Sunday, 21 November 2010

A Wet day…again

The plan today was, that I would head to Cresswell, Northumberland, in the hope of seeing and photographing Barn Owls.  The weather was going to be very important as these owls do not like to hunt when it is wet, so ideal situation would have been a wet night and a dry day so they would have more likely hunted during daylight hours which they tend to do more anyway at this time of year as food becomes rarer.  Leading up to the day the forecast looked promising until the day before when it changed with probable rain during the day.

Up at the crack of dawn and I could hear the rain outside – not too promising – still maybe the forecast will show an improvement – nope.  I could either go back to bed which was very tempting, or I could venture out in the cold and wet to either Cresswell in the hope it improves or, I figured, one of the public hides situated around the region where at least I would keep dry.  I chose the latter, to be exact, I decided to revisit Clara Vale in the hope I would get a better chance at photographing a Kingfisher.  Ironically, the wet weather would be an advantage as their usual places along the Tyne would be fast flowing with the extra rainfall so they would be more likely to visit still waters.

On arrival at Clara Vale there was only one person there, someone who I often see when visiting local hides and have a natter with, the weather must have scared the usual crowd off.  The usual birds were there again as last week only this time it was considerably darker and I started getting no better than 1/100th of a second shutter speed at 1600 – 3200 ISO which, even if I could prevent camera shake with this and a 500mm lens, the birds were moving too quickly.  After about an hour, the familiar call of a Kingfisher was heard, but like last week it kept its distance and despite the improving light enabling me to attach my converter, I was lucky to get a shutter speed of 1/400, still, I managed to get a few, reasonable shots off if distant.


Kingfisher on an branch almost empty of its leaves


Sequence of images of a catch





Water Rail




Male Pheasant


In-between visits by the Kingfisher and with the rain changing between downpours and drizzle I attempted, with little success to photograph any other passing wildlife.  After about six hours of the cold and damp and my regretting not putting on a thick pair of socks, I was, for the umpteenth time thinking of calling it a day, when the Kingfisher made a sudden and unexpected appearance on a perch close to the hide.  Unfortunately I still had my converter attached and was almost too close to the bird, that and the fact I was using only 1/100th of a second at a focal length of over 800mm meant none of my shots were completely sharp.  To add insult to injury, I was using my second storage card which was not a fast one so my buffer kept quickly filling up!

I was able to get a few images off, some of them showing what was by now, quite heavy rain.  Although happy with the opportunity, I was kicking myself that I had my converter on and a slow flash card in otherwise the images would have been much better.  Still, with the year approaching and end, I have finally managed to get some decent images of a Kingfisher in 2010.



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