Saturday, 28 December 2013

Another lifer

Reports coming through that the Black-Throated Diver was showing well at Swithland reservoir had me heading to Loughborough in an attempt to add it to my year and life list.

I got to within about half a mile of the dam wall, parked the car and set off on foot. The lane towards the dam wall was not really a road and it was getting difficult to navigate around the potholes.

In the distance, I heard the whistle of a steam train, and sure enough, one passed by, steam billowing up from the engine. An impressive sight.

I arrived at the dam wall and started scanning about for the Black-Throated diver.

View from dam wall

Eventually I picked it out and attempted some pictures.

I also managed some video, and was surprised how well it turned out considering the distance involved.


If this video is not playing in HD, go directly to youtube to view it.

An impressive first winter bird. Another surprise tick before the end of the year. I would imagine this will be my last tickable bird of 2013! But who knows?


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The last twitch of the year

I didn't expect to add anymore birds to my year list at this late stage of the game. But, you never know in birding.

Reports of long staying Velvet Scoter and Ring-Necked Duck were proving hard to ignore. I found myself free to please myself on Christmas Eve day, so decided to try my luck. The storm of the previous day and night made the journey longer than anticipated with a couple of detours due to flooding. Eventually, I made it to my destination.

The first birds I stumbled upon were a bonus year tick, I wasn't expecting, a pair of Ruddy Shelduck. They were distant and I couldn't get a good picture.

Distant Pair Ruddy Shelduck. iPhone through scope.

The wind blowing straight into me was bitter, I couldn't locate my target birds so moved on, but not before a Red Kite flew low overhead giving some stunning views.

I heard the Velvet Scoter had been sighted in front of the Fisherman's lodge, so headed there. It gave some great views and was a life tick too.

The dam wall at Eyebrook


Video of Velvet Scoter

On the walk back to the car, I got Male Smew, stunning bird and spent a while watching it.

I then luckily walked past a guy scanning the water who informed me he was on the female Ring-Necked Duck. Once he relocated it after a dive, he allowed me to view it through his Swaro Scope. I set my own scope up and followed it for a while, more birders arrived and everyone saw it. Again, a lifer for me.

All in all, a cracking days birding to see out 2013.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Back to the Drawing Board

Friday evening I was sorting my gear out looking forward to Saturday mornings birding with Pete. I was looking for a specific eyepiece to use on my small scope, and remembered it was still attached to my bigger scope. I fetched the HR66 out of storage and before taking the eyepiece off, couldn't resist a quick look through it. I had forgotten what a great image this scope produces. The little GS52 ED produces a nice image, but this the HR range is seriously in another league.

I decided on a change of plan for Saturday. I decided I would take the HR66 out for a spin, and attempt a bit of iscoping through it. Pete and I went for a wander across the moors with Taz, I didn't take the scope on this walk. The Moors were quiet this morning, only a few Redwing and Fieldfare compared to last weekends noisy flocks of winter thrushes.

We reached the feeders and could immediately see activity on and around them. The niger feeder Pete made is a big success. Goldfinch almost constantly on it. The nut feeder is constantly also receiving a lot of tit activity. We have been placing a block of lard in a cavity in the trunk of the tree our freezers are on. At first, this was not producing much, now, it doesn't last long. A couple of Woodpeckers and a flock of Starlings are making short work of it. We replaced the Lard this morning, it had been completely removed for the second time this week! As we walked away, a flock of Starling started making a bee-line for it, they were busy devouring it within 10 mins of it being put out.

Goldfinch near Pete's Niger Feeder

Later in the afternoon I decided to try the HR66 out. I was pushed for time but couldn't resist getting an hour in and seeing what I could manage with the iPhone. I intentially went for shots at distance to see how the set up performed. All these shots were taken at distances off approx 100 yards+.

iPhone through Scope

The limited time I had flew by. This has left me wanting to carry out some tests. I hope to get out with the scope and camera tomorrow. I hope to get some decent pictures, or a least enjoy trying.

Sunday 1st Dec

Light values were very poor this morning, so iscoping not really worth spending much time on. Took these of some distant Widgeon just to see what I could do in poor light. Again, acceptable record shots at well,over 100 yards.

So plenty of distance photography with the iPhone and Scope this weekend. Obviously, I took some pictures with the Canon SX40 of some closer birds too. This Great-Tit being one of them.

Weekend over, back to work!