May 25th 2013
It was on the 10th May that I visited Lakenheath with cousin Rosemary and took a couple of records shots of the Red-footed Falcon in blustery, dark and distant conditions. Luckily, the bird was still present after three weeks and so with the forecast of a less windy, sunny day I set off for another try. Unfortunately, the best day from a weather perspective was a Saturday and I became a little apprehensive when I arrived at the site at 09.45am and managed to get one of the few remaining spaces in the overflow car park. Luckily, although the reserve was very busy, the sheer size of the place meant that the visitors were well spaced out. Even when I got to the far end of New Fen where the bird was on show, there was plenty of room for the 50 or so birders and photographers there.
The falcon was spending most of its time hawking insects along the tree-line at the northern end of New Fen, and most of the time fairly distant. It was accompanied by up to five Hobbys and these provided some entertainment until the falcon decided to come closer.
The falcon then changed its hunting tactics and started hawking alongside the path, spending some of its time over the pool in front of the viewing shelter. This posed problems of a very different nature. Instead of the bird being too distant, it was now very often too close, sometimes swishing past just 20 feet away from your lens. At times like this my hand-held 400mm lens has a distinct advantage over the larger lens requiring a tripod or gimbal system. After several hours and 820 shots I did manage to get a few for the album. What a stunning bird!!