Small birds are tricky to photograph. Something the size of, say, a Golden Eagle gives a photographer a fighting chance, especially if it sits still, stares at you and says, “aren’t I pretty – why not take my portrait?” [Ed: Dream on, I think.] Even with a relatively powerful lens (mine’s a 400mm), you have to get damn close to a modestly small bird to make the picture worthwhile.
One example of a problematic small bird might be a Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus). “That’s a curious example to choose”, I hear you mutter. True enough, except that a Cirl Bunting happened to be flying around our campsite at Réalmont catching insects. Every now and then it would alight on the fence behind our pitch, either on the post or the wire, with a beak full of ex-insect. It was a male and, since we didn’t see a female, we assumed the male was engaged in feeding his mate while she was incubating eggs.
Normally, not being equipped with a wildlife hide, close approach would prove impossible. However, our pitch at the campsite was surrounded by some neatly trimmed, dense hedges complete with the occasional gap through them. When my target was on the fence, the hedges hid my approach and I was able to get to within 4m/12ft or so. What a perfect hide substitute. I found that by lying prone on the ground I was less likely to scare the little chap away. Sneaking out from behind a hedge with my camera raised like a rifle made me feel a little like Mel Gibson in yet another Lethal Weapon movie [Ed: much less attractive, of course] but eventually I was able to bag a useful set of Cirl Bunting shots. Mel would have been bagging the bad guys. 😉