Tuesday, March 26, 2013

And I thought it was just ...

... an ordinary heron in winter clothes!

I had seen this white bird with a yellow beak in some fields and also in and around a small lake in the forest. It could not be a stork, was my first reaction. Then when I spotted it standing in the shallow lake my guess was that it was a heron, but in winter white somehow.

After having taken a few shots of it, I looked it up in my European bird book and discovered it must have been a Great White Egret. But there was something odd about it. It should not really be here at all, since it belongs more to south-eastern Europe.

However I have the evidence it is here, and has been here for some time as well, out of season and out of its area. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back Garden Wildlife

The other day I was left frustrated by my rather outdated computer. It is not that old, but you know how technology ages at the speed of light it seems.

I had spotted a buzzard in trees just outside our garden several times, but had not been fortunate to have the photo equipment set up. But the other day was different. I took over 500 (!) pictures of a beautiful buzzard perched on a branch overlooking the garden.

There were shots of him scratching himself with his sharp talons, preening his feathers with his beak and even yawning showing his tongue! Then what happened? My PC buggered it all up!

Trying to transfer the images to the PC, it managed to corrupt the files and destroy all of them. I nearly cried!

Today luck was on my side. I snapped a gorgeous sparrowhawk in the same tree as the buzzard earlier in the week, and I also got a good shot of a little siskin looking miserable in the snowfall.

I feel happier now!


Friday, March 08, 2013

Mobbed by Mallards!

(Yes, mallards, not ducks.)

I bought a new full-frame DSLR a couple of weeks ago, a Nikon D600, which turned out to have some teething problems, a strange phenomenon that some reviewers on Amazon had reported.

After having taken some images (30 or so) the shutter had splattered oil spots on the sensor, which is like the heart of the camera, resulting in stains on every picture in exactly the same places. Dust could apparently also be activated by the shutter and end up on the sensor.

Since we were going on holiday to Sweden, I insisted the camera shop give me a new one, which they did after a hell of a lot of arguing. I did not have time to wait for them to send it to Nikon for cleaning.

So, guess what happened with the new camera? Yes, that one as well! So when we returned from holiday I handed it in to get it cleaned by Nikon, because apart from this technical teething problem, I very much like the camera. If you google it you will understand. However I managed to get some decent pictures, among them this mallard mob image.

We were walking in the lovely sunshine when we reached a pond. I estimate the number of mallards in excess of 200, and they must have been starving, because they came streaming at us from all directions. And boy were they loud. It almost felt like a Hitchcock moment.

There was no time to do any fancy settings, just time to snap away in auto mode, but I think the result was quite good, reminds me of a Bruegel painting.

The spots are not visible with so much going on in the picture, but they are there, believe me. I only hope that Nikon will manage to clean it up and that it will not happen again. We shall see.
And here is an immediate update:

The prediction had been for a two-week wait, but I could actually collect the cleaned camera after only one week, and I have not seen any spots yet in several shots I have taken into the grey sky.
I now have to photograph thin air, white walls and suchlike every now and then to check for oil spillage on the sensor. Fingers crossed!