Saturday, 24 November 2012

60 Waxwings, Stannaway Ave, Crumlin, D12

As I mentioned in my last post my beloved Sigma 150-500 died.
I took it back to Conns, managed to speak to Mike himself and got a refund for the lens without even asking.
€825 spondoolies in my pocket, but no lens and that made me sad.
I'd swap the notes in my pocket for a working 150-500 any day, but Mike suggested the lens wasn't for me - no definite reason or explanation, just the fact that I'd been in with the same complaint so many times when no-one else had (apparently he's sold loads of the 150-500's) is what made him think that whatever way I was shooting didn't suit the Sigma and I should try a different set up.
The Sigma had taken me by surprise and dumped me, I miss it.

John Fox suggested I use a 300mm f4 with a 1.4 teleconverter, it's what he uses all the time and what a load of birders use too, he had a spare and very kindly offered me a lend to see how it fared.

My shot, taken with John Fox's Nikon 300mm - the lens what he's won awards with.

Perhaps if I found a bigger bird? Heron in flight. The light was so bad when I took this pic I had the iso right up to 1000 (not regular practice), 1/2000 sec

With all the Waxwing sightings being reported around Dublin, I figured I'd have another go at Stannaway Ave, there weren't any there last week, but there might be today.

For some unknown reason, C and her hangover decided that they wanted to come along with me which made me kind of nervous, but I embraced the challenge and we set off around Drimnagh looking up into all the trees for possible Waxwings.
'The Waxwings can look a bit like a flock of Starlings' I mentioned.
'I always get confused between Starlings and Swallows' she said, my eyes widened and I drove on in silent awe.

With no luck around Drimnagh, we headed into Crumlin down Windmill Rd, Cashel Ave, Stannaway Rd and onto Stannaway Ave.
'This is Waxwing road' I said, and pointed up to the large flock of either Starlings or Waxwings in exactly the same tree I saw them in two years ago.

We counted 60 Waxwings - not Starlings (or Swallows), between this tree and another across the road.

The light was impossible today to get any decent shots, frustrating when you've been stuck in work all week looking out at cloudless blue skies and beautiful sunshine. Still, the image here is an amazing one for the middle of Crumlin - beautiful.

My complete inability to use the Nikon 300mm f4 lens handheld.

The Nikon 300mm f4, unlike most lenses today, has no VR system and because I was handholding and excited and cold and taking these photos with nothing to lean against - the technical quality is awful, but to capture a Waxwing with a berry in it's beak is great.

Great image content wise!

Waxwings, Stannaway Ave, Crumlin

At one stage I changed to my 18-200mm (with VR!), this is one of the photos cropped.

Back to the 300 + 1.4 t/c

Watching them eat the berries was interesting, they seem to snap the berry from the branch, balance it at the tip of their beaks then knock the berry back like they're doing shots, which maybe they were that time they were found dead, drunk from the alcohol content of the fermented berries :o/

Possibly the 'sharpest' shot from today, not great, but the best I could manage.

I know if I was on my own, I would have stayed longer and waited to watch more and get more shots, but my passenger was starting to hunger and fade, so we waved bye to the Scandinavians and wished them a pleasant stay in Dubiln.