Thursday, April 23, 2009


I recently took a visit across to Marshside RSPB. The main purpose of the trip was to try and get some photographs of black-tailed godwits in dispute which always make a great photographic subject. However, this plan was not fulfilled as the were very few godwits present which was no doubt partly due to the large number of the noisey and aggressive avocets that were there.

Black and white birds are always a tricky exposure as it is a fine balance in trying to get some detail in the black areas without over exposing the whites. The easiest way to do this is just to time the visit when the sun is low and light less harsh, either early in the morning in late in the afternoon.



There was plenty of activity as the birds engaged in terratorial and dominance disputes.

There was also a fair amount of mating going on which follows a very specific sequence. The female stands still and adopts a position with tail up and head flat to the water while the male struts around her preening himself.

The male then starts to splash water over the female's head from both sides, immediately before mating.


After the act the male jumps down and the birds cross bills before making a short run across the water. An enjoyable session overall despite the general lack of godwits.


Dale Forbes said...

wow, those avocets are stunning. i am jealous for it is a bird i continually manage to dip: probably one of my biggest blockers.

You have really managed to capture their colours despite - as you so clearly point out - the difficulty in photographing white and black birds.

Happy birding

Matt Latham said...

Brilliant series Richard. The exposure is perfect. My personal favourite is 2nd down.

Ginnymo said...

These are funny looking birds but so beautiful!! Never saw beaks-bills like that before..LOL Awesome photos!!

The Early Birder said...

Never mind the Godwits, this series reminded me of many happy hours watching displaying Avocets.
Excellent work Rich.

Billy said...

Amazing shots as usual, Richard, well done! Could I ask how you manage to upload such large images to Blogger, I think I might have to try this but don't know how to get them that big!

Cheers, Bill

David Álvarez said...

Great series!!. Avocets are very nice birds to photograph.
Perfect exposure, perfect contrast, and perfect movement. My favourite shot is the 3rd down.


Madison said...

The legs seem almost to be like see through plastic. Wow

Rich Steel said...

Thanks for the comments. The exposure of black and white birds is always a fine balancing act but easier when the sun is lower and the light softer. If you photograph them in harsh sunlight then to save the exposure on the whites means that you are usually sacrificing detail in the blacks.

Billy if you drop me an email I will send you some details of how to get bigger images on your blog.




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