022/365

Image 022 is of a Kestrel hovering against a blue sky. Research is the key to succesful photographs and here a lot of planning went into this image.

Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, November, 2010.
Canon 1d mkIV with Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens.

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4 thoughts on “022/365

    • Hi Geoff
      Thanks for your question. I’ve walked these hills many a time without a camera and know from past experience where these Kestrels hunt. As the hills are a tourist hot spot they dont mind people walking around and will hover above you, so getting close to them isnt the problem.. its the orientation of the hills and getting the best light onto the bird that is. Planning into this shot was really aimed towards the weather conditions. As the hills lie in a north-south direction, its impossible to get perfect light on the bird without building a scaffolding hide, which would be illegal here due to being both an AONB (Area of Outstanding National Beauty) and SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). These Kestrels will always use the prevailing wind to help them hover and will always use the updraught caused by the wind hitting the hill and then rising. The key to this image was to have either a southeasterly wind in the morning or a southwesterly wind in the afternoon. If I was to photograph these birds in a southeasterly wind in the afternoon, the birds would be using the updraught of the wind on the east side of the hill. Being the afternoon, the sun would be coming from the southwest behind me, and the birds would be hovering away from me. For this particular image, the wind was coming from a southwesterly direction in the afternoon, which meant the Kestrel was utilising the updraught on the west side of the hill (where I was standing due to the suns position) and therefore allowing me to get the sunlight coming from the same direction as the wind (over my shoulder)which meant that the Ketrel was hovering in my direction. It was just a matter of time, watching the forecasts, and following the Kestrel around, before it decided to hover within reach of my lens. Hope that helps.

  1. Ian- Thank you for this very complete answer. I am a sculpture and carver who is fascinated with birds. I’ve just begun taking my own refernce photos and have developed an interest in bird photography. I’ve been observing large waterfowl and eagles and have difficulties with lighting situations (backlight or low light) and suspected that a lot of planning must go into nature shots. I appreciate your insights and am motivated to begin to plan for the great shots.

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