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April 16, 2011 / hhsiegrist

Birds in Flight

Birds in flight are a special discipline in bird photography. It is a trial and error thing where the error rate is usually very high. Fortunately, modern cameras make things a bit easier with their highly efficient continuous autofocus modes but the rate of keepers is still lower than 10 percent.

Last Friday I was invited by birdwatching friends to join them on one of their birdwatching towers in the Fanel nature reserve on the south shore of Lake Neuchâtel ( The distance for photographing sitting birds was too long (not a problem for the birdwatchers, though, with their big scopes) but the tower provided an excellent opportunity for making pictures of flying birds.

Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis) are just about everywhere and some of them showed off their elegance in the air:

There were also tremendous numbers of Red Crested Pochards (Netta rufina) occasionally taking off to explore a different part of the lake:

Another bird which occurs in high numbers is the Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) whose sworn enemies are the local fishermen as they consume large quantities of fish especially in the breeding season. Colonies of these bird can be found on the artificial islands in the lake from which they go on their fishing expeditions:

They also fly away in search of nesting material

and come back with some

Other flying birds found were Greylag Geese (Anser anser):

and, of course, the ubiquitous Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Multipoint continuous autofocus is extremely helpful for photographing moving objects against the sky but gets easily confused when the flying birds are in front of a structured background. With some luck you can still get nice compositions like these two cormorants:

All in all, it turned out to be an excellent opportunity to share a day out with nice people and to practice, once more, one’s skills in this difficult discipline of wildlife photography.

As usual, all pictures at



Leave a Comment
  1. Rolf / Apr 16 2011 20:00

    These are not Common Gull (Larus canus)but Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
    Regrds Rolf

  2. hhsiegrist / Apr 16 2011 23:34

    Thanks, Rolf, for your reply.

  3. Rolf / Apr 17 2011 11:43

    Oh, da gibt es ja noch einen Rolf 😉
    Super, wie schafft man das nur, Vögel im Flug zu erwischen und das auch noch scharf? Jedenfalls super, mir gefällt die Aufnahme mit dem Vogel mit dem Baumaterial im Schnabel sehr gut.
    Viele Grüße

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