Category Archives: Birds

Inspired

I have a confession to make. So I’m supposed to be a photographer. I haven’t taken any pictures for fun in ages. My failed exhibition pretty much ruined my desire to have fun in photography. That’s something that happens every time I decide to turn art into profit. So, no more!

Earlier this week the temperature hit about -8C creating a wonderful frost and the morning light was just delightful. The missus has found her old point and shoot and has been taking snaps so I pointed her in the direction of the garden with a few ideas. She did really well but I hate point and shoots and decided I’d give it a crack too with my SLR.

I really enjoyed it. It was pretty cold out there in my hat and fingerless gloves, but fun nonetheless!

First up is the window of our new garage. I toyed with cropping to panorama but decided the guttering was a nice feature.

BBQ aka home for spiders.

Spiders webs on washing lines. Awesome!

I really like this one. The bokeh is ace!

Think the birds need to use the microwave on Defrost!

Later that day, the missus said she saw a funny looking bird on the bird feeder. I came running to look but missed it. She described it, didn’t sound real! Today, it came back:

I ran out with my telephoto and got as close as I could. Our new garden is massive so this is telephoto at full and cropped right in. Not the best quality but a pigeon came flying down and scared it away before I could get any closer. I think it was last Christmas when I got the bird feeders and it came with a bird spotting guide. In our old garden which backed out on to a farm we were flush with birds. We saw every one on the list except one. Which is this fellow! He’s a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. I’m so chuffed to finally cross him off the list.

Photography is fun. It should stay that way. Hats off to those who have fun while making money but me, I just can’t do it, it changes the way I feel about the subject and my approach to capturing it and that’s just wrong. And the output shows. Hopefully these pictures taken for fun also reflect this.

Milton Country Park

Time for another photography post!

Yesterday we went for a wander at Milton Country Park. I love it there, there’s something new every time I go. This year, inspired by Springwatch, I went to see if there were any cygnets. I saw a couple of swans but they were out in the lake so I couldn’t get any good shots of them.

Saw some ducks though:

Tried out my new polariser filter thingy. Think I’m missing a step on adding exposure time.

Saw a bunch of grebes but they’re so fidgety it was hard to get a shot that wasn’t blurry. Stay still!

Then, as we were heading back to the car park, I saw on the other side of the lake a couple of swans that looked like they were nesting. So I went over to investigate. I hit jackpot! I counted SEVEN CYGNETS! I had to be really quiet and was careful to keep my distance (long live the zoom lens) but I got some lovely pictures.

Look at this dude stretching out his wings! Awwww!

They were seriously cute! I’ll definitely head back there in the next couple of weeks to see how they’ve grown. Apparently a group of cygnets/swan eggs is known as a clutch and the usual size is 4-7 at once. I wonder what the parents thought when they got their ultrasound back and found out they were having SEVEN!!

The Raptor Foundation

No, this isn’t about dinosaurs!

This is my last catch up post from the last couple of months. I have finally caught up! After this I will be doing a digital sort. Re-structuring all my folders, backing up externally, setting up a Flickr account for all the really good stuff. Once that’s done I think it’ll be time to take things up a notch. I’ve not been out taking pictures anywhere near as much as I would’ve liked so this needs to improve. We get our car delivered in a couple of weeks and I should pass my driving test in October *fingers crossed* so actually being mobile should give me more scope to get out to more remote locations at odd times of day.

A couple of weeks ago, the missus’ folks took us out to The Raptor Foundation out in Woodhurst. It was a fantastic day out. They have over 200 different species of raptors. The definition of a raptor over other birds is that they catch their food with their feet rather than their beaks.

We walked around the complex, which is impressively large, and when we got to the end we saw that they were doing a flying display and we were bang on time. Camera at the ready!

I’ve been posting some of these on Facebook and Twitter but without further ado, here is the full collection. If you want prints of these in any format (postcard, greetings card, poster, canvas etc) let me know and I’ll arrange it. All proceeds will go directly to The Raptor Foundation as they rely solely on donations.

My two favourite shots are the little owl who looks like he is singing (he’s actually nomming on a grub) and the falcon catching the bait. The falcons are lightning fast and it was incredibly difficult to track them in flight. However, thanks to the amazing lens I got for my birthday (the Nikon 55-200mm) I got those two cracking shots.

As people venture into photography, they pretty quickly realise what subject they enjoy the most and for me it’s definitely wild life and probably mainly birds. I enjoy watching them, filming them and capturing them in still frame. They really are an absolute wonder. This probably means my future is likely to involve the purchase of a ridiculously expensive zoom lens and many hours spent huddled up in a hide! Oh joy!

Until next time…

Out with the crap, in with the much better!

I got a new lens this week and was also fortunate enough to get some good weather to go testing it without having to resort to taking 900 pictures of teacups and spoons!

When I bought my SLR, I got the Nikon 18-55 lens and the Tamron 70-300 macro lens. The latter hasn’t served me very well. I’m not a techie photo geek, I couldn’t tell you if I’m getting weird curved edges on my photos or any of that shit, all I can tell you is that the lens just isn’t very good.

The auto focus is slow, the light capture is poor, the picture quality is sub par, it’s bulky and cumbersome and ultimately, it’s almost impossible to take a good picture without blur. Even on a tripod!!

So I’ve taken a punt and got a Nikon 55-200mm lens. £150 on Amazon. 53% off! Result!

So far it’s pretty fantastic. It’s tiny. It’s got VR. It’s got fantastic glass (apparently). It takes brilliant pictures!

If I could be arsed I’d do a side by side comparison. But I can’t. Go somewhere else for that.

These are the pictures I did take this week though. Finally got some good ones of the birds in the garden and also a leaping cat who was chasing aforementioned birds! There is another post due with pics of my cats taken with this lens. they deserve a post of their own.

In other news…

1) I saw the Foo Fighters play at Dingwalls. Awesome!

2) I spent an afternoon with my nephew Lucas and a dog called Sam. Pics coming soon.

3) I’ve been collecting a ton of Foo Fighters records. Got some neato rare stuff!

4) I’m going to Australia next week. I’m incredibly excited. This is going to be an awesome photo journey and I fully intend to bore everyone to death with a slideshow when I get back!

5) I celebrated the five year anniversary of being with the missus. She rules!

Random Bites

Here is a selection of some accumulated random photos I found on my laptop that I hadn’t yet posted.

I had a good Christmas, did you? After we had opened our pressies, we prepared for brunch. I had decided weeks beforehand that come rain or shine, I would BBQ me some steaks on Christmas Day! Well, here I am in -3 degrees. Wrapped up and huddled around the BBQ cooking steaks! It was so cold…

…but you know what? I didn’t care because they were absolutely delicious!

One of the presents I got from the in-laws was a starter bird feeding kit. I now have a peanut feeder and a seed feeder. The light has been really poor for the last few weeks. The infamous Cambridge Fen Grey is back and blooming. Fucking countryside! Ahem.

We have a pretty good variety of birds. Our house backs out onto a farm so it’s fairly rural. Before the feeder I only saw a couple of sparrows and a robin but now we’ve got loads of them flying around. I’ve taken a few pictures but I’ve had to zoom, crop and photoshop to get them anywhere near decent. Most of them were awful. I’m desperate for some good weather!

And finally, my good friend the frog/toad. I have no idea where he is now but I really hope he comes back this Spring, so this is for him.