Archive for the ‘Photo’ Category
A morning trip to the Gull and Tern colony
The forecast for Sunday morning was rain, but that should hinder me checking in on the Common Tern colony in the archipelago. That was my thought when I went to sleep on Saturday.
I would lie if I say that I trust the weather providers, but I hoped for wet conditions as I think that would be a great add-on to the sunny pictures I have from the colony. So I really wasn´t surprised when the cat woke me up around 4 a.m. to clear skies and a rising sun. I rechecked the forecast that now had changed to sunny and a light overcast that would turn into rain in the afternoon. This didn´t hinder me in any way as these conditions could provide for interesting light, and I really wanted to see the status at the colony.
The biggest question was if there would be any chicks at the colony now?
I managed to get an hour more of sleep before the cat really woke me up. So an hour later I was in the car heading towards the coast. I checked the Peregrine Falcons at Gasklockan, but couldn´t see them. A quick stop at Fiskhamnen to see if the Glaucous Gull were there. No luck. I wondered if that would be the mantra of the day when I continued on my way?
Maybe not because I arrived just in time before the ferry closed the gates. I was last car onboard. Lucky me.
One could really feel the wind during the short trip over the strait. This could work to my advantage if the wind was coming in the right direction, but that I wouldn´t know before I got there.
It took probably 15-20 minutes from leaving the ferry until I got in place to begin. I managed to prepare everything before I approached the colony so I just had to find a good spot to sit and then pull the blind over my head. That worked like a charm and it almost felt like the colony settled quickly.
The wind was blowing hard with the bag hide acting like fabric tend to do in those conditions. It made the session tough, but I still managed to bring home good material. It took me a while before I realized that both the Common Tern and the Black-headed Gull had chicks in the colony. At first I tried to focus on just the Terns in front of me, but sadly the parent that wasn´t with the chicks didn´t have any hunting luck. I just saw it come back with fish twice during the hour that I spent at the colony.
I even made a video. I often forget do this when I am away on workshops, but I tend to forget it when I am at home. This is the family I had in front of me with one parent and three chicks.
Not the most interesting video, but you will get a feeling for the setting.
If I look at the pictures, then I’ll say that I actually managed to get a couple of really decent ones. The light was up and down and I had trouble with the bag hide acting like a sail. Still it feels like I am on the edge of blown-out parts in some pictures like this one.
I like this picture with the parent and one of the chicks calling for the other parent to bring home some goodies.
I like this picture with the parent and one of the chicks calling for the other parent to bring home some goodies. It shows what the colony is all about at this moment in time. Raising the young and they need food. I have included a couple of food delivery pictures in the gallery and if you look at the last you will notice that the fish actually is missing its head.
The head was actually ripped off, the Tern in the air flew off with it, and you can notice a big drop falling down towards the ground from this decapitating of the fish.
I hope you will enjoy the video and the gallery and that you can do me a small favour. The site doesn’t seem to work for me and I hope it is just for me. Please go through the gallery in this post and if you get any trouble reload the page and try once more. If it still is trouble please make a comment here or send my one from the contact page.
A visit at Svankällan looking for Dragonflies
I found a document about an inventory of Dragonflies that had been done here in Gothenburg. That stirred my mind as I really like to photo these hunting insects. That is why now have set a goal for the summer and that is to record at least eight different types of Dragonflies.
The best area for Dragonflies in Gothenburg, if I look at the inventory, is a wetland area, Svankällan, that actually is very accessible for me as it is a small detour when I go home from work. Fifteen different types of Dragonflies were spotted at Svankällan during the inventory that was made during the summer period 2011.
Tonight was my first visit at Svankällan. It was easy to find even if the parking space was situated in a small villa community. I had done a quick check before I left home and knew there should be a big bird tower, but also a small hide that potentially could give me good photo opportunities.
The bird tower was the first thing I wanted to check out.
Svankällan was really serene with an open wetland and walking paths along both sides of it. The bird tower was huge with two floors and here I stopped to get a good overlook of the wetland. I didn´t stay long because I was here for Dragonflies, that was my primary subject for the evening.
I found the Dragonflies in the northwestern part of Svankällan where they flew over a small rectangular pond defending their turf from other Dragonflies. So now it was game on.
If you haven´t tried to photo Dragonflies before then you will find it really frustrating. Most often you’ll just give up after a time, but that isn´t me. You really have to be patient, use slow movement when you raise the camera and you need luck.
Most of the time the Dragonflies just sat on the ground getting warm from both the sun and the heat radiating from the warm ground. Every single picture I took with them on the ground is now in the bin. Really boring pictures, but sometimes I take that kind of picturesbecause they can help me identifying the species.
