"Let's Digiscope"

Click here to edit subtitle

                                     Welcome to Justin Carr's website.... 


                              It has been set up with the aim of giving other 

               wannabee digiscopers and photographers tips and advice on how to

                                              improve their photography.


              I offer digiscoping workshops and classes on improving your editing skills as well as information and reviews on new digiscoping products.


                           


  I think it's all here, but if it's not please get in touch and ask me personally!


                                              [email protected]      


                                               Thanks for checking me out!


                                                              Justin :)

           

                                                                                                         A bit about Justin

A little bit about me. First and foremost I am a birder. I have been birding since I was 12, inspired by a teacher and I started with the birds at school in Doncaster.  My grandma bought me my first binoculars. She said she hoped it wasn't a passing phase! Soon after getting my precious binoculars I saw my first Barn Owl and I was totally hooked. At 14 I started to take bird photographs, moving on to digiscoping 15 years ago as I wanted more of a challenge. I started with a camcorder connected to my scope by the means of a homemade wooden adapter (in the days before proper adapters). I managed to get pretty good results and have had some of my footage published by Birdguides on their bird ID guides. From there I progressed to stills using a  Sony p200 compact camera before switching to the Panasonic G series range which I still use now. All through this period I have been a loyal Swarovski spotting scope user as I feel they offer the highest quality optics and also versatility for digiscoping. I have worked for Swarovski at the British Birdwatchers Birdfair held every August at Rutland Water. I have also recently had runner-up spots in national and worldwide photography competitions - digiscoping sections - and had this work published. My main aim with this site is to INSPIRE YOU to pick up your camera whether it be on your phone, compact, or DSLR and have a go at digiscoping. You will be surprised how satisfying it can be, and I am here to help you along the way with tips, advice, and also one-to-one tutorials. 
DigiscopingPartners
Swarovski Optik

I am pleased to have the backing of Swarovski Optik who have given me a great deal of support over the years. 



Swarovski are by far the most popular brand of  sporting optic in the world and with good reason.



In my opinion they offer the highest quality optics on the market with outstanding build quality and with an after sales service that's second to none.


For that reason I wouldn't use any other brand.

My name is Danny Porter.  I have been digiscoping for over 10 years and run a popular website called Danny's Digiscoping.


I am a brand ambassador for Swarovski optic, and I consult with them on digiscoping products and represent them at trade shows across the UK .


I have run one-to-one courses for the last 5 years, and I also organise group days for beginners with Suffolk wildlife trust and WEX Photographic.


I have an extensive knowledge of most camera-to-scope set ups and advise free of charge through email, phone, and video calls.


I see my role as an educator of those who want to learn more about digiscoping.


Please email me HERE

OUR COMPANY


Yorkshire Coast nature (YCN) is a small independent Nature tourism company. Every member of our team lives locally and is passionate about wildlife. We believe strongly in eco- tourism with a direct benefit for wildlife and provide annual grants to nature conservation organisations. so when you use one of our services you can be assured that you are helping wildlife.


OUR SERVICES


Yorkshire Coast Nature offers a variety of activity tours, events, and workshops. We provide everything from short tours aimed at those interested in specific areas, species or photography to longer holidays on which you can experience a wide range of species and varied landscapes of the Yorkshire coast.


Everyone is welcome,

from beginners to the more experienced. In order to give you the maximum                    personal attention, as well as to minimize disturbance to wildlife our longer tours cater for small groups only. We are also happy to arrange bespoke tours for individuals and small groups - just contact us with your requirements.


Contact us HERE


                                                                Digiscoping workshops

Whether you're a beginner or a more experienced digiscoper I am confident you will get a lot from one of my one-to-one workshops. I offer the basics right through to more advanced techniques like getting in-flight shots.

I am pleased to introduce my good friend Danny Porter aka Danny's Digiscoping. He too is a very experienced digiscoper with over 10 years' experience. Together we cover most of England; I cover the north and Danny covers the south. Between us we are never too far away!


Discounts are available for group bookings.


Check out Danny's Site!

www.dannysdigiscoping.com

                        Some rather good days out

 When you get offered a lift for one of the worlds most attractive Ducks you cant say no, The Ythan Estuary in Scotland is home to many birds with a large Tern colony and a sadly declining colony of Common Eider. And in with its commoner cousins is a resident and rather splendid Drake King Eider.  

