Thursday, April 25, 2013

Far project sessions 9 + 10

Having worked out that the hawfinches were coming in the afternoons my normal weekend schedule had to change, but other factors have caused some hassles, so I've not managed to get out as much as I would have liked. 
Session 9 saw some light showers adding a certain gloss to the woodwork and leaves, but meant that I had to go without the 1.4 extender.  Normally that wouldn't be a bad thing - you don't always want to be in tight, but this is unavoidably a very small area I have to work in so setting the bird in the landscape doesn't work so well - the landscape isn't that photogenic!
Still the session saw the arrival of a furry visitor as well as feathered ones, and for the first time I saw more than one hawfinch.  I now know there are at least 4 visiting and I suspect there may be more.  Although I have only ever seen three at one time, two are carrying bling.  So I know there are 2 males, one ringed, and two females, one ringed.  The female had a colour ring, so I can maybe find out where it was trapped.

Session 10 saw the sun out again.I'm still struggling to get clean snaps, but gradually getting there when the birds play ball with the props.  I think I'll have to rig up a background, but just a bit worried that it might put the haws off.  I also need to spend a bit more time on the redpoll and siskin which have been neglected with my haw obsession.

I love the attitude in that last shot - just a shame about the scenery.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Far Project sessions 6-8

A change of tack from previous sessions saw me try an afternoon visit for number 6.  I'm still working on the props, but a branch I found shaped a bit like an opened out capital Omega (Ω) is proving popular with the female woodpecker who grabs a sunflower seed and takes it to the branch to break it open.
The floor has gradually accumulated seed husks, and despite some brushing (honestly) it's proving hard to avoid seeds or husks in the snaps.  The best solution seems to be to scatter some leaves around, which adds to some of the shots.
Anyway a feature of session 6 was the reappearance of a hawfinch - again fleetingly, but hopping onto and over some of the prop branches.  I locked on during the second visit, but before I could hit the shutter button it hopped down then away.
Session 7, back to mornings and no hawfinch.  Still a steady flow of other birds.

Session 8 was back to afternoons but as three hours ticked by I was staring to rue the vagaries of hawfinch.  There's no place for a hide at this site.  I'm lying on the ground with my upper half in a small frame of scrim netting and camo scarves (Primark c.2009!), camera balanced on my 'big' beanbag; produces nice eye-level shots of the birds but my it's hard on your neck!  Not just that but the breeze was blowing my disguising leaves away.  I'd gone with the usual 300mm lens and 1.4 converter - fast enough for the shady times. and just about allows a snap of bigger birds like the woodpeckers.  Next thing I knew there was a stunning hawfinch - not on the props, but bang in front of me.  No question of framing a shot here really, pretty much full frame.  Oh for a fast zoom lens. I've been lucky enough to snap hawfinch a few times now and just love them.  I think the word 'imperial' sums them up for me.  The bill is immense and the billhook feathers a fabulous blue.  Then there's the sheer size.

Next time the seed positioning will be a bit more careful! And hopefully the leaves won't get blown away.  Hawfinch return so far - probably 20-25 hours of preparation and lying down for perhaps 5 minutes of action - about par for the course for me.

Click on the pics for bigger views.