I like both pictures of the Dragonflies, but the picture of the White-faced Darter is the first for me and therefore it is a little bit more special.
The picture of the Four-spotted Chaser is better with the green background that is if I just think about the picture.
I also tried the hide, but it was really not built with photography in mind. Still it produced a smashing picture of a White Wagtail that I really like. It is probably the best White Wagtail picture so far this year.
I think it was a good first outing at Svankällan. I managed to get 25% of the Dragonflies and I saw at least two other types. I will surely stop here many times on the road home from work to see if I can add more Dragonflies to the list and maybe I’ll get a chance to photo the Grey Heron I saw there. So until next them enjoy these three pictures.
At last an Osprey catching a fish
There are certain pictures that I want to catch and today I nailed one of them, at least to a certain degree.
I actually didn´t have anything on my mind this morning, but I woke up early and there was a heavy cloud bank outside that made the light a little less intensive so I thought I should give it a shot.
The light is really an issue in the middle of the summer as we have light for almost 18 hours. The nights are not really dark and this makes this period both good and bad. The good thing is of course that we have so much light and the bad thing is that you really need to be out early or late to catch the best light.
When I left home at 6:40 the sun had been up for more than two hours. That meant I had missed the best light if it wasn´t for the cloud bank. I wanted to investigate the area at Torslanda as this is one of the best bird watching places in Gothenburg. I have been there once or twice before with any real luck. This time I wanted to go there prepared so I checked the observations for the last couple of days to get a feeling about where I could go. There were two areas that looked interesting and they were on either side of a small lake.
I decided to start on the western side. That I did with one thing in mind and that was to use the clouds to my advantage as I otherwise would have had the sun coming straight at me. The place was teeming with life and I left my car at and old airfield.
I walked around the air field and in the area nearby. I had many good photo opportunities and I know that if I had used the bag hide, then I would have gotten many more good photos. I really need to focus better when I see the opportunity and use the tools I have to get the pictures I desire.
This is the picture I like the best and it is a singing Marsh Warbler, that is at least what I think it is.
It just appeared in front of me when I tried my luck with a Reed Warbler. I had to work to nail the picture, but the small warbler was really co-operation and I managed to get a couple of frames when the bird was singing. I like the light and the green background showing the bird in its natural habitat, but it is the singing that makes the picture for me. No singing equals an ordinary portrait. Now it is a portrait with a little extra.
I now felt that I had to try the luck on the other side of the small lake.
I know there is a Sand Martin colony there and that was what I had in mind initially. The Martins was out showing themselves nicely and I stopped there to try to get a couple of pictures. Martins and Swallow are really hard to work with as they are small and agile, but I got one or two nice pictures of the Sand Martins and you can see one in the gallery.
When I felt ready at the colony I started to walk out towards the sea. I could hear birds singing from every corner and now the cloud bank was gone so I really had to take that into consideration when I took the photos. The area is also known for its raptors so I kept an eye in the sky to see if something special could be seen.
I had walked for a couple of hundred meters when I glanced back at the Sand Martin colony. There was something big up in the sky and my first thought was a big Gull of a sort, but that changed when I saw it hover. It couldn´t be a Kestrel or a Falcon, it was too big, so I raised the camera and took a photo to check. The small silhouette in the frame must be an Osprey, I was sure of it. So back I went trying to keep an eye on the whereabouts of the Osprey. I managed to find the lake in which it hunted and stood there trying to figure out what to do as I had the sun from the wrong direction. I took a couple of photos just in case and then watched the Osprey as it hunted over the lake. It tried a couple of times before it flew away to test another small lake.
This meant I hurried over to the other side of the lake and just sat down by the water’s edge on a rock. This was a lucky move as the Osprey came back, together with its mate, hunting over the lake for an hour or more.
They tried many times without succeeding until I caught one in the act of climbing out of the water with a tight grip on a European perch.
This is a picture I have tried to catch a couple of times without success, but today I nailed it, almost. I think there is room for improvement and I will surely go back to see what I can do. A perfect scene would be to get the dive, with the plunge, and then a perfect 5-10 frames when the Osprey takes off with the fish. I almost managed it today, but I had to throw away of couple of frames as they were blurry.
It was a real treat for me to see the spectacle in front of me and I will go back there earlier next time to hopefully get the Osprey in the soft morning light.
I hope you enjoy the gallery from today, the first two is actually from yesterday, and don´t forget to look at the pictures at full screen.
