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mick

Bird Photographs

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I'm not a photographer by any means but I do enjoy taking photographs and over the last couple of years or so, as a special interest, I've been trying to capture photographs of garden birds. Now that's all well and good but what do you do with them once you've taken them? I now have hundreds of digital images of common garden birds stored on my hard drive and so I thought I'd start a topic here in order that I can display just a few of them. I'll add photos as attachments so that they don't appear in the forum Gallery and everyone can then choose whether or not they wish to view them.

I'm going to begin by posting the photo that began my interest. It's nothing special at all, just a young Robin perched on a branch outside our caravan kitchen window.

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The above is a cropped section from a larger image and the actual subject was perhaps 12-15 feet away so even at full focal length as here it just shows that you're going to need to be quite close in order to capture decent photos. 

I didn't really understand how to take better photos but I soon had a desire to improve, to take photographs that were sharper and clearer. I experimented using teleconverters to get closer and began tweaking the camera's settings to obtain sharper images but I'm a slow learner so it's taken me some time to make any real progress.

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Robin's were to play a major part in my introduction to photographing birds as you'll discover and a couple of weeks later I happened to witness the following scene with an adult Robin feeding a youngster.

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This was just one of several images taken at the same time but it was disappointing to discover that the images were not as sharp and clear as I had hoped they would be. It felt like an opportunity lost.

 

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I began experimenting with the different camera settings and manual focus rather than automatic, trying to focus on the birds eye. It was also becoming clear that you needed to take many photographs in the hope of getting just the one you really wanted.

Back to our Robin again only this time it was a little sharper due to the use of a tripod. Lots of distractions around the subject but they were mainly thrown out of focus.

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It's a nice photo of a Robin but it doesn't say a great deal so we're back to taking many photos in order to get just the one that's something different.

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The Robin was spending a lot of time round our caravan and I took lots of uninspiring photo's of it until one morning it happened to perch on top of a low shrub that had been pruned over winter and was just starting to sprout new growth. The little Robin looked straight towards me while I rattled off multiple shots not knowing exactly what I'd taken until I later viewed them. I was delighted to find this amusing shot among them.

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Perhaps more through luck than judgement but you have to be there and do something to get them I suppose. I'm not sure what he's shouting but maybe he was just fed up of me following him around with the camera all the time!

This was the type of image that I wanted to capture.

 

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Nice photos Mick. I must try to upload a photo taken the other day. I was in my armchair and something flashed by my shoulder and there was a crash at the front window. An unexpected visitor had come at high speed through the open back door, not realising that the view in front was in fact glass. I then found myself holding a stunned Sparrowhawk. My wife couldn't even get the lens cap off my camera, so the resulting photo is not as good as it should be. I am priviledged to have seen it fly off at the speed of sound when I let it go. Sorry that I am such a scruff.

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That's great Roddy. I had a young Blackbird in the kitchen a few weeks back and a startled Tree Sparrow in our caravan not long ago but I've never been that close to a bird of prey. You're both very lucky!

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I know very little about birds and until recently I believed we had a garden full of simple sparrows as that's just about all I ever noticed. If they were brown and in the garden then they had to be sparrows.

I started sitting just inside the patio doors with the camera on a tripod and taking photos of the sparrows that landed along the garden fence. The garden next door has a conifer hedge and I found that when it was not in focus it made a great background for the sparrow photos.

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Like I said, if they were brown they were sparrows and it wasn't until I became aware of the shape of the beak that I discovered this one wasn't a sparrow at all but was in fact a Dunnock. I think the background is great on this one and the bird itself is really sharp and clear. It's just a really nice photo in my opinion - one that makes you feel good about it.

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The next photo wasn't anything special but marked the fledging of some Pied Wagtails that have nested beneath the solar panels of our roof for the past 3 years. I took a whole series of these as each youngster went on its way.

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Likewise, the following isn't a quality photo but it's one of those moments that you either catch or you don't and so it's better just to grab the shot when you can. Here one of the parent Pied Wagtails feeds a newly fledged youngster.

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Here's another couple of my earlier attempts taking photos at home with birds perched on the garden fence and my neighbours conifer hedge as the background. I like to try make the bird a part of a photograph rather than it being the main part all the time.

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It's very rare that we get anything other than Sparrows, Dunnocks and Blackbirds in our garden at home and while I enjoy trying to take photos of them it's also nice to be able to photograph something different.

At our caravan we regularly see Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Goldfinches and Chaffinches along with the more typical urban garden birds and so in an effort to get photos of them we began putting out food to tempt them closer.