                     Just as Stunning (well almost) one of the many Common Eider present.

                   And the better half.

Tern's where in abundance feeding literally feet in front of us, too good an opportunity to miss.

                    Sandwich where the most abundant, with a few Common's (below) mixed in.


 We also had time to spend in the Highland to take in amazing scenery and some of its special breeding birds.

 This close encounter with this pair of stunning Slavonian Grebes was bitter sweet, Amazing yes to see so close up, but sadly there where young present a real shame for one of Britain's rarest breeders

 As we made our way to the higher moors the rain really started to come down, hey ho make the most of what's given to you. This Image of a Curlew i think looks all the better for the rain. i am sure the Curlew would disagree.


Here are a few more images from a great few days.

 I have been a Birder for over 35 year's (God that makes me feel old) and in those years i have seen many Common Gulls but never seen them on their breeding grounds. This bird was one of hundreds over open moorland. It was a pretty spectacular sight.

 It was a pretty good couple of days Birding.


 

Another bird fest a few weeks later with a trip to the Farne Island's.

for those that haven't been before this small archipelago of the Northumbrian coast is home for the breeding season to many Hundreds of thousands of Seabirds, giving visitors the most stunning views.

And Photography opportunities were plenty. 

Click here to edit text Everyone's favorite, Puffins are on the want list for everyone, but they where on my list for a different reason, i wanted a flight shot!!



And also the obligatory Puffin with Sand eel Shot 

 I was given a challenge by a good friend to produce something a bit different from my norm, thinking and looking at the subject, and the space around it, in a different way. I hope i fulfilled his challenge. 

          And a couple more flight shots.

       I quite like the above image it shows the interaction between the Guillemot coming into land and the birds on the

       ground.


       All image's Digiscoped through a Swarovski STX 85. 

                          A tame Cuckoo and more 

Sorry its been a while since my last update but as you all know Spring is a hectic time as birder and photographer.

well its been a rather productive few weeks with highlights being finding a Broad billed Sandpiper at Spurn and Spending the day with the guys from Sony Camera's at a wildlife event at Park Camera's. But there was a whole lot more stuff going on.

An unforgettable day was spent with my good friend Gary Loader. The images below are the results of a fab day with a rather obliging Cuckoo.

 What next Mmm, well everyone loves Black necked Grebes and Yorkshire holds a Nationally important breeding population of these stunning birds and a local reserve gave me a chance to get some stunning images. i just need to say no disturbance was caused to them as the images where taken a public footpath. 

Click here to edit text A trip to Padley Gorge in Derbyshires for redstart's and pied flycatchers proved successful but not in the way expected with this pair of splendid Mandarin Duck's. unfortunately the target species whern't so obliging.  

 i though i would just throw this Grey Squirrel shot in as i quite like it.

 Sticking with the pretty bird theme these Kingfisher's should now be feeding well grown young possibly ready to leave the nest, but i went the young would have been just a twinkle in their fathers eye.

Zoo's are great places for photography and honing your skills. so if you haven't done it yet give it  a go. 
Here a few images from the Yorkshire wildlife park.

 All images taken through the trusty Swarovski STX 85.

                  Scotland Land of the great (birding)

A pilgrimage to Scotland was a must for a great many birders in days gone by, but in recent year's has been demise in a short break birding  break up North. I guess cheep foreign flights might have something to do with that.

I hold my hand up i have been guilty of saving my pocket money up for short birding breaks abroad but my regular birding fiend's, had never seen the Scottish specialties.

So we took a long overdue trip North of the border. 

here are some images from a great few days away with good friends, good birds, good food and a few beers.

 This Drake American Wigeon in Inverness gave us some cracking views in the stunning morning light.

 

The car park around the ski lift on Cairngorm is a fabulous place to get up close to Snow bunting's, they tend to favour the picnic area to the left of the car park, where seed is put down for them.

My mission was a flight shot!!

 Cairngorm, this is what Snow Bunting's have to put up with. Surely there must be an easier way to live.

 Crested tits are on the wanted list for all birders visiting the Cairngorms and winter is probably the best time to see them as like most of the tit family readily come to feeders. Destination Loch Garten.

We spent an hour or so watching these cracking little birds, truth be told i could have spent the whole morning there.

What a privilege it was. 

 Findhorn valley above is i am sure you will agree a stunning place, but its also a great place to sea both our Eagle's. we where fortunate to get some pretty good views of Golden Eagle.

