Regular readers will know that I have a long running project which has involved attempting to take some photographs of Jays in flight. This has been known as 'Project J'. My success in achieving this goal has been very limited to almost non-existent from my previous attempts but I can now happily report that progress is being made.
There are quite a number of difficulties to overcome on Project J. Firstly you need to overcome the shy nature of Jays and find a method of getting close to them, then you need to get them flying in the right place in relation to the light and along 'predictable flight paths' and you also need some good light conditions to get sufficient shutter speed to freeze the motion. On top of all of these factors they are actually very erratic on their flight path, particularly at point of landing which makes it extremely difficult to lock focus with the camera. This probably accounts for why there does not seem to be many flight photographs of them. However, I am never one to shy away from a photographic challenge and finally my perseverance is starting to produce some results and the following are from two brief sessions.
Project J tends to be a bit of a waiting game and so I welcomed the appearance of this incoming Wood Pigeon for some pre-Jay flight practice.
This next photograph reveals another problem with the Jays in that all the interesting wing patterns and colours are on the top side.
The contrast in the under and top surfaces of wings can be seen quite well in this photograph taken at a moment when the sun disappeared behind a cloud.
A further problem is that the flight is not continuous wing flapping but a combination of 'flap' and 'glide with wings held tight to the body' which is probably a major contributing factor to their erratic flight. This photograph shows a bird between flaps.
This basically leaves two options available for get them looking at their best either a banking view which is very difficult to achieve or during a wing downbeat.
Finally may favourite photo to date of the banking pose which I think was a result of more luck than judgement.
I have not finished with Project J yet and just waiting for some sunshine to coincide with some free time. So expect some more updates in the future, hopefully!