Friday 27 February 2009

Two Hawfinches at Ninestones

A Hawfinch has been wintering in the Upper Fowey Valley since at least December 2008, but today two were seen flying around the valley together. I managed to clinch a record shot of the more illusive female. The brighter and more contrasty male flew in calling and landed about 50 yards away for no more than a minute. The images have been cropped by 50% and the saturation tool also used to dull down the bright sky light in the background. Unbelieveably this is my first record of Hawfinch in (mainland) Cornwall having missed several in the past (including ironically a pair at St Clements last winter).
EXIF Data: Exposure: +0.3, White Balance: Cloudy, Focal Length: 850mm, ISO 400, Ap. F/5.6. Image taken in Aperture Priority.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Sturnus not so vulgaris

I couldn't resist publishing these two images of Starling feeding on the seaweed. Underrated and usually overlooked, Starlings in adult plumage are simply stunning and make superb photo subjects. Locally still common, Starlings have declined in numbers and you don't see quite so many in gardens these days. With colours like these, who named the Starling vulgaris?

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Rocks and Water compared

This Water Pipit has been present in the Marazion area of Mount's Bay area for most of the winter. This bird is not a text book Water Pipit. Although it shows some characteristics of a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, there are several key features pointing directly to Water Pipit. The white underparts with narrowly marked streaking, white belly and warm brown colouring on the mantle and yellow in the base of the bill eliminate littoralis. A Rock Pipit is also shown for comparison. (Thanks to Mush Ahmad for comments on this bird).

Rock Pipits below:

Male Black Redstart

Black Redstarts seem to like the rotting seaweed on Cornish beaches and this male was no exception. Their natural dark colour blends well with the black seaweed but is a nightmare for a decent image! That said, this will be the last posting of Black Redstart images this season. The three birds in the Little London area have given me enough of a runaround this winter. All three images have been cropped 50%.

Monday 23 February 2009

Flight shots from the Marsh

The four flight shots below were taken last night in the bright, low, early evening sunlight. I was particularly pleased with the Buzzard shot as the exposure is correct, for once. I raised the EV to plus 1.3 to fool the meter reader as the camera normally compensates for the bright background sky. The only adjustment to the image is some cropping at the edges to correct the rule of thirds.

The Little Egret shots were also taken at Marazion Marsh. This adult bird with newly growing plumes fed and flew along the pool near the road. The three images below were over exposed by EV 0.3 and this has been corrected in Photoshop.

Sunday 22 February 2009

X Rated Grey Heron Display

Stunningly bright, low sunlight over Marazion Marsh tonight probably tempted this pair of Grey Herons to perform in front of the cameras. I say cameras because Bob Sharples was also pointing his 600mm lens towards the marsh as well! The mating display lasted about a minute, enough time to catch all of the close up action. The male bird then flew off and circled round the marsh in a gesture of contentment. I used the 1.4x TC. Shutter speed was 800th second, Aperture F/7.1, EV -0.3 , White Balance Cloudy (forgot to change it in all the excitement) and I earlier set the Colour Tone a couple shades towards amber, hence the strong colouring of the reedbed.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

To crop or not to crop

Below are two photos, both of which show the original uncropped image and the zoomed in cropped version. Both were taken with low ISO of 400, so neither will yield any noise or graininess. The smaller original images are perhaps a bit record-shot-ish, but for those who like a full-frame photo, then as long as the original is in good focus, you can keep cropping until the picture pixelates. The two larger images was the furthest I could go.

Both were taken last week on Marazion Beach, an area where one can spend all day exploring in superb light.

Sunday 15 February 2009

Wintering Black Redstart

Black Redstarts are regular winter visitors in Cornwall and can usually be found near rotting sea weed, where food is plentiful. Two birds were seen today on the beach at Marazion.

Waders at Little London beach

Dunlin and Turnstone are common in Mount's Bay and the sheltered beach known as Little London, below the town of Marazion, is a good area to photo waders on the beach. For some reason, they allow reasonable approach here and seem unperturbed by human presence. The shots were all taken with the 600mm lens and 1.4x TC. Tripod mounted. Aperture F/6.7 ISO 400. Exposure 0.0 (which was too high) and corrected by minus one third in Photoshop. The images have been cropped 50%.

Mediterranean Gulls at St Gothians

Three adult Med Gulls visited the reserve to wash up and preen. Two birds drifted towards us and these images were the results. Gulls start migrating through the county in February and March and the reserve is a handy stop-off point. Aperture was set to F/6.7, ISO 400, EV -0.3 White Balance set to Cloudy.

Friday 13 February 2009

St Ives and Zennor

A day out in West Penwith was probably the warmest day of the year so far - 10 degrees in fact! It almost felt like Spring. Sadly, few birds were on offer though the mild climate compensated. Best image today goes to a Turnstone feeding in the harbour at St Ives whilst some rugged Cornish scenery provides a backdrop for a Hen Harrier at Zennor. A Black-headed Gull adds to the tranquility today.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

The Finch Family

Below are some images of various finches photographed this winter. The Bullfinch, female Chaffinch and Greenfinch were all taken this week at the feeding station from Stithians Southern Cut-off hide. The Goldfinch shot has appeared before and is one of my overall favourite images. When a montage of British bird photos comes together, one can appreciate how spectacular this family is. And furthermore, the brightest plumage is yet to come. Roll on Spring!

Sniped by exposure compensation

This Snipe landed in front of me in the hide but not on the preferred side. Instead it settled in direct sunlight and standing in water. A couple shots with normal EV produced a blacked out image. I eventually took the exposure value up to +2.7 to fool the camera's exposure reader. The end result is the bird in perfect exposure and the water nicely setting the backdrop of dark reflections.

However, my photos don't all end up looking like this. Exposure to me is the single most impotant factor in getting the shot. There's more to learn yet!