Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Pied Flycatcher at Pitstone Hill

Now there’s a title to reflect a day when creative thinking is quite beyond me. So, yes, a fantastic little immature Pied Flycatcher was spotted on the hills early this morning. This species is a scarce passage migrant and I’ve only ever seen one other (up the road at Weston Turville reservoir in 2013).


I was fortunate to be able to get to Pitstone Hill by about 10:30 this morning. The bird made it easy for me and was sitting out on the limb of a small bush. However, s/he zoomed off quick-smart and it was then another 15-20 minutes before I found it again. This time, far more settled, in a raggedy looking Elder tree. After a while, it became clear the bird was essentially doing a circuit of the scrub surrounding the gully and, if I positioned myself in one spot, it would eventually just come back around again. Perfect!

Between chatting to various other Flycatcher fanciers and waiting for photo opportunities, I ended up hanging around for a couple of hours. In all that time, the bird only once caught something from the air. The rest of the time, s/he was darting to the ground to catch spiders and other ground dwelling invertebrates.

In terms of photography, I was trying to stick to digiscoping (I need the practice!). Apart from the bird’s tendency to move fairly rapidly from perch to perch, conditions were ok: very little wind, just about enough light (some sunshine would have been even better) and the distance to the bird was spot on. The next photograph was digiscoped*. The white balance is slightly off but focus and sharpness aren’t bad. The first and final photographs were taken with the long zoom lens (Panasonic m4/3 100-300mm) and although there are less pixels on the bird, the colours are more accurate.




* Digiscoping set-up: Swarovski ATS80HD scope + Swaro DCA adapter + Panasonic DMC-G3 with 20mm f1.7 lens + remote release.

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