There’s a phrase in Hungary which is spelt ‘nem jó’, pronounced ‘nem yo’ and means ‘no good’. In this recent trip to Hungary I was it a lot when asked how the wryneck photography was going. I have never been so frustrated in all my photography years.
Wryneck in the UK are a regular passage migrant but you have to be very lucky to find one. With one or two breeding every few years in the UK, they are all but extinct as a UK breeder and are highly protected when they do so photography is out of the question.
To hear the news that a wryneck was nesting in the garden of where I was staying in Hungary you can imagine how excited I was. My imagination was running wild with all sorts of images I was going to achieve of this very elusive species. To cut a 7 day story short, the image I had in my head didn’t materialise. What I wanted to achieve was the image below but in much better light. This particular photograph was taken at 10.22, 5 hours after sunrise. The background light hitting a distant tree is extremely harsh even though the bird itself was shaded by a large vertical stump of the tree where the nest box was. The balance between bird and background was just too much. Had it had been overcast it may have worked better. I planned another 4 sessions in the morning and late afternoon but this male didn’t want to play fairly. I ended up getting on the plane with no images of this species in great light which should have been fairly easy given the circumstances. It has certainly been a learning curve and one that has left me inspired, although extremely frustrated at the time. Patience was certainly a virtue. Although I didn’t get the image I had planned it was fantastic to see such a beautiful bird every day and I’m glad that I achieved this image to show you all.
Canon 5D Mk3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens, 1/400s, f10, ISO1600, on remote setup (hence the ISO1600).
It’s always a great feeling when you see your images in print but even better when they are used as a front cover! The British Birds journal has used my Stonechat image for their May issue. This is such a great informative journal on all things avian and is a must read for any one with an interest. For more information on the contents of this issue click here: http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/article/british-birds-may-2015/
Please click on the image to view a larger version.
I’ve just returned from an interesting trip to the centre of Hungary co-leading a group over there. Setting up a hide for a Marsh Harrier we noticed that there was a pair of Stonechat feeding young within 15m of the hide. It was great to watch both the male and female Stonechats flying in with all manner of food including this Silver Y moth. Hovering before plunging into the grass to feed the young, it certainly put my camera techniques to the test trying to lock on to these fast moving birds.
Stonechat, Saxicola torquata, Hungary, May, 2013.
Canon 5D3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS with 1.4x III converter. 1/1600sec @ f/5.6 at ISO1600.
Another image from the London Wetland Centre, this time a male Tufted Duck enjoying a brief moment of sun.
Tufted Duck, Aythya fuligula, London Wetland Centre, April, 2012.
Canon 5d Mk3 with Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens.
Todays image is of Ring necked Parakeet at the London Wetland Centre. Since the sun wasn’t playing ball and the sky was very overcast I decided to overexpose the image by +3 stops causing the white clouds to become completely bleached out, but rendering the bird the correct exposure, leading to this high contrast image.
Ring-necked Parakeet, Psittacula krameri, London Wetland Centre, April, 2012.
Canon 5d Mk3 with Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II
I flushed this heron whilst walking around the reserve and unfortunately for the heron it flew straight towards a coot nest. The adult coots then proceeded to launch a full scale attack on the heron for being too close to the nest. The heron then had to change direction quickly, which ultimately lead to the heron slowing down and landing about a foot away from the coots nest, which lead the coots to become even more aggresive because of this. In the end the heron flew past me instead of the coots which in my opinion was the safest option in the first place! Whether the heron thought that the coots would be more concerned about me and tried to take one of the coot chicks or whether it was just an honest mistake I dont know. It happened extremely quickly and this is the one of the images of the pair of coots scolding the heron! 😉
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea and Coot Fulica atra, London Wetland Centre, April, 2012.
Canon 5d Mk3 and 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens.
On another part of the London Wetland Centre, this pair of Coots were rearing 4 chicks. The adult male was always bringing little bits of food back for the sitting female and the chicks. Occasionally it would bring back extra strips of reed as nesting material. It would very gently hand it to the female and this is the tender moment of this offering.
Coot, Fulica atra, London, April, 2012.
Canon 1D mkIV with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens.