Archer Leddy will tell you his first memory of birding was when he was barely a 1-year-old.

“When I was a baby, [I was] looking through my binoculars out by the front gate, looking for birds,” Archer says.

The Leddys’ front gate in Padthaway, south-east South Australia, remains a good vantage point. You can see a lot from there.

“Magpies, black kites, wedge-tailed [eagles], red-tailed [black cockatoos], yellow-tailed [black cockatoos], sparrows, honeyeaters, cuckoo-shrikes, the black-faced ones, wattle birds, ravens, currawongs.”

Three images of Archer, first as a toddler, then around 6 years of age, finally at 9 years

Padthaway birder Archer Leddy through the years.(

Supplied: Luke Leddy/ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

)

His favourites though are the spotted pardalote and the “juvenile white belly”, sea eagle that is.

When it comes to identifying what he’s seen, Archer relies on his dad’s guiding voice and his entrusted bird books. He has learnt well what to look for.

“Their tail, their colour, their beak shape, because they can have different beaks. How long their wings are. And what they like to eat,” Archer says.

Grey-bearded man wearing a flat cap with a camera resting in his hands and a boy in yellow T-shirt with camera raised

Luke has taken Archer around South Australia’s south-east region looking for birds in places such as Beachport, Port Macdonnell and Pink Lake.(

Supplied: Luke Leddy

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Those bird books are ones Archer’s father, Luke, had been gifted when he was a child growing up in Sydney in the 1970s.

“As a kid, my father had an aviary and I used to help him with that by looking after the birds, so that’s where my passion for birds began,” Mr Archer says.

After a stint living in New South Wales’ mid-north coast, Luke’s passion for birds was rekindled when he moved to Padthaway, bought a digital camera and had Archer. 

What started as a keen hobby has, over time, created an inseparable bond between father and son.

Special time together

Still at school, Archer says birding with dad is somewhat limited to “mainly shopping days and weekends”.

“And, after this [interview], because we’re going to the shops so we’ll see more birds,” Archer said.

Mr Leddy says they never leave home without his camera.

Archer Leddy turns to his Dad, Luke, while birding. Dad, partially visible, has a tattoo on his arm. Archer is carrying a camera

The Leddy boys have never had to travel far to have a good time.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

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One time Mr Leddy was on the way to Naracoorte without Archer when he saw a black falcon.

“He’d been wanting to see [one] for a while and every time I saw one he wasn’t with me.”

A young boy and a man, both with cameras aloft, lean against a fallen tree

Luke Leddy (right) passed his old camera onto Archer so they could take photos together.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

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He knows what they have and are able to share is “absolutely” special.

A smiling boy wearing a green polo shirt in a suburban front yard, his camera strap evident around his neck

Archer Leddy’s nickname is ‘Nugget’, in honour of the time he once ate 23 chicken nuggets from a 24-pack as an eight-year-old.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

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While always eager to see something, Mr Leddy says it is not the be-all and end-all.

“Having fun. That’s what it’s all about for us,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t see a bird but other days we get lucky and we see lots.”

Dad’s the word

Not only did Mr Leddy hand down his old camera to Archer, he’s been teaching him how to use it — and the lessons seem to be getting through.

“Once you take one picture, go a bit closer, and then a bit closer, and then a bit closer,” Archer explains.

“And move slowly so you don’t scare it. And try and get it before it flies away.”

Shot from underneath magnificent out-stretched wings, this cream, beige and brown wedge-tailed eagle soars against a blue sky

One of Archer Leddy’s photos from 2020 was of a wedge-tailed eagle in flight.(

Supplied: Luke Leddy

)

When asked why he likes birding, Archer is quick to point the finger back at his dad.

“Because it’s fun and, when I grow up, I want to be like him. And I get to see new birds.”

A black tattoo of an eagle is on the left side of a man's bald head.

A bird-lover all his life, Luke Leddy’s head tattoo is an illustration of a photpograph he had taken of an eagle.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

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Although he cannot see quite as many new birds at school, there are some to keep him entertained.

“Mainly magpies, they’re everywhere. And galahs, cockatoos … Sometimes black kites fly around,” Archer said.

Aerial view of a road disappearing to the left and a broad scrubby bushland to the right, almost as far as the eye can see

The Leddy family lives right across the road from this large patch of scrub at Padthaway in south-east South Australia.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

)

“[Most of the time] I can answer it but I sometimes have to chase it to recognise what it is first.”

“Sometimes it goes out of bounds so I’m not allowed [to chase it].”

A birder for life

After eight good years of birding,  Archer is eager to keep at it.

At 146 birds on his list already, there are many species still on his bucket list – including a flamingo in the wild.

“And yellow hammer. And a spotted nightjar. And the night parrot. And maybe a baby wedge tail [eagle], like a juvenile wedgy.”

A boy wearing khaki pants, green shirt and a camera around his neck looks up at an unseen bird, with a book open on his knee

Archer Leddy, who consults his books when identifying birds, has big birding plans in his future.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham

)

His father is prepared for the fact that those dreams will one day have to take him away from Padthaway.

“He sits on the lounge reading through them and picking out birds he wants to find,” Mr Leddy said.

* Mr Leddy shares his bird photos to the Facebook page, ‘Feathers and Beyond’.

Birding forges bond between Padthaway father and son
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