Red Kite Feeding Station
Over the past few years I've always enjoyed going to the Red Kite feeding station at Bellymack Hill Farm which is near Laurieston in Dumfries & Galloway. The amount of Red Kites that turn up hear is incredible, I would say I see at least 100-200 Red Kites every time I go there so it makes to be a great place if you want to test out new a new camera or fine-tune your bird-in-flight skills. The Red Kites have been accustomed to staying in the area that surrounds the farm since they were first re-introduced into Galloway mainly because they get fed nearly everyday at 2pm.
I try to arrive at the farm 30 minutes or so before they start to feed them so that I'm all setup and ready for some action. Keeping fresh CF Cards stashed in my pocket ready for when I need to 'reload'. One of the disadvantages of the farm for photographers is its direction as at 2pm you are pretty much staring right at the sun which is not exactly what you need when trying to photograph birds. Instead of fighting with the light I try to get the sun behind me as much as I can but it tends to be more on your side, so keeping an eye on your exposure and checking the histogram is crucial. One over disadvantage that you face at the farm is that around 70% of the Red Kites have tags on them, now I don't mind photographing birds with tags on them but when you capture an image you really love and there are 2 massive tags on the wings you lose a slight love for the image knowing you may have to photoshop them out if are wanting to sell it at some point.
The main tip I can give when photographing the Red Kites is pick one bird. Instead of throwing your lens everywhere trying to keep up with all the birds just focus on one bird that doesn't have any tags on it and it will make capturing a great image ten times easier. Find the bird in your viewfinder while it's far away, lock the focus on it and then track it all the way in until it flys past you. Repeat this technique during the day and your chances of getting more keepable shots will be higher because I see too many photographers throwing their lens everywhere by waiting for the bird to fly into the frame instead of following the bird into where they want it to be.
Even though it was a very bright day and the sun wasn't helping at all with my exposure I walked away with a good handful of images that I'm really happy with.