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Old February 1st, 2008, 09:59 AM   #1
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Birds and water in winter

Next week I'm off to Norfolk, on the east coast of England, for a week to photograph and film waterfowl and shorebirds/waders. Last year I was just doing stills, but this year will have my new Canon XH A1 to play with.

I have little experience of filming these birds (just one day with the whooper swans at Martinmere in December to try out the new camera), and will be looking for flight pictures as well as on the ground. It is likely to be cold, wet and windy, but hopefully not freezing - though snow is not impossible.

Any advice with regard to technique, camera settings, specific places (any UK people who know that area - I know only the names of the main reserves) etc will be much appreciated.

Thanks
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Old February 1st, 2008, 03:30 PM   #2
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Hi Annie.

Sorry, I'm not from UK, I'm Norwegian, but in generally I would say this.

1) First rule is to take care of yourself and bring with you warm clothes/gloves, etc.
2) If you're filming flight scenes I hope you have a tripod that can manage steady pans/tilts and a bit wind.
3) Raincoat for your camera :)
4) Windshield for the mic.
5) Some waders can be extremely shy, so a hide would be nice.
6) I always do manually white balance.
7) I'm not sure if the Canon XH A1 can use the same presets as the XLH1, but if so, I would try out preset nr 10 or 16. You'll find them to download in the Canon XLH1 forum here: http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=66776
8) That's about what I have in mind and of course I wish you a pleasent tour and all the best :)

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Old February 1st, 2008, 05:22 PM   #3
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Hi Annie,
I visit norfolk several times a year birdwatching & filming, you may find that bird hides on the reserves are not idealy situated for filming especially if you don't have a big lens. Also the location of the hides are not best suited for certain times of the day, i.e. at RSPB Titchwell the sun is in you face during the mornings, but very good in late afternoon.

Also the floors in alot of the hides aren't very stable, even when mounted on a tripod somebody walking about in the hides can give a camera shake effect.

Titchwell - waders from hides & adjacent to path, brackish pools can be good for Water Rail

Thornham Quay - about 2miles west of Titchwell, can get close views of redshank etc

Brancaster Staithe & Burnham Overy Staithe quaysides can be good

Lady Anne's Drive opposite the turning for Holkham Hall £3/4 parking fee, Pinkfoots/Brent in fields ajacent to drive, can get close views.

Wells Next the Sea quayside can be good for waders/gulls - just depends on tide

Cley Reserve - can get good views from hides(concrete floors - solid), also in fields adjacent to roads from Cley-Salthouse wildfowl/geese.

Salthouse Beach carpark - walk 100yds west of car park pools/shingle/grass, Turnstones comming within a couple of yards of you last week, also a good flock of Snowbunting same are & distance.

From February onwards you do find that the geese start to flock together, also keep an eye on the fields adjacent to the A149 coast road, can get good views of geese.

Dave
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Old February 1st, 2008, 10:50 PM   #4
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Annie,

I do a lot of bird flight. for shooting birds in flight i prefer to shoot in 30 p at 1/60th to 1/100 of a second. this reduces the ugly wing flicker you get at regular flight speeds.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 10:47 AM   #5
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Hi Geir

Thanks for the reply

1) Personal comfort is under control - I HATE being cold

2) I have a Manfrotto 701 head - not ideal, but a lot better than what I used a few years ago.

3) Camera comfort is limited to a neoprene wrap and a polythene bag at present. I have ordered a Portabrace cover, but it won't be delivered for a week or so (all the companies I contacted are waiting for stock to come in - this was the quickest)

4) Windshield for the mike - hmm, not yet. However I do have a Stennheiser with a foam cover, so will try that - it must be better than the hard cover of the in-built mike. But I keep forgetting about it needing more batteries.

5) I'll take my hide, and hope I can find somewhere out of the wind to use it!

6) Must get into the habit of manual white balance, though it's difficult when you are in a hide (and when you are outside if it is windy) - perhaps I should have bought a white car to balance it on ;-O.

7) Presets - I've spent half the day reading all about presets, and fortunately the ones on the Canon XH A1 forum are based on the Canon XL ones. So I have downloaded the two you suggested, and a couple more, and have tried them out on the bird feeding station. Now there is colour in my video - the blue tits and great tits have yellow breasts again! Special thanks for that tip.

8) Weather permitting, I'm sure I'll have a good trip.

Thanks again.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 10:59 AM   #6
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Hi David

Thanks for the reply.

Public hides are rarely good for photography or filming, not least because the openings are so high above the water. In each of the hides at Martinmere, I headed straight for the disabled hatches - at least a foot or two lower than the regular openings. And I had the problems there too with people walking around and making the floor quake. So we'll be avoiding those kind of hides at weekends.

We'll be staying at Wells-next-the-sea, but will keep the best tides for Snettisham. Where is the best place at Snettisham? Last year we arrived there a bit too late (tide times weren't good) and didn't go all the way to the hides, of which I gather there are several.

Lady Anne's Drive and the Salthouses beach car park (with its obliging snow buntings) were probably the best places we saw last time, and I've found the others you mentioned on the map.

Do you need a permit for the Cley hides? And if so, where from? The visitor centre was closed last time, and were weren't sure what the situation was.

Thanks for your help.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 11:01 AM   #7
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Hi Dale

I switched to 25p (on PAL here) as well as trying the presets that Geir suggested. The difference, compared to the try-out shots I did a couple of months ago of the same subjects in the same weather conditions, was amazing. I'll stick with that now. And now I've read some of your other posts on shutter speed, I'll bear that in mind too.

Thanks

Last edited by Annie Haycock; February 2nd, 2008 at 11:16 AM. Reason: correction
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 11:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Haycock View Post
...

6) Must get into the habit of manual white balance, though it's difficult when you are in a hide (and when you are outside if it is windy) - perhaps I should have bought a white car to balance it on ;-O.
I made my own WB card from an ice cream box.
With use of the scissors, cut a nice piece from the box, some glue and a thick white paper on it - voila, you've got your WB card.

Geir Inge
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 11:06 AM   #9
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Hi Annie

I'm in Norfolk near Wells w/c 11/2/2008 with family for half term, if this coincides with you maybe we could meet up, otherwise let me know how you got on. I'm told that Snow and Lapland Buntings are coming to bait feeders at Salthouse Marsh, so some opportunities there for some close ups maybe.

I spoke to one of the local reserve wardens today who said there weren't many geese about at the moment in that area ( west of Wells ) but that can change by the day.

Cheers

David
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 11:19 AM   #10
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Hi Geir

I meant difficult in that you can't exactly stick your arm with a white card out of a hide to take a reading. Also difficult if the card it trying to blow away in the wind. I usually use an A4 size card, so perhaps I should cut it in half.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 04:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Annie Haycock View Post
Thanks for the reply.

Public hides are rarely good for photography or filming, not least because the openings are so high above the water. In each of the hides at Martinmere, I headed straight for the disabled hatches - at least a foot or two lower than the regular openings. And I had the problems there too with people walking around and making the floor quake. So we'll be avoiding those kind of hides at weekends.

We'll be staying at Wells-next-the-sea, but will keep the best tides for Snettisham. Where is the best place at Snettisham? Last year we arrived there a bit too late (tide times weren't good) and didn't go all the way to the hides, of which I gather there are several.

Lady Anne's Drive and the Salthouses beach car park (with its obliging snow buntings) were probably the best places we saw last time, and I've found the others you mentioned on the map.

Do you need a permit for the Cley hides? And if so, where from? The visitor centre was closed last time, and were weren't sure what the situation was.

Thanks for your help.
You do require a permit at Cley for access on the reserve, its about 3-4, the link below shows an aerial view of the reserve. The only problem on the reserve is that you'll be limited to filming from the reserve hides, you can get access to any other parts to set up a hide, on a positive note, the hide floors are concrete so you get no vibration if people walk about, also the hide hatches are roughly the same height as the disabled hatches at Martin Mere.
http://www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org....links/cley.htm

I've only been to snettisham a couple of times, theres freshwater fishing pools at the back of the reserve which can hold wildfowl. On the main reserve there's a a few hides, there used to be a photographers hides their but you had to access it well before high water. It might be worthwhile phoning the Snettisham reserve office on 01485 542689 for an update. From the car park its about 1.5>2 mile walk to the hides & this includes walking on shingle which zaps your energy. The shoreline can also be a good place as waders can be pushed up quite close just before high water.

I've got a good guidebook for Norfolk, "Best Birdwatching Sites in Norfolk" by Neil Green, its about 16, details all the main birding sites in Norfolk, which group runs then, access & maps, OS grid refernces, best time of year & what your likely to see during the seasons on each site. Its a very good book & you can get it at Titchwell, Cley, its published by Buckingham Press.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 04:44 PM   #12
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Thanks - I will contact Snettisham on Monday. I think the visitor centre at Cley was closed for some kind of building or refurbishment work the day we tried to go there last year. I think we did get the book from Titchwell, so I'll have to find out where my husband has hidden it and the rest of the maps!
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Old February 16th, 2008, 02:32 PM   #13
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Just returned from 10 days in Norfolk, with the most wonderful weather for all except two days. Now have four hours of video and about 1200 stills to go through. Hopefully will edit some of the video in time for the UWOL challenge before I go to Scotland later in the week.
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 03:51 PM   #14
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Finally found a free afternoon to download the video from Norfolk, and do a bit of editing.

I am so impressed with the results from the Canon XH A1. viewing it full screen. I was using the VIViDRGB preset, but because I wasn't used to the controls on the camera, I did at times find that I had an unnecessarily high shutter speed.

Anyway, I edited down the recording from an hour or so watching turnstones and snowbuntings at Salthouse, and put it on YouTube. Partly I wanted to see how a complex picture looked there - so many YouTube videos are over-compressed.

The long clips are my personal preference, but comments about any other aspect are welcome. My time, and that of the birds, was divided between a puddle and an adjacent feeding station set up by the photographers who are talking in the background. I haven't edited the sound at all. Because the birds were moving so much, I edited out almost everything where the camera wasn't absolutely still - it's tiring enough just watching the birds!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkca4dlrRtU
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 09:18 PM   #15
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Annie,

I looked at your u tube clips. you snow butings look about the same as ours thousands of miles west.

Did you have your stacilizer on? At one point I got a glimmer of shimmer that often is caused by having your imagarestabilizer on while steady on a tripod.
maybe I was was having a petite mall seisure however.

I would like to see some of the hd quality from you A1!!! utube does not do it justice.
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