The picture above is a hillside full of Red Grouse. I can only guess they form large flocks here for protection, protection from  the Eagles.

On our way home we called in for this wintering Ring billed gull at Stathclyde Loch, Glasgow. Not a great shot but it show a good comparison with the Common gull 


With people feeding the duck's and gull's at the Loch this Goosander had become pretty tame, Normally you can't get within 30 feet of them, but i struggled to focus because it was at times too close. Shame the light wasn't up to much.

A great ending to a fab few day's in Scotland.
all bird pics Digiscoped on a Swarovski STX 85.

                            Best winter Birding ever?

This Winter in my opinion has been one of the best winters for birding in the UK for many years especially for Rarities.

 For those that can remember think back to winter 95/96, i really think this year can hold its own against what for many  was a winter full of Twitches.

 well back to recent history from this winters bumper crop. Here are some of my favorite shots from the last few bird  filled weeks.

 Pole position for best bird goes to this White billed Diver on the River Witham in Lincolnshire. 

Sticking with the Diver theme, Scarbrough Harbour is a great place in winter (bit of De ja vu, i think i have said that before) there always seems to be something of interest. This Great Northern Diver has been present for weeks and gave fantastic opportunities for Pics.  

 The Black necked Grebe above is one of two present in the harbour for their second winter.


Left: This Dipper was in its usual haunt at Troutsdale, the light was poor so i thought i would take advantage and slow the shutter right down to give this interesting effect on the water. taken at 1/10th sec. 

Forge valley on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park is always a great place to photograph common woodland birds this Blackbird was taken at one of the feeding stations.

 And back to Scarbrough i have taken quite a few in flight shots of Fulmar before but i just love the light on this shot.

      Digiscoping doesn't always have to be birds this sunrise was looking out over the North Sea. 

 Now i don't know about you but i have never managed toget really close to Goldeneye in the past, so when visiting a friend at spurn to ld me of one that comes to within metres of the hide on kilnsea wetlands i couldn't resist. And disappoint it did not!! 

And last but not least this Cracking first winter Male Bluethroat turned up in the Lincolnshire fens near Spalding.
It gave Amazingly close views, landing just a few feet from admiring birders and photographer's 

                   All images taken on a Swarovski STX 85.

                               My Top 10 of the year

Over the last week or two trawling through Social media i have come across many interesting blogs with a few doing a year ending review. So that gave me the idea to do a review well sort of. 

What i have done is come up with my top 10 favorite images of the the year in reverse order, Hope you like. 

                                            10th 

 Also back for their second winter Where two black necked grebe's, this one was pretty obliging.

 Chaffinch.

 i took this image at forge valley Scarbrough back in February. i rather like it. for me the back ground  makes it. the color of the back ground match those of the bird. so for this image the surroundings are more important than the subject.

                                                9th

Shag.

Question: what was the first thing you looked at in this image. for me it was the eye. now the last image was what surrounded the subject, but this image its the eye has you from the start.

                                            8th

 Chiffchaff.

 I love the light on this one. Nuff said. 

                                            7th

 Guillimot

 The Farne Island's are in my opinion the best places to see and Photograph seabirds in the UK. This Summers trip    was as always superb, with great opportunities for photography, But out of all the images that day this was my  favorite as it was taken from the boat on the way over. quite pleased it as it was taken through the scope handheld. 

                                            6th

 I guess most people won't realize that you can digiscope to get some really detailed up close images like this four  spot chaser taken at RSPB Old moor 

                                               5th

 Peregrine's are fantastic birds Royalty of the Raptor world, so i was over the moon to get this flight shot. It was. a real  challenge but made easier as this bird made numerous passes over its clifftop haunt. I think with Raptor flight shots  its always better to get the shot like this as they bank over, So to get it in focus as well was most satisfying  

                                             4th

 Little Bunting.

 birders love Autumn and Little bunting's are on the radar as a self found bird in the UK for most of us. Well I've  chosen this image well because it was a self found at Spurn Bird observatory.  and it did show rather well 

                                             3rd

 Common Swift.
 Digiscoping swifts are a real challenge, this bird was one of hundreds over a local wetlands back in the  spring. I will be honest this shot went totally wrong massively under exposed. But i saw something that  could be salvaged in lightroom. So my advice to you is use you imagination sometimes try to see beyond the  image that the camera camera has captured (Lightroom is a powerful tool) you may just have a hidden gem  that you where just going to bin.   

