Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Slow Start

Since the start of the New Year, the weather has been dire from a photography point of view with an almost continuous blanket of leaden skies above. I do not mind taking photos in poor conditions but when the quality and quantity of light are so poor it does tend to become a bit of a fruitless exercise. These grim weather conditions are of course compounded by my limited availability of free time and typically when the sun has appeared briefly this year I have been stuck in the office at work. This is made all the more frustrating as there are a few interesting birds around that I would like to photograph at the moment.

My first trip out of the year, following the prediction of a little sun by the Met Office, proved to be very unproductive as the forecast was wrong and the winter thrushes I was pursuing in an uncooperative mood due to the presence of a large female sparrowhawk. In fact I only came away from the first session of 2011 with a single photograph of a Fieldfare which was feeding on a low Sea Buckthorn bush.

Last Sunday saw me back out again before sunrise and under some rare clear skies. I decided to return to try the same site once more with my main target being the smallest of the winter visiting thrushes, and generally more wary and difficult to photograph, the Redwing. A few Redwing were mixed in with a moderate sized flock of Fieldfare which were working their way across a grass field to where I was sat. So while waiting I passed the time taking a few Fieldfare photographs in the low morning sun.

The birds were mainly hunting for worms, with the berry trees long since stripped of their fruits.

They were also picking up the occasional small snail discovered while foraging amongst the grass.

Occasionally a bird would hop up on to one of the mole hills to survey the surroundings.

The birds made their way closer and closer and were on some occasions too close but a pleasure to be in the company of such a handsome bird. There seems to be quite a degree of variation in the plumage in terms of the degree of 'spotting' and the yellow hue at the top of the breast. This was a particularly nicely patterned bird.

Another very close encounter were I just managed to fit the bird within the frame.

Photographing the Fieldfare was all very enjoyable but it was not really the species I was after. Eventually after a couple of hours patiently waiting the Redwings started moving in to close range.

Redwing tend to be more difficult, not only due to their shyness, but as a result of their behaviour when ground feeding as they are constantly on the move and tend to show a preference for lurking in areas of shade. This can be compared with Fieldfare which often stop and spend moments motionless allowing more time to compose the photo.

The Redwing followed a similar route to the Fieldfare and soon came too close to photograph. I managed just to fit this one in before they moved inside the minimum focusing distance of the lens.
Of course the weather was too good to last and once again I have spent this weekend watching dark grey skies and rain. The skies just cleared at sunset tonight, and what is the forecast for the next couple of days when I will be stuck in the office once more.....sunshine!


John S. Mead said...

Kudos on some nice work here! I envy your 500 lens - I generally have to stick to the bigger critters myself if I hope to get good views with my 70-200 2.8! I enjoy your blog and appreciate the quality photography. I've added you to my blog roll so others also get a chance to see your good work.

Dominic Gendron said...

Great serie, very nice bird! The 6th image is my favorite ;)

Rocket Man said...

They're all wonderful but that last shot is especially stunning. Well done, Richard!

holdingmoments said...

Excellent shots of these winter visitors Rich.
Haven't seen so many Fieldfares around here this winter though; but plenty of Redwings.

Miguel Angel Madrid Gómez said...

Very beautiful images.


Mary Howell Cromer said...

500 lens, oh my what an awesome piece of equipment. I have my trusty 70/300 and being that I only hand hold it, I don't know what I would do with a 500, but I sure would enjoy the treat. Your images are all gorgeous and the feather detailing is amazing. Each of these are picture perfect~

NikosF said...

I really enoyed going through your collection. Magnificent pictures!!

Rich Steel said...

Thanks for the comments. The 500mm is an amazing lens. The new versions of the super telephotos from Canon are looking very good but the benefits will come with a hefty price tag here in the UK. Think I will need a bigger jar to save my loose change in!




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