So, you may be aware I've been banging on about some great close encounters with Swifts recently. Well, it would be churlish not to attempt to document it, wouldn't it! Mind you, a few people I know, say things like "Cetti's Warblers, waste of time looking, you never see them." or "Swallows and Swifts, too fast to photograph, so I don't bother." It's like a red rag to a bull as far as I'm concerned! So, having gone for a walk on the moors in the morning, I made another trip out to the local park in the evening looking for the Swifts again. They had been regulars over a reed bed but on the way I passed a hunting Kessie
Eventually, I got to the reed bed, set up the tripod, so the sun's behind me and look for the Swifts. The unreliable little beggars are nowhere to be seen! So, you stand around like an idiot and start photographing everything, while you're waiting. Telephoto landscapes ... ooh, there's a pair of Buzzards going over
Now a Mallard
While I concentrating elsewhere a couple of Swifts had snuck in under the radar!
They don't stay but it's a start. Meanwhile, there's the constant burbling of nearby Larks and suddenly one breaks cover just a few feet away and launches into a shallow song flight.
I never realised they had such long rear claws - I almost thought this was a Meadow Pipit when I saw the photo as they were around too. Distracted by an insect on the way down!
Now, look at the camera, please.
Those d**n Swifts have snuck in again while I was otherwise occupied
There were some hazy clouds around, so the skies aren't always bright blue
I've got at least a dozen Swifts, now, so there's always something to try and track in camera
Now, the Skylark has gone off again (at least three were within yards of me)
Back to the Swifts - I using a speed in excess of 1/1000th and still the wings are blurred but a head-on shot is worth a little wing blur!
One of my favs, with the tail fanned
The classic scimitar shape!
And catching a fly - their beaks look tiny, but see how wide they open!!
There that wasn't too difficult was it? Joking aside, I was pleased I got that many, but an awful lot went to the cutting room floor! And you should've seen the photo that got away - profile shot, beak wide open, fly's wing showing inside the beak! Sadly just out of focus I think I was there for a good two hours and got cramp in my hand from constantly trying to track the little black bullets. You gradually get better and I thoroughly enjoyed it the fabulous views (when I got them in focus)! I'll probably have another go soon just for the fun of it and because there's a better shot round the corner.
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
2013 photos & vids here
eff37 on Flickr
Stunning photos Nige, those swift ones are absolutely brilliant, they should be on your Flickr stream.
Interestingly, you also get the darkened plumage colours, which I put down to the camera settings and angle of light, but I'm a mere amateur and still learning.
Flickr Peak Rambler
Lot to learn
In reply to Nigel O:
Nigel O said:Thanks allMike: My Flickr account is normally several days and even weeks behind, unless I want a photo there promptly for some reason. One or two will make it .... eventually. As for the settings, nothing unusual - perhaps a little bit of over-exposure to bring out detail in the blacks. I put it down mainly to knowing where they were likely to be and setting up accordingly, with the sun behind me (the camera was on a tripod so I wasn't spinning around into the sun as I might have done if I had been hand-holding) so the sun couldn't put them in silhouette and that everything was done after 6.30pm with the sun coming in low. You can see from the Lark's eye the highlight is in the middle and not high up. I think it's much more difficult to catch the right angle of light when the sun is a lot higher than the birds.
With anything, or creature in that scenario, it is a case of preempting the situation, not just the exposure, but the distance as well. They're still good shots, and noted on your Flickr acc.
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