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Unhappy Chappy

Unhappy Chappy
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-12-09
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 200, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/6.3, 1/400 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): _Fotos adicionadas por 5 ou mais membros II, Funny Faces, Wildlife of Africa, Birds of Africa, Starlings, A study in Ornithology (birds) 1, 90-99 Puntos (chapter 1), posts with a difference, jmp *3, RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 3, Birds of South Africa 2, 5 favs. and up - PART 4 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-04-15 1:25
Viewed: 8116
Favorites: 5 [view]
Points: 94
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
African Pied starling - Spreo bicolor

This bird's face looks something like the way I felt since Anna and I returned from our short holiday at Abu Madi Game Reserve. An unhappy-chappy. I was rather under the weather with a bout of bronchitis that had me barking all day and all night long. That really drained the strength and energy from my body. At last I'm feeling much better though and now I feel it is time to update on some heavy overdue activities on my favourite site and spend some time with my much-loved friends here on TrekNature.

From what I could find in the gallery it seems like it is only the second posting of this bird on the site. The photo was captured early December last year during a visit to my old home town, Newcastle. This is where I grew up as a kid and my mother and brother still lives there. So, during our visit we decided to take a day-trip to the Chelmsford Dam Nature Reserve, some 20km outside town, and that day really turned out to be a fantastic trip down memory lane. After we left the nature reserve my brother took us to a little village called Ingangane, a Power station complex where we lived as kids. We rode around and rediscovered all the houses where friends used to live and the places where we played and had fun, broke an arm, had a first kiss (chuckle & blush), etc. etc. My, my, how time has flown by… Then I was young and good looking, but nowadays I'm only good looking (ha-ha-ha).

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, & mammals)
CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Passeriformes (perching birds)
FAMILY: Sturnidae (starlings, mynas, & oxpeckers)

The Pied Starling is a Southern African bird and its Afrikaans name "Witgatspreeu" was very aptly chosen, which directly translated into English means "White-arsed Starling".

This large, dark brownish-black starling is distinguished by its conspicuous white vent and undertail coverts. At close range the diagnostic yellow base to the lower mandible and the bright creamy-white eyes can be seen.

Height: 25cm
Weight: ±100g

Juvenile: is matt black, with a dark eye and a paler base to the bill.

Extreme South-East Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Southern Mozambique, and South Africa. This bird is endemic to the Southern African region which means that it is only found in this region and nowhere else in the world. It is common in most of its range, but largely absent from the arid northwest and the eastern lowlands of South Africa.

The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands and Karoo scrub where it breeds and feeds, but is also at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams.

The African Pied Starling is gregarious and when not breeding will form large flocks, sometimes numbering more than 1000 birds. Its roosts may be shared by Lesser Kestrels or Wattled Starlings. It will feed with European Starlings, but they rarely roost together.

Like other starlings this bird is an omnivore taking a wide range of invertebrates such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants, but also seeds and berries. The invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten or it is taken to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces, and then eaten while it will also take figs from gardens and some human food discards.

The African Pied Starling has sometimes been seen as a pest when it takes soft fruit such as grapes or figs, and was also itself considered good eating. However, it is little persecuted at present.

The Pied Starling is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 4 eggs and they are coloured white.

The African Pied Starling usually nests in tunnels in river banks, but will use holes in buildings, straw bales or natural tree holes. The nest is lined with a wide variety of plant material and items of human waste such as paper and rope.

The female alone incubates for 14–16 days, and the chicks fledge in another 22–28 days. Both parents feed the chicks, assisted by helpers, which are typically sub-adult or unmated birds. This cooperative breeding is reinforced by mutual allofeeding between adults, behaviour reinforced by the bright gape, a feature normally lost in adults of most bird species.

This starling is commonly double-brooded. It may be parasitised by the Great Spotted Cuckoo and Greater Honeyguide.

