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Old Jul 9, 2012, 12:37 PM   #1
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Default World's Smallest Raptor - Pied Falconets Part 1

Well Almost. I was shooting some Pied Falconet's last weekend in Wuyuan, China. Here's some excerpts on the birds :-
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The average size of the smallest falcons is about 15 cm (6 in.), and weigh 35 g (1.23 oz.). There are about 10 or so very small falcons, found in different regions and habitats across the world. The smallest are the Black-thighed Falconet (Microhierax fringillarius) found throughout Southeast Asia, and the White-fronted Falconet (Microhierax latifrons) on the island of Borneo.

Other species of the Falconet genus Microhierax include the Collared Falconet (Microhierax caerulescens), the Philippine Falconet, Microhierax erythrogenys) and the Pied Falconet (Microhierax melanoleucus).

The Spot-winged Falconet (Spiziapteryx circumcincta) is found in south america.

Another group of small falcons are the Pygmy falcons belonging to the genus Polihierax which includes the african Pygmy-falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) the White-rumped Falcon or White-rumped Pygmy-falcon (Polihierax insignis).

By comparison the smallest falcon in North America is the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) which is 20-28cm (8-11 in) in length and weighs over three times as much as of most of these small falconets.

The adult Pied Falconets feed mostly on insects, but also on small birds up to x3 larger than themselves e.g. thrushes, and also small ground mammals and reptiles. Insects and birds are taken in flight.

Adult Pied Falconets (aka Pied Pygmy Falcon, White-legged Falconet) are variously given from different internet sources as averaging 16-18cms (6 -7 ins).
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From watching these birds for about 10 hours over 4 days (not one shot until after 7.5 hours) I can say their hunting success rate is around 90% ! Their prey rarely escapes capture. Which during these 4 days comprised of dragonflies, butterflies and another couple saw them also take a small bird.

Seen in some of these shots are a parent and fledgling and the parent twice called the fledgling in to share the prey (a dragonfly and a butterfly).

Hope you enjoy these ! All taken with a Pentax K5, DA*300 and AFA x1.7 TC.

Fledgling


Into Action !


Gargoyle


Bigger than a dragonfly - just


Going Home


What Did You Say ?


Sleep Guru


No, Not Even A Wing !


Fast Landing


Fantail


You'll Eat Your Dragonfly and Like It !


Angel of Mercy
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Old Jul 9, 2012, 12:38 PM   #2
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... and the two they wouldn't let me load above

One Handed


That's My Girl !
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Old Jul 9, 2012, 1:38 PM   #3
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Thank you for sharing I really enjoyed these raptor shots, great work!
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Old Jul 9, 2012, 5:50 PM   #4
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An outstanding series of excellent shots. Well done!
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Old Jul 10, 2012, 3:09 PM   #5
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Very interesting and well done. Thanks for the posts.

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Old Jul 11, 2012, 12:12 PM   #6
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Wonderful series. Thanks for showing us this bird. I know I'll never make it to China. The birds have such expressive faces and you captured that very well.
Enjoyed the captions too....so apt.
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Old Jul 11, 2012, 11:10 PM   #7
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Hi Frogfish

Great series of photos, of an amazing small bird species.

Thanks for all the background info you gave on it too.

Some of the photos are not critically sharp... but I can appreciate that it's hard to capture these. Are the photos cropped much (at all, or heavily?)

Thanks for sharing! I would have been happy to see these falconets... so it's appreciated you posted here.

Regards

Paul
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 12:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramcewan View Post
Thank you for sharing I really enjoyed these raptor shots, great work!
Many thanks Ramcewan !
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 12:04 AM   #9
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Oops - just found the multi quote

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven R View Post
An outstanding series of excellent shots. Well done!
Thank you Steven - pleased to hear you enjoyed the series.

Quote:
Originally Posted by penolta View Post
Very interesting and well done. Thanks for the posts.

Thanks Pen. !

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobIr View Post
Wonderful series. Thanks for showing us this bird. I know I'll never make it to China. The birds have such expressive faces and you captured that very well.
Enjoyed the captions too....so apt.
Thank you Bob. Very kind comments !
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Old Jul 12, 2012, 12:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj1974 View Post
Hi Frogfish

Great series of photos, of an amazing small bird species.

Thanks for all the background info you gave on it too.

Some of the photos are not critically sharp... but I can appreciate that it's hard to capture these. Are the photos cropped much (at all, or heavily?)

Thanks for sharing! I would have been happy to see these falconets... so it's appreciated you posted here.

Regards

Paul
Hi Paul - thank you, great to hear you enjoyed my work !

These shots were taken at 510mm (300+x1.7) on a K5 (1.5 crop) on a monopod at a distance of ca. 20-22 metres (ca. 22-25 yds). So even though that's an effective 35mm equivalent of 765mm these 6-7" birds are still rather small as a % of the sensor size. Or in other words, yes , these are all crops and some quite heavily

Early morning the ISO was up to 1,600 at one stage (though I don't think there's a shot here above 800 .. but I may be wrong) and the shutter speed down to 1/200 to keep the ISO down so there may be some motion blur.

Additionally I prefer nice clean images to absolute sharpness so these have all been run through Topaz Detail - which though an excellent program naturally has led to a loss of some detail (particularly in the highlights I noticed) or to be exact some smearing of the white feathers. A trade off, I could have had far less smearing but at the cost of more noise.

The birds seemed very large through the binoculars though so didn't realise I'd have to crop so much
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