Isolation Antidotes (35): Flirting With a Fantail

Staying in the vein of the home bubble, I was working in the yard on Friday, moving a mass of mulch from its storage place at the edge of our garden to a new patch around some of our small trees that I had prepared for that purpose, when I noticed that I had some very attentive company. One of our favorite native birds (and one of New Zealand’s best-known) is the cheeky little fantail (Rhipidura placabilis), very familiar to hikers, as it is insectivorous and very bold, and fantails frequently flit about in very close proximity, hoping for small insects stirred into flight by the hikers’ passing. They will often approach to within a meter of a person, but they are rather hard to catch with a camera, as they are almost constantly in energetic motion. Their common name comes from their tendency to extend their tailfeathers dramatically into a wide fan. This one was obviously hoping for insects rising from the mulch, but did not produce this characteristic display for my camera during our brief encounter. I have seen this bird almost daily for the past week or so, and will try again (and again) to see if I can get that special shot. Stay tuned!

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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29 Responses to Isolation Antidotes (35): Flirting With a Fantail

  1. Mike Powell says:

    What a cool-looking bird, Gary. The tail looks so disproportionately long, but I suspect that it is amazing when it opens up like a fan. It’s definitely a good sign that it is hanging around. Good luck with getting the aspirational image, though in my experience, persistence is as important as luck.

    • krikitarts says:

      Persistence is precisely my planned policy for proceeding with this puppy. I just went out twice again to see if it’s back, and no such luck yet, but I’m on it and will do what I can to be ready when it is.

  2. We’ll hope your photographic efforts fan out into success with this bird. I never did get a decent fantail picture during my two visits to New Zealand.

    When I saw the title of your post from a distance I thought it said “Flirting with a Fractal.”

    • krikitarts says:

      I know I’ve gotten some photos in the past with one’s tail fanned, but I think it may have been before I went digital, and a preliminary archival search didn’t turn it up. So I’ll keep up with the plan to get a new one. Now you’ve got me thinking of fractals, too!

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    I like this little feathery friend with his fantail. The third photo is an especially impressive capture.

  4. Ms. Liz says:

    I love their cute white ‘eyebrows’ and how they always look so alert and ‘busy’ :)

  5. Pingback: Brightening a Dull Day – Exploring Colour

  6. Vicki says:

    What a lovely bird. It’s so entertaining to see these ‘tail-waggers’. I imagine it to be similar to our Willy Wagtail (which constantly hops about wagging its tail). Our ‘Willy’ also has white eyebrows.

    Lovely images. I find these ‘tail-waggers’ quite good company and they don’t seem to be afraid of us humans and will come quite close.

  7. Platypus Man says:

    Like Steve, we struggled with getting decent photos – or indeed any photos – of this bird. Seems like it NEVER sits still, so I’m impressed by your images…at last I know what a fantail actually looks like!

    • krikitarts says:

      If you’re in the bush where they are, they’re easy to see, but–as you said–they move so quickly that they’re notoriously hard to catch with a camera.

  8. Finn Holding says:

    Good luck Gary. The anticipation of seeing that special display and getting an image of it is one of life’s pleasures. Happened to me with the orange tip butterfly. I spent ages chasing them along grassy verges but eventually one obliged and it was a real highlight!

  9. Adrian Lewis says:

    Wonderful pictures, wonderful bird – and it’s so good when wildlife gets inquisitive and comes close. :)

    • krikitarts says:

      Yeah, so long as we’re talking about pretty little birds and not some of the other, rather larger and more formidable critters in your historical repertoire, with which you have had some vast and really impressive experience. But never mind that, as a dedicated birder, I was sure that you’d like this little guy, and thanks for confirming that!

  10. Minna says:

    Reminds somehow Eurasian blue tit. Nice photos!

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, they belong to the same order, Passeriformes. I can certainly see the similarity in size and beak shape. The song is also somewhat similar. Yours is a pretty one too!

  11. That is a cheeky little birdy! Nice!

  12. If they are that approachable…or approaching…then my money is on your success. But these are nice looks despite fanless tails.

  13. krikitarts says:

    I’m watching for it again pretty much every day. No success yet, though–so I’ll keep looking.

  14. Pingback: Isolation Antidotes (42): Fantail Follow-up | krikitarts

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