BIRDS 125 – FERAL PIGEON (MONO)

 

 


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Feral Pigeons on a church roof, under the dark overcast of a wet morning.

Feral (or Town) Pigeons are the descendants of the truly wild Rock Doves that in earlier times were widely kept in dovecotes for food.  They occur in a great variety of plumages, and are widely found in towns and cities.

Click onto the image twice to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 75mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Landscape v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Grad ND (EV-1) preset, and adding a moderate Coffee tone; Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 3 Jan 2020.
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BIRDS 124 – JACKDAW (MONO)

 


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Walking in the early morning of New Year’s Day in south Bristol, and being suddenly delighted by a storm of black bodies and whirling wings close overhead. They were Jackdaws, small crows, and this large group had recently emerged from a communal roost where they’d spent the long winter night and – garrulous, sociable, busy, noisy – they were off around Bristol’s rooftops in search of the day’s first meal. They landed on the roof of a nearby factory but, active as they were, I knew that they’d soon be aloft again in a noisy, wheeling black cloud.

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LOL!!! >>> and so to one of photography’s great sayings >>> that the best camera for the job is the one you have with you >>> and so, from my pocket, I produced something really totally unsuitable for the job ahead, the only camera I was carrying, the Olympus TOUGH TG-5.

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But the birds were on the move again even quicker than I’d anticipated, and any “photographic technique” on my part was reduced to managing to get the zoom to it longest length (100mm equivalent), pointing the little camera at the whirling flock and firing five quick, single frames.  The camera was set for spot metering, thankfully at 3200 ISO, but on this dark morning that still only gave me 1/30 second at f4.9.

I’m also a great believer in “any picture is better than no picture at all”, and in this case the slow shutter speed blurred the flailing wings to give a real sense of movement – and so to high contrast black and white processing in Lightroom and something of an impressionistic result.
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BIRDS 123 – HERRING GULL (MONO)

 

 


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Herring Gull around refuse and recycling bins in Weston town centre; possibly not too happy with my presence … LOL!  >>> I grew up here, these birds were always around, they were a part of my childhood, and I have to confess to a great fondness for them, quite regardless of any aggression on their part.  If I’d been eating fish and chips, I would have certainly shared them with him – and probably outraged the (more or less mindless and unimaginative, it has to be said) local authorities by doing so.

But, looking at things another way, here is a very successful creature, certainly at home on the coast and inland waters, but also, equally, at home scavenging around human habitation – LOL again!!! >>> unless absolutely desperate (after a nuclear holocaust, perhaps???), I wouldn’t want to eat the rotting refuse he’s eating, whereas he will take both the refuse and my fish and  chips – and me too if I were moribund or actually dead (starting with my eyes, most probably …) ->>> and he’d do so with great alacrity!

Quite simply, he is very good at what he does.  Most of society – sitting in front of TV’s and becoming increasingly estranged from the natural world – no doubt find him abhorrent, but I admire his expertise – years ago, I read that if function is beauty, then the Spotted Hyaena (a truly voracious predator and hardly the world’s most aesthetic organism, even I will admit) >>> well I read that if function is beauty, then the hyaena is beautiful, and some similar sentiment also applies here.  I know, I’m a Silly Old Romantic, I know …. but gull and chips might actually be quite tasty … with a little salt and tomato sauce …. of course …..

And, as I’ve said before on this blog, in a parallel universe, if I were eating my tasty gull and chips beside the sea, maybe a fish would jump up out of the water and steal it …..

All recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; in-camera conversion of raw file using the Graphite profile and cropping; Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 22 Nov 2019.
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BIRDS 122 – PIED WAGTAIL

 

 


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The Pied Wagtail, a member of the pipit family, common along freshwater margins and in towns, car parks etc.. The name derives from the habitual wagging of the long tail.
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All recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 .

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window; clicking onto the larger image a second time further enlarges it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C mode to give 450mm; 800 ISO; upper image: Lightroom, starting at the Camera Standard v2 profile; lower image: in-camera processing of a raw file, including cropping and use of the Vivid profile; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 18 Oct 2019.

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BIRDS 121 – MUTE SWAN 7 (MONO)

 

 


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I have been posting images of a family of swans swimming quietly away on Cripps River (see links to earlier images below).  Here, the three young swans swim off slowly up river.  The nearest one’s head is seen in profile as (s)he keeps me cautiously in view.  The other two are looking to either side.

Albeit its my picture and I’m inevitably biased, I have to say that I find calm and beauty here.  So many things in this world are otherwise, but here, on an insignificant backwater in Somerset, three young birds – momentarily (in the UK sense) and quite unconsciously – have formed themselves into a tableau which to me is visually and emotionally attractive.  As is usual, really, the Natural World is always worth looking at, never boring.

