You should know by now that there are a good number of birds that spend an appreciable amount of time underwater. There are, for example, the Penguins and Diving Ducks. And then there are the crazy-awesome Dippers and one should not forget the great diving birds like Gannets and Albatrosses.
This Yellow-crowned Amazon was not quite as vociferous as his Central American cousins
And like many of these birds, I too love to spend time beneath the water – there are few things better than free diving or scuba diving with dolphins, whale sharks or coral reef fish. Looking through some of my photos from my last trip to Thailand, I got to wondering what birds the various fish and creatures would be if they were feathered. Let me try to explain what I am getting at:
(before I get started, I don’t have a guide for the creatures of the area so please excuse the rough IDs)
This species of Damselfish seems to live in flocks – one sees them flitting around corals, particularly around the branches of staghorn corals. Actually, much like a flock of Groove-billed Anis, hopping about in the shrubbery, but jumping up to moan at you if you get too close.
A flock of wanna-be Groove-billed Ani
Well, not exactly like a Pink-throated Twinspot, but the colours of this Snapper do kinda remind me of one
This has got to be an owl. But what owl could possibly be this gaudy. Oooooh, I know, its a Pitta!
A Pitta hiding from a curious birder
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron laying patiently in wait at the water’s edge
Red-backed Shrike – really pretty to look at, but do not touch (this is a fire-coral, btw)
This Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo is playing shy in the Eucalyptus branches. It is a cavity nester after all.
This Rock Cod (Grouper) tends to hang out directly on the coral surfaces. It kinda reminds me of Little or Least Bittern, hanging out motionless all day, watching the world go by.
Eagle Owls are often seen hiding in small caves.
See, with a little bit of imagination, even a scuba diver can find birds all over the place. Talk about having birds on the brain, huh.
Incredible photographs. As someone who recently tried to photograph fish while snorkeling in the Galapagos, I would love to know how you took them. (Besides the purchase of an underwater camera.) And, I don’t think we need to think about birds to appreciate the beauty of underwater flora and fauna.
Awesome, Dale! The Pitta (I believe that is a Tridacna crocea, while the night-heron is a T. maxima) is extremely well patterned. The prettiest clams are rumored to be on the coast of Vietnam, so I guess it’s not a stretch that you found these “around the corner” from there.
Also, the Red-backed Shrike looks more like a Pavona decussata than a fire coral (Millepora millepora). The polyp arrangement seems denser with longer tentacles than M. millepora. A little hard to tell with a scale reference, though. You could always just grab a piece bare-handed to check! 😉
How about a flock of starlings for a herring shoal?
Love the photographs, but don’t forget to check your nitrogen levels next time.
Whereabouts did you dive? Clearly the Pacific!
@Donna, thanks for the kind words – I would love to go diving, free diving and birding in the Galapagos Islands – lucky you! All the photos here were taken with a €100 compact camera which I had bought as a backup camera for digiscoping (Canon Ixus 300 aka SD4000) and an Ikelite underwater housing. Three faithful guidelines for compact camera underwater photography are (1) be shallow – the best light is in clear water <30ft. (2) get closer. and even closer. but never touch anything. no hands. no fins. (3) manual white balance.
@Kirby, thanks for the IDs – I was kinda hoping that some mega-expert was going to read this. My Caribbean fish/coral ID is worlds better than that for anywhere else so I was just taking that knowledge and trying to guess what I was looking at in Thailand.
@Red, you are definitely on to something there. Maybe I can dig up one of my Herring photos somewhere…
@Duncan, these photos are from Koh Tao in Thailand.
Ha! Thanks for the laugh and great pictures. This is my kind of bird watching.