Another trip, another Wheatear. My mission to see (and get quality photos of) all possible Wheatears gets one step closer to fulfillment. As mentioned in my trip report, almost the sole reason for the trip was to get images of Cyprus Pied Wheatear. A long way to go, but I'm becoming a little bit fanatical. But what isn't to like. If you go and have a look at my galleries, you'll see that the "Chats" one is becoming rather all-conquering. And I'm very happy about it!
Cyprus Wheatears prefer open rocky terrain with low bushes and scrub. They are particularly numerous at Cape Greco on the the south-eastern tip of the island, and having done my research before booking this is where I decided to base myself. I was no more than a 15 minute drive from them each morning, which was when all the below photos were taken. At this time of year (just post the clocks changing) it gets light enough for the camera at around 6.45am, but by 10am it is getting extremely bright and it is basically time to put the camera away until the late afternoon. But I made the most of my two mornings I'm pleased to say.
The two images above came from the second morning, and I'm not sure which is my favourite. When I saw the bird from afar perched on the perfect loop I knew I had to get it, and so carefully maneuvered into position with the sun behind me. Although the bird flew off, it only went to a nearby rock, and so I ended up choosing a position between the two - 700mm of reach kept me in the game. The deep blue background is the sea, and I used a slightly higher perspective in order to place the bird in line. For the second I remained crouched, and so the background is the sky. Try as I might, I couldn't get some shallow water with a sandy bottom for a truly aquamarine background - another trip perhaps. The images below are of the bird on the close by rock.
Once, just once, it perched on a plant, making for a very minimalist image.
The next series of images are from the first morning, and my first decent session with the birds. Only some individuals are tolerant of the close presence of a person, and if a bird flies some distance, it is often not worth pursuing and instead looking for another subject. This bird was perhaps the third individual that I targeted. Again, I moved around a bit in order to get a variety of backgrounds - for instance a bush to get some relatively solid greens, and then the beige is in fact a large rock about thirty feet behind. I suppose they're a bit sterlie for some, but I love plain backgrounds - for me it focuses all the attention where it should be. The bird, with no distractions. All images were with the Canon 1D Mark IV, 500mm f4 lens, and a 1.4x converter - my most often used set up. Oh and the Monopod, my most useful non-electronic bit of kit. Shutter speeds 1/2000s to 1/4000s - brilliant light makes photography a lot easier. There are quite a few more images of this species in the gallery.
So, a very successful trip, with "keeper" images of six species over the two days. This might seem like a low return, but I would have been happy with just the Wheatear. Next up, Cyprus Warbler....