As ever, thanks Myksyk for all the hard work!
For those unfamilar, these are kea, found in the Southern Alps on New Zealand's South Island.They are the world's only mountain parrot, and only 3000-7000 are left in the wild today. For roughly 100 years, until the 1970s the NZ government offered rewards for killing kea, as they have been recorded preying on sheep. Today they are a protected bird, which will hopefully help numbers recover.
Kea are infamous for their curiousity, juveniles especially so (yellow eyes and beaks) and love ripping rubber of your car in the carpark for sport, or just breaking into your backpack if you look the other way. They are smart little guys too, and are more than capable of solving problems. All round, pretty aweseome birds from my point of view.
My partner and I were hiking across a ridge, when we looked up the valley in the background here, and seen a group of 8-10 kea swooping down through the valley, and surrounded us from all sides, so we hunkered down and enjoyed their company for around an hour before they decided to move on again.
From a technical point of view, this specific shot was taken on a 24-70 @ 70mm, F3.2, 1/250s and ISO100.
I was mainly trying to get the sharp birds, and a nicely blurred background, hence the wide appeture. The brown colours of the valley wouldn't have been my first choice for a background but you work with what you got.
Lightroom work was minimal, I added a slight vignette to draw attention to the birds, and just applied some basic exposure adjustments.
I was hoping to boost the green saturation to bring make the birds pop a little more and draw attention to the naturual beauty, but it was hard to balance the colours without over doing it.
I don't spend much time shoot birds, but meetng these guys did really just highlight how bloody hard it is to get the timing on those amazing shots of bird I see posted here regularly. Kea have beautiful colour breast, but I had 0 success in catching a single photo of them as my timing was just constantly off. Learning and recognising signs of what animals and birds are about to do, is a skill in itself, before getting the camera settings right too, so all the more kudos to you guys who nail these type of shots and post here regularly. Definietly a great learning experience for me from a photographic point of view, as well as just been a great experience getting to enjoy some time in the mountains with them in the first place.