Conservation status
Common resident – least concern. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

boreocypriensis, Miss_Piggy, haraprasan, smitha, Proframe, Jamesp, rcrick, goldyrs, Aaltjie, marhowie, eqshannon, thor68, Alex99, wuta, Hil, ramthakur, Adanac, parthasarathi, bobcat08, Dyker, Rehanna, jmp, Royaldevon, SelenE, peter_stoeckl, pablominto, Argus, Tamrock, betsie has marked this note useful
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Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Aaltjie: About some vital organs...loot 1 04-16 00:43
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Loot,
Image is fun and concerning the note...pure Hemingway.

Hi friend Loot
Superb portrait of this beautifull starling in all respects!
It seems to be angry :-)
Greetings from Cyprus,

Agge Nee Loot!! - Ek het nog nooit 'n dier gesien met soveel gesigs uitdrukking nie!! Dit is voorwaar 'n "unhappy chappy!!" Baie geluk het hierdie foto. Dit vertel voorwaar 'n storie.Dit is een deel van die natuur wat ek geweldig baie geniet - die feit dat mens baie kan lees in diere, voels, en selfs visse. Ek glo dat jy baie goed behoort te doen met hierdie foto. Beslis by ver my gunsteling!! Ek is bly om te hoor jy voel nou weer beter. Hoop jy is sommer gou weer jouself!! Lekker dag.

Hi Loot,
A lovely portrait of this beautiful unhappy chappy starling. Excellent details and a very nice composition. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hallo Loot
Both Betsie and I had a good laugh when we saw your posting. This bird surely looks like a Mrs Rottermeier the governess of Heidi in the children story. A real sourpuss, and it always looked as if she smelt something rotten, just like this bird does. This is so hilarious and PERFECT seems to be enough, but would it be a decent critique? What is sharpness? - Just look at your shot and you know! Wow, I just love those polkadot eyes. This is a stunner for sure! Thanks for sharing.

Hello Loot,
Fantastic expression!It does look bit grumpy:)
Excellent clarity and details.
Superb background and lighting.
Thanks for the share,

Hello Loot,

This guy really does'nt seem to be to happy with your presence.
What a funny and at the same time angry look in the eyes it has.
Wonderful shot with very beautiful saturated colors and feather details.
Love the pose of the bird and the soft BG.
Technically excellent work with great sharpness, exposure and composition.
A real joy to look at and a perfect note as usual. TFS!!!

Warmest regards, Harry

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-04-15 2:49]

Hi Loot

Great composition - imaginitve framing to achieve an outstanding shot. The eye contact is wonderful and the intense green BG really adds to the shot.


Thanks for your excellent critiques - we had a wonderful time in SA - no hassle whatsoever, we all just have to remember that you need to be careful anywhere - I would not walk around some areas of any major city here with my camera and wearing a decent watch.

Hi Loot

Great portrait, he really does look unhappy.
Good pose and composition
Good sharpness and plumage detail, te big Sigma has done well.


Hi Loot,

Sorry to hear about your bout of bronchitis hope your feeling a lot better now, this is a wonderful shot, detail and POV are perfect, colours are amazing, well framed and composed,

Cheers Rick :)

Superb shot, Loot...I have so much to learn from you and Anna...
This is so humbling, so beautiful..

Hallo Loot
Sorry but I just could not stop laughing looking at this image. It is so comical and amusing.Ek het amper my poepstring geskeur. – Could just not resist saying that! Translated in English – I nearly tore my pankreas. That is an actual photo of me! Where did you get it? I thought I am getting old, now I realize I am getting ugly as well.
I thought nature is wild out there, but with your photo I realize nature is a fun place as well. You must just look closely and you will find all the clowns too.
Bye my friend, I have to visit the loo, and wipe my eyes too. Thanks for making my day. I have not laughed this way for ages.
Warmest regards

A most fitting title Loot, your POV has dramatized the birds "unhappy", almost angry look.
Very nice BG and a well managed exposure, looks like tough light.
Nice colors, details, DOF, and the comp works perfectly for this.
And isn't it true...
Young is now a memory. Rekindled by a word, an action, or a trip as you have done, down memory lane..
Still, good-looking ain't half bad ;}
PS - And I'll be 55 next month BTW..The senior discount will kick in, yippee!!
Dennys restaurent, here I come ;-}}

Hi Loot
Looks a bit like my wife when she is annoyed with me!!! Lovely imaginative photo.TFS.

