Swallows projeck

Posted on July 16, 2014


Part 1. Horse flies bring salad days for swallows.

All the biting insects about this summer may be bad news for gardeners and horses but for swallows, swifts, martins and other insect eating birds it’s ‘ happy days’. The European swallow (Monty Python) or more correctly the Barn Swallow, heralds the beginning of summer when it arrives from Africa and seems to get a good press from humans (better than rooks, crows, pigeons & cuckoos anyway). Apparently the breeding success of the male is related to the length of his tail, with longer streamers being more attractive to the female. They are incredible flyers having modelled their wings from that of a world war two Spitfire, they do everything on the wing, eat, sleep, drink, wash and watch TV. The later has never been documented, however the swallow drinks by skimming low over lakes or rivers and scooping up water with its open mouth, it also bathes in a similar fashion, dipping into the water for an instant while in flight. I’ve been trying to photograph this amazing spectacle on the lake at Longlands and here are some of my first attempts in an ongoing projeck. Click to enlarge the action.

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I set the 5D mk 3 autofocus to Al servo and fine tuned the tracking sensitivity (found in menu) to 0, +1, +1 (or case 6 for ‘subjects that change speed and move erratically’), even so success rate was 50% as they do fly so flippin’ fast and physically framing the birds was a annoyingly difficult.

The 70-300mm f4-f5.6 L IS was the perfect lens and most of the successful shots were shot on about 200mm, so the 70-200mm f2.8 or f4 would be ideal as well.

Posted in: Exmoor, North Devon