14 Dec 2014

14 Dec 14 - In Defence Of The Canon 7D (As Presently By Mr Blyth)

In a recent post I reviewed the Canon SX60 camera as a good camera for Birders. I did end that review saying it was likely that if I had to take a series of photos in a burst mode I would stick to the Canon 7D. There are several reasons for that. Firstly, I am more familiar with setting up the 7D & being able to quickly to under or over expose photos and change the other settings such as the focusing area. Secondly, the 7D is very fast with its auto focus, which will be essential for a flying subject. Thirdly, it is also very fast at writing to the memory card & finally, I still get a childish thrill at hearing my motor wind going off. But beware that have been plans for the EU to limit the number of frames/second on camera motordrives (see the excellent satirical Leicester Llama Post on this subject).
The wet field the Blyth's Pipit was frequenting
For the last week or so, there has been a Blyth's Pipit near Wakefield. As this was my commonest UK mainland tick left then I finally cracked: I've excluding Lanceolated and Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers as they are virtually all on the Northern Isles. Each day I have been checking weather forecasts & reports of the previous day's sightings. But I was put off for several days by the combination of the weather forecast & people generally getting flight views only. But eventually, I decided that I needed to put the alarm on for a 03:00 wake up call on Sunday morning. No point ringing around to fill a car, as nearly everybody I know locally has seen a Blyth's Pipit or two over the years, especially given two hung around at Portland for several weeks (when I was in Argentina in 1998). After a straight-forward journey I was pulling off the M1 soon after first light & joining the gathering group of Birders. About 09:00 the finder & another local did a careful walk into the wet field. They had to walk around most of the field, before the Meadow Pipits I had seen disappearing into the long grass finally went up & then there was a shout as they put the Blyth's Pipit up. It flew around silently before dropping back into the back of the field. Not tickable views, but at least I knew it was still here. After no further signs over the next two hours, it was getting decidedly cold waiting, especially on the feet (shouldn't have worn the wellies). Finally, a Red Kite drifted over and spooked the Meadow Pipits and then the Blyth's Pipit. It called twice which was great and then circled the field. I dived for the camera & rattled off about 35 shots while it was over the back of the field. No chance of hearing any more calls at the range it was, so the noise of the motor drive wasn't a problem. But given how far away it was I was amazed that it locked on, in such poor light conditions. The photos are grainy, but acceptable shots considering it was between 60 & 80 metres away. Had it circled at the front of the field, then the photos would have been a lot better, but it was another example of being able to see more on the Bird from the photos, that I would have been able to see with bins against the sky at the same range.
Blyth's Pipit: Showing the dark median coverts and the pale tips to the secondary coverts & how the coverts contrast against the flight feathers. Unfortunately, not good enough to make out the shape of the dark median coverts
Blyth's Pipit: Proof that Birds close their wings in flight
Blyth's Pipit: With the Swarovski 10x32 bins, I would have been struggling to see more than the size & shape of the Blyth's Pipit at 80 metres
Blyth's Pipit: It hovered briefly several times as it looked for somewhere to land
Blyth's Pipit: That is number 517 for my British & Irish list following BOU/IRBC rules (so no Micky Mouse species - the full list is on Bubo)
It would have been great to get better views on the deck, but that didn't look likely & I eventually decided to head South around midday. Still I did see several well feeding in India, but no photos. Finally, in case you think the photos aren't as good as some of the flight photos that have appeared on line (& they clearly aren't as good), then here is the uncropped original. Which goes to show I will continue to carry the Canon 7D & 400mm on all my Birding trips (although the Canon SX60 will generally be on my waist belt).
Blyth's Pipit: The uncropped original photo first photo