Monday, 28 April 2014

Digiscoping thoughts.

Been out locally using my phone through my scope to capture some of the wildlife I see in my area.

I have flirted with digiscoping before, and often found it frustrating. There seemed no logic to consistently taking decent shots. Literally shot to shot the quality of the image could vary considerably. It seems strange to think, that my mobile phone can consistently produce acceptable images when hand held to the scopes eyepiece. This is something I intent pursuing further..

These Swallow shots were Phonescoped at a distance of about 40 yards in poor light conditions on an overcast morning walk.


I am pleased with these. The iPhone seems to gather light onto its sensor extremely well.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Make Friends at Middleton

RSPB Middleton this morning, and another enjoyable visit. The highlight today being making a new friend who shared lunch with me.

First, he followed me along, showing a real interest in what I was doing.

Then, he enjoyed a snack with me.

He even brought a mate along to share the grub.
The walk down to the a Wetland area was carpeted in Bluebells.
The Glossy Ibis was present again today, it was seen before I arrived, moved on just as I reached the wetland area, then returned when I departed. I can't complain though, I've seen it a few times already. It seems to be very at home at Middleton, as does the Mediterranean Gull on the North Pit.
These were taken on iPhone 4S through scope

One thing is for certain, it beats a morning at work hands down!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Local Birding

An eventful day with plenty of local sites visited. Little Gulls have again been reported locally, and still managed to evade me.

This morning I had my first Wheatears of the year. This afternoon, there were still a Pair of Red-Crested Pochard at Alvecote and three Arctic Tern.

Red Crested Pochard. Phonescoped
Wheatears. Phonescoped


Also had my first House Martins this evening. Spring is definitely here.

Pete has discovered a Long-Tailed Tit nest. I have found empty ones before, but never seen one being built and used. It will be interesting to track the fortunes of this pair of Long Tailed Tits, and hopefully get some good pictures along the way.

Long-Tailed Tit nest


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Urban Birding

Had to go to Derby today, so thought I would take the opportunity to check out the nesting Peregrines I have been reading about. Peregrines have nested on the Cathedral since 2006 and it's amazing to think they are thriving in Derby City Center.

I arrived at about 10.15am and set my scope up to view the birds. Only one Peregrine was on view near the nest. The other was probably incubating the clutch of eggs, the fourth was laid on Saturday. Passers by stopped and looked up to see what I was so interested in. Soon, I was attracting quite a bit of interest. I started letting people look through my spotting scope, most were amazed.

These people live in Derby and some said they walk past the Cathedral every day. They didn't know there were Peregrines above their heads.

I told them that there are webcams on the nest and they can view them online at anytime. It would be nice to think some of the people that took an interest today will carry on taking an interest in their local breeding Peregrines.

All information and webcams can be found here.

The Peregrine on view was a little distant for my camera, so I took some pictures with my phone through my scope.

I even took a short video, again phone through scope. I don't know why, but my youtube videos don't seen to play in HD when viewed via my blog. To view in better quality HD Video

After nearly a hour, I packed up and headed off. I will be returning to see the young fledge. I intend going early, before too many people are about.


Monday, 14 April 2014



Headed off to Cambridgeshire to meet up with a local expert who had offered to put me onto a Nightingale. We met at Paxton Pits on his recommendation, as he felt this offered the best chance of seeing my first Nightingale.

We arrived at Paxton Pits at 10.30am, and not long after, Stuart, took us in search of Nightingales. This is Stuart's local patch, and he knew it well. He explained that about 7 males had arrived in the week, and were staking claim to territories. He showed us some likely spots. We heard two Nightingale's singing, and eventually had a brief glimpse of one in flight. My first sighting of this species. I had hoped for a better view though!

Stuart had to leave, he was leading a birding trip to Texas the next day and was in the midst of packing.

We decided to do a circuit of this great looking nature reserve and see what turned up?

A favoured Nightingale area


Eventually, we again heard a male Nightingale close by. We had the tree it was in pinpointed, now the job was spotting it. Eventually, it was spotted. I even managed a few record shots. A very pleasing tick.



On the way home, we called in at Grafham water. This place is huge. We took a stroll along the dam wall towards the valve tower. The only bird of interest, was a good looking Redshank on the dam against the shore line. I was pleased with these pictures.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

RSPB Middleton revisited

The birds are dropping in at Middleton this week. Wednesday after work again found me heading to the RSPB reserve in the hope that some of the four Avocet that had been reported at lunchtime would still be there at 5.30pm. I big hope, but worth a look.

On arrival at Jubilee Wetlands, I was put onto four Dunlin. One of them looked a little different to the other three. A bit larger, lighter plumage, with a broader, slightly longer bill. It seemed slightly leggier too. Maybe a different race of Dunlin to the other three?

The walk down to the wetland area was an easy stroll. No slipping about in the mud, just 48 hours later and the paths were much improved.


There were quite a few Little Ringed Plover on the Jubilee wetland too. So, two year ticks without breaking a sweat. No sign of the Avocet though. A move to the North Pit, and a scan about. The Mediterranean Gull that has been putting in appearances for about the last ten days was back in residence. He was strutting about amongst the Black Headed Gulls, staking his claim to his area of the little island. Another year tick!

