A Flying Barn Door

A Flying Barn DoorA Flying Barn Door
CameraFujifilm FinePix A900
Exposure Modeauto
Focal Length8.8mm
Exposure1/140 sec.
ISO Speed200
I've been lucky enough to see Golden Eagles on a number of occasions but I'd never seen Britain's largest bird of prey; the White-Tailed Sea Eagle. I suppose, given that the RSPB recon that there are just 42 breeding pairs of sea eagle compared with 442 for the golden eagle, it shouldn't really be a surprise that I'd never seen one. What I didn't expect was to see my first sea eagle from the living room!

A Flying Barn DoorWe spent a week of our holiday staying with friends in their house on Skye. It had been a bit of a wet morning so we'd stayed around the house, although we were intending to go out for lunch. Suddenly there was a shout as Brenda spotted a very large bird circling in front of the house. We didn't need binoculars to spot the white tail and to appreciate the enormous size of the bird (the wingspan is about 8 feet, which explains why it is often referred to as a "Flying Barn Door") but everyone scrambled to find them and to move Ken's telescope to useful position. Fortunately it decided to settle on some rocks about half a mile from the house and then sit there for well over an hour! Having had a good look through both binoculars and the telescope I decided to setup the Sony DSC-F828 camera with the Raynox telephoto lens adapter on a tripod and with the cable release to see if I could zoom right in and get a nice sharp photo to prove what I'd seen (and more importantly to make my parents jealous!). Unfortunately, as you can see in the image on the left, I wasn't overly successful. At about half a mile away even though the bird was huge it was well beyond the range of my camera -- I even had to add the red ring to make sure everyone could figure out where it was sat. I may have failed to get a photo but I wasn't beaten.

A Flying Barn DoorThe view through Ken's telescope was fantastic, so I decided to try a little digiscoping using my smaller Fujifilm FinePix A900 camera in place of the human eye. Now given the zoom levels involved, digiscoping needs the camera lens to be held very close and very still against the eye-piece of a telescope. Most people use some form of adapter to hold the two together. Unfortunately I didn't have an adapter so I had to go old-school and just "hold the damn thing". This meant that whilst I took almost fifty photos I got only a few that were anywhere near being useful. The best image, which became this weeks photo, can be seen to the left. I hadn't used much, if any, of the camera's zoom function and so the image suffers from quite serious vignetting. Fortunately it was quite easy to crop out the section of the image that I wanted. I then processed the image using Paint Shop Pro's Smart Photo Fix dialog to bring out some of the details and to add a little colour (for the curious I used values of 0, -60, 10, 10, and 0 for brightness, shadows, highlights, saturation and sharpness).

A Flying Barn DoorTo give you an idea of just how big a sea eagle really is I'll finish with one more digiscoped photo. The quality is quite poor (the original image was very dark and so I had to do quite a lot of work to make it useful which hasn't really helped it) but the presence of two hooded crows (which are the same size just different colour to normal crows) really shows just how enormous the eagle is.


GB said...

Wow. Despite having Sea Eagles on Lewis I've never seen one.

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