Sunday, 9 August 2015

Meanwhile, back in the garden ...

... this Great Spotted Woodpecker has been visiting.

I have dusted off my home-made electronic gadgets and had another go at capturing photos of my high-speed visitors. Here is the Woodpecker again, this time trying a different angle of approach.

It is partly because bird activity on the marshes is at its annual low point that I have retreated to the garden to see what I can achieve. The activity elsewhere has not quite dwindled to zero however, as these Bittern pics recently gathered at Ham Wall show.

You really have to be quick to catch Bitterns in flight at this time of year. They only fly very occasionally, and then only for short distances. The first I knew about these was a clattering noise followed by the sudden appearance of the Bittern as it left one reed bed and rapidly flew across to disappear in the next. There was hardly time to get the camera on to it and most of my shots were out of focus so I am grateful to have got these few. They catch me by surprise every time and in between appearances I tend to relax too much into the calming silence of the water and the softly swaying reeds.

So, back to the garden. If Bitterns are hard to catch, then small garden birds are very difficult. This is why I have developed a range of electronic detectors which I can use to trigger my camera as they pass. It is not the only way to do it, but I like inventing things and exercising my ingenuity rather than my patience sometimes! Here is a Great Tit caught coming in to land.

All these photos are taken by natural light, so I need bright sunlight to get the necessary fast shutter speed. Even then it is hard to get a sharp image.  The Great Tit is not too bad in this respect but I do set myself high standards and I am often a bit disappointed.

The story of how I do this is something I relate in my illustrated talks. If you are a member of a group based somewhere near me in Somerset you might like to consider booking me and hearing the story for yourself.

My array of home-built equipment is quite extensive now and I am always looking for novel ways to exercise it. If I come up with anything special I will certainly share it with you.

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