Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wagging a tail against the current

Like what its name implies, the Grey Wagtail continuously wags its rear as it forages along streams or on the ground.

This wagtail was walking against the current of a mini-dam’s spillway in Quezon province in March 2006. The bird’s almost non-stop motion presented a difficult shooting challenge – I needed a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the subject’s movement, but at the same time should be slow enough to blur the current and come out with a more dynamic-looking environment.

I settled for 1/100 sec and timed the shutter press when the bird momentarily paused every few steps. I got one shot sharp after many tries, and I’m glad there was strong eye contact plus a catchlight.

With its throat turning blackish, this individual was molting into breeding plumage. When breeding, a large area of the throat becomes black. The same throat area is white during non-breeding season.

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Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, migrant)

Habitat – Streams and forest roads at all elevations.

Shooting Info – Tiaong, Quezon, Philippines, March 25, 2006, Canon 20D + Sigmonster (Sigma 300-800 DG), 687 mm, f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/100 sec, 475B/3421 support, near full frame, manual exposure in available light, pushed +1 stop in RAW conversion.

Some Grey Wagtail footage.

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