Sunday, 1 November 2009

Starling Rush (Part One)

I decided a little while back to try and shoot with smaller focal point lenses as much as I possibly could, with one of my themed shoots being the Starlings Roost. I had heard of one at Blackpool's North Pier and have already made one abortive trip to the resort, however, last week I received a call from Brian Rafferty who told me of a fantastic roost of 60,000 plus at Marton Mere. You will, by the way, find some absolutely stunning images taken by Brian on his Flicker-Blog sites and he has also posted them on Birdguides, if you haven't yet seen them I urge you to take a look.
Brian's pics were taken on a stunning evening, I however had no such luck as I visited Matron the following afternoon, it was grey and quite dark by the time the Starlings started to gather. This didn't concern me too much as I intended to to use very slow shutter speeds in the attempt to capture flow of the spectacle. It's all very well knowing the theory, but this kind of photography is very hit and miss and I have never purposefully attempted it before. The Starlings performed well and as this was my first experience of such a spectacle I must say that I was absolutely gobsmacked. After some gyroscopic movements they eventually funnelled into the reeds at the far end of the mere. It was very dark indeed at this point and the spectators reckoned that it was all over for the night. They all drifted away apart from one gent who I had met previously while photographing Short-eared Owls, we chatted as we made our way to the car, as I started to pack away my gear the dark sky went even darker as a few thousand birds decided to roost in the reeds right beside us. It was an earth shattering moment, I can't begin to describe the noise as the flock poured in, I grabbed my camera and started to shoot the best I could, a 10th of a second hand held, god knows how they would come out. In the end I will settle for my first results, one of them even came close to what I had in my mind, however the real test will come when the roost moves on to the North Pier as I have a definite shot in mind, I've even sketched it out. Will I get it? Who knows watch this space in a few weeks time.

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