Creativity flies high on the Mountain
Bowen Mountain’s David Simon is a talented author and artist with a background in theatre but he’s also a gifted photographer and his ever-growing collection of beautiful bird pictures is setting the internet a flutter.
New Holland Honeyeater
David first began picturing the birds visiting his garden around five years ago, but he’s been a keen amateur photographer since he was a youngster.
“Bird photography has always been a hobby for me, and mainly began as a means of recording the birds that visit our home in Bowen Mountain,” David told the Post.
David, 42, and his mother – a retired Environment Studies teacher – have been steadily adding bird-friendly features to their garden to encourage more of our feathered-friends to visit.
“Mum had already started sculpting the garden into a place native animals would like when I moved in, but I encouraged her to make it even more bird friendly,” David said.
“That means lots of native plants of various shapes and sizes, such as banksias, grevilleas, callistemons, and kangaroo paws. The plants provide a variety of food, and offer shade and protection.
“I added multiple bird baths - we now have five - and we've been encouraging a healthy bio system by populating the garden with rocks, logs, bark, and fallen leaves, for insects, spiders, and reptiles to enjoy - which also provide food for birds. The tall eucalypt trees around also help a great deal, and being so close to the Blue Mountains National Park is a big plus.”
David says he’s on the autism spectrum and believes that’s one reason her interacts so well with the birds.
“I’ve always been better at reading birds than I have at reading humans.”
And the birds have helped David in more ways than one, rescuing him in times of darkness.
“I struggle a great deal with depression, and went through a particularly dark time this last decade. I started coaxing birds to my bedroom/studio window with a feeder, to give me something to look forward to at home, and soon started walking out onto the balcony to greet them. It didn't take too long for some individual birds to grow to trust me, and soon I was hand-feeding King parrots. This daily interaction got me through some very difficult times.
From top left, going right: juvenile Galah, Common Bronzewing, Gang-Gang Cockatoo, King Parrot, Noisy Miner, Magpie, White-headed Pigeon, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Eastern Spinebill
“I'm not sure I can fully explain why birds are my favourite though. They're incredibly beautiful, of course, and I love their intelligence, curiosity, and playful nature, but there's something else about them that enraptures me. There's an alien-ness, a distinctly non-human quality, that means they need to be studied to be understood.”
David and his mother have stopped using feeding stations now, and only provide food when they're present to supervise.
“I now step outside to ‘talk to birdies’ for an hour or so each day. Many of my photos are taken during this time. Depending on the conditions and the time of year, we are visited by dozens of birds of many different species.
“Our most regular visitors are King Parrots, Galahs, Noisy Miners, Pied Currawongs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Common Bronzewings, Brown Cuckoo-doves, and Satin Bowerbirds - but I've counted 62 different species in total locally.
“Occasionally, maybe once every month or two, the local flock of Gang-Gang Cockatoos will stop by, and those are very special days indeed.”
David says it’s crucial to make sure the birds only receive food that is designed for wild birds to consume, such as seed and fruit, plus mealworms for the omnivores. Most human food (bread, crackers, etc) is harmful to birds.
“Sadly, we've started to see more Indian Mynas in Bowen Mountain over the last few years, but they prefer open spaces like lawns so they avoid our garden at least, and our native Noisy Miners help keep them at bay too,” David said.
“It's also clear that the ongoing removal of older trees across the suburb has had a detrimental effect on animals already stressed by drought, fires, and introduced predators like cats, dogs, and foxes. We're seeing fewer tree-hollow-nesting birds with babies every Summer.”
David uses a Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV for his photography.
“I bought it a few years ago when I started to take photography a little more seriously. It's not as good as a proper DSLR, but the compact design, powerful processor, and built-in 24-600mm equivalent F2.4-4 zoom lens, give me the versatility needed for bird photography. I don't set up my pictures, I just keep my camera handy and look for opportunities.”
Enjoy the pictures we have up here today but also check in with David on Twitter, where the majority of his photos are posted regularly: https://twitter.com/davidcsimon (@davidcsimon)
David Simon also has a great website with a photo gallery, as well as 200+ 4k wallpapers based on his bird photography, free for anyone to download: https://www.davidcsimon.com