Tuesday 27 February 2018

Lights, Camera, Action

Last week we embarked on our first ever project video shoot. The aim was to produce a short video to describe the motivation behind the Dublin Bay Birds Project, the activities we undertake, and of course highlight the beauty of Dublin Bay whilst giving the wintering waterbirds the starring role.

Filming Bull Island south lagoon from a vantage point
close to the causeway
Ricky Whelan
It took the guts of five days to capture the bird footage, human bits, and narrative, and was a really great experience for the project team. We started filming during our recent Ring-reading Event at The Bull Island Visitor Centre and, with weather and tides on our side,  we got out to capture the bay at its best while searching for colour-ringed birds afterwards. 

Volunteers concentrate as they read colour-rings during
 the recent ring-reading event
Ricky Whelan
With almost five years of monitoring under our belt for the project, and with waterbird numbers at near peak levels, we knew where and when we would find the birds over the course of the few days. At Bull Island we captured the hustle and bustle of this waterbird hot-spot, not to mention a very obliging Golden Plover flock. It was also a great opportunity to film some of our colour-ringed birds up close! Filming also brought us to the Great South Wall to find small waders such as Turnstone and Sanderling, and plenty of gulls feeding on the rocks, tide edge, and river channel. We wanted to round it off in style and show the effect that the tide has on waterbird movements and activities. To do this we bedded-in for a full tidal cycle at Merrion Spit, an embryonic sand dune which is a roosting site for thousands of waders at high tide. We trudged the gear out at low tide, and with a short set-up window we got the gear in place and camera positions set. The time-lapse camera was ready, Francois and Theo, our cameramen, were in position, and by god did the birds and tide perform. 

Filming at a "secret location" Ricky Whelan

Francois busily filming the waders on the tide-line
 as a "V" of Brent Geese fly overhead
Ricky Whelan

Theo gets comfortable before a five-hour stakeout Ricky Whelan
Overall it was a massively enjoyable week and it gave us a small insight into the amount of effort, experience and knowledge it takes to film wildlife. We couldn't have asked for more in relation to the birds, the weather and the tides, and we now sit impatiently as we await the finished result. We will share the final product with you all very soon!

Time-lapse camera captures thousands of
 waders as they roost on the high-tide line
Ricky Whelan

Thanks to the great team at Media Coop, with particular thanks to Francois Gray for filming, producing and generally doing everything. Big thanks also to our awesome wildlife cameraman for the duration, Theo Jebb. We are grateful to Dublin Port Company for supporting the making of the video.


  1. Great piece. Looking forward to the video.

    1. Thanks Richard. Was a great week, no doubt the video will have some awe-inspiring footage! RW

  2. This is such an informative post. You have a lot of really great points. I wish I had this post as a resource when I started blogging.
    Bird Watching.