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Flying High

I re-visited the International Centre for Birds of Prey [icbp.org]near Newent today with the aim of honing my avian photography skills on some of the flying displays. I came here last September [photoblog.com]with my friend Sharon [webdzine.typepad.com]on birds of prey photographic course and rapidly realised how hard it is to capture birds in flight. Since then I??ve upgraded my camera to the Canon 7D (which has better autofocus and tracking capabilities than my old 40D) and bought a longer lens so I was hoping I might have a little more success. While it was still incredibly hard to catch really sharp photos of the birds in flight I??m pretty sure I had a better hit rate this time. Interestingly, although I took fewer photos on this visit it??s taken me much longer to choose my best shots to post here ?? mainly, I think, because I had more successful ones to choose from. In between the flying displays I explored the centre??s Hawk Walk where members of the flying team sit outside, posing obligingly for portraits. I also spent quite a while in the Owl section of the centre and built up quite a rapport with one of the Burrowing Owls who kept coming up to the wire to inspect me at close quarters and talk to me!

This is Delectable, a Eurasian Gripphon Vulture. I can't help feeling it looks like she's dressed up for a night on the tiles, wearing a feather boa!

A Red Kite in the first of the day's flying displays.

This young Yellow Billed Kite is a new addition to the display team. He was only making short hops between the posts and his keeper's hand as it's very early days in his training. I caught this pose as he spotted a wild buzzard up in the sky.

This is Gypsy King, the Spectacled Owl I photographed last September when he was barely more than a chick. He's a regular on the flying team now.

Kestrels are such pretty birds of prey and this one had chosen a lovely spot in some dappled shade to pose in.

The Peregrine Falcons are much easier to photograph when they're stationery!

This chap was very talkative!

An Indian Tawny Eagle. This one's been on the centre's flying team for twelve years now and knew exactly how to swoop around for the photographers!

A young Great Grey Owl. This was only his second day participating in the public flying displays.

This is my favourite shot of the day - a Yellow Billed Kite. It just jumped off the screen at me! Please click to enlarge.

Finally, an in-flight photo of a Peregrine Falcon! I've had to crop this heavily but I was just delighted to have caught him at all as they are so phenomenally fast. I was standing about four feet from another photographer when this bird flew at great speed between us in a stoop towards the food his handler was holding. We didn't see him do it but we felt the rush of air from his feathers as he zoomed by and saw the reaction of the crowd who did see it!!

A Steller's Sea Eagle. These magnificent creatures have a wingspan of eight feet.

He posed for some portraits afterwards too.

One of the Burrowing Owls. They are so cute - only about six inches tall - and very vocal. This young chap was very curious about me and kept coming right up to the wire around his enclosure to look more closely at me!

I wanted to tell this Great Horned Owl not to frown - he looks so worried!

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    There are 16 comments, add yours!

    • # Marsha

      Amazing color, clarity and depth! I'm surprised at this point that I don't have a roomful of birds all flying around and trying to get out the window - they look that real!!

      2011.08.25 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Larry Nelson

      Wonderful shots, Helen! I expect I'll be reviewing this post several times to enjoy each photo again and again!

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Karman

      Helen, what amazing captures. WoW!! I mean WOW!!!
      These are some of the best shots I have seen of birds. So clear and so close. Amazing!!!

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Lynda

      fantastic shots. I went to a falconry display at Wisley on Sunday but having no technical skills like you I stuck to shots of the birds while stationary.

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Mimmo Mallamo

      Beautiful. You managed to capture some wonderful expressions in close-ups. And the flight of the Gipsy Kings is really amazing. Wow ...
      And the # 15 which is also my favorite, shows perfectly the movement of the flight. Sweet but a little sad expression in # 20. But they are all really wonderful!

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Mark

      These are all gorgeous shots! I really love the close-ups, they have great lighting on them.

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # David Swatton

      Great birdy shots - the red kite is my favourite - the way its yellow eye glares out even at a distance is fab

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Ann Garratty

      Wow, these shots are amazing, I love Delectable the vulture with the boa, all dressed up for a girls night out, and the worried owl, he looks apologetic and in need of a hug, and those sea eagles are just majestic... I could go on and on... rest assured that I think all the shots are bril!

      2011.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel