nikon 300mm f2.8 afs
Having spent weeks positioning the hide, my real desire was to obtain images of the parents bringing food back to the nest. Talons clasping marsh frogs and birds for example. However, allowing for light, wind direction and not wanting to move the hide and alert the adults, I only obtained a few images that although were nice to get weren’t quite as I had hoped. With this kind of work you really are at the mercy of the elements. The following images were taken over 3, 5 hour sessions. On some occassions I didn’t get any pictures at all though I always saw them. In total I spent 30 hours over 6 sessions.
The image below has been cropped considerably so you can see exactly the prey it was carrying. A young rabbit as it turned out.
The final image is one of my favourites. It’s all about the wing positioning with the late afternoon sunlight illuminating it’s underside. Although not the fastest birds they were quite hard to track. Indeed, when you are in a hide, your vision is restricted and so I would go by the mobbing calls of lapwings to alert me of their presence. I would then frantically look through each peep-hole to try and locate it. For all the images a 300mm f2.8 lens with either the TC-14EII (1.4x) or TC-20EII (2x) tele-converter was used on a Nikon D300. Stopping movement was the prerequisite so I selected an iso of 400 or 800 (depending on how late in the afternoon I was shooting) and the camera set to either shutter priority or manual.
It was a wonderful experience witnessing and photographing marsh harriers from such close range and even with the amount of preparation involved, I am sure in the future I will attempt to improve my coverage of this stage of their lives. In the next installemt I accompany licenced handlers ring and wing-tag the young birds.
About Robert Canis
Robert Canis is a professional photographer specialising in the natural world.
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