Thursday, 22 September 2016

Red-backed Shrike

I was in two minds over going to see the juvenile Red-backed Shrike found at Tidemills yesterday. It sounded like a good bird and was showing well but there was the risk of a large scale twitch which I tend to avoid. In the end I did nothing, sitting at home until a tweet came through saying that it was still there.

Still some doubts, I already had good pictures of a juvenile plus some good shots of an adult male (see here). Finally I made a decision and set off, annoyed that I had not gone first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.

When I got there it wasn't too bad. Only three people watching the bird and it really was showing well.

It came into a perch only 15 -20 feet from where we were standing and at at times was on the ground picking up bees only a few feet in front of me. Fabulous views and also good lighting, a rare combination.

I am usually happy with one or two good shots out of say two hundred taken. Today the success rate was more like 50% with half the pictures still to process

A great session but nothing is perfect. When I left an hour later the numbers watching had increased to around fourteen and it was getting uncomfortable. I am a bird photographer and I want to get close and get the best possible pictures but it takes time and effort.

Wait for the bird to come to you, rather than chasing it around the site. If it approaches you and feeds around your feet, it feels safe and you will get good shots. If its moving away from you and you chase it, your chances of getting a good picture are reduced.

I have to admit, this bird was difficult to flush but the pattern of its feeding changed during the time I was there. When I arrived it was using one perch. It stayed there for about fifteen minutes and was feeding close to the people observing it. Pictures were easy to get. By the time I left it was covering a much wider area moving from perch to perch every couple of minutes with a small group always in pursuit.

Don't stress the bird. You can get good pictures without trying to stick your camera three feet from its face. Make sure it stays there for other people to see.

Moan over. What a great bird.

A few more shots taken on a subsequent visit. I have never used so many pictures of a single bird before.

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