Category Archives: water birds

Making a Splash

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending a little bit of time at Falmer Pond concentrating on the ducks and the gulls. Very common subjects, but I’ve been interested in playing with the light to see if I could get something slightly more interesting. Most of the following shots were taken with the 500mm lens, which I am slowly getting to grips with. Working with a tripod changes how you think about shots. You can’t go chasing them in the way you can with a smaller lens. So it takes more patience, but it’s a nice way to spend the odd hour or so.

My general set-up is to shoot into the light (or at least across it). This tends to darken backgrounds and highlight any water splashes (which is what I’m after). The camera is set to underexpose (negative compensation of between -1 and -2) which ups the shutter speed and reduces the risk of blowing out highlights.

herring gull

A simple shot, showing a nice arc of spray

herring gull

I like the flash of yellow from the gull’s bill and the geometric shape of the spray.

Duck on calm water

This one was picked for the variation in light.

But ducks can certainly make a good splash as well, as in these.

duck splashing with wings raised

Female mallard. Less spray but I liked the colour and light.

Duck splashing with wings raised

A simialr shot to the previous one, but the light had changed which makes for a very different feel to the image.

The final one is actually a rear view of a duck, a male mallard; but it’s also my favourite. It perhaps could have done with slightly more ‘splash’, but the shape of the spray, the reflection on the water and the strong back-light through the wings more than compensates.

Male mallard, with wings extended

Male mallard, with wings extended

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens.

Cormorant at Falmer Pond

Just a simple entry today, of the lone cormorant that’s been hanging around at Falmer Pond recently.

cormorant

Cruising

cormorant

About to dive

cormorant

Surfacing

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Dancing Swallows and other local wildlife

I’ll start with the barn swallows. I took these photos yesterday of them swooping high above farmland at Falmer.

swallows

Swallows flying over Falmer Pond, East Sussex

swallows

Swallows flying over Falmer Pond, East Sussex

Being Falmer I also kept my eyes open for the local rodents. After a relatively barren period they do seem to be back, though not in quite the numbers of a few years ago.

rat

Brown rat at Falmer Pond, East Sussex

rat

Brown rat peeping out from the undergrowth

As always there were plenty of gulls and ducks, but less common is the common sandpiper. These birds are very shy and extremely difficult to approach.

common sandpiper

Common sandpiper at Falmer Pond, East Sussex

Plus one from today, a splendid white duck (a pond resident), imitating a water lily…

duck preening

Duck imitating Lily

And just because I can, here’s a portrait of Long Nose, the young male fox in an ultra relaxed frame of mind.

fox

Portrait of Long Nose

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.