thanx folks!!! squirl swallows are one of the most difficult birds to get flight shots (I don't know how Norm used to do it so well and a couple others). As Dave mentioned theydo bounce around a lot. Yesterday was breezy and I tried shooting when they would fly ibo the wind and hang for an instant. By the time I got focussed they would dive straight down outof view. That's one reason I practice with take off and landing shots. A hint: most swallows will fly off a branch or stump, grab an insect, and then fly right back to the same branch. So, if you can manage to follow them, one can get some good shots. I'm still very slow. The 500mm doesn't help when it comes to tracking. I think the 400mm prime or 100-400mm zoom might be better for flight shots. And the 500mm plus 1.4TC is near impossible to track them unless they are fairly off in the distance.
yeah, i've managed a couple of so-so shots of them taking off from branches, but horsing that big ol' 80-400 Sigma around, trying to keep them in the finder, and keep the thing locked on tight enough for the AF to work, is damm near impossible! i may try backing off the zoom some, and see what that does. there's a ton of 'em around at a local park i go to, and i can usually get pretty close... maybe i'll even try it with my 24-135 and see if that makes it any easier! :G