About Me

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I have been digiscoping for around 18 years now and through persistence and good equipment I am getting great results. I use a Swarovski 80hd spotting scope and a Sony RX100 camera which has just replaced my old faithful Nikon P5100. The majority of my bird watching takes place in County Durham in England which has a variety of different habitats from coast to moors. Digiscoping is great because it allows me to get good photos without disturbing birds. VIEW THE LATEST PHOTOBOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Back to British Birds

I have so many Costa Rican bird photographs I could put on here, but I am getting behind with my UK bird photos now, so that it for Costa Rican birds.  I will be making a Costa Rica Bird Photobook and putting a link on here for anybody that is interested.

Some photos of a Green Woodpecker - first of all I had to sneak up them in the grass as they were feeding, very challenging as a Green Woodpecker is very wary normally.

Then later this female was in a tree displaying to a male that was calling about 20 yards away

These are the best photos of this species that I have ever had so I am well pleased

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Costa Rica - Frogs and Lizards

Costa Rica Reptiles
Below are some of the stunning reptiles that we saw.
Red Eyed Tree Frog - These were taken using a low powered torch rather than using the camera flash which is too powerful for use on the nocturnal frogs - this would probably harm them

Of course when we were out on our birding trips we came across other interesting animals, and some of the reptiles in Costa Rica are just as colourful as the birds.
Male Green Iguana
We had great opportunities to photograph the Red Eyed Tree frog at La Selva and Tortuguero and Green Iguanas, Green Basilisk, Brown Basilisk, American Crocodile, Black Cayman and a Spiny Lizard.  Possibly the best of all was a beautiful but dangerous Eyelash Pit Viper
Eyelash Pit Viper
This snake was at Arenal Observatory Lodge and it stayed in the same location for at least 3 days, who knows if it caught anything while we were there but it didnt seem to move much - which is part of its hunting technique.

Female Green Iguana
 Spectacled Caiman
 Green Basilisk Lizard
I don't think that I have seen one of these before - I think we normally see the Brown Basilisk.  This was at Tortuguero in amongst all the canals and mangroves.

 Red Eye Tree Frogs
What a stunning frog this is and it seems to be the most common of the frogs that we saw

American Crocodile
It was estimated that this croc was over 12 feet long - huge.  We were watching from a boat. And below some of the Crocs resting at Tarcoles Bridge - there is one here that is absolutely huge twice a thick as the othes.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

COSTA RICA - Some of the more colourful birds

One of the great things about birdwatching in the tropics is the stunning colour of some of the birds. They are just so bright that if you were to paint them you would not believe the colour.  But don't be misled there are even more dull and drab coloured birds, that are hard to spot in the shadows of the cloud and rain forest.
But it is the brightly coloured birds that stick in the memory - so here is just a few:

This is a Painted Bunting.  We decided to take an afternoon off from birding with the group and did our own thing - this just meant going birding in a different direction.  But it also meant that we could walk at our own pace and spend as much time as we wanted with a bird to get good photographs.
In the hotel grounds at Villa Lapas, Jackie spotted this superb Painted Bunting.

The colours look unreal. As I was digiscoping this bird, somebody was about to walk directly underneath it, which meant it would have flown, so I shouted to him and asked him to walk around.  I waved him over to come and have a look through my scope to view the bird, so luckily he didn't get upset at my request

 A little further on and I heard a Rufous Tailed Jacamar calling, but I couldn't see it.  Out came my Ipod to play the call to entice him in.
Luckily it worked straight away and the Jacamar came to a branch that was slightly obscured.  It was a busy bird and didn't stay still long.  At one point it actually landed on the ground.
Eventually it came out into the open where I got these shots. It was fairly dull which meant a fairly high ISO setting, and the Rufous Tailed Jacamar was constantly moving its head, this meant a lot of blurred photos. But I am happy with these.

Also on the same afternoon we came across this fantastic Turquoise Browed Motmot.  The angle wasn't great but we did get fairly close to it.  Despite not seeing a huge variety of birds on the afternoon, the birds we did see were really good quality views.
 At our next hotel - Ensenada Lodge we saw a couple more Turquoise Browed Motmots, although the views were not as close, it was a better view of the bird.  There was also a bit of heat haze which has affected the sharpness of the photograph.  But I am happy with it.  What a super bird

A bird that I really did not expect to see was this stunning Turquoise Cotinga.
It was our guide Rodrigo who knew where to find this bird, and was in an urban setting in University grounds.  

This was about the best view I got of it, which was a shame as the front of the birds also has purple patches on it, making it even more spectacular than it looks here.

 More colourful birds to come soon!!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

COSTA RICA OWLS (and a Falcon)

Another post from the Costa Rica photos, this time it is the turn of the Owls.

We saw more type of Owl than I thought we would which was great.  We got Spectacled (2), Black and White, Pacific Screech (2), Feruginous Pygmy, and Vermiculated Screech Owls and all of them were great views.

