Hanging bird feeders in the sycamore tree might have been wrong for the robin but it bought a wonderful variety of birds to the chapel garden.  Blue tits with their beautiful plumage arrived in groups of eight and sometimes ten and with them came coal tits, great tits, chaffinches and sparrows.

At first they flew away in panic when the shutter went down on my camera (Canon 5D III) but with the cold weather the easy access to food soon bought them back again.  I’m always a tad wary too of getting them too used to human beings for they remain wild creatures and need not grow totally dependent of food being supplied rather than their own natural ability to forage.  Striking a balance isn’t easy.

As I had spent the previous summer working in landscapes with some portraiture is became frustratingly obvious that I needed a lens which would bring the birds closer whilst still preserving the distance between us.  And also ending up without something rather like a dot in the distance! It took me several weeks of research and uncertainly before I was ready to make a choice.  I use all Canon gear but couldn’t afford a ‘birding’ lens from their range.  A further consideration was that this was my hobby and I was not sure I wanted it to become part of my business world – none of my photography feels like work in the sense that other people have to work long hours perhaps in an office and often in a highly stressful environment whereas I had the freedom to work how and to some degree where I chose.  I always know I am fortunate and am grateful for that.  So basically I needed to buy something which could also be used in my field of work but which would not break the bank.

On one level I marvel at modern lenses with their complexity and effective glass components and on another still feel slightly shocked at my willingness to pay so much to own one of them.  In my head I can reason it out but my heart points out to me that there are homeless people in Cardiff and children starving in war torn areas as well as local people with no work.  So buying this lens was a struggle for me – and I argued with myself for days over it.  In the end the desire for the lens one and I salvaged my conscience by donating bird images to sites that can raise money to help wildlife and to competitions like the one on the Alzheimer’s website asking for images for Christmas cards www.alzheimers.org.uk

I did a lot of research within my price range on what would be best and why finding comparative tests on lenses in magazines like Outdoor Photography (www.outdoorphotgraphymagazine.co.uk)  in their Gear Zone or Practical Photography (www.practicalphotography.co) in their Get into Gear section  helpful as was the equipment supplier www.wex.co.uk.  It was a toss-up between Tamron and Sigma lenses but I finally went for the Sigma 150-600 mm lens and although it is heavy it is still possible to hand hold it. I prefer that as chasing round after birds which constantly appear and disappear from every corner of the frame make a tripod problematic. I probably need to practice more with one I guess.  After a couple of months working with the lens I am pleased with the results although I know I still have a way to go.  Here are a couple of the results:

Birds at feeders
Birds at feeders