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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

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Black Grouse fest. - Teesdale

Black Grouse - Teesdale
I went up Teesdale this morning just to see how the Black Grouse had faired this year.  I hadn't been up there since April - ish.
At Langdon Beck there were 32 grouse grazing in the usual field with 22 of them being male.  They are too far away at this location to get good photos, even for a digiscope set up.
So I went further up the dale on the hunt for some more. After a few mile I spotted another group of birds and I slowed down, they were fairly close, so I got some nice shots, mostly they were preening, with the odd squabble between the males.

I left them alone and went further on, after another mile I came across another group, this time they were really close on the opposite side of the road.  I drove past about 500 yards and set my digiscope up on the front passenger seat, with window open, I returned to the grouse. These were preening themselves too, and I got onto them with the scope - they were almost too close being no more than 15 yards away.  I spent a good while there taking photos and watching their behaviour. They were totally oblivious of me. Eventually they started feeding and walked off over the brow of the hill.
A great morning out.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Hoopoe - West Auckland

Late in the afternoon yesterday I saw that a Hoopoe had been reported only 12 miles away, but I couldn't really get there, so I hoped that it would stay until this morning, however the weather forecast was bad.
So off I went today to see if was still there, I wasn't really expecting it, but as soon as I got to the location there were other birders saying it was still around and showing well - but flighty.
The place couldn't have been more unattractive, it was full of rubble and bricks and wire, and very muddy.

But the Hoopoe seemed to like it.
I managed to scope a few shots, but the light levels were so low (again), that I had to bump up the ISO, then the rain was on the lenses all the time and wind blowing the scope about - very difficult.
Only a few shots came out any where near good enough.
But what a great bird for the area, and a first for me in this country.

Friday, 18 October 2013

More Migrants at Hartlepool

Another good morning at Hartlepool Headland.  There have been Goldcrest all over the place now for a few days, but they are still difficult to photograph. 
A few other birds have been showing up with the now Easterly winds including a couple of rarities.
Mealy Redpoll have been showing quite regularly as have Brambling, Redwing, Blackbirds and Robins are very numerous having just crossed from Scandinavia.
The big rarity that showed up at Hartlepool was the Western Bonelli's Warbler.  It showed fairly well but was high up in a tall sycamore tree and it never sat on a perch for longer than a second.
After an hour or so it did preen itself for about a minute, long enough to digiscope it, however it was a little obscured by the twigs of the tree.  There were a lot of people here, some had travelled a long way to see this bird, and they went home happy.
For me, it was a little underwhelming, maybe because I don't really keep lists of birds seen, but at least I can now say I have seen one - a first for the county I believe.
Another bird that turned up after I left was a Pallid Swift, which then roosted on a nearby church.
Hopefully the migration will continue for a while yet, we haven't had many Short Eared Owls in yet and no Waxwings have showed in the North East yet, but it is early still for them.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Goldcrests at Hartlepool - migration

I paid another visit to Hartlepool Headland in the hope of finding something unusual in the migration.
Hartlepool Heugh Pier in the stormy seas.
 A Great Grey Shrike had been reported yesterday, so I went searching for it. however after a very brief view of it flying up then down again I couldn't find it. It wasn't helped by the very strong North Easterly winds blowing.

Although it brings birds in, it also puts them low down in the bushes.
Moving on to the headland showed there were lots and lots of Goldcrest about and seemed to be coming in waves.
At times they came real close but again the low light levels meant they were difficult to photo.  I did manage a couple of decent shots though.
Other birds around included a Woodcock, a few Brambling, Redpoll, plenty of Redwings, Blackbirds and Robins, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Pied Wagtails.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Low Barns Dipper

I visited Low Barns Nature Reserve, in hope of seeing a Kingfisher but there were none to be seen today.  A walk down to the river proved a little more productive though.
Looking at the stones in the river showed bird dropping on most of the larger stones, this is good evidence that a Dipper is using the area to feed.
After five minutes I managed to spot the bird upstream ducking under the water and emerging with caddis flies. I moved up river a little but the undergrowth proved to thick to get good views.
However I did see the bird move back down the river a little, so I went back to my original position.  At first I couldn't see the Dipper, but that was because it was closer than I expected.
It was only 20 yards away from where I was stood in the open and it was preening itself, totally indifferent to me.
I spent the next hour digiscoping, taking videos and just watching its behaviour, it as it preened and bathed, then it started feeding again.
It was getting quite dark by the time I came away, but it was great just to see this bird behaving totally naturally being unbothered of me.

Migrants so far

The winds so far this year have been pretty good for migrants, although I did miss a big fall of birds due to being on holiday.
The first place I tried was Hartlepool Headland, there were a few birds around and I managed to get photos of a nice young Redstart that was in the Town Hall gardens. 

Then a smashing little Goldcrest was posing nicely in the branches.  Just along the path somebody had found 2 Brambling high up in the trees, a bit of patience paid off and the birds came to a smaller tree and sat for a while.

There were also 2 or 3 Yellow Browed Warblers around.  There had been a big fall of these birds just a few days earlier and they were being reported right down the East coast. However I couldn't manage a picture of these. All of these birds were very mobile in the trees and bushes which meant that none of the were digiscoped.
A report of a Firecrest came from Hartlepool Headland a couple of days later.  I had to try and photo these, I have seen them before but I have never managed a decent photograph.
When I arrived there were already four birders at the location and I immediately saw the Firecrest deep in the bush.  It then became apparent that there were actually two of them.
It was only a matter of time before they headed to the outside of the bush and they did. But they were so quick never settling for much more than a second.
I did manage a couple of photos, but I had to put the camera onto a higher than normal ISO setting which meant grainy pics,
A couple days later I headed up the Durham coast to Whitburn, many reports of migrant were coming from this location, but it is a fairly large area with lots of cover for birds, which is great, but also makes them difficult to find/photo
The forecast for the rest of this week looks great for migrants with strong winds in the North East then veering to the East. 
The problem will be where to go to?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Gran Canaria - Hoopoes

The birding in Gran Canaria was disappointing this year, weather was very hot which made the birds very skulky.
I did see Hoopoe a few times and on one occasion had one feeding around my feet (well just about).
Another bird I tried hard for was the Sardinian Warbler and although there were a good number about, trying to get one in out in the open was extremely difficult. I did manage a couple of record shots

Other birds seen were Southern Grey Shrike, Green Sandpiper, Little Egret, Yellow Legged Gull, Kestrel, Canary, Monks Parrot, Ring Necked Parakeet. Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Cory Shearwater, Spanish Sparrow, Chiffchaff and I believe a Leach's Petrel.

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire