Am I a bird photographer?

I love wildlife and nature. I enjoy observing the behaviors of animals and birds in their natural habitat. But when it comes to bird photography, it is  much lower on my scale of interest. It’s not that I don’t’ enjoy birds (hummingbirds are my favorite), it’s just I’m too slow to capture the darn things (especially the small tweety birds as they flit in and out of a scene). When my camera isn’t able to track them, or the buffer fills before I get the shot, or I’m not quick enough to have a chance, bird photography becomes a very frustrating endeavor.

Hence, I am not a bird photographer.

Can I be bird photographer?

This is all about to change.  I am newly equipped with an incredible camera. It is a Sony A1 that can capture up to 30 images a second. It also has an amazing bird tracking algorithm, one of the best (if not the best) tracking performance of any camera. Finally, it has a silent shutter option so as those 30 frames a second are firing off like a machine gun, it will not disturb my quarry. The birds won’t even know I’m taking their picture. I am so excited,  maybe just maybe, I’ll be able to capture some great bird images.

I have a chance to be a bird photographer.

Birding with the new camera – Day 1

It’s early on our first morning. Jeff and I have just arrived at the bird blind. We are set up to capture exotic Indian birds in Sattal, India. I am ready with my new incredible camera.

It is just before sunrise and it is dark and chilly. The temperature is hovering about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). I’m bundled up in many layers, finishing with a down jacket, wool hat and gloves.

A male Kheej Pheasant

As the birds begin to arrive, I am busy (silently) clicking away.  We have a White Crested Laughing Thrush, a few Parakeets, a rufous-throated partridge, a red jungle fowl, kheej pheasants, a yellow naped woodpecker, and they keep coming.

Greater yellow naped woodpecker

Plum Headed Parakeet


White Crested Laughing Thrush

A Red Junglefowl (aka a wild chicken), and check out those amazing colors.

Black Headed Jay

The birds are incredible. I look at my shots and they are sharp!! I am having so much fun watching and capturing these unique and colorful birds that I almost missed the fact that my camera chip is full.

I am birding

Quickly switching chips so as not to miss a shot, my bird photography enthusiasm continues as more amazing and colorful birds arrive.

Grey Treepie

Asian White Eye (super fast little bird)

Red Billed Blue Magie

We’ve only been there a 40 minutes and I notice my second chip is nearly full.  I ask Jeff if he’s switched chips yet, “no, not even half used” he answers. (This should have been a clue, but I was too excited to think about it).

I take Jeff up on his offer to borrow a set of camera chips as I’ve used both of my sets up.

Red Billed Leiothrix

Rusty Cheeked Scimitar Babbler

It’s been less than an hour and I’m now rationing my shots. I’ve filled nearly 3 chips and I have no more with me. There must be a problem with my new camera. I’ve never gone through chips like this before. Concerned, Jeff checks the camera out. All seems fine.

Our first morning at the bird blind is incredible. We’ve seen a couple dozen colorful and different birds in less than 2 hours. I can’t wait to look at my images.

Ooops, too much birding

Imagine my surprise when I downloaded an incredible 5648 bird photos. This is not a typo!

There was a lot of birds and some action, but NOT that much action. To put this in perspective in the past on a safari with multiple animals, I might capture 1000-1500 in half a day. On a landscape outing, I might capture a 100 images.

My new camera got the best of me. With my finger desensitized with the gloves, the high speed image capture and the silent shutter, I had no idea I was basically shooting the whole time.

I now had to pay the price of “too much birding”. I had the incredible task of going through all these images, so I could clear the chips before our afternoon shoot. I still have a lot to learn. 

Birding with the new camera – Days 2-7

Lessons learned! I took off my glove and turned off the “silent mode” (sorry birds). I am  now taking the amount of photos I expect. My images are mostly sharp. All I need now is a longer lens so I can capture the tweety birds. Jeff, please fix this for me.

What do you think, am I a bird photographer yet?