Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Pacific Golden Plover - Revisited.

I rushed to Middleton to see the Pacific Golden Plover on Saturday, the first day it was reported. As I mentioned then, intense temperatures and heat haze, combined with distance made photographing this bird difficult. Today, the PGP's third day on site, I noticed a tweet reporting it was closer than it had been for the last two days, and was showing well.

Again, I was on my way. The bird was about 40 yards away, and heat haze much less of an issue today.

I tried to take pictures with my bridge camera, and they were ok, but the phone again seemed to be getting the better record shots.

The pictures were an improvement on Saturdays efforts.

I even managed a piece of video. For some reason, the video doesn't always play in HD when viewed through my blog. If the video below won't play in HD, click the YouTube link and view it there.

I was pleased with this.


Click HERE to watch in HD


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Pacific Golden Plover - Middleton RSPB

A probable American Golden Plover was reported today at Middleton RSPB. It couldn't have picked a better day to arrive, scorching sun and high temperatures. Just the conditions you want to trek all your kit down to the Jubilee Wetlands. I had vowed I wasn't venturing out today as it's just too hot for comfort, I succumbed to the temptation in about 20 seconds and was on my way.

On arrival a large group of birders were discussing such things as leg length, primary projections, and visible gold dappling. Consensus of opinion was swinging towards Pacific Golden Plover. My own initial first impression was, it had some legs on it!

Bright sunshine and intense heat haze made me question if i should even attempt to get a picture on my phone through the scope. What the hell, I'd give it a go. As this is a first for Staffordshire and the West Midlands, I needed to make an effort to record it.


My camera struggled to even focus due to the heat haze. So, it was back to the phone and scope to see if I could record something. I was hoping at best for a smudge that resembled a Pacific Golden Plover if you squinted while looking at it. Here are a few of my best smudges. iPhone 5 through scope.

Obviously, a bird of this status was going to attract some attention. Middleton RSPB car park was full as I left, and more were arriving all the time. I hope everyone that made the effort got the tick.


And finally, well done to G.Williams for finding it


Friday, 25 July 2014

Back to Seeswood Pool

It was too hot to do much for most of the day, so as it cooled off a little in the evening, I went back to Seaswood to see if the Night Heron was still around. Pete came too as this would be a life tick for him. It was still there!

I had hoped it may be a little more active, but it stayed skulking in the reeds for the duration of our stay. The light dropping fast too, so pictures were never going to be great. I set the phone up on the scope and these were the best I could manage.

Much better than my camera could achieve at this distance, pleased I made the effort.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Night Heron

Seeswoods pool Warwickshire had a Night Heron reported today. A nice tick for my Warwickshire list.

The bird spent a lot of time skulking in the branches of a Willow tree, but did allow some great scope views on the few occasions it ventured out.

All pictures and video taken with iPhone 5 through Scope.

It was also interesting to see two Yellow Bellied Slider Terrapins enjoying the sun. Locals tell me these have survived for a good few years in this pool.

HD Video - Night Heron in action. Click Here

A very enjoyable afternoon.


The Best Camera is .........

There is an old saying to do with photography that you hear time and time again.

"The best camera is the one you have with you."

I'm most cases, that camera is the one in our smartphone. Smartphone manufactures invest more and more money into research geared towards improving the images these little cameras can produce, and these days, they really can deliver the goods. Photography competitions have been won with entries taken with smartphones and now, smartphone photography competitions are becoming more popular.

So, I enjoy taking pictures and usually use my Canon bridge camera and my phone through my spotting scope when birdwatching. Today, I decided to just use the camera in my pocket and see how it performed in different situations. Close ups, moving subjects, portraits and landscape/sunsets.

To be honest, the day started in my back garden. My chicken coop was due its annual strip down and deep clean. I need a hot dry day for this to allow it to completely dry in a few hours. The Chooks make interesting subjects, so that's where I began.

A few of my garden, and the finished clean Coop.

While tidying up and moving things about, I found a Common Frog that posed for a picture.

And then, I turned my attention to some Bees that were busy collecting nectar and pollen.

I was quite pleased with these pictures from my phone. So, later in the day when it had cooled down, I took my dog for a walk and decided to take the scope too.

We ended up walking along the canal.


I noticed some Swallows on the wires, so set the scope up and took these through it using the phone.

Heading back towards the car, I tried a few sunset shots.

Even though I seem to be using my iPhone more and more for photography, it still sometimes surprises me just how versatile it is. I'm under no illusions, a dedicated camera will out perform a phone. However, remember how this blog entry started, "The best camera is the one you have with you."



Saturday, 19 July 2014

Hot and Stormy.

Friday evening saw Pete and I head off to Middleton RSPB in the hope of seeing the Great White Egret that had been reported. A severe weather warning for torrential rain and violent electrical storm was in place, but not due to hit us until the early hours. So at about 8pm we arrived a Middleton.

It was humid, but it had cooled slightly. The forecasters were correct and we missed the storms, saw the Great White Egret and even managed an adult Ruff to make the decision to go all the more worthwhile.

Pictures Phonescoped. iPhone 5 and Swarovski ATS 65HD. About 250 yards.

The GWE then took flight, and came to rest a little further away. This is probably in the 300+ yards region.

The Ruff was very distant. Difficulty to even estimate.

The storm did arrived as forecast in the early hours, best electrical activity I have seen in a few years. With the Midlands in the eye of the storm.

These storms will keep some birds down. Wonder how long the GWE will hang about once this stormy weather breaks? Sunday is forecast as warm, but storm free.

Footnote - added Sunday 20th at 11.00pm. No reported sighting of the Middleton GWE today.