"Let's Digiscope"

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                  One good Tern deserves another.

 Last week I took a week off work. It was a last minute decision as the weather forecast looked promising with persistent easterlies forecast. Norfolk was the destination, so an early start on Monday morning. I was one of the first to arrive at Titchwell RSPB with high expectations. The short walk to the new and impressive Parrinder hide produced many singing Reed and Sedge warblers with a few Cetti's warblers giving their explosive songs. The fresh marsh had a rather small selection of common waders  but with a rather nice Temminck's Stint mixed in. It gave good scope views but a little distant for shots. Having spent most of the morning at Titchwell I felt it time to move on. With a decent sized trip of Dotterel just up the road at Choseley it was a no brainer as they say.  

Those who have seen these stunning waders here know that most of the time they are pretty distant to say the least. I therefore felt privileged to get stunning views at close quarters. 

From there I headed east for Cley. Many Black-tailed Godwits, a single Greenshank and a Little Stint present but again all too distant for shots. With the day getting on I drove down to Lowestoft to meet up with good friends Danny Porter and Craig Shaw - not for birding but for beers lol. 

Next morning back up to Norfolk. Nothing new but the Swift numbers were much higher at Titchwell and because of the rain and strong winds they kept low and flew slowly into the wind. Photo opportunity!! 

 Still not easy though!!

                                                                                                                                One of many Avocets.

                                                                                                                                                                Common Tern

 Fast forward a few days.  Teeside has had a good run this year and it continued with a pair of Whiskered Terns on RSPB Saltholme, along with 3 Black Terns and a couple of Little Gulls. I have to own up and confess I took two trips up there, only nailing the Whiskered on the second trip.

                                                                                                                                                       Whiskered terns.

                                                                                                                                                                                   Black tern.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Pochard.

                                            Swifts performed well here too in conditions similar to earlier in the week.

 Bluethroats in the past used to be a far more regular scarce migrant on the east coast. When one turns up now it can attract quite a bit of interest as this presumed immature male did at Hartlepool headland. 

                                 And, bringing an end to a  GREAT week, a local stunning breeding-plumaged  Knot. 

                         All images and video taken on a Swarovski ATX 85.

 

 

                                     Four Amigos. 

 Last weekend I saw good friends the Danny Porter family and Gary and Emma Loader, who came and spent the weekend at my place in God's own county of Yorkshire. It was a digiscoping festival, and a great weekend was had by all. Anyway I met up with Gary and Emma bright and early at Potteric Carr reserve. They were over the moon to catch up with some local speciality breeding birds. Photographic opportunities were few, so fast forward a day. Now, those who have made a trip up to the North Pennines will know how brilliant it is for breeding waders - Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Snipe, Oystercatcher and Golden Plover. Well we had all those with a supporting cast of Black Grouse, Merlin, Ring Ouzel, Dipper, and a surprising Marsh Harrier flying over a Red Grouse moor.

                                                                                                                                                                 Red Grouse

 It was a bit surreal to see this cracking male Wheatear in snow  

The superb image above taken by the master of in-flight digiscoped dragonflies Gary Loader.  I am sure you will agree it totally captures the character of the Red Grouse. 

 Now Gary is not just a hugely talented digiscoper, but also amazingly good at macro. He showed me some pretty mind blowing macro shots taken on his compact camera. This inspired me to have a go at some macroscoping.

The image I took on the left is the fruits of inspiration. Cheers matey. Taken at High Force Britain's highest waterfall (great for Dipper and Grey Wagtail). I would highly recommend a day on the moors in God's own county.

 The next day we met up with my wingman Danny Porter and his family and also the very talented fellow digiscoper Col Neale at Bempton Cliffs RSPB. The weather looked promising for photography and we were not to be disappointed. 

Some will already know that Gannets are one of my favorite subjects to photograph and I think I may have pretty much got them sussed. Pretty standard stuff from me, but let me show you something a little different and pretty gob smacking. Below image taken by Danny Porter. Loving your new style, pal.

                                                 Also below is one of col's fab Gannet shots, nice one pal.

 Well we ended an amazing weekend with a rather late lunch in the White Horse pub in Bempton village.

All digiscoped images taken on Swarovski ATX scopes. PS Looking forward to the next meet up Guys and Girls : )

                          Digiscoping Sand Martins.

 A couple of friends and I recently called off at a local reserve on the way home from a day on the Yorkshire Coast.

On arrival it was evident there had been a sizable arrival of Sand Martins with many feeding low over the lake.

Iknew it was a good opportunity to get some practice in on these fast flying migrants.

 All images taken on a Swarovski ATX 85.

          A steady day's birding with a Swift surprise

 What to do? Decisions decisions. Well Flambrough the day before had 4 Black Redstarts and with not a lot reported elsewhere the Wednesday team decided to head for the great white cape. One of the black reds had been reported by the foghorn station so we made it our first port of call. It didn't take long to pick up what appeared to be a female/immature male, also present were two flighty Northern Wheatears.

