Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Florida shots

For those who are interested I've set up a separate blog to post my (too many) Florida snaps. The first new post, and links to some old ones is now on HERE.

An imperial mistake

There are still times when I think I've taken a good snap, but when I get back to the PC I'm disappointed. If I've misjudged the light, or struggled with marginal wobble from a handheld exposure it's easier to see it as a learning point. When it's because I've simply cocked up it's harder to bear. For the second time this year I went in search of hawfinch. Makes about 8 or 9 hours in the hide. And finally a lovely female arrived, and posed quite well. On very first glance shots not too bad, but then I realised the quality wasn't right. In messing about with my (fairly)new camera, trying to read the small screen I'd set it to take 2.5MP RAW shots. Why on earth would they set the camera to even be able to do it!! I've learnt the lesson alright, but it's a real shame. Still she's pretty enough .........

.... if you like your birds to have a big pair of mandibles! Just look at that frontage!I'll stick the shots on the 'latest pictures' web album anyway - anything looks better than the blogger shots (although I may make some progress on that front soon, thanks to some guidance from Rich Steel. Now there's a man who does know how to take a good photo - just look at these fabulous grasshopper warbler shots HERE).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Search of a Corn Blob

Ever since I 'found' Marshfield last year I've been hankering to try and get a better shot of a corn bunting (corn blob is the Yorkshire name). You just don't see them most places these days, but the website revealed they were being consistently seen. They're not really exciting to look at - the name bunting originally described a plump or thickset person, which is apt - and colour-wise they are streaky brown. But I wanted to snap one, so back it was to the high ground.
On Saturday I saw a few, but realised the problems that the light was going to pose. All the perches I found where I felt I could wait in sufficiently close ambush were on the south side of the accessible land, and the fact that we did have some sun meant the lighting was all wrong. I did manage a rather distant shot, and took great pleasure in seeing my first wheatear and swallow of the year, but photo-wise it was basically yellowhammer and a rather tame chaffinch.
I stuck a branch in the end of a hedge where I'd seen one showing a couple of times - the books say they like to sing from elevated perches - and resolved to come back for a couple of hours the next day.
I arrived in fog. The buntings were there, the light wasn't ...
and when I first got out the car one was on the branch. Success. Not!
Despite a long wait I couldn't get it to use the branch again. Maybe I was too obvious, but later in the day the same bird happily sang from a few feet over my head. It sat on the hedge near the branch, but never went back up. A goldfinch in cliched teasel pose felt scant reward.
Eventually I got a few shots (from the portable hide I have made by Honda) and the light although quite harsh and awkwardly directed turned out to be better than I feared when I got the shots on the PC.
I know I can get better, and now think I know (probably) the two potentially best places to try. But that's for another day.

As always better quality shots in the 'latest pictures' album HERE.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Chiffs Chaffing

After a couple of weeks away in the Florida sunshine the first bird I heard singing in the car park at Gatwick was a chiff chaff, and somehow it didn't seem too bad to be back after all.

Some pics of his transatlantic cousins to follow when I'm a bit more sorted. I have to admit this little fellow is a touch drab compared to a painted bunting, but at least I got a decent view of this one.