Well, the same Firecrest, or one of the same ones anyway. I couldn't resist going back for another look at the weekend. Well, actually, apart from today, I think I've been to see them every day since whatever day it was I first saw them. They're that good. I saw three again on Sunday; what's better then three Firecrests eh? How about four Firecrests? Yup, there could be four according to a report from another of the local birders. Hopefully they will stay all winter - likely - and I'll get to see even more of them. Snow rarely penetrates into the lower story of Bush Wood, but it's a photo I find myself dreaming of from time to time.
Photographing them is rather challenging. Slow and predictable they are not, and the Holly plays havoc with the autofocus system. You can forget about a tripod, no way is that quick enough, you have to hand hold. It's pretty dark in there, so that nice high shutter speed you wanted isn't going to happen. Nonetheless, modern technology is there to offer a helping hand. Hello image stabilisation, and hello high ISO. I took this next photo at 1/320s at ISO 1250. The focal length is 650mm equivalent, so you can see IS in operation here - I've managed a sharp shot (Picasa, my host, tends to muller my photos, the one on my screen is a lot nicer) with an extremely heavy lens which I would expect to wobble like a good'un. And the only reason I even scraped 1/320s is because I had 1250 available and knew it would be OK - you can see some grain but isn't troublesome. You won't be able to tell from the photo, but I also underexposed it by 2/3rds of a stop, the metered exposure was only 1/200s. The overall scene tended to dark, thus likely fooling the camera's metering, which is exposing for mid-tones. I felt that -2/3rds was a more accurate reflection of what I was seeing, and it also gave me that extra bit of speed. I probably could have taken it down even more and brought it back up in post-processing, a useful trick if you're really struggling with available light.