Monday, 29 June 2015

Birding record Shots

Monday and the new “Standard" Adapter from Novagrade arrived by post. I couldn’t wait to try it out so as soon as I got home from work I set the Standard adapter up to take my iphone 5 and set off to use it. The first observation other than it isn’t quite as pocketable as the original “Compact” version is that the Standard adapter is much quicker to set up to take any phone in its everyday hardcase. The Standard Adapter will also accommodate the larger sized smartphones such as the iphone 6 and HTC One M8 with ease. It looks like it would probably accept phones the size of the iPhone 6+, but I don’t have one at hand to try.

The differences in appearance.

The Original Compact Novagrade Adapter.

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Compact Plus Phone

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The New “Standard” Novagrade Adapter.

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The “Standard plus Phone.

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A big plus point with the Standard Adapter is that as well as being far less fiddly to initially set up, it grips the phone much further down the sides of its body, this reduces accidental depression of side buttons that sometimes occurs with the iPhone and the compact adapter. It can be resolved by sorting through the assortment of grippers that come with the compact version, but the problem doesn’t present itself at all with the new Standard version.

The size difference is only in the arm extension and gripping mechanism. The main eyepiece component is the same size.

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So, with the Standard adapter set up I headed for the Corn Buntings I mentioned last week. They don’t allow you to get too close without making a quick exit, so this was an ideal opportunity to phonescope.  If anything, conditions were too bright and the heat haze was also an issue, I am still pleased with these results though.

Corn Bunting

I also managed some HD Video footage using the phone and Standard adapter. For best viewing, make sure it is playing in HD, You tube often selects lower resolution playback as default.

All in all, I think the Novagrade’s maiden voyage was a success. It was very easy to attach the adapter to the eyepiece, very quick and easy to snap the phone into place, and although this was my first time out using this adapter, no issues became apparent. I will update this information with further use of the new adapter.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Another welcome find on the new patch

Things are really looking good on the new patch that Pete and I have been exploring. It's an area we decided to check out after Pete had been studying Ordnance Survey maps looking for some probable neglected local areas as far as birding is concerned for us to check out. We seem to have really dropped on. 

The breeding Tree Sparrows I have mentioned before are doing very well and there are good numbers in evidence. 
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We have also had Spotted Flycatchers but I haven't managed a decent picture as of yet. I also believe these have bred on the patch. 

Hares are a favourite UK mammal of mine and I always enjoy crossing paths with one. 
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The cherry on the cake this weekend while exploring a different area of this patch was the discovery of Corn Buntings. These birds have become a real rarity in our locality. The spots I used to visit to find them didn't produce one for me last year. So discovering a small population was a result indeed. 



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On the return trip to the car, a female Broad Bodied Chaser flew by and landed a little further up the lane. I managed a few pictures before it again took flight. 

A hunting Hobby topped off the morning. We are enjoying exploring this area and turning up a few of its suprises. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Twists of Fate

The Middleton Avocets caused a few raised eyebrows when two of the chicks appeared on the Jubilee Wetland area, around 500 meters from where they hatched. As they can’t fly yet, they obviously walked and it must of been a bit of a trek for them. One remained on the North pit, causing the parent birds a few issues, but eventually, a day later, all three ended up on the Jubilee Wetland area. It does seem that one of the initial four chicks has not made it to this stage and it wasn’t the smallest last to hatch chick that has gone missing either but one of the larger ones.

The remaining chicks are growing fast and already starting to look like the adults.



Ringed and Little Ringed Plover seem to be thriving at Middleton and can be seen rapidly scurrying about on most of the scrapes.

Little Ringed


Ringed Plover

Friday evening I braved the threat of heavy rain and headed for Cannock Chase to look for some Long Eared Owls I had been told about. The directions I had been given were excellent and after a short wait, an adult Long Eared Owl put in an appearance flying low over the Heather and disappearing from view. From the small woodland it had emerged from came the high pitched squeaking of its young and soon two Long Eared Owl chicks also flew from the woodland, but they landed on a low branch of a tree and started preening and calling to the parent birds. The light was fading fast and it was raining. I tried to get a few record shots with my digiscoping camera, but it was struggling in the gloom. In desperation for a decent record shot, I attempted to hand hold my iPhone to the eyepiece of my scope, this achieved the best pictures of the young Owls.


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This is my first ever sighting of Long Eared Owls, so I really wanted a record of it. The phone again proved its worth in the field!

This was the start of a great evening. The first adult I had seen returned and coaxed the young to follow it. They didn’t need much persuasion and soon all three were out of sight. I hung around for another 10 minutes and did get occasional glimpses of them in flight.

I moved on from here and was soon watching Woodcock fly overhead and getting the best views of Nightjar I have ever had. The rain then became heavier and reluctantly, I headed back to the car. It rained for the next 15 hours!

The rain brought the rivers up rapidly and Middleton was soon suffering from rising water levels. A second Avocet nest that a few regulars had been keeping an eye on became a casualty of the rising water with reports that the parents had abandoned the nest on Saturday, a day before the eggs were expected to hatch. Sad news indeed.

Then, on Sunday a report came through that it seems two of the eggs had indeed hatched, and two chicks from this second nest had been seen, what great news. I hope after such a tough start lady luck smiles on these latest chicks and they catch a few breaks in the survival stakes.