Monday, 19 May 2014

A Summer Meadow

After a few false starts, it looks like summer has finally arrived this weekend with a decent spell of sunny, warm weather.  Where better to go then than to find a nice quite spot in a grass meadow, covered in wild flowers and enjoy the sunshine.  A walked around a number of areas before settling on one location that had a number of Meadow Pipits busy feeding their young, all within their distinct territories. The long grass made it difficult to see any of the birds but for the chirping and the parents bringing in food, briefly hovering over a spot whilst they locate their offspring.


My presence, though at a respectful distance, didn’t seem to detour the constant onslaught of food offerings being brought in for the young and in fact, both parents and young wondered in so close to me on a couple of occasions, that I couldn’t focus on them.  Most of the time however, they couldn’t be spotted in the long grass and surprisingly the youngsters kept moving position by flying high in the air then back down three or four metres away from where the parents last fed them.  It seemed a way of competing for the attention of the parents but ultimately made it more difficult for them to find them.  From what I could make out there must have been around three offspring in my location.


From a photographic point of view, I wasn’t having it all my own way.  To try and fill in the frame with such a small bird, I had the converter attached, slowing down focusing speed.  This was compounded by their choosing a mostly southerly location, so I was largely shooting towards the direction of the sun which in turn would regularly go behind the clouds just as a good photo opportunity presented itself.  Along with the slower focusing speed, initial locking on was also a problem.  Looking through a viewfinder of a focal length of 700mm at a small bird that seems intent in constantly moving, plus my focus limiter having to be set to full.  Add to this the exposure difficulties and hand holding the lens for long periods of time – required due to the constant changes in direction, location and height.  It was certainly challenging.

The photographs then aren’t very special in quality – disappointing considering the opportunity.  The only way around this would have been to move to a more southerly location so I would have the sun behind me and also to have got close enough to take off the converter, but both of these actions would have undoubtedly disturbed them.

After a while, (and to give me arms a rest) I moved to another location where there was some taller plants in and around the grass where the parents were using as a stopping off point to check for the young, giving me a more settled photographic opportunity.  Though still using the converter, the images were a bit better in quality as they moved consistently from three different perches of which I could pre focus on.  Lighting too was from a better direction now though my arms and shoulders were aching after a couple of hours of, not just hand holding the lens, but the constant moving and twisting around.


In the end aching limbs and tiredness, meant I had to, reluctantly, call it a day.  All in all, a nice day of weather and photo opportunity and a lot of images to look through, though most were to end up being deleted but a few stood out and were salvaged and I’ll work on those to put up on my website.


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