This town is for the birds

“We need to get a proper camera before the baby gets here.”

Thus spoke the missus as we’re strolling through a big department store during our March vacation. We had two Fuji Finepix cameras dating from the turn of the millennium which I’d inherited as my folks upgraded to DSLRs and which did their jobs well enough, but she had a point. Back when my father had bought them they were pretty nifty, but that was over a decade ago. It was time for an upgrade.

I briefly considered getting a DSLR of my own, but quickly decided against it. Entry-level models are not too expensive, but quality lenses are, and there’s only so much you can do with a kit lens. My existing camera was a Finepix S7000, a fixed-lens camera that could do pretty much everything an SLR can do (all photos you’ve seen on if all else fails… until March was taken with that one), and I decided to stick with what I knew worked.

A couple recommendations later I settled on the Canon SX60 HS. I couldn’t be happier.

I’m not completely sure what all the settings do yet, and it has some features I’ll probably never use, but it takes beautiful photos and has mind-blowing zoom. Today it allowed me to take this, for example:

African Fish Eagle

This is the African Fish Eagle. One day late last year I was hard at work when I heard one of the most beautiful sounds that exists on this Earth – the call of the fish eagle. I turned around and looked out the window and one was circling above the river right in front of me! By the time I’d grabbed my camera it was already gone.

Since that day I’ve often heard their cries – they live in pairs – and spotted them in the distance a few times, but I’ve been waiting until today for them to be near enough to take a photo. Not that they were very near. This photo was taken at the Canon’s max optical zoom (247mm focal length), and I cropped out quite a bit of blue sky to get the final result, but otherwise the image has not been manipulated in any way. Taken without a tripod, thank you very much.

The sky really was that blue today.

I managed to snap a few more, but none were as clearly in focus as the first one. I have to include one showing both majestic birds, though. Sorry that it’s a bit blurry.

Pair of fish eagles in blue sky

I like photographing birds. They are beautiful creatures, every single one of them (okay, so maybe not pigeons), and living on a river bank I get to see more species than I would have otherwise. But you need a camera with decent zoom capability to take good bird photos.

Have I mentioned I’m enjoying my new camera?

Once the eagles had moved beyond even the SX60’s zoom range I noticed these guys in a bare tree next to our building:

Two Mousebirds

Speckled Mousebirds are very common here, and entire swarms of them sometimes clamber around the cyprus tree outside our bedroom. They’re called mousebirds due to mouselike fashion in which they climb a tree’s branches in search of food. Just look how the bottom one is hanging from the twig, rather than perching.

Speckled Mousebird 2

I’m titling this one The Three Stooges.

Last but not least, one of my favourite birds:

Crested Barbet

The Crested Barbet is the most common species of woodpecker around here. I just love how colourful they are.

Have I mentioned that I’m loving my new  camera?

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10 thoughts on “This town is for the birds

  1. I adore birds. And I also need a new camera but alas my hands are too small to be able to comfortably handle the type you’ve bought (I tried one.) Fabulous shots, though. Very lucky to get the clear one of the fish eagle.

    What cute little mousebirds. I’ve never seen one before, nor the barbet. I must post some bird pics to my own blog soon, not done so for a while.


    1. The SX60 isn’t that big. It’s a good deal more compact than an SLR. But I’ve been looking at some of the compact Canon models as well – my wife’s Finepix is even more ancient than mine was – and they have pretty decent zoom and picture quality as well.


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