                                 2nd

 Bearded tit.

 I've been trying for many year's to get a good shot of these little beauties. This Autumn my wish came true!! 

                       1st

 Waxwing.
 This image was taken as the year drew to a close, Why Number 1?
 For me It ticks all the boxes, Stunning bird, Great light, and Waxwing's being  Waxwing's totally fearless.
 I would just like to thank Swarovski for there continuing support over the past  year.
 All images Digiscoped on a Swarovski STX 85. 


              They think its all over, well it nearly is!!

 Just when we thought that was it for the Megas, deepest darkest Derbyshire gave many of us one more tick for 2016.

 the tiny village of beeley just outside Derby saw many hundreds of birders descend from far and wide to get views of  the Cracking Dusky Thrush, Most of the time it was pretty mobile but with patience gave itself up to give some good  photographic opportunities.  

                      I am sure you will agree its a rather smart bird indeed.

My good friend Danny porter dropped a shocker on me recently, now please make sure you are sitting down.
Right now for the surprising news Danny had never seen a Grouse. But we will forgive him for that one as you don't get many Grouse in Suffolk.
So i said come up to Gods own and i will give you (and his Girls) a Tour de Yorkshire.
Now i have visited Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park on many occasions, its one of the best places i know to see both Red and Black Grouse.

         Immature male Black Grouse.

          Red Grouse



With both Grouse in the bag (not literally) Dipper was the next target.


 

 This Dipper was taken with a shutter speed of 1/5 of a sec i was experimenting trying to get some nice  blurred water. Also the Mandarin and mallard shots below where shot at the same shutter speed.

                A Great day out pal.


Now Hen Harrier's are fab birds but getting increasingly scarce, so when news filtered through of 3 wintering birds in East Yorks giving fantastic photo opportunities i just had to pay a visit or two or maybe three lol.
The birds favored a large set a side field next to a road. so i decided to use the car as a hide.



              This Barn Owl also put on a good show in the warm glow of the setting sun.

All images Digiscoped on a Swarovski STX 85.

                                                                          What's new??

                      A grand finale to the best Autumn ever

 As Autumn drew to a close some good birds still lingered, and one of the Eastern Black redstart's of the Autumn was too good looking to miss. In fact i made two trips to to see Skiningrove's little Stunner.

Eastern Black Redstart's breed in Central Asia, and until recently they where classed as a Mega rare bird in the UK.

This Autumn however has changed all that with possibly a dozen or more scattered up the east coast. I guess we will in the future be graced with this little gem in ever increasing number's, especially when the Autumnal winds blow from the East. 

Also present where a handfull of Donnock's feeding among the sea defense rocks, also a few robin's, Rock pipit's and a pair of Stonechat's mixed in for good measure.

 I have seen my fare share of Grey Phalarope's in the past but never tire of them, Birds full of character and also they tend to be pretty Human friendly. True to form this one at Top hill low Nature reserve did not disappoint.  

                      All images Digiscoped through a Swarovski STX 85.

           If Carlsberg could create the perfect birding!!

 Then the last two weeks would be a vintage brew. The first two weeks in October 2016 will i am sure for many be one of the best periods for Rare birds in living history. i was fortunate enough to witness this "MEGA" event. The east coast of Yorkshire from Flambrough to Spurn saw a spectacular fall of migrant birds from the East, with Lots of common, Scarce, Rare's, and a hand full of Mega's mixed in. I am sure the last couple weeks will go down in British Birding history.


Top of the tree was Britain's second Siberian Accentor at Easington , coming hot on the first a week previous on Shetland. because of work commitments i had to wait till the day after to go, it goes without saying the night before was a real nail biter. this little gem never moved more than a few feet from its favorite mossy foraging spot. It was Estimated £12 Million worth of optics was focused on this one bird on its second day alone, Pretty amazing.

The other Mega Sibe off the Mega fall was Britain's fourth Eastern Crowned Warbler. This super smart philosc graced Bempton RSPB three days favoring a small copse adjacent to the crammed overflow car park. It thrilled observers showing down to 15 feet at times,  

Click here to edit text The next best bird  was this Little Bunting, Special to me because it was a self find picked up on call as it flew in to church field Kilnsea.

The Red Breasted Flycatcher was in the same tree as the Eastern Crowned Warbler all be it on a different day.

