Our daughter Anne is visiting for a week and I took her and our three Border Terriers over to Lee Bay to give the dogs a run on the beach. And on the road back came across a trio of fantails playing above the road, and I had my camera for once.
Fantails are really difficult to photograph. A bit like the Riflemanthey have the avian equivalent of ADHD syndrome. Never sit still, and even while perched they are continuously hopping about through 180/270 deg. And of course when flying they use their huge tail to flit about chasing insects.
The small flock I found were quite close, but as it was a dull day my camera had issues with exposure and shutter speed. But on the upside has a very good burst rate. I tend to just “keep the finger on the button” and will do a sequence of 15 to 20 frames over 3 or 4 seconds before the buffer fills. Using a high speed card helps enormously. A slower card would probably limit a burst to perhaps 5 to 8 shots. Add in a stabilised lens and out of the 50 or 60 photos I took, actually managed to “keep” around 5 resonable images.
These birds were all “pied”. The all black morph is much harder to find, although there is at least one living around Observation Rock. But as usual when I do see that one it’s sans camera. A couple of years ago I came across a pair with a juvenile… all black. I had never seen a black pair, let alone a trio and have heard the ration pied:black is someting like 40:1. Interestingly there doesn’t seem to any “half pied” birds. The “pied” are pied and the blacks are totally black, not a sign of a white feather.
This Black Fantail was filmed on Ulva Island some time ago. The darting flight is absolutely typical of these insect eaters.
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I have never seen them feed on other than flying insects.