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PC's fifth attempt


Peter Connan

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Time to gt this ball rolling.   To be honest, I haven't really decided what form this thread is going to take. Again, I don't expect to be competing for top honours on the count alone, and t

8) Whiskered Tern   Witbaardsterretjie Chlidonias hybridus   1 January, Mankwe dam, Pilanesberg   The following two were taken late last year at Ma

103) Pearl-spotted Owlet   Witkoluil Glaucidium perlatum   One of my most favorite birds, purely for it's beautiful sound. They are actually quite active in

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Peter Connan

Thank you @xelas!

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Peter Connan

244) Lesser Kestrel

 

Kleinrooivalk Falco naumanni

 

(although it might be a Rock Kestrel, but that would also be a new one for the year)

 

LesserKestelODP-2.jpg.8da3b5e231df9d2ab8782974bdd2cd4c.jpg

 

LesserKestrelODP.jpg.15bebd5b972acb1462f1f8e2f5dc5a1c.jpg

 

31 November, Rust de winter

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Peter Connan

When the Safaritalk Big Year started 5 years ago, I felt that 250 would be a good total. And despite others having far exceeded that total, I have never quite gotten there myself.

I have one more opportunity to get new birds this year, a trip to Royal Natal National Park for the period between  Christmas and new year's eve, I might get a couple of more birds, but with the current uncertainty regarding the future of Safaritalk, I don't know if I will get a chance to post those.

 

At the beginning of this thread, I said that I would only be posting good photos, but I am revoking that now.

 

But first, here's a reasonable shot I missed from much earlier in the year:

 

245) Common Scimitarbill

 

Swartbekkakelaar

Rhinopomastus cyanomelas

 

ScimitarODP.jpg.f0159ce28a7bae3c058bff50841a3973.jpg

 

30 March, Botswana

Edited by Peter Connan
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Peter Connan

Stick around @TonyQ.

 

246) Acacia Pied Barbet

 

Bonthoutkapper Tricholaema leucomelas

 

 

AcaciaBarbettODP.jpg.c7968fe95e0f323b02d354568b6b97d3.jpg

 

29 March, Botswana

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Peter Connan

247) Verraux's Eagle

 

Witkruisarend Aquila verreauxii

 

WitkruisODP.jpg.737c2a6e1baf7f366685f15b3e579df0.jpg

 

4 August, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort.

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Peter Connan

248) Greater Crested Grebe

 

Kuifkopdobbertjie Podiceps cristatus

 

ChickTransportODP.jpg.e082a41579ae228a85dcf5bc4b42fe3a.jpg

 

28 January, Marievale

 

So how's that @TonyQ?

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Peter Connan

But this is no way to close off a Big Year, so...

 

249) Cape Rock-Thrush

 

Kaapse Kliplyster Monticola rupestris

 

Rocky1ODP.jpg.a522143e1438e4ca87b5fd51258bbc49.jpg

 

Rocky2ODP.jpg.eeb5b6eac65c766f2d6e164bbda337fc.jpg

 

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort, 9 December

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Peter Connan

250) Red-chested Cuckoo

 

Piet-my-vrou Cuculus solitarius

 

Pietie1ODP.jpg.f0862380efcd89d63971d5e1e9af64c0.jpg

 

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Roodepoort, 9 December

 

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The cuckoo is a real beauty, and your Grebe bears a passing resemblance to an EBC

Congratulations on reaching 250, with about 247 high quality photos. Well done

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michael-ibk

Ah you made it Peter - I knew you would, congratulations! And what a shot to mark the milestone, beautiful. I know Red - Chested Cuckoos are tricky, they were my nemesis bird in Ethiopia. Heard them nonstop, but hardly ever saw them. How did you manage to get that close? 

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1 hour ago, Peter Connan said:

a trip to Royal Natal National Park

 Will you stay in the same cottage as us? Looking forward to hear about the RN, and am wishing you many new birds! Your goal of 250 you have reached, now set your bar a notch higher. Congratulations on #250.

Edited by xelas
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4 minutes ago, michael-ibk said:

How did you manage to get that close? 

Peter knows a special skill how to find, and approach them, in Walter Sisulu :o:).

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Peter Connan

Thank you very much @TonyQ, @michael-ibk and @xelas.

 

Michael, Alex is correct. One of SA's best bird photographers once told me that his secret was to build a list of places where particular birds are more approachable than they normally are. These places tend to be very public, and the more people walking around in a non-threatening way, the tamer the birds )and other animals) become.

