Painting the sky with birds

  • November 30, 2014 8:55 pm

The rush of air in wings, a thousand birds swirling through the sky in perfect synchrony. At this time of year you can witness one of natures most spectacular events as thousands of Starlings flock together to roost in safety. Across the country great clouds of birds gather at dusk, dancing through the sky together before pouring down into the roosting site. These murmurations occur in many different places, one of the most famous being Brighton Pier, but they also happen over reedbeds. There’s normally a small murmuration on the fen every year, so I set out to photograph it. I wasn’t particularly successful on this occasion sadly, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back soon.

Whilst I was there though, with the light fading fast, I turned my attention to the equally spectacular Rook and Jackdaw roost. The noise is the first thing that strikes you, the combined voices of hundreds of Rooks and Jackdaws becomes an overwhelming cacophony, as the birds swoop through the sky. Not in synchrony like the Starlings, much more a chaotic ballet as each birds searches for the perfect roosting spot. With the sun now below the horizon, the birds pour into the trees. With barely any light to shoot with I manually focus on the birds already in the trees and keep my finger on the shutter button. Each flying bird leaves a ghostly trail through the sky with such a slow shutter speed, and the camera captures the very last glimmer of light in the sky. After I take this image, a trembling hoot from one of the local Tawny Owls echoes out from the wood, and I know it’s time to head home.

RookRoost291114DM1781

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A few birds

  • February 22, 2014 10:41 pm

A quick round up of this weeks photography, I’ve been trying out a new lens combination and I’m thoroughly impressed. What do you think?

Blackbird, Turdus merula, male perched on garden fence, Norfolk, UK

Black headed gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus, close up, coast, Norfolk, UK

Jackdaw, Corvus monedula, perched on wooden fence, coast, Norfolk, UK

Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, perched on wire fence, Norfolk, Winter plumage, UK

All of these were taken using Nikon’s 300mm f/2.8 G IF-ED VR and TC-17E II Teleconverter. It’s an extremely well balanced set up, much more manageable than my current Sigma 500mm f4.5 lens which I find rather ‘top heavy’. The sharpness and quality are excellent and it focuses quickly and quietly. The other benefit of course, of using arguably Nikon’s sharpest ever lens with a converter is that the minimum focussing distance is maintained, meaning it effectively becomes a 500mm lens that focuses down to just 2.3 meters, compared with the 4 meters of the Sigma 500mm, great for little birds, and great for getting creative.

I’m really pleased with the results from this very flexible combination, I just wish I had longer than one week to play with it!

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