Redwings

Redwings and fieldfares are not so easy to get close to in the early winter when there are so many berries available. They start off eating the rowan and sloe berries, before turning to hawthorn later in the year. It is worth effort trying to get close to them on sloe, because they really struggle to eat the large berries. Taken on the Olympus Em1 Mk2 with a 300mm lnes and 1.4 extender.

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Song thrush

It is usually easier to photograph the winter thrushes later in the winter when there are less berries for them to chose from, but I have been putting more time and miles into it this autumn looking for suitable places.

Song thrush, Turdus philomelos, Single bird in Rowan tree, Warwickshire, October 2018. Canon EM1 Mk2. 300mm plus 1.4 extender. 1/2000th a f8. 800 iso.

Drinking Pool

I have set up this drinking pool many times and always enjoy it. It is a fibre glass tray that no longer holds water so I have had to line it with a rubber sheet. Two pallets on end support the weight and hold a wooden board onto which I place the tray. The two white bits of wood are to prevent the birds landing on the sides of the tray. I want them on the rear edge. I poured resin over the back edge and sprinkled fine dirt on it which looked quite good. Green vegetation was added, but some bare dirt was left as the birds land here to reach the water.

Food is placed at the rear of the tray to get the birds in the right area, but they photograph best when they drink. All pictures taken with the Olympus EM1 Mk2 and the 40-150mm lens with a 1.4 extender. The birds are very close to the hide and without the silent shutter the birds would have jumped as each picture was taken.

Goldfinch

Blue tit

Great tit

Lesser redpoll

Robin

Goldfinch

Coal tit

There has been the usual autumn visits to the Midlands reservoirs of Grey phalaropes and as ever they are very approachable.  This one was a Napton Reservoir and had the advantage that getting low down to the water was easy. I did take a lot of picture lying on the floor, but this one is from a sitting height. They are not great poses and this was about the only time it stopped feeding and held its head up.

 

Grey Phalarope, Phalaropus fulicarius, single bird in winter plumage, Warwickshire, September 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm lens plus 1.4 extender. 1/6400th at f5.6. 800 iso.

 

Common snipe

Common snipe, Gallinago gallinago, Single bird with leech in water, Hungary, September 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm lens plus 1.4 extender. 400 iso. 1250th at f5.6

 

This is my favourite image from Hungary. The snipe pulled up a leech and then walked with it a few metres into the open where he suddenly stretched upwards as a Marsh harrier flew overhead.

 

Shoebill in Uganda

Shoebill, Balaeniceps rex, Single bird on grass, Uganda, August 2018.  Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens. 1/1600th at f5.6. 400 iso.

We hired a Toyota Rav 4 in Uganda and did a self drive in three of their National Parks. Murchinson Falls was by far the best, but all of them were exciting because they are much wilder than the parks we have visited in South Africa and Namibia. Krugger and Etoshia National Parks are enjoyable, but the infrastructure so good that they can feel like a giant version of Longleat Safari Park.

In Uganda the tracks are not well maintained, there is little in the way of sign posting and no fence around the camp sites.

We ignored Mountain gorillas at 600 usd per person per day, but Shoebill was a must and needs a boat trip. We did this from Enttebe going out onto Lake Victoria at Mabamba swamp. I now have another favourite bird!

We were robbed twice, passport, £1000 cash, camera lens and an Iphone amongst others things. The passport was the worst. Time consuming multiple trips to the embassy. The second time the thief got nothing as my wife fought him off while I bravely photographed him from a distance. Do you know this man?

 

 

 

Little owl in flight

I am always looking for the opportunity to use Pro capture. It is my favourite feature of this camera. I manually prefocused in front of the post the bird was sitting on and used 60 fps. So long as the bird flies in the right direction it is easy. One frame is bound to be sharp.

 

Little owl, Athene noctua, single bird in flight, Hungary, July 2018. Olympus Em1 MK2. 300mm f4. 1/4000th at f5.6. 3200 iso. Pro capture at 60 fps manually focused in front of the post.

Stock dove in flight

I spent a lot of time on stock doves and am disappointed that my best image of a bird taking off was an immature one. In fact for the last few days most of the birds have been young ones and the pheasants and partridges also visiting have been moulting and tatty. Not my favourite time of year for photographing birds.

Stock dove, Columba oenas, single juvenile in flight, Warwickshire, July 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens. 1/8000th at f4. 800 iso using Pro-capture at 18 fps.

Stock dove

Stock dove, Columba oenas, single bird on ground, Warwickshire, July 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm lens. 1/6400th at f4. 800 iso. Taken from a lie down hide at a spot I have been baiting for about a month. Other species have been coming in too, but I concentrated on the Stock doves trying to get them in flight as they took off. I have a few successful images, but they are still being edited. It takes a while at 60 fps.

Northern wheatear

I spent a few days in Wales, but on the way pulled my calf muscle. Never would believe how incapacitating such a thing could be. I was not able to get more than a few yards from the car and spent my time either sitting on a stool or lying on the floor. Walking was impossible. Lying on the floor does allow the wildlife to come so much closer and this female wheatear took little notice of me. To her I guess I was no more a threat than a fallen log.

Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe, single female on grass, Wales, May 2018. Olympus Em1. 300mm plus 1.4 extender. 1/800th at f8. 400 iso.