All about Hoofbeats & Footprints

Bird Extravaganza

It’s spring time and spring time means bird migration along the Atlantic Fly-way. For a number of years the manor’s garden has become a bird sanctuary with water, food, and shelter for our feathered friends. The more the birds I’ve had settle in, the more passer-by’s stop by for a respite before they continue their long journey.

Chipping Sparrow

Some I only get to hear, others come in and enjoy a bird bath that I have set up near the house. I’m able to open up a window and sit in a chair and wait for the birds to come in. Each day this week there have been different visitors and I love the challenge of being about to grab a capture when they come in for just a moment.

Baltimore Oriole

I’ve learned how to not be as trigger happy as I used to be and wait until a bird is close to help fill the frame more. If I get a new capture of a bird I have captured before, I head to my Flickr page and delete some of my older images that were clearly of lesser quality for a number of reasons.

The light was bad, the pose was less desirable and the scene is cluttered. Also the images tend to be of lesser quality. Partly due to equipment limitations, other times because the crop was so large due to the bird being smaller in the frame.

Yellow-rump warbler (Myrtle)

My favorite kit is still the full-frame Canon 5D Mark IV with the 500mm f/4 prime lens that I have realized I’ve had for over six years now. That baby has been through the wringer and takes a beating like a champ. I’ve only had it serviced twice in all that time and it comes back with a notice that only a cleaning was needed. Yes, I did have to teach my cat how to paint so that I could afford the lens, but the investment has paid back in full.

My other birding kit is the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II with the 300mm f/4 lens. With the Micro Four-thirds sensor it gives me a 600mm equivalent with faster frames per second and a silent shutter. I’ve found that the AF can be slow at times to lock onto a fast moving bird and the image quality isn’t as comparable the Canon kit. But most of the bird images I capture are for social media as very few bird images actually sell.

While I was at the Galveston Featherfest, I met a younger couple who were both using a Nikon P1000 Prosumer camera. This camera offers a 125x Optical Zoom which is an insane 3000mm equivalent ! For less than $1000, this camera seems to be a good entry camera for those interested in bird photography without breaking the bank. Granted, with that kind of zoom, when zoomed out the stabilization goes right out of the window and it’s shaky as heck. But this couple loved their cameras and raved about how great and fun it was. They also just shared their images on social media or with family.

Fish Crow

But truly the best way to get quality bird images regardless of your gear is to work on your field techniques and get the bird closer to you and fill the frame in good light. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time and patience, but what you come home with is certainly well worth the effort.

7 replies »

  1. This is a timely post and it answers all of my questions about how far along the migration is. Love the oriole.

  2. Beautiful captures 🙂 We were talking the other day about the different species of black birds and just how smart they can be. Last week at work two crows I think we trying to help each other out in cracking something open on top of a light pole. I could probably watch birds go about their day all day long. Happy Day – Enjoy!

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