Earlier pictures of this meeting with swans are here: 1 2 .

All recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 .

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge itrecommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 3200 ISO; in-camera processing of the raw file, including use of the Graphite profile and cropping; no further processing; Cripps River, at Eastern Moor Bridge, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 25 Oct 2019.
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BIRDS 120 – COOT AND BLACK-HEADED GULL

 

 


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One for you birders – hello Lynn!!! – adult Black-headed Gull in winter plumage, flying over a Coot, on the freshwater of a local reservoir.

Fieldmarks for the gull: red legs; red, black-tipped bill; the black mark behind the eye; the white blaze on the leading edge of the wing.

And the Coot: actually the Eurasian Coot; prominent white shield on the forehead, and bill white too – and never any red nodules (that’s what the fieldguide calls them!) above the white forehead shield.

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to open a (rather grainy!) even larger version.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 18 Oct 2019.
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BIRDS 119 – MUTE SWAN 6 (MONO)

 

 

The three young swans slowly and silently make their way down into the river

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In an earlier post (which you can find here ) I described a meeting with a family of Mute Swans on the banks of Cripps River, on the Somerset Levels.   I’d come upon a family of these birds on the river bank and, keeping quiet and still, started taking pictures.  I looked at them, they looked at me and then, unhurriedly and very gently, they made their way down to the water’s edge, and slowly moved off upstream.  Here are two more images from that quiet encounter.

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Two of the young swans, moving off slowly up river

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; in-camera processing and cropping of raw files, using the Graphite profile; further processing in Capture NX2; Cripps River, at Eastern Moor Bridge, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 25 Oct 2019.
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BIRDS 118 – STARLING 2 (MONO)

 

 


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I like the contrast here between the gaunt, inorganic, linear, metal structures of the pylon and the small, rounded and very much alive birds – that’s “the big picture” here.

But do enlarge the image by clicking onto it twice in the usual way, to better see the massed ranks of these little birds clustered on the right side of the pylon – with all of their little beaks poking out.

There is another Starling image from this pylon here .

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 280mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset; Court Farm, southeast of East Huntspill, on the Somerset Levels; 25 Oct 2019.
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BIRDS 117 – EGRETS ON THE SOMERSET LEVELS (MONO)

 

 


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Great White (the two larger birds towards the left) and Little Egrets, feeding in the mud and water of old peat workings on Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels.  (For info: egrets are in the heron family)

Climate change?  I started birding, not too far from where these pictures were taken, in 1967.  And, as a friend from those far off birding days says, if we had submitted records of such a gathering to the Somerset Ornithological Society in those days, we would have been treated with total derision, with doubts about our honesty / mental health probably being thrown in too.  In 1971, anxious to see a Little Egret, my first in the UK, I had to travel all the way to the far west of Pembrokeshire, in Wales, for the treat.  And the Great White Egret has changed its status from being a rarity in the UK late in the last century, to being quite common now.

So, is this climate change?  I don’t know, is the simple answer; although, equally simply, I do believe that climate change is taking place.  But, from my mapping of the ranges of Kenya’s bird species, I know that factors other than climate change can influence bird distribution.  What is certain though, as my old birding friend said on seeing these pictures, is that this is not the Somerset that we used to know, 50+ years ago.

And of course, although we are seeing dramatically increased number of these egrets, numbers of many, many other UK bird species have fallen dramatically over these 50+ years: climate change may have had an effect here, but intensive farming practices are probably a bigger culprit at the moment.

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 12,800 ISO; jpegs produced by in-camera processing of raw files, using the Graphite profile; no further processing; Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels northwest of Glastonbury; 25 Oct 2019.

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BIRDS 116 – MUTE SWAN 5 (MONO)

 

 


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Immature Mute Swans, moving slowly away while keeping me cautiously in view, on Cripps River.  I’d come upon a family of these birds on the river bank and, keeping quiet and still, started taking pictures.  I looked at them, they looked at me and then, unhurriedly and gently, they made their way down to the water’s edge, and slowly moved off upstream.

This is a jpeg generated and cropped in-camera from a raw file, using the Graphite profile, with no further processing in Lightroom.  Because my blog has a white background, I’d wondered about adding a thin black border in Silver Efex Pro 2, but then decided to leave these birds floating within a wider whiteness.

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C mode to give 450mm; 3200 ISO; in-camera processing of the raw file, including use of the Graphite profile and cropping; no further processing; Cripps River, at Eastern Moor Bridge, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 25 Oct 2019.
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