I certainly can commiserate with you in some of your ailments...and your projection of such onto the portrait of this bird, brings a smile to my face. Good choice overall and well notated as you always do so well...I am glad you are back to posting once more...VERY nice sir! Say hi to Miss P!

"get that camera out of my face!" *gg* excellent portrait, loot, hope he did not attack you.
i really like the wonderful details on the pretty iridescent feathers shining in the sunlight.
terrific job & best wishes, thor.

HI Loot,
Great shot. Good composition and details.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-04-15 8:41]

Hi Loot.
Your photo model is simply charming despite the so strong sight. Wonderful portrait work. You managed to reflect all attractive features and details of the bird: feathers, eyes, beak, haircut and even state of mood. Lighting (in spite of strong sunlight), exposure and colours are superb at highest range. Bravo. Simply outstanding, very impressive shot.

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2008-04-15 10:21]

Hallo Loot , Hi looks not friedly , but It's a beautifull shot from this bird , great sharpnes details colours good job , tfs Greetings Teunie

  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2008-04-15 11:20]

Hi Loot,
you right , it does look quite sad which does not mean it is a sad picture, in fact this made me laugh, never knew that birds can be so emotional ;-).
Looks fabulous, such a unusual pose from the bird. Excellent details, that green BG lets it stand out perfectly.
Excellent sharpness on details.
Get well soon!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-04-15 12:31]

Hi Loot,

What a face! A beautiful chocolate brown and fine details of the plummage. Hope you're feeling better. I always seem to come with brochchitis after a long flight.


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-04-15 12:34]

Hello Loot,
Wonderful portrait in high quality! Superb saturated colours and details. Great POV and composition. The eyes are amazing.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-04-15 13:37]

What a lovely image Loot :-)
The pose is great and this fellow has a priceless look on his face!
Very good sharpness and excellent detail.
Nice DOF too!
Great work!!


  • Great 
  • Hil Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 696 W: 13 N: 1407] (5035)
  • [2008-04-15 14:28]

Hi Loot,

Who upset this guy, it must be somthing about Starings as I remember one of Ralfs with a Superb Starling with a similar grumpy face.
Nicely composed with a superb pose and a great POV.
Good details and exposure.
Lovely colours and light too.
Oh and tell him to cheer up please.


While reading your note, I laughed out loud, Loot. Thanks for it, you old devil!
You made my day.
In fact, I always read your note first. That way, looking at your pictures is always a joyful and learning experience.
So this grumpy looking bird is the native of SA.
I do not recall having seen any other picture of it here on TN, so it is good fun to know more about it and to also admire the picture you have taken so very beautifully.
Sigma 170-500mm seems like a potent weapon in your clever hands.
The synergy between the subject and the green BG is strongly manifest in this great capture.
Thanks for sharing this beauty and hope you are now over the weather!

Hi Loot,
Very sharp image! Beautiful bird very well captured with great composition, beautiful colours and out off focus background.
Very well done and thanks for sharing!

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-04-16 7:37]

Hello Loot,
What a funny and pleasant closeup image, between the image and your note I'm not sure which is more enjoyable. Your sense of humor is what keeps us young, so really you are young and good looking, what a catch for Anna. So glad you are better now and can share with us once more. This image has sharp plumage details and a lovely out of focus background, thank you for sharing Loot.

What a gesture. It could be the only comment from me.

Hello Loot,

Congrats with this shot on TN. A beautiful African Pied starling you show us. Is he/she sometimes angry. It´s look so. What a bright colours has this bird, while the feathers not really noticeable. The eyes are amazing. They kill you (-:. The glow over some parts of his feathers is wunderful. A wonderful bird. Best regards and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-04-17 13:15]

Hello Loot
This "unhappy chappy" is really sour. Those cold white eyes stares right through you and that smirk don't do much to improve the situation. The photo is a good display of a typical Starling grin and I have noticed how one normally do not see much (if any) emotion in a birds eyes. The focus you got out of that long lens adds to the photo and the depth of field was just right to isolate the bird from the background.
Very nice indeed.

