have filmed a number of young Wedge Tailed Eagles over the years and this bird would rate as one of the prettiest. The eagles are quite common in Central Victoria however, they are without doubt the most difficult raptor to get close to – reacting to anything that is not quite right. This bird was about 70 feet from me and just wasn’t quite sure about the well camouflaged hide hidden under a dense Willow Tree – with the end of the lens clearly visible. Nonetheless, I was lucky that it hung around for long enough to capture some beautiful footage.
I had a very special day today filming Black Falcons hunting. Its always exciting to see a Black Falcon, but to find a pair, and to be there when they are hunting together is something I will remember for a long time. It always amazes me some of the things happening right on our doorstep. All you need to do is go for a drive and pick a likely looking spot. This pair were hunting in an area just north of Bendigo. A Spotted Harrier also added to the moment, and was happy to go about its business, along the road side, while I watched the falcons. Unfortunately, a completely overcast and dark sky led to some quite dull footage. Hopefully, on my next visit the conditions will be better.
Brown Falcons go to great lengths to protect any carrion they may find – attacking almost any bird of prey which comes near “their” kill. This pair “stood guard” over their claim – in this case a road killed kangaroo and provided some nice opportunities for some filming late this afternoon.
Had a great day today watching a pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles hunting rabbits on a rocky hill. It was great to see the pair hunting together (shown towards the end of this video). Next time I hope to get a bit closer (this footage was shot from over a kilometre away). Always interesting how often a fox crops up somewhere in the hunting scene.
It’s lambing season and the Black Kites are in huge numbers north of Bendigo. I filmed these birds north of Serpentine where they were clearly there for the dead lambs (those that didn’t survive the birth). There were huge numbers of birds in the area and after finding a reasonable vantage point, I was pleased to be able to get some nice video footage.
Eagles hunting in Mount Alexander area. The female was perched in a tree high on the hill when she suddenly flew at speed into a patch of willow trees. Shortly after, she appeared with a small rabbit, which she took from a fox which had killed the rabbit. The male bird is shown at the start of the video being mobbed by some crows.
Pair of Square Tailed Kites on the nest in the Bendigo region. Very placid birds which would happily go about their business – regardless of our presence. The male bird would generally visit the nest each hour with food for the chicks – which were predominately small birds.
Wedge Tailed Eagle feeding her two chicks at a nest near Mount Alexander. The parent birds were great food providers which led to very little aggression between the chicks. Filming such a power bird feeding her chicks with such a gentle touch was a real highlight for me.