ARCHIVE 87 – SKYLARKS OVER TEALHAM MOOR

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My latest visit to the Somerset Levels produced something really of note.  I was an enthusiastic birder for decades and have had many great experiences with birds – but 28 June last certainly ranks up there with the best in recent years.

The weather was really not summery, with a stiff westerly breeze carrying in intermittent spits and spots of rain from the Bristol Channel, and I’d driven up to the low bridge where the tarmac of Jack’s Drove crosses the North Drain, a sizeable but totally manmade waterway.  I walked across the tiny road towards the rough pasture on the other side and, as I got there, a Skylark exploded up from the grass immediately in front of me and, wings flapping frantically to hold its station in the teeth of the cold wind, it rose vertically up into the sky and hung there, right in front of me, singing its head off.  If only I’d had the camera ready!

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But luckily this was not to be the sole such performance. These little birds are up to 18cm long, bill tip to tail tip – that’s somewhere around 7 inches to you and me –  and the simple fact is that I’m staggered by the images I’ve captured.  But, make no mistake, this post is not about my photographic prowess, but rather about the D800’s autofocus capabilities, which stun me.  And the D700 has the same abilities.  There’s no question, but that without these Nikons’ brilliant autofocus, I wouldn’t be able to attempt many of the shots that I do.  Manual focus could never keep up with these situations – and the more so with my ageing eyes.

And as I’d forgotten how to use the D800’s 3D autofocus, all of these pictures were taken using a single autofocus point, in gusting wind and spitting rain.  I took many, many shots and of course large numbers are complete failures – maybe if I’d got the 3D autofocus working the hit rate might have been higher – there was after all nothing else in the blank sky for the autofocus to latch onto.  These images were taken with the long end of my 70-300 zoom using DX format, i.e. at a focal length of 450mm.  They are not all sharp, but these few are close enough to it for me.

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Skylarks have a special place in my heart.  I never fail to be entranced and uplifted by the spectacle of their determined rise up into the heavens, and then their tiny specks soaring at great height over their territories – almost invisible, high up, showering the landscape below with their incessant, fast paced song which (I read in my birdguide) can last for anything up to 15 minutes at time.  I regard them as something special in the English landscape, an integral and special part of my homeland – tho realising of course that they can be found all over Europe, where they are summer visitors to the colder parts. 

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The birds have their beaks open in these photos – they are singing their heads off!

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

22 Responses to ARCHIVE 87 – SKYLARKS OVER TEALHAM MOOR

  1. Sallyann says:

    No words needed. 🙂

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, Hallysann – but cakes are needed, so if you could just send some … 🙂 …

      Like

      • Sallyann says:

        Ha ha, haven’t made a cake in ages, the cake tins are calling though. Been dieting and I’m almost where I want to be to go looking for a mother-of-the bride outfit. 😀

        Like

        • Adrian Lewis says:

          Tell me, do the cake tins call mournfully, yearningly even, to you? Oh, I can’t bear the poignant agony.

          And you’ve been … dieting … like the language of Mordor, … I will not utter that word here!

          And mother of the bride outfit??? Congratulations indeed, my friend! Great stuff! 😀

          And I haven’t forgotten the glass of water … either … oh god ….

          Like

          • Sallyann says:

            Oh yes, I can really feel for the cake tins as I pour my yoghurt over my bananas. And there’s a strong feeling of shock as the ginger and lemon is added to my stirfried chicken instead of the spingemix..
            Alas, even though the mother should never look as good as the bride at these events, there is quite a strong element of competition between both mother-in-laws to be.
            It’s just not in me to compete on budget and beauty salon though so I’m going for slim and quirky.
            As for the glass of water, surely you can’t tell me it didn’t make you laugh. 😀

            Like

            • Adrian Lewis says:

              Spingemix? I love spingemix, its somehow very you! 😉 🙂 😀

              But competition between mother-in-laws to be? Get a life, missis!!! Tho slim and quirky sounds good – dissociate yourself from the silliness, dear, and let them as have not much between their ears get on with it!

              I can’t tell you it didn’t make me laugh as I haven’t done it yet. What else will it do besides make me laugh????? And am I still talking about the glass of water????

              Like

              • Sallyann says:

                Spingemix ! Typo ! Like it though, I might adopt it. 😀
                As for the competition, I’m quite liking the slimmer me so it’s done me a favour, I haven’t been this size for a good fifteen years and it sits happy on me.
                And the clothes shopping ? I now have ten months to enjoy it before I have to just buy something because I need to.
                I think maybe the vintage shops are the way to go first… and then a hat… Yay for hats ! 😀

                Liked by 1 person

                • Adrian Lewis says:

                  I envy you the slimming, and also admire your resolve, truly I do.

                  And oh yes, yay for hats definitely … something large and floppy … no, no, not you, Hallysann … the hat, the hat …. !!! 😀

                  Like

  2. Sonali Dalal says:

    Each one makes nice minimal.

    Like

  3. bluebrightly says:

    What a sense of wonder they evoke. The last photo and first are my favorites – I love the soft gradient of the clouds in the first. Would have loved to have been there!

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      A sense of wonder says it very well, Lynn; watching these diminutive creatures struggle up into the turbulent and wet air brought just that to me – I’m sure you would have enjoyed being there. Thank you very much for your appreciation and your good thoughts! Adrian

      Like

  4. Soaring and swooping, singing and winging. Great captures, A. Free as a bird. Ahhhhhhh!

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Free, yes, as you happen not to be just at this moment – enjoy the pictures of the natural world carrying on regardless – but remember that “free” though it may be, its basic philosophy is eat and be eaten, which does have its drawbacks …

      Like

  5. athyfoto says:

    It is surprising how it happens that the one function we need at some point is the one we hardly use and soon forget! It happens to me often. 3D tracking autofocus always catches me out even though I often browse my user manuals and keep getting the “Oh yes, forgot about that” moments.

    I keep hearing various pros saying “practice practice practice” but don’t often take heed 😐

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Oh you’re so right, Frank! With so many things, and photography and computers are cases in point, I find that unless I’m repeating an action pretty frequently, it just exits my mind completely – my increasing age is probably also a factor! Thanks for your thoughts! Adrian

      Like

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