From there we headed for Thornick pools where earlier a very early common Swift had been seen, and to our surprise it was still present. This my earliest swift by some 10 days. Sorry no pics, did try but just too quick.


Those who know this great little reserve will know it's a haven for Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Now, I am no different to most other birders, or I wasn't until I became hooked on photography. What I am getting at is   didn't look, no I mean really LOOK at birds. As experienced birders we tend not to look at the common birds around us. As a result we fail to see just how smart some of them are, if we only took the time to really LOOK. Well I have to say photography has made me a better birder; I look at them harder, see their beauty, their habits and just sometimes predict what a bird is going to do. And so you may ask why would this make me a better birder? Through photography you learn all the finer points of common birds' plumage, behavior and general jizz. Once you have cracked that, when you stumble on that potential rarity, you might just have the upper hand in calling it right. But the best bird finders already know this. Anyway sermon out of the way back to business. Above shot JUST a Meadow pipit  : ) .  


Home time.

But enough time to check out Huggin Carr on Hatfield Moors.

Sand martins and lots of them (love this time of year).

Good Digiscoping and birding.

All images taken on a Swarovski ATX 85 with the new TLS APO 23mm Digiscoping adapter.

       Swarovski's New TLS APO 23mm Didiscoping                                                    adapter

 I finally had the opportunity to put Swarovski's brand new TLS APO 23mm Digiscoping adapter to the test. It had been with me for a few weeks but opportunities to get some stills had been as scarce as a wintering shorelark. 

Anyway last weekend I had the chance to meet up with good friends Danny Porter and Scott Mason who invited me up to York University where they were working on the Viking optics stand at the RSPB Members' weekend. 

Those who have been to York Uni before will know of the lake with its feral wildfowl collection, including a nice Gaggle of Snow geese with a mixture of white morph and the blue form. 

A great chance to put the 23mm APO through its paces.       

 

                       And now a close up. Note the water droplets in the lower foreground.

                                         And now bringing out the detail; same image just a huge crop

 I love in-flight shots so I gave it a go on a Herring Gull that took a liking to the bread being thrown out for the geese.

After a great catch up with Dan and Scott, I decided to call in on the Red Kites on the East Yorkshire Wolds still armed with the 23mm APO

 In my opinion the 23mm TLS APO is a massive improvement for me with my compact system camera compared with the 30mm TLS APO. In short the lower focal length means higher shutter speed and ultimately more chance of capturing that SHOT!!

Also I really like the ease of use of the adapter, it's really light, looks good and so simple to attach and use. For a full test with specs watch out for Danny's full review on his website. See link on the main page.

Good Digiscoping : )

All images taken on a Swarovski ATX 85.   

                             Shorelarks Revisited 

   One of our Wednesday birding team could not make make it with us the previous week for the pPnduline Tits so 

    we went back for another gander. It didnt take long for the pair to show but as the week before, they were distant.

    With the team member happy, we headed back to Hartlepool for the shorelark.

                   Digiscoped vid of one of Saltholme's Penduline Tits

 My first outing with Swarovski's new TLS APO Digiscoping adapter, pretty good results as the bird was some 50m away.

                                                                                           Spring is in the air 13/3

It was a chilly but bright start last Sunday, destination Scarborough. On route driving over the wolds 4 barn owls noted - a promising start. First port of call was to park up on Marine Drive and check out the sea - a group of kittiwakes loafing about. As far as I understand kittiwakes group up on the sea for a week or so before they take to the cliffs. This could well be the case as there was not a single bird on the cliffs.

There seemed to be lot of Rock Pipit activity, lots of calling and birds chasing each other (presumably males fighting over territory).

I have an interest in Rock Pipits particularly the Scandinavian race which winter along our coast with our native birds.

It was pretty frustrating just trying to get my bins on one as they never stayed still for more than a few seconds then Bingo a single pipit perched up just long enough to get a shot. Just by chance the bird appeared to be a Scani Rocket!!

 Scarborough Harbour at high tide is a great place to see Purple Sandpipers. They tend to favour the outer wall on the east side but can be difficult to see as they can keep on the lowest rocks. Luck was on my side again as they had a fly around giving way their hiding place.

The Harbour is also a great place to photograph Turnstone as they are super tame often running up to your feet wanting you to throw chip. I can never pass the opportunity to get a few shots. I thought I would do a bit of experimenting with different angles lighting and crops. Try this for yourself it will get you into the habit of thinking outside the box.

The black and white image above is interesting for the fact I noticed the bird appeared to be sneezing possibly I guess a way of dispelling salt water. If you look again you can see some of the water droplets from its sneeze.

Another must for any visit to Scarborough is a look at the Med Gulls at Holbeck. Today only a first winter was present.

                        All the above images digiscoped on a Swarovski ATX 85.