Photographing jays

I have been spending a lot of time learning video. It is a complex subject with so many settings I do not understand. I have had to change the video editing software I was using as my old one could not cope with 4K video. I am now using Cyberlink PowerDirector 17 which I am finding easy to get to grips with. This clip I have put together tonight in a couple of hours. Dealing with sound is the hardest part of the whole process.

Eurasian jay

I wanted a few pictures of jays taking acorns off the floor rather than from logs. The floor is a raised platform covered in leaves. I placed an obvious perch above the platform that the jays would land on and see the bait below them.

Eurasian jay, Garrulus glandarius, single bird on ground with acorn, Warwickshire, December 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 40-150 f2.8 lens with 1.4 extender. 800 iso. 1/500th at f4.5.

Common buzzard

Common buzzard, Buteo buteo, single bird on dead pheasant, Warwickshire, December 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens plus 1.4 extender. 1250th at f5.6. 400 iso

I have been baiting buzzards in a new field for about 2 weeks. The hide is half hidden behind the bank of a small pond and puts the lens at ground level. Next time I might move the bait a bit closer to the hide to reduce the amount of out of focus grass in the foreground. What I really want is more than one buzzard coming in so I get some displaying and fighting that they are prone to doing.

Ring ouzel

Ring ouzel, Turdus torquatus, Single male on berries, Wales, November 2018

Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens plus 1.4 extender. 1/640th at f5.6. 3200 iso.

In my twenties I would go to the Elan Valley in Wales to find their nests, but they have not bred there for some years as far as I know. In the autumn they do pass through and feed on the few rowan trees found in the car parks. The valley is a wet place with 70″ of rain a year and I felt that 35″ of those fell while I sat with them for two days. At least I was in the car.


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.

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.

Blue tit
Great tit
Lesser redpoll


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.