Click here to edit text One of the most notable event's of the period was the what can only described as a Yellow Browed invasion, i guess i saw some 20+ with odd ones giving fantastic opportunities for photography. 

                                                                                              And the back up birds!!

                                             This Ring Ouzel was most unusual as it wouldn't fly off at half a mile range.

Click here to edit text I don't think i have ever seen so many chiffchaff as i have in recent weeks. one day there must have been 20 at least in the crown and anchor car park Kilnsea.

     Also in the Crown and anchor carpark where 2 very confiding Siskin, as is often the case with newly arrived migrants.

                                              The Canal scrape at spurn has to be the best place to see Jack Snipe in Britain.

                                                                      Every bush or tree seemed to have a Goldcrest in it

                                                                            And last but not least a cracking juv Stonechat

                          As always all Images and video taken through a Swarovski STX85

                                   A Short break in Spain

 Early September saw two friends and i take a 6 night break in Northern Spain with the main aim of seeing brown bear and wildcat but more importantly for me to visit Elstaca de Bara for a spot of Seawatching, this headland on the north western tip of Spain is fast growing a reputation as being the best place to see migrating seabirds on mainland Europe. It did not disappoint, it wasn't just the huge numbers but the close views they gave.

below is an estimate of the numbers from the best day we had.

Cory's Shearwater 3,000

Great Shearwater 50

Sooty Shearwater 3,000 

Manx Shearwater 1,500

Long tailed skua 35

Pomerine Skua 12

Arctic Skua 30 

Bonxie 60

Sabine's Gull 12

Commic tern 6,000

Sandwich tern 2,000


Pretty impressive in a 12 hour watch. In case you where wondering what the weather conditions where frequent showers with strong NW winds 


And here are a few record shots  

                                                    Above two images Cory's Searwaters.

                                          two images above Balearic Shearwater's

                                             Above two images Long tailed skua

                                          Two different Pomerine skua's

                       One of the family party of Black Redstart's around the Observatory.  

 And now too Somiado National, park for those that have never been its a truly stunning place with mountains and meadows, with a few good birds and  a family party of brown bear's

             Just to set the scene Someado day break.

 i must apologize for the quality of the video above but the Brown bear was a long way off.

                               Spanish yellow wagtail.

                                                  This Hoopoe caused a stir with the local Wheatear


All in all not a bad few days away, and as always all images Digiscoped on a Swarovski STX 85

by the way we didn't see a single Wildcat even though we spent many an hour looking. Hey ho that's how it goes sometimes.

                     O no not thornwick pools again ; )

 Recently the water levels have been perfect for waders at thornick pools Flambrough with lots of exposed mud great for migrating waders as a refueling spot on there south bound migration, and importantly to me as a Photographer there was a nice patch of mud exposed just feet in front of the Photography hide. The Dunlin below thrilled a visiting birder and i giving Amazingly close views, but how i wish it could have been the previous days Pectoral Sandpiper. 

 I know i always go on about thornick pool being the best place to photograph waders in the UK , but in my opinion it is, all you need to do is make yourself a member of the Flambrough Bird group and pay an extra £10 (for life bargain) for a key to the photography hide.


On my way home i made a small detour to North Cave Wetlands where a rather obliging Spotted Crake was still present 

                     lucky for me the bird was showing as i walked up. 

                     all images Digiscoped on a Swarovski STX 85 with a TLS APO 23mm.

                                             A few recent shots

Recent weeks the Wednesday teem an i have been on our travels, with the Rarity filled months of September and October still yet to come, july and August are the start of the wader season. So our target year ticks where our long legged friends from farther afield. Here are some shots from my travels with friends.

 

This Black tailed godwit was one of many at Frampton Marsh RSPB target was Broad billed sandpiper alas as is often the case way too far for a decent shot.

                                                                                                                                                                  Dunlin

This Greenshank was taken at Flambrough's Thornwick pool reserve for me has to be one of the best places to photogragh wadrs in Britain full stop

                                                                                                                                                                                  Red Admiral

                                                                                                                                                                    Common Blue.



                                                                                And to finish off a few flight shots!!

Click here to edit text Trick of the trade when Digiscoping Hirundines wait till the Juv's fledge, they fly slower, makes it easier to get on.

