Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ibis Impatience

A comment I hear often from friends about my hobby is "I don't know how you have the patience for it", and it has to be said, I do have some patience when it comes to getting photos of wildlife. I have to often wait for the subject to appear, wait for the weather to be bright enough for a photo, wait for other factors to be right, like how close the subject is, if I have a clear view, if it's not being scared off by other things, etc. etc. And I have had some seemingly insane sessions of having to wait, for example, for a bittern to show, for over 6 hours, in a freezing cold hide in the middle of winter, only to see it for about 30 seconds.

Therefore I was quite surprised at how impatient and annoyed I became when, arriving at some horse paddocks in Brownhills, to find for the second time running that the glossy ibis that had been entertaining many a visitor, had again flown off. Not to be seen again that day. The previous attempt had been with Dave Hutton, and we'd searched fruitlessly for it around the surrounding area.

Again, I'd arranged to meet Dave, and had sent him a text to warn him, but he didn't read it before arriving, and after realising the bird wasn't there, called me a Jonah, and left! I was so peed off at again missing the bird, I could barely bring myself to speak to another visitor, so scuttled back to my car. I think part of it had been because I had had a task to do earlier in the day, and having waited to do that, meant I'd missed the ibis, and in good weather.

So when an opportunity to visit the site for a third time arose, I was reluctant to bother, if I'm being honest. But I did, and upon walking through the gate I was relieved to hear from the folks there already, that the ibis was still present, albeit in the back field.

Gear grabbed, I joined the group watching it from a distance. The problem then was, I already have a good few pics of a glossy ibis from the one at Hungerford, so getting shots on a cloudy morning from about 100 yards wasn't appealing. No-one was willing to approach the second field, which may have been down to them not wanting to spook it. But then one of the girls from the stables strolled past, up to the second field with a horse, and back past us again. The ibis, much like the one at Hungerford, didn't bat an eyelid and stayed put. I asked the others if they were going to go for a closer look, and if they minded me going. They didn't mind, but chose not to follow me over.

While I was now a fair bit closer, the light wasn't great, and bits of mist drifted through. The ibis seemed content to probe for food in the small puddles made by the horses' hooves, occasionally taking flight when the gulls and magpies went up first. Whilst watching it, I tried to get something of a more artistic shot, with a horse also in the shot. Sadly, as I took the photo, the horse decided to empty its bladder, and the resulting image wasn't really worth airing!

Eventually it decided to fly over to the first field, which was where all the others were patiently waiting. I crept around the hedge to get a view, and hoped the light might improve to get at least some reflection shots, while it paddled in one of the flooded areas of the paddock. By the time the light did start to improve, the ibis had decided to take a wash, and was splashing away all the mud from the other field, from itself.

Then spent some time, strutting about with its wings stretched out, to dry them off.

And then flew back to the other field, just as the light started to improve considerably. Typical, so we all thought. I grabbed a shot when a rare beam of sunlight caught the ibis, though it was still at distance.

Would it ever come closer? Thankfully yes was the answer, and back it flew to the first field, and landed much closer than before. I have to admit to being a little envious of the photographers who were now in the best spot, but I refrained from approaching them, to allow them to reap their reward for their patience. However, when an elderly couple strolled past me and past the ibis, to the other group, I decided to chance it too, and as before, the ibis ignored me.

Now on the right side for the occasional sunlight, I could get the sort of shots I had hoped for.

It was now a case of waiting for some decent light, and ensuring the focal point was on the head of the ibis, which was now filling the frame.

Thankfully the little joystick on the back of the 7D makes moving the focal point around simple, and I set the frame up, and waited for the ibis to line its head up with the point, to grab the shot I wanted.

When it took time to pose, this task was made even easier, and I soon noticed the shot counter falling and not returning to 22, meaning I had almost filled the card!

Card swapped, and I grabbed a couple more before the ibis strolled off, further away again. But I had taken far more shots than expected, and after looking at the approaching clouds, decided to head back.

So, once again, this third visit proved that a little patience and determination, usually yields rewards. And my mood had improved with them.

No comments: