Whilst I have made multi-image montages of birds in flight before, i have found trying to use tools like autostitch, a little hit and miss, mainly because it is seldom that I have enough overlap for such automatic software to make seamless joins. So I have had to resort to more manual techniques.
The three photos I took (show above) of a pacific gull landing on the beach, had enough surrounding detail to try out autostitch and it did find joins for the last two images and it is beautifully seamless. However autostitch refused to add in the first image, despite all my attempts twiddling with the overlap settings.
I was therefore very surprised at how beautifully the windows Live Gallery make/panorama tool worked. i guess the only problem was the shift in the overlap because i was panning up as I was also panning horizontally. So I decided to make a feature of these joins, in the stepping black "matte".