This lens, perhaps more than any other Canon lens, brings out a diverse range of opinions. Of course, as with any major purchase, opinions are always going to be influcenced by emotions and financial factors.
The quick and dirty summary normally is:
• Sharpness is very good, but falls off dramatically with TCs
• Contrast very low (but might be adjusted if shooting RAW via Photoshop)
• Very light and portable for a large aperture lens (not only for a 400mm)
• High price
• Old-fashioned IS
As an dissatisfied Nikon-Photographer I was looking for a completely new photographic system.
I am bird photographer who has specialized in photographing as many species of birds for scientific purposes as possible. First I checked my needs exactly. I hike a lot in different areas to find birds – in the mountains at 2500m asl or in the rain forest. Weight plays a major role. The lens should fit into a (not-too-big) backpack
The Danube Delta is home of two species of pelicans. The pelican is the symbol of the Delta. Here is home to Europe’s most important colony: 3.500 pairs live in the Danube Delta . we decided to visit this site in May 2012 on a photographer trip with Sakertours. One of the highlights were photoshots of starting Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus and Dalmatian pelican, Pelecanus crispus.
With his 9 – 11 kg of weight the adult Great White Pelican is one of the heaviest and largest flying birds in the world. Ahead of this pelican species in weight is only the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) and the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). To provide his lungs with enough oxygen, he has five air sacs, which extend through the entire abdominal cavity. A special technique is also the flapping flight, with which he strikes 70 times per minute, a gull (Laridae), e.g. needs 180 beats per minute. With its 3.60 m wide wings the Pelican is able to use (as one of only a few water birds) the thermals by the rising warm air for circling in the air without any physical effort of his own.
Like many birds, the pelican has a very light skeleton. His bones Continue reading Great White Pelican takes flight in Danube Delta→
loud alarms calls of Blackbirds draw my attention to a place in neighbor´s garden. First I saw a moving wing – white with black pattern. Then the moustache. Hey, this is a female Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, feeding on a Eurasian Blackbird. The dead Blackbird had been accidentally trapped by a fruit net, provided to protect garnet berry, Ribes rubrum, from marauding birds.
Just after I showed up, the kestrel flew away with a piece of his prey in her bill. But only after a while she came back and hung down at the wrapped bird. Unfortunately, I could not reach the neighbor’s yard. Ok, the bird was dead, but it could have been that even the Kestrel gets tangled in the net. Finally, the neighbor had seen the incident and also untied the dead blackbird off the net. A little later I could see the kestrels, as she was feeding with relish the blackbird-meal on a stone wall. Finally, she flew away, not without being aggressivly harassed by the excited fellows of the dead blackbird. Other shootings of that session you can see in the galleryunder: www.bird-lens.com.
Common Kestrels eat almost exclusively mouse-sized mammals: typically voles, but also shrews and true Continue reading Common Kestrel feeding on trapped bird→
Just south-west of the Danube Delta only 1 hour drive from Tulcea is the location of the Macin Mountains with its granite hills. With an altitude of max. 450 m asl Macin Mountains are showing nevertheless an impressive outline. Macin Mountains belong to the oldest mountains of Europe. The Macin Mountains feature some significant steppe vegetation (in mixture with Balkanic and Submediterranean forests) and are a great place to see birds. Whereas Macin Mountains is famous as an important migration hotspot for raptors in autumn, we decided to visit this site in May.
We found two species of Wheatears (Common and Isabelline), several species of Larks, European Turtle-dove, Red-rumped Swallow, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Shrikes, Corn and Ortolan Bunting and some other species, you will find in the photo gallery for the Macin Moutains.
May is migration time at Romania´s Black Sea coast. Thus it is prime birdwatching time. After having seen many of the speciality birds like Pelicans, Grebes, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills in the Danube Delta, a small group of bird photographers went for steppe habitats further south. There were already lots of excellent sightings of raptors (e.g. White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle) but what we saw in the Dobrogea/ Dobrudja near Constanta was a surprise. A pair of Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, was circling in the sky. Shortly afterwards joined by a circling Long-legged Buzzard. More photos you see here….
The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is widely distributed in Europe. In Romania it occurs as a breeding species, too. Its occurrence status is: Native due to birdlife, but in the east of Romania you can see the Levant Sparrowhawk, Accipiter brevipes, too. If I am right, this observation was the only one of Eurasian Sparrowhawk during the whole 2 weeks we spent at Romania´s Black Sea coast. But of course it is not a strange thing to see one in Dobrogea. During the winter, Romania has a larger population of the Sparrowhawk because birds from the northern areas of Europe use to move to the southern areas of the continent.
A look in the sky this evening. Hey, this is the silhouette of a stork – isn´t it? Yes, indeed a Black Stork, Ciconia nigra, could be seen over the nice little village of Altenhain on 250 m asl. The Black Stork was coming straight forward from the west (from Kelkheim, Main-Taunus-Kreis) circled three times high in the sky and passed the valley of Bad Soden/ Altenhain at 6pm. After less than 2 minutes the Black Stork disappeared behind the eastern horizon. Probably he flew along the southern slope of the Hochtaunus north of Frankfurt/Main. Continue reading Black Stork over Altenhain/ Bad Soden→
A rainy day in May at Romania´s Black Sea coast. Some good birds for a western birdwatcher like Reed, Corn and Black-headed Bunting, Great Reed-Warbler, Barred Warbler and a flying Lesser Spotted Eagle could be seen. A big surprise was what you see on the pictures: a Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, staying in a bush, eventually flying away. After a few seconds a Magpie showed up. Here you can see the Long Eared Owl chased by a Black-billed Magpie in flight. The images were photographed in the nice countryside of Romania north of the city of Constanta.
