I am very much a beginner at bird photography. I had never even thought of trying it until I got my 70-200 F4 IS lens, and finally had a setup that might be fast enough with possibly a long enough lens to try with. My first experiment went really well, it was of a family of Paradise Ducks that were used to being fed by people, so slightly tame
And for some reason, the more difficult the subject, the more it challenges me to shoot it. So I kept coming back to this family, but as the ducklings got older they got braver and faster and I had trouble getting another good photo.
In Christchurch there is a river called the Avon which flows right through the centre of town, and it is home to many different birds, and due to close proximity they are not tame but used to the presence of people. I was able to use this to my advantage at a place called the Arts Centre where there is a decorative but shallow pool. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when a seagull decided to take a morning dip
So I developed this idea of trying to shoot small birds in an urban type environment – ie one where people were familiar, and they were used to the idea of being around people as a regular food source. Obviously birds are wary creatures, but I thought this might help get me closer than to a completely wild bird.
With this in mind I went away to Hanmer for the weekend, and I noticed several sparrows and another small bird I didnt recognise were happily hopping round the outdoor picnic area close to where we were sitting. And I decided to test my theory.
I had a cunning plan as well! Put down one large piece of bread – too big for them to fly away with, so they had to keep coming back to the same spot to tear off small pieces – more opportunities for photos or so I thought 🙂
So I lay down on the grass and placed the bread a couple of metres in front of me (moved to make the background a little less cluttered). There was one very brave and persistent sparrow who came down quite quickly, dove into the bread for big chunks before flying away to come back and repeat.
And there was another colourful bird with white bars on his wings (I don’t know the name) who was quite keen to fly away with the whole bit of bread, but my cunning plan defeated him as the bread was too heavy, but he certainly had a good try at it!
Here he is (I’m assuming its a he) pondering how to defeat the puzzle and fly away with his trophy.
It was a successful experiment, and one I will try again in the future. Yet again, another learning experience:
– small birds move even quicker than their larger brethren
– small birds are very unpredictable – have a wider angle than you think you might need
– a large piece of bread helps keep the attention of the birds
– its easy to see a cluttered background – make sure you look at the foreground as well (I had some nice shots that were not at all improved by foreground clutter I just hadn’t noticed at the time)
– spend time sitting and watching and feeding the birds to understand their behaviour (the mystery bird leapt straight onto the bread and immediately tried to fly off with it, and it was really hard to get photos of – the ones I did are flukes)
– keep your finger down and keep shooting, you never know just what you might end up with (see above LOL)
– birds are difficult and frustrating and yet strangely addictive to photograph
If anyone has more advice or tips/techniques, I am willing to experiment further 🙂