                                                                                                                                                             Little egret's 

                                                                                                                                                                   Common tern


                                                                      All images Digiscoped on a Swarovski STX 85 

                                                                                               Good Digiscoping

                                  Autumn kicks in

 Its been a bit quiet of late, that short Summer lull.  but now as we reach the end of July its clear that for birder's Autumn has well and truly kicked in, with waders mostly adults making their way south. Also another group of birds on a birders want list in the Autumn are Seabirds with birds like Cory's and Great shearwater's, being i guess near the top of the list, with Sabine's Gull being not far behind.

So it was good to get one of these Seabirds on the year list without having to sit for hour after hour on some bum numbing clifftop looking out to sea scrutinising every passing bird.

Sabine's 20 miles from home BOOM!!!!


 This Cracking bird gave its self up to many a happy birder over its week stay at Carr vale reserve in Derbyshire. I guess a county tick for many.


I also recently took a trip with good friends with the Whitby Whale watching company, they run boat trips out of whitby most days between July and October with Great sucsess. Unfortunately we had only Harbour porpoise on this trip (a little early in the season for minke and the larger Whales) Hey ho more time to spend Digiscoping my favorite subject.

Gannets


The challange today to get a shot Digiscoped from a moving and rocking boat,freehand (no trypod). The shot below was made easier with the use of the STX (Straight) rather than the angled ATX, Much easier to get on your subject.


 Bob Usher below showing how its done, Note the camera mounted upside down on the scope this alows the STX to sit comfortably in the palm of your left hand this allows you thumb and middle finger to do the focusing, leaving your right hand to do the operating of the Camera. Oh and if you have a balancing rail fitted it doubles up rather nicely as a carry handle for the scope

 All bird images taken on a Swarovski STX 85.

                                   Little Beasties

 Now spring has made way to summer and most of the migrants have moved through,and with breeding birds busy rearing their young many birders turn their interest to the smaller things.

                                                                                                                                                Four spot chaser Dragonfly

                                                                                                                                                Large Skipper

                                                     All images Digiscoped on a Swarovski ATX 85

                                            Island Seabirds.

 My good friend Danny porter and i recently held a Digiscoping workshop on the Amazing Farne Island's. Most of you i guess will know something of the farne's probaly just from seeing it on Springwatch, but let me say too those that have never experienced them, its like Britain's Galapago's!!

Its one of the few places you can get within a few feet sometimes inches of birds that are you sometimes forget are wild. 

 One of the things i noticed was the only birds that had any young where the Black headed gulls, all the other breeding species seemed to be on eggs still.

Its pretty amazing to see so many Auks so tightly packed together, a little different to Bempton cliffs.

                   Puffin's have got to be the hardest birds to Digiscope in flight as Paul hackett rightly knows ; )

                   Its pretty amazing to see Eider sat on her brood not much more than 3 metres from the path.

                           The Guillimot above was taken handheld from the boat off Staple Island.

                                          Not everyone was content with our presence as Danny found out.

                 Also below are some great images from Bob Usher and Andy Whitehead.

                                                                                                                      Arctic tern Bob Usher

                                                                                                                     Sandwich Tern Bob Usher

                                                                                                             Arctic Tern Andy Whitehead

                                                                                                                 Arctic Tern Andy Whitehead.

                                A brilliant day was had by all

                                                                  All images Digiscoped on a Swarovski ATX 85.

                                    Not Gannets again   ; )

 A  forced day off work. There wasn't a lot about, with cold Northerlies in late may i guessed birding on the east coast wouldn't  be great/productive so Bempton it was then.

Now the wind direction at Bempton really makes a difference to how well the Gannets perform, with inshore winds the birds tend to hang in the wind over the clifftop giving great views and amazing photography opportunities.

 

Click here to edit text  I also recently took Andy whitehead out for a second lesson, Andy is new to Digiscoping and photography but i could see he took a lot in from his time with me a couple of months ago. i am sure you will agree from his images below that he appears to be a natural. Hats of to you pal keep up the good work.

                                     All images taken on a Swarovski ATX 85.

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                                              Not so grim up north!!    

                                                                 2/3/2016

The forecast was not good, the Lincolnshire town of Cleethorpes looked a promising option for our regular day out birding. A Shorelark had been present with a few Snow Bunting thrown in for good measure, but the forecasters had got it spot on, rain and more rain. A rethink was needed...

Shorelark and Snow Bunting, Hartlelpool. Forecast good.

BOOM!!

                                                                                                                                            Snow bunting

It did not take long to locate the target species, both present on rough ground just south east of the Jewish cemetery.  

