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Pied Avocet (Recuvirostra avosetta): An unmistakeable white and black wading bird with a long, very thin, upturned bill and a black cap and hindneck. In flight, the pied pattern is striking, with three black patches on each upperwing. The underwing is black only at the tip. The long, bluish grey legs extend beyond the tail in flight. It feeds in water, using a sweeping, side-to-side bill movement.

The upturned bill of this bird is very interesting, but cannot be seen here in full. I think I must post one photo showing it just to give you an idea.

The story behind the photo:
Some of you are going to be jealous of me! I was invited by Callie (cdewet) to go bird shooting with him at the Marievale Bird Sanctuary in Springs, close to Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was a great experience and I learnt a lot. It was my very first attempt at shooting birds, and any feedback is very welcome.

Some of the thoughts I am left with after the experience are:
1. You must wake up early to get the good shots. I am not a morning person, and getting up at 04:00 AM to be ready at 04:30 AM was really tough... especially since I only got to bed at 01:30 AM :-)
2. Make sure you have enough batteries! I got my Nikon D100 only three days before this, and misjudged the battery power used by the constant autofocus with the long zoom. First I ran out of flash batteries, and a short while later my camera's battery was flat too. Then I just sat back and observed... :-)
3. I am going to have to save a lot of money to buy the equipment required for this. A decent 80-300 f/2.8 zoom (or longer) with a 2x converter will cost me an arm and a leg, but I want one! (We saw a guy with a Nikon 600mm f/4.0 lens, and I am still drooling... :-))
4. Bird shooting is great fun, and I still have a great deal to learn about it. Of the 64 shots I took, I can possibly use 2 or 3.
5. Callie is an incredibly nice guy, very knowledgable and passionate about his hobby...

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Additional Photos by Henry Engelbrecht (henrye) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 675 W: 66 N: 432] (3500)
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