Hello Loot

Wat 'n omgesukkelde gesig. My maggies hy kan loshande die trofee wen vir die "Suur gesig van die jaar" kompetisie. Lyk amper soos my man in die oggend wanneer hy die vorige aand té veel gekuier het en ek waarborg jou dit is nie 'n prettige gesig nie. (Gelukkig lees hy nie hierdie kritieke nie.) Ek hou van die direkte oog kontak op die foto, die pragtige glinstering op die vere, die skerp fokus en die eersteklas agtergrond. Nogmaals puik werk en dit spreek seker vanself dat 'n mens niks anders van jou verwag nie.


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-04-18 3:10]

Grumpy looking fellow he certainly is Loot. I love his look, and I think he wants to tell you what he really thinks of you!! We can only guess though - well done MF

Hi loot great shot very good close view perfect sharpness and details
I also like the cropp
well done

Wow, brilliant photo and fitting title, he REALLY looks unhappy!

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2008-04-19 11:52]

Hi Loot,
The most expressive face I ever saw! Good for me too, as I'm under an strong pharyngitis as almost everyone here, suffering from a really changing weather.
The reflections on the feathers, the way you compose and crop the image and the face gesture make a high quality photo.
TFS and best regards, José Miguel

Hello Loot,

My, what a grumpy face we have here!
However, it is a superb portrait!
The light on his feathers creates a wonderful irridescent sheen. The details of his features and feathers are very good.

kind regards,
Bev :-)
Many thanks for your warm comments on 'Long John Silver'.

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-04-20 23:33]

Hi Loot,
I liked your frontal POV and the pose you captured a lot :o) Well saturated colors, background and contrast look very good. TFS
Best wishes,

Hello Loot,

Excellent composition and framing. Very good low POV (to make it look unhappy). Excellent sharpness and wonderful vivid colours.

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-04-21 20:12]

What did you say to that poor starling to make him pout so, Loot?
I am sorry to hear that you got sick after your trip.
I am glad you are feeling better.
That expression is hilarious.
I would never have believed you if you had told me you could make a bird frown and pout (with no lips)!!!
Great details and very interesting POV.
TFS. : )

Dear Loot,
beautiful portrait - colourful, powerful, intense. Very nice to see the glitter of the starling's black feathers so well captured in the bright sunshine, the shiningly white irises of its eyes, the conspicuously coloured beak pointing at the viewer in a seemingly very self-assertive way, seen from a perfectly chosen slightly inclined angle.
High impact, cheerful message - thank you my dear friend. With all my best wishes,

Bonjour Lott
Une autre excellente photo de ce curieux oiseau
Les couleurs sont superbes!
J'aime beaucoup la composition également, un sujet magnifiquement photographié sur un splendide background!
Bravo , j'aime beaucoup ce que tu fais!
Au revoir et merci...Jp

Hello Loot,
This is a fine portrait, and the yellow trimming of the beak is an eye-catcher!
The good light really brings out the finer details in the plumage, all well exposed and with good colours...
This is a fine pose and a well balanced presentation, accurate DoF makes the subject stand out well!
Pablo -

Hi Loot, splendid portrait of this angry bird with fine details and great sharpness, perfect focus and wonderful colors, very well done, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-04-28 12:47]

Hello Loot,
This is great: both the shot and the note!
There is a kind of unhappy meanness about this expression, the sharp eyes and mouth being the focus of attention in this fine close portrait of an African Pied (white arsed) Starling and the contrast with the grenn bokeh is extraordinary.
A striking image that is a fine contribution to TN and thanks for sharing it!
Best regards,

hi loot!
very nice portrait on this fine bird!
good sharpness with fine background
and composition!
well done!

Great shot. The pov makes the facial expression very interesting and the title is also very apt. Great wotk.

Hi Loot
Just marking for now..Back later with a few more themes I can add this to.

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