Sunday, 25 May 2008

Ingleby - Red-footed Falcon!!

So there we were, Mike Stokes and myself, at the edge of this ploughed field in the depths of Derbyshire. And there was this gorgeous little stunner of a Falcon, sat in the middle of the field some 150m distant, wondering just what the hell she was doing there!! A North Easterly gale was blowing, the drizzle was horizontal - was this really the end of May, it felt like winter!!

My motto - never ever birding without a camera. I had gone to get the gear from the boot - camera yes, big lens no! I was gutted but just by luck, the baby lens bag was there. Now, to some folk the 300mm f2.8 lens is not really a baby but it is in terms of reach. I was faced the reality - I was about to find out whether the 300mm with 2x extender combination can compare with the 500mm?? (A favourite topic in the forums!!)

Trouble was, either lens was always going to struggle at that distance.... We waited nearly two hours before she decided it was time to chase an insect or two and move closer! She did and eventually but briefly, it was down to 50 metres.....

A quick dash and a beetle or two met an untimely end....

The taste for food was on and from then on, it was short bursts of activity every 10 - 15 mins. Flight shots against the field background were extremely tricky....

The weather was deteriorating and we decided it was time to head back to the car (nearly a mile away!) Sensing this change too, the Red-foot proceeded to take hunting seriously mixing short glides with Kestrel like hovers - fantastic to watch!

The moments were recorded, given the weather conditions and distance, they are decent record shots. But when that perennial question comes up on the photo-forums - 500mm or 300m + 2x kit? The 300mm 2.8 is a fantastic lens, possibly Canon's finest but (as far as I'm concerned) you need the birds close enough to use without the converter - especially for flight!

Now then, a bit of a celebration was needed! We called into the corner shop in the first village and in true TSB style sought out the cakes - would you believe it - Tunnocks Marshmallows - the box didn't last long!!!

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