Starling and SparrowHawk

Starling and SparrowHawk

PDF | Print | E-mail

"The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot." Mark Twain  






Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
On a nice September day I was photographing birds outside the house. I took some pictures of flying doves and then I was attarcted to the noise coming from a large tree across the street. A group of starlings was sitting and eating berries from a bush. I took several shots of the bird that was the most visible. All of a sudden all of them flew off to a power pylon nearby with no clear reason. I looked around in the air and now it became very clear what caused the commotion with the starlings: a sparrowhawk was flying over the field next to our street. It was clearly looking for a tasty meal and started climbing high in the sky by using the up-current. This way I could take many photo's of this beautiful bird of prey.
On a photography sidenote I can tell that the AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED still can be too short for fast wildlife shooting. I was forced to use 100% crops to get the bird as large as possible so I needed as much sharpness as I could from the lens (aperture f/11) what conflicted with the required shutter speed (smaller than 1/500s) so I had to raise the ISO and underexpose a bit what generates noise, the n°1 enemy of detail.
Photos by Frank Panis

Shooting Data:

Camera: Nikon D2X
Lens: AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Shutter speed - aperture:
Starling01: 1/400 sec - f/11, Aperture priority mode
Sparrowhawk01: 1/500 sec - f/11, Aperture priority mode
Sparrowhawk02: 1/750 sec - f/11, Aperture priority mode
Sparrowhawk03: 1/800 sec - f/11, Aperture priority mode
Flash: none
Image: NEF edited in Nikon Capture 4.3.1 and PS7


These photographs cannot be reproduced without the written permission of This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .