A family affair (theme)

by Helen Hooker August. 31, 2011 5607 views

I did wonder whether I would ever get any photos of our resident house martins this year as they recently suffered something of a family tragedy. When I returned home from summer school three weeks ago, hoping to photograph the family, I found a dead adult bird hanging from the outside of the nest, swaying in the breeze. There were still signs of activity, with other adults visiting the nest to care for the second brood of the season, so I contacted the RSPB for advice as to when to remove the dead bird. I was told that even if the deceased bird was one of the parents the remaining parent would continue feeding the young until they fledged so we shouldn??t approach the nest until all activity had ceased. We could still hear the family chattering away inside the nest so they were evidently not bothered by the situation and we just waited for signs that the young had fledged.

Then a couple of days ago a bird of prey swooped in under our eaves, grabbed the dead adult and flew away with it. We can only assume he/she thought this was a lucky find ?? a tasty snack ?? but I can??t help feeling it wouldn??t have been particularly fresh by that stage! As well as saving us the job of borrowing a ladder to retrieve the bird it also meant I could now finally take some photos of the family as they went about their business. During the couple of hours I spent shooting them this afternoon I managed to ascertain that there are at least three youngsters in the nest, although I didn??t manage to catch them all on camera simultaneously. It would also seem that one of the first brood of the season has been persuaded to join in the feeding duties as, judging by its plumage, one of the regular visitors was a juvenile.

I must confess these photos are probably the weakest I??ve taken in a long time from a technical point of view. The spot where the nest is positioned never gets any direct sunlight so I was using stupidly high ISOs to get the high shutter speed necessary to freeze any movement. Added to that I was photographing brown birds landing on a brown nest ?? a subject almost entirely lacking the necessary contrast for accurate focusing. All in all, it??s a miracle I caught any vaguely decent shots!

“Who's that strange person with a big white tube down there? Is she looking at me?”

A juvenile about to take off after feedig duties.

One of the adults trying to escape the nest, despite the best efforts of one of the chicks!

“Please feed me first!”

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There are 20 comments , add yours!
Sandra Vermeulen 9 years, 10 months ago

[i]Oh dear, what a way to be buried[/i]. [b];o/[/b]

Still, I'm happy the young survived.

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Sherij 9 years, 10 months ago

You did wonderful for such a difficult subject to photograph! Our swallows here make the same kind of nest and build under eaves and in parking garages! Well done glad all turned out well.

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Miclaud 9 years, 10 months ago

A nice serie!!!

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Camille 9 years, 10 months ago

wow ! BRAVO !

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Davorka ČEoviä‡ 9 years, 10 months ago

Lovely post,great capture!!

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Ann Garratty 9 years, 10 months ago

I am amazed that they can land in those nests at all, they approach them at 300 mph, fold up their wings at the last second and squeeze through that tiny little gap that is the doorway, and they do it without impaling the babies with their beaks or flattening them on the back wall... truly a marvellous aerobatic feat in itself, and technical difficulties aside, I think your pics are really good...

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Pete 9 years, 10 months ago

that looks like a tight squeeze

9 years, 10 months ago Edited
Thomas Thompson 9 years, 11 months ago

Wow thats a great capture well done

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Lukesmom 9 years, 11 months ago

I think you did just fine. These are great and the story very interesting too!

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 9 years, 11 months ago

Wonderful set - love the little birds head poking out of the nest.

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Jet28 9 years, 11 months ago

You did a great job - what an amazing story!

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Marsha 9 years, 11 months ago

Really interesting story, Helen....thanks for sharing your observations accompanied by the wonderful images!

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Jennifer Litwinowicz 9 years, 11 months ago

Great set! I love the nest it looks like a wasp nest!

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Moira 9 years, 11 months ago

You did well , nice set and TFS the story.

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Paul 9 years, 11 months ago

Despite the problems ...a great set of images..I particularly like the last one.

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Tomie Poodle 9 years, 11 months ago

wonderful post!

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Lynda 9 years, 11 months ago

Great set and interesting story.

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Josy 9 years, 11 months ago

I love this set and the story ! Always good shots Helen, always !

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Felecia Eby 9 years, 11 months ago

I can't speak to these being the weakest technically Helen, but what a great story they tell. I am so glad the kids survived. GREAT!

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
Alicja 9 years, 11 months ago

[i]Wonderful set!! I love it very much![/i]

9 years, 11 months ago Edited
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