Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bird motion

I was going to post some photos of puffins and a guillemot, then I remembered these and decided they were more interesting.

When creating a time lapse it always looks more natural if you use a long exposure so that the movement is fluid rather than sharp and jumpy. During the night, or other low light occasions this is fairly straight forward, but a lot of the time it’s not possible to get a slow enough shutter speed. The answer is a to use a very dark ND (neutral density) filter, I have one that is rated a 9 stops, result: an 8 sec exposure instead of 1/60 sec. As well as making time lapses you can also soft fuzzy cotton wool water, clouds scudding across the sky, or birds trails.

Kittiwakes at Bull hole

Guillemots loafing at the Wick

At night you don’t need an ND filter. Jason the assistant warden had put on the Mercury Vapour lamp (hence the colour) moth trap. It was a bit misty, so the cloud was lit up too, but you can clearly see the tracks of the Manx shearwaters as they fly past. I’m assuming that the ‘flicker’ in the trail is because of mains electric running at 50Hz. I guess I could count them and look at the exposure length! You can clearly see the wing beats though.

Manx Shearwaters flying over the moth trap

Manx Shearwaters flying over the moth trap

Great black-backed breakfast

Guillemot chick legs
Having carried out a search with quadrats we search a 10m radius for shearwater and rabbit remains
Now that the guillemots have gone its time to look at what the Great black-backed gulls have been eating this summer.
So far we have found plenty of Manx shearwater remains, today one nest had lots of guillemot chick remains, which included the rings that had been put on their legs to study their survival and breeding later in life. Litter also appeared, including tomato ketchup sachets, so we can only think that manxies taste good with ketchup on!
As well as gull diet work, I'm still checking the last of the Razorbills, and the Kittiwakes are starting to fledge too.
Gazing up on the heavens below

A few times this summer we have been ringing storm petrels to study adult survival. Staying up late has made a nice change to the usual early mornings, and has allowed for a bit of star gazing too. The sky would be even better if it wasn't for the light from the gas terminal, refineries and ships, all lit up like Christmas trees!