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The azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyanus)

The azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) This lovely bird was feeding on a Papaya tree, near Mai Po.

I had walked past the tree earlier, scaring some feeding i set up my tripod some ways away, and decided to wait to see what birds would return.

Here he is full frame on the tree.

I had seen a group of these gorgeous long tailed azure-winged magpies finding food as a large group, around 8 of them although flocks of up to 70 have been recorded. The largest groups congregate after the breeding season and throughout the winter months. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and nuts, extensively supplemented by invertebrates and their larvae, soft fruits and berries, and also human-provided scraps in parks and towns.

But here, as you can see, a few bolder ones flew up to taste the lovely fruit, gripping the edges with their long claws, and using their tails as a support, as you can see below. Which also provided a much more interesting photo opportunity.

A challenging day for photography, with a darkish overcast sky, and some wind, cutting light. Also, i was shooting into the light as you can see, which mean heavy shadows, or blown out highlights....hmmmmm, its all compromise. I shot these at 800-1000 ISO, and the noise is not too apparent. with a long depth of field i have a shallow depth of field, so i was mainly at f7.1. These were my settings, and the camera then decided my shutter speed, (so i was on Av, aperture priority) which was c.1/400s, which was not fast enough to stop the wings blurring. I tried bracketing the shots both + and - 1-1.5 stops, but found the original settings was the best result (without resorting to HDR).


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