A quick check on the status of the colony
What is the status on the Common Tern colony? That was the question I had in mind when I drove out to the archipelago of Gothenburg this morning. I don´t know for how long they have been incubating the eggs, but it can´t be that much longer before the eggs hatch. That is what I thought and why I felt a need to check the status on the colony. I also wanted to investigate where the Terns fish and if I could use another approach to the colony.
The other approach would hopefully mean I could photo a little longer in the evening with the light coming from the right direction. I also saw Terns fish around this place the first time there so I had a good feeling about the spot.
The sky was grey when I got there and some clouds seemed heavy with rain. I parked the car at my special place, grabbed the gear and walked towards the colony. I heard more noise than last time and soon discovered that the colony was up in the air, probably startled by something.
The new approach is more open and it didn´t take long before they saw me. This meant it would be fruitless to continue so I tracked back to let them settle before I approached once more and this time I used the “safer” approach.
The colony did see me, but I quickly vanished from their watchful eyes as I pulled the bag hide over my head as I sat down at the water’s edge. This really worked like a charm and I soon felt how everything went back to its normal routine at the colony. I could now setup the gear, and this time I had brought the monopod as it is essential to use a tripod or monopod with the bag hide, and start taking photos.
I quickly discovered that there were no chicks in the colony so it might be another 10 days, at the most, before the chicks are out. I suppose there will be a great deal of interaction between the parents and the chicks, but also between the bigger Herring Gulls and Black-backed Gull that was watching the colony.
I sat there for more than an hour trying to get a grip of how to work under the bag hide. It was my first long period under the hide and it did work alright even if the fabric didn´t move as I wanted when I panned the camera. Still I got a few nice photos and this is the one I like the most.
What I like about this picture is actually the background, a colorful skerry. The Tern is flying away from the colony towards the main hunting ground that seemed to be at a completely different place than I had hoped for. I like the typical Tern pose with the long wings and the long tail that is acting as a rudder.
I hope the time I spent at the colony this morning will increase the chances to get the interaction photos next time.
When I left I thought the day was over, but when I passed Gasklockan I saw something strange. I Dove was sitting on top of a street light and just next to the Dove there was a Peregrine Falcon. It was sitting just a few meters above the ground and that is a rare sight. I couldn´t make u-turn so I had to drive a kilometer before I turned and headed back.
I crossed my fingers, when I walked the 100 meters from where I parked the car until I could see the street light that the Falcon still would be there with the Dove by its side, but that wasn’t to be. Still it felt good to have seen it and as I walked towards the car I could hear a clearly disturbed Crow. I glanced upwards and there the Peregrine Falcon came gliding. I raised the camera and took a sequence of photos.
This is by no means a great Peregrine Falcon photo, but I always appreciate the time I get with this agile raptor.
I will check the colony again during the end of next week to see if something have happened. I also know that it will take around three weeks for the chicks to fledge so there will be plenty of time for me to get the desired photos.
A Monday visit to a Tern colony
I have been looking for a Tern colony for some time without striking any luck. My hope is to be able to photo the Tern colony when they have chicks with the aim of catching many interaction shots when the Terns is bringing back food to their young. I am not sure how many days I will have with the possibility to get these sought after interaction photos before the young Terns leave the colony.
It really doesn´t matter which type of Tern, but I suppose it will be either the Common Tern or the Arctic Tern as I suppose they are the most numerous around Gothenburg. I had of course this in mind when I travelled thorough Halland on Saturday, but I didn´t see a single Tern throughout the day.
So what is the status of the project now? Have I found a colony yet?
Yes, I have found one and it is much closer than I had hoped for as it is out in the archipelago of Gothenburg. And it is easily accessible for me so I can go there after work each evening if I want.
I check the place the first time on Monday evening and it looks promising as I found a mixed colony with Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls. There were also Eurasian Oystercatchers with juvenile birds and a couple of Common Eiders there so all in all a nice mix. I couldn´t see any chicks, but I hope they will hatch during this week, if I am lucky, as the weather forecast say sunshine from a clear sky.
I feel there are a couple of things that I need to focus on next time I go there. One thing is that I have to check the exposure more often than I do. It is hard to photo a white-ish bird against a light background as you all too often overexpose. I also want to use the bag hide next time as I have bought it with things like this in my mind. The hope is to get a little bite closer when I use the bag hide without disturbing the birds. To not disturb is of course of utmost importance and something you always should consider first, particularly when you are close to a nesting site. You are the visitor in their realm and need to behave accordingly.
You can find a couple of photos from the 25 minutes I spent at the colony in the gallery below. I particularly like the first one of the Black-headed Gull, mostly because I find it funny. Next time I hope for more interaction and maybe a warm sunset to add a little extra to the scene.