We live quite close to a very nice nature reserve well-known for its water birds and other wildlife. At about this time last year, we managed to be there when a small murmuration of starlings began. It was quite fascinating watching them weave and twist about in the sky before dropping down in the trees to roost.
This year, we heard they were active again so off we went wrapped up in cold weather clothing and toting camera gear. I took my Tamron 70-200 f2.8 hoping that it would cover any scene that we would encounter. How wrong was I?
It turned out that over the past few weeks, this murmuration has grown and grown and there are now about 10,000 birds (I am assuming that this is an educated guess on the part of the staff at the nature reserve rather than someone counting them all 😉 ) Even at 70mm, there was no chance of getting the full scene. That being the case, I thought it better to zoom in and try to document the density of this astonishing mass of birds. In addition, my promise to myself to avoid the practise of ‘spray and pray’ went out of the window as I moved my shutter setting to fast burst and rattled them off like a demon.
I emptied my card into Lightroom to find I had about 250 shots. Hmm, that’s a fair amount to have to sort through but – I had the shot I wanted.
This event made me realise that I had learned a valuable lesson at some point over the past three years: you can plan all you like but at the bottom of it all is a need to really know your gear. I clearly arrived on the scene with the wrong lens for the shot I wanted (the whole twisting mess of birds) and the wrong settings dialled in – but because I knew my camera and lens well enough, I knew I could alter my plan (and settings) very quickly and still get a worthwhile shot out of it.
Murmuration at Attenborough Nature Reserve – 15th Jan 2018
Author: Sue Woollard – Capers with a Camera.