Is that a Bird?

Our latest venture took us deep in to rural Gloucester where there lies the International Birds of Prey Centre. This is one of the oldest dedicated and friendliest birds of prey centre in the world, and hosts an array of eagles, vultures, kites and many more Raptors as well as some owls.

Condor
The Condor posing for a Photo

When we first arrived the centre kindly brought out a young condor ( called Amberley) for it do carry out some basic training exercises, and for us to get accustomed to the settings required and the practicing of action shots which proved difficult to master.

flying condor
The Young Condor getting used to flying, and letting us get the settings required for the best photographs

 

Throughout the day we explored the grounds of the centre, looking at all the different birds that they have there. Many of these birds were kept behind fine netting to prevent them escaping but also was a struggle to try and blur out, so creativity was key to take the best picture of them.

 

Steller's Sea Eagle
A Stellar’s Sea Eagle that was sitting close to the fence of his enclosure, with the help of creative photography and post processing the fence has almost been completely removed.

As the day progressed they started clearing out some of their beds the birds were slowly brought out onto their perch for the day, such as this bald eagle below.

 

bald eagle
The Bald Eagle staring directly at me before it was taken into the open and to rest on its perch for the day

Once the birds were ready and we had explored most of the centre, it was time for the bird show. This fun and interactive talk was hosted by the staff and volunteers of the birds of prey centre. The birds that they flew ranged from African fish eagles, peregrine falcons and snowy owls. Both of these shows throughout the day were a great learning experience both as a wildlife enthusiast and photographer.

 

looking at yellow eyes
One of the Many hawks on show and rewarded with a baby chicken
eagle onto arm
Another of the birds of prey displayed to us, landing back on the staffs arm

As they flew the birds round the area, the telephoto lens was out and the camera ready. The challenge for the day however take a decent photograph of a bird mid flight whilst tracking its movement. In some ways this was fun in other frustrating as wings were clipped off or the focus had moved. However, all in all it was a great experience on high speed photography.

Flying owl
One of the few images of this owl whilst in motion
flying bird
Another image of a high speed bird mid flight

 

snowy owl flying
A snowy eagle (most would know as Hedwig) photographed by pan tracking and blurring the background motion keeping the moving owl in focus.

One tip I did learn however, was to keep an eye out not just through the view finder as I almost got taken out by a peregrine falcon. Safe to say some speedy ducking skills saved the day.

peregrine falcon
This was the peregrine falcon that is a very quick bird and aimed for my head during its flight showing.

 

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