Thursday the 28th of February 2013, a visit to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Much the same circumstances for making this visit to Sherwood Forest as the last trip I made, not deciding to go until the Wednesday evening. The weather has been so unreliable along with the unreliable forecasts that it's been near on impossible to plan anything in advance.
My companion for this outing was my good friend David who managed to be able to go at short notice. I picked Dave up at 06:30 and we made good time, arriving at the forest at around 07:45 The weather was as promised a little early mist then sunny spells. In fact it turned out better than expected as we had a clear blue sky all day. Always good when you are working in the forest as the more light you can get on the subjects the better.
We soon made our way into the forest and set up a temporary feeding station. I had decided to use the Canon 500mm F4 lens. it's always a dilemma as to which lens to use for this type of photography. The 400mm F5.6 that I have is fine, you can get close enough to the birds but being F5.6 the shutter speeds can be a little slow even on a tripod. On the other hand while the 500mm F4 is better for shutter speeds being an F4 lens, there is the question of depth of field. Using the 500mm F4 obviously means the birds are a little closer and you get that bit more detail but on the other hand it's very easy to finish up with parts of the bird out of focus if you go below F6.3 to get the shutter speed up. As it happened I made the right choice as the light was excellent as far as forest work goes and although I had to use ISO speeds of between 400 and 800 I was able to shoot at F7.1 most of the time to get a decent depth of field.
Once we had set up it was only a matter of minutes before the birds began to come in to feed. The Nuthatches are so fast, grab and run merchants. They drop down to a perch momentarily before grabbing a nut or seed and making off with it. You have to be very quick to catch them before they get a seed or nut in the beak. I do prefer them without a nut or seed in the beak. I had many photographs of a branch with no bird in the frame because I wasn't fast enough on the shutter Lol. However, as with many things persistence is the name of the game.
We had Coal, Marsh, Blue, Great, Willow and Long-tailed tits coming to our set up as well as Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird. The Blue and Great tits are the easiest to catch as they aren't quite as wary or as fast as the Nuhatch. The Coal, Willow, Marsh and Long-tailed tits are also pretty quick. It was very cold in the forest and I was thankful that I had dressed accordingly. The morning flew by and lunch was consumed where we were as it would have meant losing well over an hour to go and buy lunch anywhere and we would also have had to dismantle our set up and reassemble it on our return.
The Dunnock is in my opinion a very underrated bird. I love the spring song, and seen close up it has a lovely eye colour and the varying shades of grey and brown make it a very attractive bird.
The Long-talied tits paid several visits but never stopping for any length of time. They are such energetic little bundles constantly on the move in family parties searching for their next meal. We were interrupted quite often by members of the public walking, some with dogs others without. However most of them were mindful of what we were doing and were courteous towards us and we had quite a few pleasant chats, with some of them being very interested in seeing our photographs. It's probably worth saying that Sherwood Forest is a public forest and dog walkers and ramblers etc have just as much right to be in the forest as us photographers have. If everyone behaves in a polite and courteous manner toward each other there are no conflicts.
Like the morning the afternoon flew by and by 15:00 hours I had over 1500 images on the card. Although reasonably early the light was just beginning to fade in the forest and the last half hour had seen me upping the ISO speed to get a fast enough shutter speed. We decided to call it a day. We packed up making sure we left things as we found them. The journey home was a little slower than than the morning drive, due mainly to hitting Retford at peak traffic time ( school leaving time) However we were still home by 17:00. A great day out in great company. The weather had exceeded all our expectations. it's always nice when everything comes together as it did today. I leave you with a photograph of a Marsh tit. Don't forget you can view all the images from this trip here