Monthly Archives: July 2022

Wow Factor

“Wow Factor” drawing 18.5 x 18.5 cm. July 2022

WOW! My eyes are happy when I see a scarlet robin.

A striking design of black, white and eye-popping red, the scarlet robin stands out. It is like a perching, flitting, flying and pouncing miniature Japanese lantern or Christmas tree bauble. (See the post If a Japanese Lantern were a Bird)

And I must say, Scarlet Robin, what big EYES you have…

During my Donnelly Verandah Residency in June I spent much of my time seeking out and photographing scarlet robins. I saw them in pairs, never right beside one another but not too far apart either. Each pair quietly worked its territory. I barely heard a sound from them.

Each robin stood stock-still as it concentrated on spotting food (insects, arthropods and spiders). Silent surveillance was followed by mid-air swoop (for flying snack) or pounce-to-ground (for walking/crawling/slithering snack.)

Rather than zooming in for detailed close-ups, I want to show the visual impact a scarlet robin makes within its tertiary-toned forest environment. This bird is enthralling to meet, watch, photograph and draw.

Female scarlet robin on a sign outside the general store. (Viewed from behind she blends in.)
Illuminated by morning sunlight a male (partner to the female above) glows on a branch.
A dash of scarlet in the brambles.
Bare branches in winter make him easy to spot.
I clock up many hours tiptoeing around with my camera.
This female is curious about my presence – and not a bit afraid.
Nobody is playing tennis on a wet day so the net is requisitioned as an insect-spotting vantage point.
Look ahead – one small bird performing his ablutions.
“Watch the birdie.”
Photoshoot finished. The birdie has flown.

Wow Factor” will be one of the artworks in “The 2022 Donnelly Verandah Residencies” art exhibition opening on 19th August at EARLYWORK in South Fremantle. Exhibition runs until 28 August.


“Peekaboo” coloured pencil drawing , 19 x 18 cm. Drawn in May 2022

I feel like I’m playing a game of hide and seek with small birds when I am out attempting to photograph them. As I am a mere plodding biped the birds fly rings around me literally and figuratively. They flit in and out of foliage; now I see them, now I don’t; then they rapidly depart the scene.

In February when I photographed this particular female Splendid Fairy Wren I was thrilled because she paused from her insect-hunting busy-ness to see what I was up to. She hopped out of the undergrowth and came close to me, peering intently into the camera lens. Her curious look said, “What IS that clicking sound?” (Answer: “Birdie, it is my shutter-release button.”)

This is the photo I drew “Peekaboo” from.

We are at Booyeembara Park in White Gum Valley affectionately known by locals as Boo Park. The 16 hectare area used to be a quarry and tip but thankfully was rescued, resuscitated and rezoned as parkland. There is a stream, lake and lots of trees and bush. Due to years of care and extensive replanting of native flora many birds call Boo Park home.

Booyeembara is a local Aboriginal word which means of the limestone hills.

Below are some of my bird photos from Booyeembara Park; several of them (including the Swamphen) were taken this morning.

Male Splendid Fairy Wren in all his glory.
White Cheeked Honeyeater enjoying nectar.
Grey Fantail pausing for a split second.
Southern Boobook calmly (perhaps with a touch of disdain) regarding this photographer.
Mistletoebird well concealed by thick green leaves.
Exciting bird news: Today I captured images of a female White Winged Fairy Wren. Nobody has seen this species in these parts. But the identification has been confirmed by bird experts from my photos. This is astonishing.
The White Winged Fairy Wren reveals herself.
Male Rufous Whistler checks me out from his safe spot.
Purple Swamphen on its way to the pond…
…and a few minutes later (YIKES!) on its way FROM the pond!!! (One less frog in Boo Park!)
Silvereye contemplating a drink…
… and partaking.

To all you birds – “Peekaboo I see you!

Verandah Resident

“Verandah Resident” coloured pencils 16.5 x 16.5 cm. July 2022

I recently returned from a trip to Donnelly River; a 1950s heritage-listed timber mill town 300 km south of Perth. The mill closed in 1978 and today the village is a peaceful holiday haven – a place where this world still feels good. I was invited to be one of six artists to stay there and then take part in an art exhibition – The 2022 Donnelly Verandah Residencies. I took Matthew along and for several days we soaked up the wintry atmosphere, walked, observed and photographed.

My drawing “Verandah Resident” is of a Red-Winged Fairy Wren who we met on the verandah of the general store.

I will be doing more Donnelly-inspired drawings for the exhibition which will be held at Earlywork in South Fremantle from 19-28 August. Website:

Donnelly is HEAVEN. Here are some of the photographs I took…

Cottages and sheds with kangaroo
Scarlet Robin
Western Spinebill eyeing a bee
The road in showing the general store (and kangaroo)
Twenty Eight Parrot with Matthew
Derelict cottage, winter trees and spring flowers
Dancing emus
Western Whistler
Locals awaiting a phone call
Female Western Rosella (front) with Twenty Eight Parrot (rear)
Male Western Rosella in the rosemary bush
Julie and Kangaroo (photo by Matthew)

Matthew and I were so enthralled by Donnelly River that we will return in spring. If you love birds, animals, trees and peace, this is UTOPIA. Here is the accommodation website – so you can book your own trip