Sunday, 7 May 2017

Photographing Quicksilver, a little time with Swifts

Sunday and with a decidedly chilly weather forecast we decide on a family walk along the landward side of the pines between Holkham and Burnham Overy Staithe. Part mobile football match, part birdwatch and part picnic we make our way along a surprisingly quiet path heading west from Lady Anne's Drive.
Female Wheatear, Burnham Overy Dunes
I didn't have any great birdy expectations apart from getting to add Spoonbill to my year list and sure enough we saw a number of these around the Cormorant colony as expected. The only other year tick was a Greenshank that I picked up as it called as it flew over whilst we had our picnic in the dunes.

Male Wheatear, Burnham Overy Dunes
The dunes didn't hold any Ring Ousels that I could find and in the cold northerly wind migrants were thin on the ground so two or three Wheatear's were nice to see and included a very tame female that allowed me to shuffle within a couple of metres of her.

Swift, Burham Overy Staithe
As we walked on the landward side of the seawall back towards Burnham Overy Staithe, large numbers of Swifts buzzed around our heads and I got sucked into one of my favourite summer pastimes trying to photograph Quicksilver aka as Swift photography. I really didn't have the right kit with me a ten year old EOS 400D body and an even older Canon  100 - 300 mm 1; 4.5-5.6 lens the auto focus on which wheezed slowly in and out far more slowly than the Swifts moved through the sky which made the already tricky task of photographing them much harder.

Swift, Burham Overy Staithe
Nonetheless I had a great time, Swifts are such charismatic birds and so unpredictable in flight, just when you think that you that you and your camera have finally focused on one, it does a sudden shimmy and is gone. One eagerly anticipated moment when photographing Swifts, never guaranteed and never predictable, is when one fly's so close to your face that you can hear the rush of air through its wings and for a second you wonder if its wing brushes against you, will slice your ear off.

Swift, Burham Overy Staithe
I took lots of shots, most were out of focus, but one or two were OK as record shots and I have shared a few here.

Swift, Burham Overy Staithe
Whilst waiting for the Swifts this male Kestrel worked its way down the sea bank and for a moment or two was almost directly overhead an din good light. A very pleasant twenty minutes.

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