Tuesday 1 March 2011

Playing The Game

As a rule of thumb, for weather forecasts I tend to check the various websites about 5 days before any time off (weekends and something called a "day off", which is apparently not possible for me at the moment, according to the boss, although he can take time off...), because I find the accuracy to be better than the forecasts made the day before. Based on this method, I'd worked out that the weekend wasn't going to be anything special, so decided to stay local.

This was possibly a bad move, as most people I know in the world of Bird Photography were heading to Lincolnshire for the short-eared owls, and this could have extremely annoying consequences if they all bagged wonderful shots. Still, I had managed a fair few recently, in good light, and wanted something else instead.

Getting Dad out of the house with the poor weather recently has been a challenge, but a couple of weeks back, he got out after I'd convinced him he ought to try somewhere new, and proudly showed me a few shots of treecreepers, goldcrests and best of all, red legged partridges, from a woodland in Warwickshire. Green-eye syndrome flared up, and hence I set off there, in the hope of getting some myself.

It wasn't a promising start, as it was pouring with rain when I left the house, and had barely eased by the time I parked up. By then, I'd experienced the usual with a perched up buzzard. See it whilst driving. Find somewhere to turn around. Park up nearby. Slowly get the camera ready and window open... and off it flies. I could scream at times...

Buzzard frustration aside, the sun did eventually come out, and after a couple of hours, the partridges also pottered out of the woods. Amusing characters, how they scuttle around, and they're fast when they need to be. You almost expect to hear them utter "meep meep" as they hurtle off.

Also around were treecreepers, pheasants, a goldcrest, masses of chaffinches, but no brambling alas, woodpeckers and a couple of siskin, though they never came out of the shadows.

Of course the problem with woodland is the gloom, and birds have a habit of not appearing when the sun does, so I had to drop back to a mere 500mm, to get better speed for the shots. Some birds strayed too close at times, and I realised how much I miss not having a 2nd camera, with the 100-400mm attached. Should be back from repair this week though, the 40D. It got soaked at RAF Cosford last summer, and has gradually been failing since. New circuit board required. Ouch. Add that to the failed shutter mechanism, and the 40D has cost me a small fortune. It's a good camera though, when it works!

The icy wind finally got the better of me, and the heated seat of the car was most welcome on the drive home.

With a gig on Sunday night, I avoided the long trip up north, and as it turned out, it was a wise move. My friends waited all afternoon for the owls to show, but they failed to appear. A timely reminder that nothing in bird photography is guaranteed!


by Carl said...

Nice shot's Pete. A wise move not to head north. I'm afraid jealously got the better of me and I headed up there, and I think if it wasn't for that icy wind it probably would have been ok, only two seen all day, maybe next time.I did manage the LEO's so not so bad after all, oh and a distance look at the RL Buzzard that like most Buzzards stayed well away, some things never change.

Max Silverman said...

I still cannot get a decent Goldcrest shot but you did well again Pete.