This tip and trick is base on my experience.
I start really hunting birds since I have the Canon 400mm F5.6L. This is a good lens for hunting birds, taking the flying birds because the focus is very fast and quite light about 1 kg. so can hand held this lens. I bought this lens May 2008.
Bird hunting is depend on luck, yes luck is the most important. Cause you’ll never know that the bird can come really close to you, or make a hoverfly move just in front of you about 2-3 meters. And sometime also you will never find any birds. Mostly the bird will active in morning 7-9am and during the sunset time during 4-6pm. All depend also the place and the light on that area.
Birds know when we are there, so in this case bird will look at you and pay attention on your move, until they really feel confident that you will not hurt them, they can come closer to you. This happened when I was hunting the White-collared Kingfisher, The best method is to hide when taking this kingfisher. But that time I haven’t got any preparation for that, then that kingfisher just appear on my way, then I try to catch the photos. About 3 hours I try to get closer, they still run away, until I try to tell them ‘Hi, I just want to take your photos, come closer please’ hahahaa seems funny to talk to this bird but sometime it’s really help, maybe they can hear our heart or maybe our language. This kingfisher suddenly stop in front of me, look at me (remember bird will look at you) then I just stare at him, not make any necessary move that make him afraid, until he feel really confident he come closer until about 2-3 meter. That time I was sitting in the grass waiting them. I point my lens to him then take some photos of him. That birds still not go away, maybe he really feel that I will not attach him.
Sometime happened also when using this 400mm lens, the bird come only less then 1 meter, playing near by my hand, this is the white-throated fantail. This time I can not do anything, I let him to go away a bit far from me, because my lens have the minimum distance to shoot is about 3.5 meters, unless I use the extension tube, but that time I did not bring that. With extension tube you can make the object bigger and the minimum distance closer.
So If I try to make the list of this tip and trick.
- Luck, this is the most importan
- passion, willing to explore, walking early morning, pending your lunch, walking far into the forest, getting wet
- patient and keep focus, bird can suddenly appear and also we need to wait for quite long time
- learn more about your camera your lens, try to handle them, know how is the benefit and also the weakness then try to cover the weakness using another tools or your way of taking photo
- searching any moves, keep your eyes open and focus, and also hear any moves and their sing, that’s the good sign that birds is around there, and keep silent try to walk slowly and get closer, try to observe between the leaf and tree.
- Keep on shooting, try many angles, many condition of light, and keep on hunting
- bird composition it’s quit difficult, first time I just focus in the middle, try to get the bird photo, if the birds did not move even their know we are there, try to compose their position into your camera’s view finder, see the light, if using digital camera, we can see the result, to adjust lighting and also ISO.
- Get more information from other photographer, don’t shy to ask and sharing, you can tell other photographer that you got some bird spot and most of the time they also will share to you. And you can also try to get more information about the place from internet, know how to go there, and make sure what you need to bring and also is the place secure or not.
- Talk to the birds, yes this is sound crazy, but I usually do this, like saying come come closer to me, or sometime I hope ‘God, please give me some birds today…’ or ‘birds, come I only will take your photos’.
- make a birds song, this way sometime can make some birds try to reply your voice but also sometime it can make others bird go away, cause afraid of this voice, maybe this kind of birds is usually attach them.
- Don’t do unnecessary things, like you want to make good photographs, then when you see the birds nest you try to get closer and make some adjustment like breaking some tree branch or put some leaf or others. this can make the bird will not come back to their nest. so keep it natural.