Glossy ibis with a leech

36th day of lockdown. This is taken from a lie down hide in the Danube Delta in Romania. I was on one of Saker tours trips in a boat, which are excellent, but asked the guide to leave me in a small bay for half a day with a hide. It was not really a lie down hide, but I lay down in it with my legs sticking out the back. It was very productive though and I did several species that do not get done from the boat so readily.

Glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus, single bird by water with leech, Romania, July 2017. Canon EOS 7D Mk2. 800mm lens. 400 iso. 1/500th at f11.

Kingfisher

34th day of lockdown. I have photographed Kingfishers many times and this shot is so similar to one I took many years ago. It was easier to get however as I assume I used Procapture and did not have to press the button until after the bird had landed. The reason I do not know is the Exif data does not record whether Procapture was used and my memory is not that good.

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, single bird on branch, Warwickshire, July 2019. Olympus M1x. 300mm lens. 1600 iso. 1/6400th at f4.

Lanner falcon

32nd day of lockdown. In Kenya last year my wife and I rented a Toyoto Landcruiser and did our own self driving African safari. I know that self driving we have less chance of photographing Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs than if we had a guide. The locals know where they are more likely to be found and talk to each other in the camps each night. During the day they have radio contact and when they find something worthwhile they alert the other guides. We were out of the loop.

So we concentrated on the birds. When we saw this Lanner falcon on the floor from a distance it was an advantage to be at the wheel. I did not have to give instructions as to which side I wanted to go and how close to get. It is very frustrating telling someone exactly where to pull up when photographing and you change your mind every second as you approach because you are judging if the bird is going to tolerate the vehicle.

Lanner falcon, Falco biarmicus, Single bird on kill, Kenya, September 2019. Olympus M1x. 300mm lens with 1.4 extender. 800 iso. 1/5000th at f5.6

Margay

30th day of lockdown. Belize zoo is quite unique. It was initially built to make a film on the wildlife of Belize and when finished it was turned into a zoo. Consequently many of the enclosures are good for photography. They also have accommodation on site and we booked in for a few days in the year 2005. To get the best from the situation we paid extra for a guide and to enter the enclosures.

It was very worthwhile and we ended up with images of many species we would never have got in the wild.

Margay or tiger cat or little tiger, Leopardus wiedii, single cat In Belize. December 2005. Canon EOS 1ds Mk2. 400 iso. 1/250th at f5.6

Collared pratincole

29th day of lockdown. Collared pratincoles are beautiful birds that I always want to photograph when I see one. There was a colony in a large field in Southern Spain. A typical Spanish situation with endless dirt tracks to drive on with piles of dumped rubbish, old ruins and the odd herd of goats with attendant goat herd. I edged across the grass in my car trying to get closer to the birds and hoping the ground was firm. It wasn’t.

I am very used to getting my car stuck. Happens several times a year and I am well equipped with large rubber mats, wooden planks, spade and a long tow rope with a hand winch. The hand winch is great so long as the rope reaches something strong enough to attach it. Here there was nothing. An hour later, covered in sweat and mud with darkness looming I was still there.

I walked to the nearest road carrying the rope. It was a small road, but lead to an industrial area so cars were coming past. I ignored the small cars, but tried to wave down the pickups and four wheel drives. I was ignored. It was dusk and I was muddy with the effort of getting unstuck. I would have ignored me too.

Then a large four wheel pulled up. I pointed at the rope, pointed to the field and said “auto kaput”. He grinned indicated I should jump in and headed down the track to my car. He pulled me out with ease gave me a big hug and drove off.

I did get a few images before getting stuck, but I have so many of this bird I wish I had left them be.

Collared pratincole, Glareola pratincola, single bird launching into flight, Southern Spain, April 2010. Canon EOS 1d Mk4. 600mm lens. 800 iso 1/4000th at f6.3

Green woodpecker

27th day of lockdown. At least the sun has stopped shining this morning. Being in lockdown during the best spring weather ever has been doubly frustrating.

Green woodpeckers were frequent visitors to this meadow, but attempts to bait them to one spot with mealworms failed. I tried a different approach. I used a petrol strimmer and cut the long grass down in a 2 sq metre patch and then turned over the soil.

Just like Robins coming down to people digging in their gardens Green and Great-spotted woodpeckers came down within the first hour as well as a few other species. The Green woodpecker was in its summer moult so could have been better.

Green woodpecker, Picus viridis, single bird on ant nest, Warwickshire, July 2012. Canon EOS 1d Mk4. 800mm lens. 800 iso. 1/200th at f5.6