Two spotted doves at Torquay Beach. Photos: THE PASSERBY PHOTOGRAPHY

Bird watching with The Passerby

March 12, 2020 BY

There are many talented photographers on the Surf Coast, but Shaun from The Passerby was one who caught our eye on social media last month.

Best known for capturing the region’s fascinating birdlife, here’s what Shaun had to say about his work.

How did you get into photography?
I started small – literally. About five years ago I bought a camera with a close-up lens and began shooting tiny subjects such as bees, spiders and flowers. Doing that taught me so much about using a camera, understanding light and trying to capture moving subjects. It just grew from there and I started shooting landscapes, the ocean and then birds, which is something I’ve become really passionate about.

A black shouldered kite with a snack at Spring Creek.

Tell us about your curiosity for local birdlife.
Like many people, I took birds for granted to some extent because they are so present in our daily lives. But it was looking through the lens that I really came to appreciate how remarkable they are. They bring so much sound, colour and movement into our world. Just imagine a dawn without birdsong, a beach without gulls, a backyard without the call of a magpie. But more than that, birds really are amazing creatures. That magpie in your yard is the direct descendant of dinosaurs. It has defied mass extinctions that nearly robbed Earth of all life and it also performs a daily act of defiance that we humans can only dream about – it tells gravity where to go.

A cockatoo in flight at Taylor Park.

What equipment do you use?
I have a Nikon DSLR and a beautiful old 300mm lens that is my trusty go-to when it comes to bird photography.

Where are some good places to see birds in Torquay?

Almost everywhere, really. Whites Beach is full of wrens, Spring Creek has egrets, herons and cormorants, the beaches have terns, gulls and gannets, there are kestrels and falcons on the coastal cliffs and kites and eagles just outside of town. Taylor Park, especially, is a great place to see birds.

Do you have any tips for photographing birds?
You definitely need patience and luck, but I think the best thing is to spend time watching birds. You’ll start to understand how they behave and move. With birds, you also have to get close.

Why do you go by The Passerby?
I’ve always been someone who prefers it away from the crowds, out on the edges. I like to quietly capture the moments that capture me and share them with people who might like them. I’m just a guy passing by. In a world where individuals and personalities often take centre stage, I’d rather the focus be on the things I photograph.

Where can people find your work?
I’m on Instagram @the.passerby.birds, @the.passerby.photo and @my.little.amigos. I’m also on Facebook @thepasserbyphotos and I have a website thepasserby.photography.