Stonechat in flight

I shall leave the Stonechats for a while now. If it snows I will start again, otherwise leave it until the male is in its spring plumage.

Stonechat, Saxicola rubicola, single male in flight by cabbage, Warwickshire, December 2019. Olympus m1x, 300mm lens, 1/2500th at f5.6. 1600 iso

Stonechat

Stonechats find a tray of mealworms very quickly and are easy to attract. I used a hide for the first few days, but they quickly became very tame and I could just sit on a stool in the open. The male was very prone to hovering over the tray, but is was very brief and never in the same place twice so this was my only successful flight picture.

Stonechat, Saxicola rubicola, single male in flight, Warwickshire, November 2019. Olympus M1x. 300mm. 1600 iso. 1/20000th at f4
Stonechat, Saxicola rubicola, single male on branch, Warwickshire, November 2019. Olympus M1x. 300mm plus 1.4 extender. 800 iso. 1/125th at f8

Drone first flight

I am enjoying shooting video so much that I made my first showreel lasting 10 minutes. I even enjoyed the editing, which surprised me as I expected it to be frustrating and tedious.

The next step will be a 10 minute film in slow motion, but beyond that I would like to do a short film on the land where I do much of my photography. I have started to edit it and could see it needed some aerial shots from a drone. After a bit of research I opted for a cheaper model at £225. It would take my Gopro camera so I knew I would be happy with the picture quality.

This is my inaugural flight. I have much to learn and next month I will need a licence to fly it.

 

Rook

I spend a lot of time shooting video these days. When I look at my collection of stills images I often wish I was shooting video when I took them. Especially the action of behaviour shots. This rook burying sweet chestnuts is a classic example of behaviour that would not show in a stills picture. I did not know rooks eat them and next year must collect a bag full to feed them during the winter. Birds caching food is common enough and members of the crow family are supposed to be smart enough to find them again.

Taken with the Olympus Em1 Mk2 and the 40-150mm lens. I should have shot in slow motion mode, but forgot and had to slow it down in software afterwards. That loses a little in quality, but I am pleased with the way it has come out. If played back at normal speed it is hard to see what is happening.

 

 

Hamerkop

Hamerkops build huge nests and this bird was very busy collecting sticks from around our camp site. I started off hand holding the 300mm lens, which is very possible with 7.5 stops of image stabilizer, but there is no doubt average sharpness improved when I got the tripod out of the car and certainly composition did.

Kenya was an exciting trip. We rented an old Toyoto Landcruiser, which was hard work to drive and went to Samburu, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara. Unlike Uganda last year we had no punctures, but had to top up the radiator twice a day and the black smoke from the exhaust was embarrassing at times. Navigation was more difficult than anywhere else I have been and without GPS we would have found the Masai Mara impossible to get around. It all looks the same.

The Landcruiser was brilliant off road and I began to feel there was no river or ditch it would not cross, but on tarmac roads 50 mph was its best and that would take 3 minutes to reach. The air-conditioning did not work and the suspension was hard and bone crunching.

 

 

Hammerkop or Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta, Single bird on grass with nest material, Kenya, September 2019. Olympus E-M1x, 300mm f4 lens. 1/400th at f4. 1600 iso.

Red kite

Red kite, Milvus milvus, single bird in flight, Wales, September 2019. Olympus M1x, 300mm f4 lens. 1/4000th at f4. 1600 iso

Taken at Gigrin Farm, Wales. The ability of the M1x to focus on birds in flight continues to impress, even when close to the ground it locks onto the bird and not the grass behind. All I have to do is get the bird in the frame.