A pair of loving Galahs. Contributed
A pair of loving Galahs. Contributed Contributed

Flight of fancy

COMEDIC actor Steve Martin has given nature enthusiast John Dalton more than just a few laughs.

He's provided inspiration.

Mr Dalton sits for hours, waiting, watching and hoping to capture a new species of bird.

He's counted 102 so far, enduring finger-numbing frosty mornings and scorching summer days.

But the weather does little to deter him from his passion.

"I was inspired by a Steve Martin movie called The Big Year," Mr Dalton explains.

"It's about the obsessive nature of trying to find as many bird species in a year."

His garden near Gordonbrook Dam harbours many more species than he first expected.

There are common magpies and kookaburras, restless flycatchers and firetail finches.

"We thought we'd have 50 species, but yesterday we came across 102, and I'm still going," Mr Dalton said.

"The good thing about bird watching is it gets you out of the house and gets you to sit still.

"You're not actually taking pictures of the birds - you're taking a picture of the moment.

"It freezes these fantastic moments."

Those moments might be fleeting, especially with the smaller species, but that just makes them more rewarding.

"Taking photos of small birds in thick growth is tricky," Mr Dalton said.

"They are so fast and so tiny," he said.

Mr Dalton's favourite species is the tiny wren.

He has photographed three types so far - the redback wren, superb blue wren and variegated wren.

"There's something special about something so small and beautiful," Mr Dalton said.

With grasses, shrubs, trees and timber, he and his wife have created the perfect habitat for the dozens of native bird species.

They moved to the South Burnett 30 years ago.

"We bought a bare block and decided to plant natives," Mr Dalton said.

"My wife is a mad gardener.

"I'm more into trees. She's more into planting small plants.

"(Together) we've planted thousands of plants."

South Burnett

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