Basic habitat requirements for the Long-eared Owl are small forests or hedges with some trees. Preferred are open countrysides which nest-sites of Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) or Magpie (Pica pica). It is not clear, why the Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) chased the owl. It is well reknown that magpies could be very aggressive in defending their nest and/or brood. Probably that has been the case Continue reading Long-eared Owl chased by a Magpie→
2012 might become a good year for the Eurasian Spoonbill , Platalea leucorodia, in Germay – and a good year for the birdwatcher to observe one far away from the coasts. Right now, you can see up to 8 individuals at the “Große Flutmulde” on the Bislicher Insel near Wesel/ Lower rhine valley. Another location is the nature reserve “Bingenheimer Ried” in the Wetterau near the town of Giessen/ Hessen, where one individual has been seen at least until the 19th of June 2012. The Eurasian Spoonbill is a rare breeding bird in europe with a stronghold in the northwestern part of the Netherlands (Ijsselmeer) or Germany. 46 years ago, Urs N. Glutz von Blotzheim wrote in his „Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas“, Band 1. Gaviiformes – Phoenicopteriformes that only in 1962 there have been successful breeding on the island of Memmert and that Eurasian Spoonbill could be seen in Germany only on the north-western coast or – very rare – in Bavaria. Since then, western populations have increased during the last decades. But still, in the center of Germany this bird is a rare but regular visitor. Mainly there are birds in non-breeding plumage, but a Eurasian Spoonbill in breeding plumage could be seen on 15th of June 2007 in Niederweimar near the town of Marburg/ Hessen.
The European Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, has always been a miraculous bird. His loud and simple song and his arrival as a migrant in Europe signaling spring time made him one of the best-known birds in Europe. Quite recently his migration made the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) track Cuckoos via attached satellite-tracking devices to find out more about their important stop-over sites and wintering destinations on the way to and from Africa. Very reknown – but not often seen – is the cuckoo´s notorious behavior to parasite other birds brood. Especially this attidude made him unique in the awareness also for people in Europe who are not claiming to be keen birdwatchers.
During a stay in the wild landscape of masuria in north-eastern Poland I witnessed the long-lasting fight between a female Common Cuckoo and a pair of Robins, Erithacus rubecula, over a nest inside Continue reading Robin attack on Cuckoo´s head→
The Fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea) seems to like the Bazilescu Park, a small park near the home of Cristian Mihai in Bucharest. During the last weeks beginning in May he saw maybe hundreds of individuals from this species, most of them entirely white, only a few showing a variable number of black dots (see first two pics in his article on birdforum). During this time, Cristian Mihai had the opportunity to see a lot of birds eating them. They are easy to find, because they are easy to spot on the dark bark of the trees, sometimes gathered in large numbers (for instance, in a morning, Cristian Mihai saw a tree with more than twenty moths from this species on its bark). During this season, birds obviously need a lot of food for chicks, so this “invasion” seems to be highly appreciated by them, as you can see in the image of a Syrian Woodpecker here. Continue reading Syrian Woodpecker and Fall webworm moth→
The Greenish Warbler – or Grünlaubsänger in german – could be observed in the little town of Hilchenbach (427 asl) in the Siegerland on the edge of the state of North-Rhine Westfalia. The Greenish Warbler has established as a breeding bird in South Finland and at the coast of the eastern Baltic sea quite recently. But a singing Greenish Warbler in the Siegerland on the edge of the state of North-Rhine Westfalia in the middle of Germany is an exception nonetheless. This indivudual could be seen on the 10th of June 2012 along a stream near a retirement home in the center of the town. First the local ornithologists assumed it would be a Taiga Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus tristis or Sibirischer Zilpzalp), who managed to make its way to Hilchenbach. Deliberate singing made the identification easy eventually. The Warbler was discovered on the 1st of June and had been seen by several observers in the meantime. One other discovery in the state of North-Rhine Westfalia dates back to the year 1987, when a singing male was observered in Heiligenhaus near Overath 40 kilometers west of Cologne.
May is Migration and early breeding time in Romania´s Black Sea coast. Thus it is prime birdwatching time. After having seen many of the speciality birds like Pelicans, Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills in the Danube Delta, a small group of bird photographers went for the Dobrudgea– organized by Sakertours. A big surprise was, what you see on the pictures: a juvenile Imperial Eagle. Here you can see Imperial Eagle in flight. Photographed in the nice countryside of Romania near the city of Constanta. The eagle was flying from the east along the northern limits of the Cheile Dobrogei – the Dobrogei Gorge. After having seen (young) Imperial Eagle in Oman on several occasions, the identification was not too difficult.
The Imperial Eagle is sparsely distributed from central, south-east and eastern Europe east to Lake Baikal in Russia. Continue reading An Imperial Eagle in Romania: an unexpected surprise→
Images of birds for science & public; Western Palaearctic & the World