Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 21/05/2012

Blooming Marvellous

Chives, originally uploaded by

A sound I’ve not heard for a good while, especially not round these ‘ere parts, has been audible for the last couple of weeks – the chirruping call of the once common House Sparrow. These once plentiful birds have seen their numbers dramatically reduced over a 20 year period, though with around two million breeding pairs resident in the UK, they’re not exactly endangered. Where there’s one sparrow you’ll find others, they’re incredibly gregarious and vocal with it – in fact before you’re able to see them, deep within the cover of a bush as is usually the case, you’ll hear them as was the case this evening when out in the back garden. Having heard calls from the hedgerow along the perimeter of our garden I suddenly spotted a male House Sparrow on the corner apex of the house roof, a perfect vantage point to survey his domain (but also a bit conspicuous with a resident Sparrowhawk around (not a chicken hawk, thrush hawk, rabbit hawk.. but specifically, a SPARROWhawk – I think this male must be told)), again it was his call that first alerted me to him. I think they’re nesting in part of our roof space, so I look forward to many photo opportunities when it comes to time the babies fledging.

I did spend some time with my camera, practising with the flash gun and having taken my time to set all exposures correctly, thinking about what I was doing, the final images came out as expected. The idea is to use the flash but to ensure that the photo doesn’t look like flash has been used at all. I’ve mentioned that I use a diffuser fitted to the flash gun, but I’ve never mentioned which one I use before (well, I did mention the Heath Robinson version made out of a plastic milk carton), only because I couldn’t remember which one I bought – well, it’s the dome diffuser similar to the Gary Fong Lightsphere (but a lot cheaper) and it does a fantastic job whether used facing directly or indirectly the subject. As you can see, it did a pretty good job with this photo… though that could be because I might have forgotten to switch the flash on!

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