BIRDS 109 – MALE BLACKBIRD

 

 


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Gazing at agricultural rubbish on the western edges of Tealham Moor, and loving it, loving the real, bare, unembroidered, what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature and feel of the place – when a male Blackbird appeared on top of a hedge and looked at me.  Well, this is the breeding season and the fierce and fiery hormones of territoriality were coursing through his veins.  He was disinclined to move – I was on his territory, and that was that.

The new Z 6 was in my hand, with the lens I’m married to – the 70-300 zoom – attached, and it was the work of an instant to change the camera to APS-C format – so that my telephoto expanded from 300mm to a more far reaching 450mm – and, very carefully and slowly, I raised the camera to my eye.  The light was dreadful and I needed a high shutter speed to ensure sharpness at the x9 telephoto magnification, and so to wide open at 1/1600th and 3200 ISO – and to very gently squeezing the trigger.  This is a cropped version of one of the photos – 1521×1079 pixels.

Here he is.  The Z 6’s shutter is not loud, and very carefully I took a series of shots, he and I both like statues, eyeing each other.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format at 450mm; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 12 Apr 2019.

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ARCHIVE 403 – TURNSTONE, ST IVES

 

 


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Turnstone in winter plumage, on the West Pier at St Ives, Cornwall; 21 Sept 2016.

The Turnstone is a small wader (aka shorebird) that derives its name from its habit of turning over stones on beaches in the hope of finding things to eat underneath.

Its usually a bird seen at a distance, small and brown on the foreshore.  But at St Ives in Cornwall, especially when the tide is up, small groups dart about on this seaside resort’s promenade, often literally around the feet of holidaymakers.

And so, being on holiday and carefree(!), I bought a pasty as a second breakfast and sat on a seat munching the golden beast and staring out to sea, when several of these little birds swarmed around my feet.  Well, I can take a hint, and as small pasty morsels were scattered around, these little creatures went into super-speed mode and downed the lot in an instant – for an ex-birder like me, almost a surreal moment!

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO.

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BEATING OF A WING

 

Today I heard the beating of a crow’s wing, and it gladdened my soul.

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STANTON DREW 61 – WINTER SCENE (MONO)

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Gull flock amongst the prehistoric standing stones at Stanton Drew.  Such flocks are a common sight on pastureland during the winter: this one consists mostly of Black-headed Gulls (lacking the dark heads of their breeding plumage), but there are a few Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in there too.

Tall, dark stones, sombre sentinels (sombre sentinels??? >>> what on earth am I on???) overlook the scene, and bare winter trees form the backdrop.

Already posted images from this early morning shoot are here: 1 (with context) 2 3 4 5 6 7 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting  at the Underexpose EV-1 preset and adding a light Selenium tone; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol; 14 Dec 2018.
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STANTON DREW 59 – WINTER SUNRISE 2

 

 


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Blackbird in winter branches, at sunrise.

Earlier images from this early morning shoot are here: 1 (with context) 2 3 4 5 .  Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol; 14 Dec 2018.
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ARCHIVE 394 – CARRION CROW (MONO)

 

 


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Carrion Crow over our back garden, not long after dawn; 27 Nov 2011.

This has been converted into mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, and I’ve used the one of the Film Noire presets to instil drama – the powerful, jet black crow diving through a patch of clear sky in an angry, boiling cloudscape.

Technique: D700 with 70mm-300 Nikkor lens at 200mm; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 392 – ROOK ON THE HIGH STREET

 

 


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Rook preening on a street lamp in the main street of Penzance, Cornwall; 25 Apr 2012.

We were sitting at a table on the upper floor of a café, enjoying the interesting and lively view over Penzance’s main street.

Two Rooks came and perched on street lamp brackets immediately outside the window.  I had a feeling they wouldn’t stay there long, and so rather than reaching for the Nikon, I used the little G11 which was already in my hand.  One of the Rooks left almost immediately but I managed to train the Canon’s telephoto onto the other bird which, despite all of the hustle and bustle in the street below, started preening.

Rooks are crows, and more usually birds of the open countryside.  I like crows anyway, but noisy colonies of these birds – rookeries – in the tops of tall, rural trees are for me one of the great joys of spring.  So seeing them here above this busy shopping street was a surprise, albeit that Penzance is not that large a town.  And having the bird set against the window display of the shop on the other side of the road added to that.

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (equivalent); 400 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 390 – TAKING FLIGHT

 

 


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Another early bus ride into the city, another second breakfast at first light in Hart’s Bakery (context is here) – and as I lurched out of that warm, friendly and bustling establishment, the tints of sunrise were above and, looking up, I saw this.

The bird is a gull (aka seagull), and just about to leap off into the air to scavenge the city’s no doubt enticing refuse.  I have Hart’s Bakery, (s)he has Bristol.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; beside Temple Meads railway station; 9 Dec 2016.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 313 – LAPWINGS, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Driving westwards across Tealham Moor, and a long line of birds, high up above, caught my eye.  There was no traffic on the narrow road, so I stopped, watched and waited, wondering where they might be headed.  They came lower and wheeled about overhead, and I saw them to be Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), a type of large plover, that form large flocks in winter.  I started taking pictures.

Here, the flock is flying across in front of a bare, winter tree, and there are a few smaller, darker birds below them, which are Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).

Compositionally, the flock is almost “resting on top” of the tree, the combination of the birds and tree making a ‘T’ shape within the image.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 30 Nov 2018.
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ARCHIVE 388 – YOUNG GULL AT ST IVES (MONO)

 

 


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Juvenile Herring Gull in the harbour at St Ives, Cornwall; 27 Sept 2012.

I have a liking for photos that appear more like the products of other media and here is something certainly heading that way – perhaps more like a pencil drawing?  I’ve used a Soft Portrait preset, which includes pale vignetting, and the bird appears to be emerging from dense mist, with even its left wing nebulous and obscure.

Using this preset has also almost completely obscured details of the sea below the bird – and this all makes for an artificially isolated vignette of the creature – a sketch in a notebook perhaps.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; conversion to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Soft Classic Portrait preset, and giving the image the look of Ilford Delta 400 mono print film.

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