A Couple of Days at Forest Farm, Cardiff; Day 2

I arrived again soon after nine with wonderful light and high optimism – but the day played out as before, only this time there were no Water Rails and the smaller birds were few and far between.

The Heron took a frog in similar circumstances but no Bittern. The hide filled up again and personnel changed throughout the day. Clive, (you get to know something of those that stick it out) arrived an hour or so after me and was planning to move on to Kenfig in the afternoon, but decided to to stay in the firm knowledge that the Bittern had been seen the previous evening (my fault!)

At around 2.30pm it was seen rushing between a gap in the reeds and we were all expectant with the light perfect. A little deep movement for about ten minutes kept everyone focused but then time moved on and I was back in familiar territory as the light faded and the parameters shifted. At 2.30pm I had 1/1000th sec at 5.6 on 200 ISO. Now I was back to the near impossible.

It had gone passed the time it showed the previous evening and I would soon be forced out of the hide again when a very tentative Bittern edged out of the reed bed. On this occasion after spending ten minutes at the edge of the reeds it flew higher up, balancing in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible, and began to preen. The light was really against me and I couldn’t help thinking if only it had done this a couple of hours before. I had hit the wall, so to speak, with regard to available light but continued to work. All the exposures being made by the infra red remote so as not to induce camera shake by pressing the shutter.

Clive was thrilled, we were the only two left in the hide. He likes to paint so I’ll email him an image to go with the notes and sketches he was taking.

The images here were all taken on day 2 –

Some technical notes.

The Bittern showed at 5.25pm this evening (2nd March) I took 98 images. All were taken with the 500mm lens. The first image of the series was taken at 1/100th sec at f4 with a healthy ‘ish’ 720 ISO; the last image was taken at 6.12pm on 1/20th sec at f4 on 3,200 ISO. These later images were also underexposed by a couple of stops to help with the shutter speed and processed as a RAW file, giving me enough latitude to pull the image back and alter the colour temperature which was continually shifting as the light was lowering.  Although I would have wished for better conditions there is a beautiful quality that the higher ISO has given and they hold well as a print at A3.

Filed under: Articles, Birds Eloquent ProjectTagged with: , ,


  1. Your patience and perserverance has clearly paid off with this secretive and beautiful bird.

    I’ve only seen them a few times but I’m astounded by their beautiful feather detail, silent flight and distinctly lime-green legs!

    You were fortunate in March, I guess they’ll be on their way back to Scandinavia very soon.

    Kind regards

  2. Nicely captured mate, pleased you managed to catch up with it! Great results – even more so given the conditions.
    The Heron in Day 1 is a cracker too.

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