We tried for 2 other species of Owl but unfortunately the had other ideas - These were the Mottled and the Crested Owl.
This Pacific Screech Owl was an opportunity that couldn't be missed.  We had been watching a Spectacled Owl and Collared Forest Falcon and were returning to the lodge in the dark, when this obliging little fella flew along the road we were travelling and landed in a tree next to the road.  It was lit up by a low powered torch and it meant a long exposure. I was well pleased

 The Feruginous Pygmy Owl above gave itself away by calling, it took a little while to find it but when we did he posed perfectly - This was in the Guanacaste area also

We had been advised to put mosquito repellent on when we went searching for this Spectacled Owl, as we walked through the wood we disturbed thousands of Mozzis.  So much for the Mosquito proof shirt.  They bit straight through it - everyone had bites.  But it was worth it,  While looking for the Spectacled Owl we heard a Collared Forest Falcon, it just sat high up in a tree while we all tried to get good vantage points to photograph it from - another poser.
Just a few more yards and then we found the Spectacled Owls - a pair of them were sat about 10 feet up in a bush. It doesn't look to pleased, but it was quite relaxed and it kept dozing off. Try as I might I just couldn't get both the Owls in one shot, they were close to each other, but foliage was hiding the other one.
I was hoping to get good views of a falcon somewhere on a trip and this was outstanding.  A very confiding bird, that just sat there and called from time to time
Below is a Pacific Screech Owl in the day time,  this Owl was actually at Ensenada Lodge where we were staying.  As soon as we arrived we were whisked off and walked down towards the Pacific Ocean, the views were wonderful and we were taken a few at a time in to see this fantastic Owl.  It was so close I couldn't use the scope, the angle was awkward but I managed to get some decent shots using my Nikon P900
 Finally the Black and White Owl below.  This was unbelievable, we were staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge and after our evening meal Yehudi, our guide, took us down to look for a Black and White Owl, we drove about half a mile and stepped outside the bus, and the Owl flew into the tree where we stopped.
Perfect timing and it was extremely close.  Again it got lit up by a torch and long exposures were used.  I do not like to use a flash on birds, but using a tripod means that a flash is not needed.

 This is a beautiful owl, and big too measuring 15 inches it is almost as big as the Spectacled Owl

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Costa Rica - Great Potoo

Great Potoo
This was a one of my target birds, and I quickly let Jehudi know that I wanted to see one, I thought that it was a big ask, and looking at Yehudi's face I think he thought it was too.
He did say that there was a possibility when we went up to Arenal.
Well, when we got to the location it didn,t look very promising.  There were major roadworks exactly where Yehudi said he expected to see the Potoo.
Everybody started searching the trees after about 20 minutes our driver Rodrigo had picked something up, he called Yehudi over to have a look, yes!! it was a Great Potoo.
It was about 80 yards away though and very difficult to get any closer, and high up in a large tree, with a wind blowing, my hopes of getting a good photo of it were pretty slim, even by digiscoping it.
I tried various settings and magnifications in the hope that a few may be useable.
At one point I even went up the partly made up road to try and get a better angle, but it got worse, and my feet were sinking in up to my ankles.
However I am pretty please with these shots, yes they are cropped in and a bit of manipulation, Thanks to our guide and driver I saw this target bird, and what a weird bird it is.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Part 2 Costa Rica

I am not sure how many parts there are going to be - serves me right for taking so many photos.  But this just reflects the quality of bird watching in Costa Rica where we saw over 325 species of birds in two weeks, plus a few extra ones on our third week at Quepos.

Just a few Hummingbird shots from our first week, there will be a couple more hummers when I get further with the processing of the photos. (We saw a total of 25 species of Hummingbird)
Hummingbirds are so difficult to identify - male and female are completely different, plumage varies with age, and the way the sun catches them changes their colour, then the can fluff feathers up to flash various crests or gorgets which again change colour depending on the angle you look at them.
So some of these id's could be wrong - please let me know if you know the names are wrong (Yehudi!).
 Magnificent Hummingbird

 Magnificent Hummingbird

 Magnificent Hummingbird

Violet Headed Hummingbird

Fiery Throated Hummingbird
Fiery Throated Hummingbird

Monday, 13 March 2017

Costa Rica Birding 1

So, updating my blog didn't go as planned, I had trouble updating the blog from another country - again.
Also was enjoying the holiday too much to get into the tech side of things - didnt touch a phone for 3 weeks - it was great!
I am just going to upload a few photos with brief comments rather otherwise the blogs will take ages to read.
Thanks to Yehudi and Rodrigo for guiding and driving us around Costa Rica - it was great, and to Cotinga Tours for arranging everything for us - it went very smoothly - except when we were trapped in the hotel by road workers.

Our tour took us to:

  • Cerro de la Muerte / Savegre area
  • Villa Lapas / Carara area
  • Guanacaste 
  • Arenal
  • Selva Verde
  • Tortuguero
  • Finally we had a few days recovery at Quepos / Manuel Antonio
Birding usually started before 6:00am everyday with a break around lunchtime then out again around 14:00, we also had a couple of evenings owl watching - which proved very successful.
There were 9 of us on the tour 4 Brits, 3 Americans and 2 Aussies so there were differing levels of knowledge of the birds - the best of who was an 80 year American woman - Dorothy, who was very switched on and was interested in getting new birds (and she knew which ones she wanted).

So onto some birds photos.

 Female Resplendant Quetzal - at Finca Mirador los Quetzales.  They did prove hard to find and although I did see a male it was very brief and I didn't manage a photo of it. Even this female was a difficult bird to photo as it was so obscured by foliage.

 Scarlet Macaws - Carara.  When we stopped at the hotel here almost immediately we saw some Macaws flying over the river and perching in a tree.  Then late we found this nest hole with these 2 wise old birds looking out of it.

Slaty Tailed Trogon - Villa Lapas. We saw a total of 6 species of Trogon in all - which of course includes the Quetzal.
 Long Tailed Silky Flycatcher - Savegre. This was one of my target birds and although we saw them in a few places in the area this was about the best shot I got of one.

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire