The birds and the bees / by Mario Mirabile

We're going to have a chat about the birds and the bees. Settle down now - I'm talking about the kind with wings. For the other sort, you really need to have a heart to heart with your parents.

I've always enjoyed chasing winged beasties, but I've never been one to disappear into the wilderness for days at a time. If you have the opportunity and patience, you can be rewarded with images like this one, captured by award winning photographer David Rennie. However if you don't have the wherewithal or time to trek into the wilderness, there's plenty wildlife to be found in our own back yards, our metropolitan parks and gardens, and the areas surrounding our cities.

I've always had trouble with crimson rosellas. The ones I've seen in Melbourne parks have been extremely timid and haven't let me approach within 20 metres. This one (and his friends) had been conditioned to humans by regular feeding, and although still wary let me get close enough to nearly fill the frame. I'd rather he had been sitting on a branch for a more natural feel to the shot, but it's still the best crimson I've had to date. Bees on the other hand are everywhere. They don't mind how close you get, but being extremely busy little creatures, they're not inclined to sit and pose. They're also surprisingly quick and I've had lots of images where all I've ended up with is a blurry bee bum disappearing out of the frame. It helps if you can find them gathering on a bigger flowers as there's enough nectar to keep them on the one bloom for more than a few seconds. I like the shape and variety of textures on his everlasting daisy as well.

Interestingly, both these shots were taken with the same lens. The Olympus 50-200mm SWD zoom is fast and super sharp - a great birding lens with or without the 1.4x tele-converter used for the bird shot. Add a 25mm extension tube and it becomes a really useful not-quite macro lens with nice long working distance - great for nervous bugs.