          Shorelark one of two birds present

Rare Bird Alert was reporting a Green-winged Teal and a Smew at RSPB Saltholme, so we headed there with the sun still shining.


For anyone who has never visited Saltholme it's really worth a visit.


Both the Teal and the Smew were present but the teal was too distant  for photos. Also present was a small group of Barnacle geese.

                                                                                    Barnacle geese

                                                                          RSPB Saltholme visitor centre

                                                                                Another good day.

                                                 All bird images Digiscoped on a Swarovski ATX 85.

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                 Back up to Scarborough for a vagrant duck and more.

Scalby mills in Scarborough's north bay has long been a favorite spot for wigeon so it is no surprise that its rare American cousin should turn up. When I arrived the tide was well out as was the wigeon flock. But the tide was coming in so I didn't have to wait long for the birds to come closer, unfortunately not close enough to get anything other record digiscoped shots.

From there I took a short drive round to Marine Drive to have a look for the resident peregrines.

It didn't take long to pick up the male sitting on the cliff. This pair, as far as I know, failed to rear any young last year so fingers crossed for better luck this year. 

My attention then turned to sea to check for the possibility of a diver or grebe. With a quick scan through the bins I noticed that the regular pod of Harbour Porpoise was close inshore, so I thought I would try to get some scoped shots. Now, for anyone who shoots with a conventional SLR set up, you will know it's not easy to get an in-focus shot of breaching cetaceans. Trying to digiscope them is even tougher! I have to say it's one of the trickiest things I have done. The problem is you don't know where they will surface and when they do they're not up for long. Then you have to manual focus - pretty damn quickly! It's the first time I have attempted to digiscope these wonderful creatures, so I am pretty happy with my first attempt. Why not have a go for yourself? It's a challenge and for me that's what it's all about; pushing the boundaries of what people perceive to be possible with digiscoping!! 

 

Next stop Mediterranean Gulls up at Holbeck. Now I wanted to do a bit more experimenting to do some hand-held scoping. When I say hand held I don't mean holding the camera up to the scope without an adapter. No, I mean holding the scope in one hand (left hand) and operating the camera with the other. I can tell you that you soon realize the weight of a scope and camera doing this! Anyway, back to Med Gulls. Granola thrown down as bait but no Med Gulls just a few Black-Headed Gulls to practise on.

What to do next (bit of head scratching)? I know Forge Valley again!!

                                                                                                                                                                                 Nuthatch

                                                                                                                                                                                Chaffinch

                                                                                                                                                                                      Robin

                                                                                                                                                                         Long-tailed tit

                                                                                                                                                   Grey squirrel

With my bird-feeder fix out of the way it was time to head home enjoying a late treat in the form of a Barn Owl flying in front of the car. Quick pullover, scope and camera set up just in time to capture the bird before it disappeared over a hedge.  

                     All images digiscoped on a Swarovski ATX 85.

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An amazing winter's day digiscoping & birding in Northumberland.

Friends and I had an amazing day's birding on the Northumbrian Coast on the 12th feb. The day started off bright and early at Birling for the Arctic Redpoll, that showed well but not close. This bird was part of a flock of some 30 plus  Lesser Redpoll with one or two Mealy thrown in for good measure. The birds favoured a set aside field adjacent to the south west corner of the golf club.   

 
From there we headed up to Stag Rock, Bamburgh where half an hour's seawatch produced 30+ Long tailed duck, 4 Slavonian Grebes and a few Eider and Common Scoter.
From there we took a short drive round to Budle Bay where good numbers of waders were present including a single Black-tailed Godwit and a few Bar-tailed Godwit. There was also a lovely pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.
Then we headed back south to Seahouses as the harbour is a good spot for Eider. It didn't disappoint with some stunning views in lovely winter sunshine.









Back in the car and we journeyed to Widderington where a sole Waxwing had taken up residence in a single hawthorn on the A1068 2/3 of a mile north of the village. It was great to catch up with this splendid species which has been a bit of a rarity this winter (2015/16).

From there we headed for a wintering Long-billed Dowitcher at Cresswell pond (note if you're coming in from the north the road is closed just before you get to the pond so the only way to get there is through Cresswell village and head north.

The day ended as the sun was setting with brief flight views of 5 Snow Buntings near the Jewish cemetery.

                                                       What a day BOOM!!!