Cliff Swallow with breakfast

Attempting to catch swallows in flight. Got lucky as this one has a bug in his mouth.
Actually, lucky to get any at all. Very quick and erratic.

Specific Feedback Requested

My success rate for sharp images was about 5% in 500 shots. Some were too close to the edge for editing.
I did use a Dot site. No way could I see anything through the view finder. There is a glitch with the Canon mirrorless in that sometimes it doesn’t want to re focus. I found that after each burst I had to focus on a distant tree to get it back to infinity so it would find a flying object again. Anyone else with a Canon found a solution for this? Any better way to try to track these birds? I

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon EOS R6, Canon RF 100-500 lens, 500mm, 1/5000sec, f/7.1, ISO 1600, Focus set on animal recognition.
Cropped to 35%. LR for few adjustments.
All Comments welcome.


Excellent job on a tough subject to photograph. Detail and color look good and the pose shows off quite a bit of the bird.

Such a difficult shot to get this is a good catch. I would be much too frustrated to take 500 shots. I watched hundreds of tree swallows (some cliff swallows too) last week from very close range over water but the weight of my 200-500 was too much and could not get decent focus to hold and track them with my older Nikon camera. I thought that my lighter, easier to hold and maneuver 70-300mm might be a better lens for the focus and panning of these guys. What is a “Dot site” ?

Great capture for the circumstances.

I use the same technique to re-acquire focus with my R5. I find a dot sight great for locating a bird in a tree but for flight the best method for me is a lot of practice – the Annie Oakley thing. Getting my eye from the sight to the viewfinder takes too long. I use my right eye on the viewfinder and leave the left eye open for a wide view. With enough steady practice I can usually get a slow-moving bird in the viewfinder, but wouldn’t even try it with a Swallow!

Thanks. Sometimes I am lucky. I will ty Annie Oakley method. Dot site is an attachment to the hot shoe. Used more by hunters. Puts a small spot on a piece of glass just ahead of the flash. You line it up to start on a fixed object at a fixed distance and then focus. I gives you much larger field of vision. Theoretically, if the dot is on the bird, it is in focus on your camera. Goole it and you will have a much better idea. Works better with slower birds and at a pre focused point. Swallows have to be the ultimate challenge for BIF.

I have the Olympus EE-1. It needs to be calibrated for the approx distance the bird will be, due to parallax, as it sits above the axis of the lens, in the hot shoe mount. You aim at some object at close to the distance you will be shooting and there are two adjustment knobs, to move the dot vertically and horizontally. You have to rely on pre-focusing near your expected working distance or the bird will be so OOF as to be invisible. The mount is a little flimsy and you have to lock it firmly in the hot shoe and be careful not bump it. But it is wonderful for finding a small bird in a tree. I need to be on a tripod because I couldn’t hold the camera still enough while I get my eye up to the viewfinder. Looking at the dot, my eye is behind the camera a couple of inches.