 

During high summer, a visit to Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens is almost guaranteed to net you great close-up sightings of at least two cuckoos (normally Diederick's and Red-chested, but possibly also Klaas's and African), Southern Boubou and African Paradise Flycatcher, among other birds.

 

In winter, it is usually also great for a number of Sunbirds.

 

Alex, we will be camping in the trailer, at Rugged Glen campsite, so will not be able to give you any useful information on the cottage. And I doubt I will be climbing the chain ladder to the Tugela Falls, but I am sure we will learn something of value and see something of beauty. We may also get wet...

 

:D

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Tdgraves

Yeah! well done on 250 and you did it with that ****** bird

Glad to see that your quality standards have been completely ignored with 2 weeks to go!!

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Peter Connan

Thanks @Tdgraves.

 

Any cuckoo sighting is special, but I have been very lucky with Diederick's this year.

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PeterHG

Congatulations on reaching 250 and with a beauty at that ! Never seen one of those myself

Edited by PeterHG
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Peter Connan

Thank you very much @PeterHG

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Peter Connan

Just as an aside, here is one last photography tip for the year:

The Cuckoo above was in relatively dense bush and during a cloudy period, so exposure was a bit of a struggle. The photo was taken with (predictably) the D500 + 500mm f4, hand held at 1/200th, f4 and ISO2000. Thus firstly, to all those who say it is impossible to get a sharp result hand-holding a 500mm lens, I say not true. I must admit that VR probably made this possible though.

 

Secondly, due to the high ISO and the fact that i needed to do some cropping, noise does become a concern.

 

Here is another shot taken 10 seconds earlier and effectively un-edited:

PietieUnedited.jpg.e25ed5ffca5dcadd5d126271ad638744.jpg

 

And here is the same shot, but cropped the same amount as the first:

Pietie3Cropped.jpg.196c3da05f52eb0fff911cb4c6edc845.jpg

 

As can be seen, once cropped there is some visible noise present.

 

The originally posted photo is an example of about the most intensive post-processing I ever do. The editing process involved three localised adjustments. After cropping and slightly adjusting black and white points, contrast and saturation, I used an oval filter to apply a slight vignette around the bird. I then used a paintbrush to select all the white branches and reduced highlights and whites on them to make them less distracting, and lastly I painted everything except the bird and the branch it was sitting on with the brush, and applied maximum noise reduction, minimum sharpness and detail and also reduced contrast and saturation a little bit.

 

In this way it is possible to suppress noise in the smooth background areas where it is highly visible without losing detail on the bird's feathers.

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PeterHG

Your post-processing work certainly paid off, Peter and thank you for explaining your workflow! I agree that the noise is visible, especially in the cropped version, but I must say I'm impressed even with the unedited quality of the iso 5000 photo. The D500 shows itself to be a good camera, indeed. It only needs a good photographer to hold it and your whole thread Is a witnesss to that.

I do my work mainly in lightroom, where, for a noisy photo, I first apply major noise reduction on the whole photo ( e.g. with a value of 80). After that I use the brush with a negative noise reduction of e.g. -70 and paint back the bird. This leads to the bird having minimal (10) noise reduction appled, so detail is preserved and the background being smooth and noise free. We all have our own approach and this works for me. 

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@Peter Connan - congratulations on 250 and thanks for post-processing tips. I’ve got a long way to go in that regard. I have lightroom but I’m only scratching the surface of it’s capability.

 

I’m sure you’re already aware but the Upper Thendale Camp is fantastic for bird photography.

 

In particular,if you follow the camp road almost to the last chalet, you’ll come to a small concrete road bridge, over a small gully, there you can find Bush Blackcap, Chorister Robin-chat,

Swee Waxbill and a few different Cisticola species 

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Good to hear from both of you how you tackle these things- thank you

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Peter Connan

Thank you @PeterHG. Indeed, the D500 is about as good as one could expect from a crop-frame camera. Noise appears relatively quickly (I can often see noise at 400-800ISO) when compared to a modern full-frame sensor, but it is very well controlled at higher ISO's. I have reasonable photos at 8000ISO, although they won't all be useable at that ISO level.

 

Interesting that you work noise reduction "in reverse". I guess the results must be virtually identical, and to be honest I have no idea which is more work...

 

Thank you very much for the tip @lmSA84, I was not aware. 

 

Only a pleasure @TonyQ, although when it comes to PP I am hardly an expert. I tend to avoid as much of it as possible! 

Edited by Peter Connan
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Zim Girl

Congratulations on reaching your target of 250 @Peter Connan. The Red-chested cuckoo is a beautiful bird.

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