How to photograph Hoopoes? Part I

Wiedehopf, europ.It’s the beginning of June. The Eurasian Hoopoes (Upupa epops) successfully reared the nest with 3 young in a shelter for the first few days. Due to the size of the garden plot, the nest and the approaching Eurasian Hoopoes could be photographed both from the car and from a camouflage tent.

Just half an hour after I had waited out of the car about 25 meters in front of the shelter with my Canon lens EF 400mm f/2.8 IS II USM on a Canon EOS R 5, a Eurasian Hoopoe suddenly clung to the below the entrance to the nest. As with other nestling flights, the Hoopoe mainly brings caterpillars and fat insects such as the European Mole Cricket or just Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa). The gallery shows a selection of the best pictures under the programmatic title “Hoopoes at Kaiserstuhl”.


After trying to photograph in the traditional way, the next day I change the photography strategy. I put a Canon EF 200mm f/2.0 IS USM lens on a Canon EOS 1 DX Mark III on the tripod, using the WFT-E9 (Wireless File Transmitter) and trigger remotely via the laptop using EOS Utility. In this way, I can reduce the distance to the nesting box to 10 meters without irritating or even disturbing the Eurasian Hoopoe through the presence of a human being, because the car itself with the photographer who triggers is far away. The Canon EOS 1DX Mark III can be controlled remotely with this wireless file transmitter over a range of 150 m at a speed of 5 GHz.

When the Eurasian Hoopoe lingers on the roof ridge for a while after feeding, I like to photograph it with the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on a Canon EOS R 5.

Hoopoe photography is not overly challenging if you are well prepared and use the right equipment. The Eurasian Hoopoe practically does not appear out of nowhere. Its flight can often be seen over a certain distance. Although the bird “rushes” to the nesting cavity with remarkable speed, there is usually time to react and press the release button (whether on the camera itself or remotely via EOS Utility on the laptop). The time delay, which is repeatedly discussed in the relevant forums in remote operation via Bluetooth and smartphone as well as via Wifi and laptop, I have never perceived as an obstacle.

If you’re lucky, it flies directly towards the tube, but shakes just before it and turns abruptly in front of the breeding cave. But that doesn’t happen very often.

The recording shown here was taken from the car without much effort. The last few days have been a real Hoopoe photo tour, which I will explain in part 2 with regard to the technical/photographic possibilities and necessities.

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