In recent years the influx of swallows in late spring around the holiday town of Erdek has been something of a phenomenon. In previous years I hadn’t really noticed them, yes, I guess there were a few, but last year, and now too this spring, it was almost a proverbial biblical plague of the sprightly fellows flitting around...and as for when the fledglings, well, fledge, the skies and streets, become full of them!
The buildings of Erdek, like many in Turkish towns and cities are perfect for swallows. Doorways with empty plastered recesses that make it easy for the swallows to build their nests secluded from natural predators.
Nest of Singers f/5, 1/500, 175mm, ISO800
As a result, stand on any street and the birds will be swooping around. Stand too long photographing them...and prepared to be dived bombed! This actually happened to me. The shot below features an adult bringing food to a fledgling, shortly after one of the parents hit me on the back of the head. It seems they took offence at the sight of a 70-300 lens attached to a Canon pointing directly at their young ones – as any decent parent should!
Feeding Time f/5, 1/6400, 130mm, ISO1000
Previously, on many spring trips, I had tried to capture swallows, especially on the wing. Something about the shape makes them interesting subjects, but so difficult to capture. The autofocus on the 70D is not the most advanced, my technique, even less so! It proved tough, though in Erdek I managed a system of catching shots with the wings outstretched. It's obvious now, but the technique was to wait near the places they frequently perch upon...pre-focus and just wait for them to come and go. As you watch you’ll see the ticks and jerks they make just before take off, and the way they approach just before landing.
This summer the fledlings should be out again. The Tamron 70-300 has now gone, replaced with a newer, shorter Tamron 70-200 G2. Honestly, landscapes are more my area, so the better picture quality of the new lens appeals over the reach, perhaps I will invest in the x2 converter to lengthen the new – we’ll see.
I enjoy photographing wildlife and Sigma have a rather appealing, though not exactly cheap or practical, 650mm lens. One day maybe! At least these swallows, do not require a long reach to capture them as they fill the streets close to our heads. Speed is the nature of the game, not least to avoid dive bombing parents!
Ever had a wildlife attack you mid-shoot?
Share your tales!
The Frustrated Photog.