Birding

Today I decided to try an area of photography that is often the subject of ridicule by many - that of bird photography. Let me begin by saying, I take my (wooly) hat off those photographers who make their livelihoods through photographing birds; these little critters move like bullets! I had ambitions of being up at the crack of dawn, heading to the local park and shooting away before the crowds of Bank Holiday families arrived. Well, so much for that. I eventually got to the “wilderness” of Greenwich Park’s lake and deer enclosure around 11am and set about learning to understand the ways of ducks. After a while I had picked up on the peculiarities of certain species and was even able to avoid the hoards of bread-throwing, pigeon-chasing, six-year-old children enough to get a few nice shots.
A Male Red Crested Pochard on the water at Greenwich Park
A Male Tufted Duck on the water at Greenwich Park An adult male Moorhen in Greenwich Park

After this I moved in to the denser undergrowth of the wooded area and set about looking for some of the smaller birds. Whilst I saw a Jay and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, they were behind copious amounts of shrubbery and so I spent more time simply observing then shooting. Before too long, the local Robins had gotten bold enough to forage quite close to me, so a fair few photos of them ensued - some I could swear were posing. A Robin on a branch in Greenwich Park's "wilderness"
A Robin perches on a Holly Bush in Greenwich Park
Around 1.30pm I decided it was far too cold to stay out much longer, so began to head back, snapping a young Blackbird on my way before becoming distracted by a flock of feral Rose-Ringed Parakeets that had made the eastern side of the park their home.
a young male Blackbird on a branch in Greenwich Park
What I learnt today, is that my camera is infinitely more intelligent and capable than I’d have given it credit for prior to this trip. By setting autofocus zones and modes I was able to adjust the way the camera tracked birds to maintain focus. Very few shots today are rejected through lack of focus, more often through my failings as a tripod! Hand-holding a lens in the cold at the equivalent of 448mm requires a higher shutter speed than I allowed it at some points. At this focal length even the slightest movement is magnified dramatically and whilst it may not be obvious from afar, when zoomed in or examined closely, motion blur and camera shake subtly ruin an otherwise great photograph.