Australia’s Ethereal Avifauna


Daniel Alexander

Finalist in

Lower Secondary Category

Written Statement

I am an avid birdwatcher, and I cannot think of anything in the whole world that portrays more fragility, delicacy or elegant beauty than a bird – small Passerines especially. They are full of the joy of living, never still, never solemn, always dancing for joy at their own existence. Although they look as though a single puff of wind would floor them, they bravely put themselves through the most fierce of tempests. And frequently they succeed, too. In the early morning, they are full of energy and are thrilled at the sight of a new day. To see a tiny avian atop a rail or a branch, its feathers fluffed out with effort, fluting its melodious song to the world is an unforgettable experience.

These images are designed to portray as best I can the ethereal fragility and sheer exuberance of three of Australia’s smallest birds: the Weebill (smicrornis bevostris) – Australia’s smallest bird, the Southern Whiteface (aphelocephala leucopsis) – the smallest insectivore, and the Spotted Pardalote (pardalotus punctatus) – Australia’s smallest scale-eater.

As all three of these (Weebills in particular) are extremely fast–moving, the only way I could get close enough to them to get a remotely serviceable image was to use a 150-600mm birding lens. The Weebill photograph was taken at dusk, when they are most active. The Southern Whiteface picture was taken at midday, when, oddly enough for a Passerine, they are most active. The Spotted Pardalote image was obtained not three feet from their nest – a hole the size of a golf ball in a river–bank.


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