It wasn't anything grand as you'll notice in the photos, just a tray formed out of aluminium foil secured to the decking handrail with some cotton thread. In it we placed some live mealworms that we'd purchased online and it wasn't long before we had our first visit from a Blue Tit.

Still learning, I had my camera set up on a tripod inside the caravan shooting through a double-glazed window so the photos were never going to be of high quality but I'd rarely seen a Blue Tit close up before and certainly never taken a photo of one so any type of result would be an achievement. In addition it was dull and rainy, hardly the type of conditions for great photos but the following three images were typical of the many I took on that occasion.

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I don't really want to add too many photos as I would like to get to the point where I add only the most recently taken ones but I think it's part of the story to describe how my interest started and grew and how hopefully my efforts improved along the way so I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.

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Encouraged by the results with the aluminium tray, we put up a bird feeder among the trees to the rear of the caravan and it soon attracted the attention of a variety of birds. I was able to set up the camera on a tripod on our decking area at a distance of about 20 feet from the feeder and with a telephoto lens it was possible to capture some really nice photos.

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Blue Tit (above)

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Great Tit (above)

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Coal Tit (above)

I was delighted with the results. The feeder meant that the birds remained there long enough to capture the images and it gave me sufficient time to focus. However, as nice as the photos were they just don't look right when the feeder itself is such a prominent feature but if you've ever attempted to capture photos of Blue Tits etc.. going about their daily business in their natural surroundings then you'll know just what a difficult task that can be. They just don't remain still long enough for you to even get them in the viewfinder. But that had to be the next step.

One other challenge I came across was trying to get a decent photograph of a Goldfinch. They were quite numerous around the feeder but whether it's something to do with their particular colouring or not, I found it increasingly difficult getting a well focused image.

This was about as good as I'd managed at this time but again there's that feeder in the way.

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I began trying to capture photos of birds before and after they had visited the feeders. Most of them would go from branch to feeder and then back to a branch but you needed to be very quick to get a photo as they don't hang around too long.

Just before lunchtime one day last April a Blue Tit landed in a tree adjacent to the feeders and began rummaging through the leaves which I later found out were full of little green caterpillars. It clung to the branches as it hung upside down in its efforts to get at them. I snapped away believing I would get some great photos. It was a case of so close and yet so far - another missed opportunity as the photos were less than sharp.

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An hour or so later, I'm not sure if was the same bird or not but there was a Blue Tit in the same tree and I was granted another chance.

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The photos were much better even though the camera's setting were much the same as before. Perhaps I wasn't as good with my manual focusing as I thought I was.

This wouldn't be the last time I encountered the Blue Tit.

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I began this thread in order to post my most recently taken photos but started by trying to bring things up to date through a selection of photos taken previously. I still have a number of older photos to add but the ones included here were taken only yesterday.

I was sitting at the dining table using the laptop when I noticed a bird outside near the feeders and it wasn't the usual sparrow or blackbird. It darted into the shrubs. Now normally I have a camera to hand but as I had recently arrived home I had to rush into another room, get out my camera bag and get hold of a camera. I removed the lens cap and switched the camera on but there was nothing to be seen - it seemed I'd missed my chance. 

The vertical blinds were drawn back on the windows so I didn't dare get too close to the window itself but I could see there was still something in the shrubs. I waited and then suddenly this popped out....

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I use the dish to feed live mealworms but it wasn't interested in them - only in the sparrows that had been feeding there moments earlier. I quickly took the above photo expecting it to disappear at any moment but then had the chance to zoom in a bit for the following photos although they were taken through double glazed window glass at a distance of 10-12 feet.

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Now although I enjoy taking bird photos I'm not always certain of their identity but I believe this is a Sparrowhawk, similar to the one Roddy posted a photo of earlier. If anyone can confirm its identity I would be grateful.

It left empty handed on this occasion but it's been lurking around before so I expect it will pay another visit sometime soon. Keep that camera handy!

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Well done Mick. Isn't it a priviledge! Looks like my one which was identified as a Sparrowhawk because of the yellow eyes. Looks a lot plumper than my one too.

 

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It's the closest I've ever been to one Roddy and yes, it's a privilege to see one at such close quarters and to be able to capture the photos. We've seen them circling overhead on several occasions recently and it's clear they're aware of the birds feeders so I expect we'll see it again.

I've been told it's a female Sparrowhawk.