Distant. iPhone through Scope


Then, a very nice guy (sorry, didn't catch your name.) called to gain our attention. He had spotted two Avocets, distant and amongst the Black-Headed Gulls on the Jubilee Wetland. What a result, my third year tick of the evening.

Very Distant Phonescoped
Very Distant Phonescoped


I walked back towards the car park with Bart, who i met up with there. He said he had heard a few Blackcap calling on his walk down, and seen a few. We heard them calling on our walk back to the car, I just couldn't see one. We had nice views of a male Kestrel perched in a dead tree, then Bart heard another Blackcap calling. It took a while, but eventually I located it and with it, my fourth year tick of the evening.

A couple of hours birding after work doesn't get much better than this. Another great evening courtesy of RSPB Middleton.


Monday, 7 April 2014

RSPB Middleton

After work I noticed a Garganey and a Grey Plover had been reported at Middleton. I started to get the birding gear together, when the heavens opened. I made a cuppa, sat on the settee and hoped it wouldn't last too long. Eventually it stopped and I was off, I arrived at Middleton at 6.30pm.

I headed straight to the wetland area hoping to see either of the reported birds before the light failed. The infamous Middleton mud slowed my progress, as i slipped and slid my way to the North pit. I had forgotten just what a walk this is.

My idea was to start at the furthest point, then work my way back towards the car park. On arrival at the North pit, the hide lockable door was open. I entered to find it empty. I swiftly but methodically scanned the North Pit. Neither of the birds I sought were evident. As I left, I locked the door behind me.

I scanned the Jubilee Wetlands, Redshank, Ringed Plover, but none of my target birds.

I moved to the lake between Fisher's Mill and Jubilee Wetland, and there, moving quickly across the lake was the Garganay. In poor light a moving target through the scope with the iPhone was always going to be blurred. It was, but you can tell what it is. The Garganey made the reeds on the far bank, and didn't appear again. It was now 7.45pm and the light was fading fast.

I headed back to the car and managed to stay upright, despite several near miss incidents on the slippery mud. Wellies are useless in this type of liquid mud. It was however to be expected after this afternoons deluge.

The view from Fishers Mill on way back to car.


Plenty to see at Middleton RSPB

A good end to a Monday, which also included my first Swallows of the year. Well worth the mud and effort. I'm expecting big things of Middleton RSPB this year. I believe Jubilee Wetlands will attract some very respectable birds in 2014, watch this space.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Boys and Toys

Jon has his new Opticron MM3 Scope, and we met up this morning to test it out. I took my GS52ED along to use as a comparison, as this is the scope the MM3 is to be compared against.

Testing Testing

We went on the far side of the moors and alongside the Pigs lake. The Scoters were no longer in residence. It was a pretty quite morning, though we did see a few Yellowhammers and a Hare sitting tight in its form.


As we approached a hedgerow in a field, quite a distance from any water, a female Mallard flew up. Considering the location, we guessed she must have a nest there. She had, and was sitting 4 eggs.

Like an Angel, crying on my tongue


At dinner time a nice pub lunch and a pint went down well. Then, a few hours spent with the family and preparing my old Gortex jacket for another year. Then, it was back down the Moors.


Pete, Taz and I went to the area we saw Wheatears last year. No sign so far, but last year the large fields were ploughed and the Wheatears spent over a week here. This year, the fields are all sporting a covering of grass.

We decided to cut across the dried grass and fern area of the Moor and stumbled across a decent sized Grass Snake. As it usually the way in these situations, it lay coiled up with its head slightly raised as I removed my camera from its bag. I removed the lens cap and pressed the on button. Before the lens was fully extended, the Snake was gone! The next warm morning I am free, I will be looking for more grass snakes in this area, and Adders.


Friday, 4 April 2014

The Early Bird

Went on Moors before work this morning. Was wandering about in the mist with Taz at 6.30am this morning. Stumbled across another year tick. While scanning the fields in the mist, I scanned past some pheasants. As I panned back, I noticed one of the pheasants seemed to have a very long bill. Was it the mist playing tricks on me? No! It turns out my Pheasants were in fact three Curlew. What a result, a first for me on the Moors.

I attempted pictures, but in low light, over distance in thick mist, they are unusable. I did attempt to get closer to the Curlews. I went the opposite side of a hedgerow and started walking toward a closer and better viewing point. As I was about half way there, I heard the "cur-li, cur-li" call high above me in the mist. They had taken flight. On reaching the better viewing point I scanned the fields just to check, unfortunately, they were gone. I did however pick a Hare up on its morning travels.

That put me in a good mood for the rest of the day, and work passed by without a problem. As I was leaving, I received a tweet that there were now four Common Scoter on the Pigs Lake. So on arriving home I changed into my birding gear, picked up Pete and along with Taz, we set off to find the Scoters. I have not been on this side of the Moors for a while, plenty of Sheep with their Lambs about, the long staying Mute/Whooper Hybrid and what we went for. Two pair of Common Scoter.

A nice bit of patch birding, and Taz even had a swim.