Monday, February 6, 2012

Nuthatches and nearly Stock Doves

Disaster struck recently when my main camera body developed an electric fault and died. So while its back at Canon being having various bits of electronics replaced, fortunately still just under warranty, I have had to revert to using my Canon 7D. The 7D is really the camera I reach for when I am struggling for reach and distance, given the advantages of its 1.6 crop sensor, and usually involves having a teleconvertor attached which tends to degrade image quality a little. So I am not particularly fair to this camera which can produce good images even though they tend to have more noise and lack the 'polish' of files coming out of a Canon 1D body.

With 7D in hand I recently headed out to some local woods with a view to photographing some Nuthatch and Stock Doves. This is one of my favourite woods as the rust coloured carpet of fallen beech leaves create some wonderful colours under low winter sunlight. However, lighting is always tricky and constantly changing in the rising early sun. An area that was bathed in beautiful light one moment can be plunged into dark shade 5 minutes later.

While waiting for the Nuthatches, which I could hear calling loudly above, a few other birds appeared in front of the camera and it seemed a shame to waste the good light. These included a lone Magpie, and inquisitive Robin.
Eventually the first Nuthatch appeared. They are not the easiest birds to photograph as they tend to appear from all directions, quickly grab any available food and fly off to hide it in one of their 'larders'.
These attractive little birds are incredibly agile and always busy as the scurry around tree trunks and fallen dead trees looking for food.
Usually when photographing birds coming into feed I tend to try and take photographs without the birds carrying food. However, a Nuthatch carrying a nut somehow seems appropriate. This birds showing a very typical inverted pose.
As I was photographing the Nuthatch I heard some fluttering and cooing high in the trees above as the first Stock Dove started to gather. I carried on with the Nuthatch.
I decided it was time to move in to position for the Stock Doves as they slowly made their way towards the lower branches and the ground. They are quite nervous birds so usually you have to wait for them to come to you. A few squirrels had gathered so I filled in the waiting time with a few photos while laying in amongst the leaf litter.
No sooner had the first Stock Dove just landed in front of me, when I heard a galloping of rustling leaves and panting breath behind me and a very large drooling dog appeared. Squirrels and Doves immediately scattered, with the birds never reappearing. This was slightly frustrating as this area of woodland is fenced off as a 'No dog Area'. I obviously blame the owners (as dogs obviously cannot read), and it never ceases to amaze me how oblivious some walkers become, particularly to wildlife photographers, when exercising their four legged friend.


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