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Hi Mick and Roddy, awesome pics of those small birds and Sparrow Hawk, why was the Hawk called a Sparrowhawk for  was he only hunting sparrows , we have all sorts of hawks here but sadly being chased out because of that bad work development, all the native trees being cut down by the acreage.

Here is a couple of pics of the birds I help give them a feed called  the rainbow Lorikeet, common on the eastern seaboard and northern Queensland  no where else in Australia and other smaller bird is called a grass Finch , if the small coloured bird having a feed a Finch. I wish I had my good SLR camera would of a taken a much closer shot , what brand camera are you using Mick, mine is a Fujifilm HS30 has a 1,400 zoom lens, t from down underook those pics with my phone.

Tony from down under

 

   

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13 hours ago, aussietmrail said:

... what brand camera are you using Mick, mine is a Fujifilm HS30 has a 1,400 zoom lens...

I took the Sparrowhawk photos with a Nikon Coolpix P900 which is described as a 'bridge' camera. It has an 83x optical zoom giving a 135mm equivalent of 24-2000mm. I purchased it to save me having to lug the much heavier DSLRs around when out walking but it's ideal for getting those quick snaps that would otherwise have been lost by the time I'd set up the Canon EOS 5D MkIV which is my favoured camera.

For wildlife/birds etc I use the 5D with either a Tamron 150-600 zoom lens or, much better in my opinion, a Sigma 800mm prime lens with 1.4x and 2x tele adaptors. The drawback with the Sigma is the size and weight - it's very big and needs a good solid tripod - but coupled with the 5D it can deliver some really great results depending on the conditions.

Very colourful Lorikeets Tony - they'd make some great close up photos.

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Very similar to the previous attachments but this one was taken three days later when I noticed the Sparrowhawk for a second time. It looked directly at me but remained there for a good few seconds.

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Once again it scattered the sparrows but left empty handed.

My first photo on Monday was taken at 16:05 and the first one on Thursday was at 16:13 so it's pretty consistent.

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I've taken so many photographs of birds recently that trying to choose a selection to include here is no easy task but the Blue Tit was proving quite an enjoyable challenge. Here's another selection of photos featuring a Blue Tit taken 2-3 weeks after the previous ones.

Normally they don't hang around long enough to be able to take a series of photos but when they're searching the tree foliage for caterpillars you get a decent opportunity.

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I particularly liked the photo below which appears to show the little bird having a great time swinging to and fro.

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There are more Blue Tit photos to come!

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Morning Mick,, I agree I like the fist pic of the small hanging there on that branch, have small bird similar to that breed , called Ren's they are not around at the moment when they do come in will take some pics of them, the male is the prettiest with dark blue on the head , female is brown.

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For wildlife/birds etc I use the 5D with either a Tamron 150-600 zoom lens or, much better in my opinion, a Sigma 800mm prime lens with 1.4x and 2x tele adaptors. The drawback with the Sigma is the size and weight - it's very big and needs a good solid tripod - but coupled with the 5D it candeliver some really great results depending on the conditions.

what is the 5D we have 4K, the  Tamron 150-600 a digital camera, I nearly bought the same brand Cannon as yous, just didn't like the idea of so many lens's , I had a Sigma lens on my first SRL camera, 300 zoom, didn't think you could have more than one tele adaptors, I still going to buy a tripod for my camera, will look to see if I can add a teleadaptor, where does it go before the lens or after, I can only add on in front of the lens.

The first pic of a Cockatoo and two lorikeets, the second pic of a King parrot, taken with my Fugifilm HS30 full zoom 1400 mm, special pic as my sone when he was alive back in early 2017 wanted me to take the pic . Very shy bird, they mainly came in pairs, after the plants I had when they flowered they like to eat the flowers, the plants didn't survive the last summer and the neighbors cut that tree down he also like to have a feed on, Have not seen the pair come back I figure it is that nasty word development cutting back the trees .

We have a lot more native birds fly in will take pics of them, the Phone is getting pretty good , the new one is even better than my iPhone 8 Plus, hurting the camera industry, don't think I will con my wife into buying the latest iPhone, need to win the lotto.

For the price I bought my, don't think be able to beat it, got it on sale from a Thousand dollars to $700.

Ir is very hot over here peaking 39 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday 40 degrees, won't be outside on the layout till Thursday cool change coming in, hair cut that day, be working on the ship project, started work on the superstructure, coming along nicely.

Keep the bird pics flowing, what the largest  native bird you have.

Tony from hot down under, going to be a long summer.

 

 

 

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