Twelve months ago I got into bird photography, and after recently purchasing a 100-400 L lens I can not afford to upgrade my 300D for a newer camera with AI servo.
For birds in flight I initially tried using the 300D in the 'Sports' mode, but soon realised that all it produced were serverely underexposed images, and sadly this mode is fully automatic with no way to dial in exposure compensation.
So I decided I'd try the camera in Manual and Av/Tv modes to see how it would perform on flying Black Headed Gulls at the local river.
I used shutter speeds of 1/1000 or higher and tried to keep the aperture at 8.0 or above, adjusting the ISO as necessary. The IS on the lens was switched off and close focus was limited to 6.5m.
Well, I would like to say I was pleasantly surprised, but alas, the results were in line with what I expected; pretty poor. I managed to capture only a few dozen properly focused photos out of approximately 220, with only 5 of the closer range opportunities being captured in 'proper' focus.
After many attempts my ability to accurately and smoothly follow the birds in the viewfinder improved and I found regularly that the camera was letting me down, it would fail to gain focus on my half depressing the shutter button and therefore would prevent me from then taking a photo (with the lens in AF the camera only allows you to take a photo if a focus has been attained).
Very frustrating, luckily I kept my cool and didn't throw the camera in the river, even though I felt like it at times!
I also tried to get the AI servo to kick in by gaining focus and then zooming in or out as I followed the subject, as I had read somewhere that this worked, but it didn't work for me with the gulls.
Below are the 3 best photos I managed to take, all are full frame, resized to 1000x667 and with a 25% unsharp mask applied.
If anyone has any tips that might help me with BIF with this camera I would be glad to hear them, they might just keep me persevering until I can afford a used 20D! : )