Frank's right, Gale. Practice, practice, practice and never give up. Was at Gatorland again today, determined to get more practice in on flying birds. Filled another 1.5 gigs! Now gotta process...they're downloading now.
You should do very well with that 70-200. I was using my 300 afs but then switched to the 80-200 af. It struggled to get the flyers in focus. Your old 80-400 has the same focuser, I think. Your 70-200 has the same as my 300, so you should be good to go.
Beautiful day at the Rookery today...nice cool breeze...hardly broke a sweat. (hardly!)
Gale - Add a lot of practice, stir in the 70-200VR, and I think you'll be great with flying birdie shots. I have never tried my 70-200VR on flight shots, but my impression is the lens focuses pretty darned fast, especially with VR turned off. IMO you don't need VR when using the shutter speeds typical of flight shots. I'm going to try my 70-200VR hand held, maybe with a TC14 or 17 attached, the next time I try flight shots.
And I envy you and all the other Florida folks who can visit the Alligator Farm any old time you want to. Couldn't fine a emoticon for raging jealousy or you would see it here.
You always sign off asking for critiques, and I do have a comment about these shots. You had a really tough exposure problem to deal with here, and to my eye the birdies are blown out. It's a matter of taste, I guess, because your images are really striking with the white against the dark background, but the birdies themselves don't show much detail. How did you expose for these guys? I'm no expert (understatement), but I think I would have picked a birdie sitting in a dark tree, spot metered him, and used manual opened up about 1 to 1.5 stops. Without opening up the birdie would be gray, and I think the 1-1.5 range is about right to get a white birdie with detail and minimal blown areas.
Any one else have any guidance for both Gale and me about how to handle shots like this?