Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cave Swallow Challenge

 Alvan Buckley aced it again finding a Cave Swallow at Quidi Vidi Lake, only the second sighting ever recorded for Newfoundland. The last reported by Jared Clarke was in 2008 in the area of Cape Race.
 With such an exciting bird at my doorstep, I made the 5 minute drive to the lake. What did I find? Cold temperatures, high winds and a dozen swallows hugging the water. Ugh! Not good. The best way to photograph swallows is when they are high enough the sky is the background.
 Well getting a shot was secondary. First, I wanted to see the bird. That I did fairly quickly. It was browner, smaller and flew differently. Satisfied with the bino views, it was time to raise my camera.
 This bird got the better of me. As I flipped through my shots, there were more "deletes" than I care to say. Distance, every-changing lighting, the low angle and the swiftness of this bird created near-impossible conditions. (Couldn't find speed of a Cave Swallow, but did find a Barn Swallow flies 11 metres per second. I am guessing that is about the same as our Cave.)
With all that ground to cover, it is very hard to get a focus on a small zooming target sticking very close to the water. This bird bested me.
 Sad to say, these are the best shots I got after an hour spent around the lake. I have not seen the bird since the first day.
Note in this last shot how it flattened it profile to skim directly over the water to snag a fly. Swallows are extremely interesting.  I have whiled away a lot of dizzying hours staring up and down and all around working to identify swallows in flight..