13 March 2010

A Ton of Food - and a Ton of Birds

The last couple of months have been fantastic at my feeding station. The cold weather kept the birds coming in and it was particularly busy. Up to 5 species of tit came to feed, with the marsh tit a fleeting but welcome visitor. I've been through numerous perches: hazel catkins, alder, lichen covered branches, logs, and stumps - all to provide interesting perches for the birds. The good activity also provided excellent opportunities for those who came on my bird photography courses to photograph the birds.

Light levels sometimes made life difficult, but although difficult to obtain a truly sharp image, the resulting detail and colour remind me just how useful this lighting is - I would shoot in this light all the time... if it were possible! Fast moving birds just don't really allow this..
This year was particularly good for woodpeckers. Both male and female quickly took to my 'woodpecker feeder' and it was rare not to see one during a session in the hide. They can become wonderfully comfortable once they get used to the food, and are completely used to the camera shutter. At times they simply clamp themselves onto the food and clear the lot. It's such a privilege to watch these birds at such close quarters... On every woodland bird photography workshop I ran, everybody managed to get a shot of this colourful and vibrant bird.
As always, I strive to capture something a little different, whether it's unusual behaviour or a creative setting and backdrop. With this in mind I used a fallen sweet chestnut (kept in the freezer) and filled the inside with fat ball mixture in order to add some shape and colour. The resulting images are perhaps a little too set up, but experimenting is always worth a try, and it allows you to make those extra tweaks and changes that eventually might just lead to that 'perfect shot'..

Next year I hope to run the same nature photography course at the same location.