What better way to celebrate the 300th post on this Blog than with some flycatchers. These are very endearing little birds with their large eyes which always have a slight air of mystery to me. They are great birds just to sit and watch with their energetic and acrobatic displays catching insects. I am always amazed that such tiny birds can make that epic voyage up from Africa each spring and and then mysteriously apparently completely disappear into the woods for a couple of months after their young have fledged, before returning back south. Timing is crucial here for a delayed visit to a woodland, that was alive with birds the previous week, can suddenly appear completed deserted.
I headed over to my favourite site in North Wales to photograph some Pied flycatcher. I sat very quietly and patiently for some birds to appear and it was probably a 2 hour wait before I started getting some opportunities to take some photographs, during which I kept the voracious local midge population fed.
The female was first on the scene and always with beaks full of insects for her brood.
Photographing Pied flycatchers is a real photographic exposure challenge as the woodland light is constantly changing as the sun arcs around and branches above gently sway in the breeze. These conditions often create almost spotlight lighting.
It is however the exposure on the pied males birds when the fun really starts. The challenge is trying to balance retention of photographic detail in both the black and white areas of the bird without over or under exposure. You certainly have to know your way round the camera settings and use some nimble finger work to adjust them to allow for the lighting wherever the bird lands.
One the great features of the damp western oak woods which the birds prefer, is that most of the branches they perch upon provide some attractive setting for the photographs, especially those covered in moss or lichens.
To finish this post off I was also f recently fortunate to put a Spotted Flycatcher, a species that has sadly plummeted in numbers, in front of the camera for the first time. A bird I would certainly like to photograph some more but that will have to be a project for next year now as some sea birds are 'calling' for my attention.