Common swift photography

The common swifts returned to our village around about 2nd May this year and within a couple of days, the air was filled with the raucous screaming of these birds, a sound which totally defines summer for me. Each year the swifts nest under the gutters of our Victorian house and this year was no exception with around 5 or 6 pairs there. The chicks hatched around the middle of June and roughly every hour or so, the adults came back to change over brood duties and feed the young. When the do come back, the noise is deafening as the birds whizz low over the back yard and skim past the nest holes. As I sit in my office below, I’m alerted to the feeding of the young by this hysterical shrieking and out I dash with the camera in an effort to try and capture a few flight shots. My aim is to capture the birds with the house in the background but this is far more difficult than it looks. The birds are very fast and fly close to the house giving the AF some real problems. Even trying to get them as they jump from the nest is nigh on impossible. By using the Nikkor 200-500 and the D500 this year, I was able to come close with a few shots. Even though it was a sunny day, I had to ramp the ISO to around 2500 in order to get 1/4000 and above to stop the birds in flight while maintaining an aperture of around f/16 to try and maximise the DOF!

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