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, 27 August 2013

More Red Backed Shrike

More Red Backed Shrike
Some better and closer pictures of a Red Backed Shrike which performed well, if distant at times
It was eating mainly Bees and Wasps however it was also seen to take a Dragonfly and this unlucky Grasshopper.



Monday, 26 August 2013

Red Backed Shrike

After failing miserably on the migrant front yesterday (apart from 2 Black Terns). I decided to go to South Shields today with the view of getting a Red Backed Shrike on The Leas, then have the afternoon on the beach.
The Shrike was reported on a hedge on The Leas for the last 2 days.  I went to what I thought was the hedge and found a Wheatear and Whitethroat but nothing else - I am not too familiar with the area.
So I returned to the car and checked out Bird Guides to find a Shrike had been found at Whitburn Coastal Park - just down the road.  So I visited there and found a few birders outside the observatory and they told me where to find the Shrike.
It showed very well but a little distant and it was not possible to get any closer. It was a nicely marked young Red Breasted Shrike and was very busy feeding up, mainly on bees.  I saw it cough up a pellet and it immediately caught another bee and knocked the sting off it before eating it
Photography wise it was difficult because of direct sunlight into the scope and a heat shimmer. 
But it was great to see. The weather pattern over the last 3 days has brought quite a lot of migrants into the East coast, hopefully a sign of things to come.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Hobby at RSPB Sandy

I had a weekend away firstly to go to the Bird Fair at Rutland Water on the Saturday with the intention of buying a new tripod and seeing what else was around. Then I travelled down to Sandy in Bedfordshire so I could get an early start at the RSPB reserve on Sunday.
My intention was to get photographs of Green Woodpeckers - its excellent for them at the reserve.
I put a chair hide up near the lawns then left the car park chatting to another birder.  He said he was going down to see a Hobby, he gave me directions where they were. I went off to my chair hide and sat there covered up. There was no action, I thought to myself  "What am I doing? there is a Hobby not far away and I am sat here watching rabbits chew the grass".
I went to find the Hobbies.
After 20 minutes walk I could hear the hawks calling, a little further the other birder had set his camera up and was taking photos of the Hobbies as the flew around their nest.
I quickly set my scope up and waited.
One of the Hobbies landed in the tree about 80 yards away. I got straight onto it and digiscoped some nice shots.
The young birds were calling and exercising their wings, it wouldn't be long before they fledge.
The adults left them for a while then one returned and landed on a different branch calling out, again I digiscoped it although it was sat in the shade
It seemed like the parents were trying to get the young to leave the nest.
Then the adults disappeared for over an hour.
We weren't sure if the young had actually just fledged or not.  Then a crow flew near the nest and both adult birds suddenly appeared from close by and chased the crow away, and the young birds were calling again.
I tried for some flying shots with the Canon SX50 and got a couple of decent shots.
It was great that I had met the other birder otherwise I would never have seen these Hobbies - my best ever views. (Many thanks if you are reading this).
I never did get any Green Woodpecker shots, although there were plenty around they just kept disappearing into the dense foliage.
I was happy with what I had.

Another plus about the weekend was that when I was talking to the guys from Swarovski at the bird fair he mentioned that he read this blog regularly, and thought my photos were great. So that is great to know.

Curlew Sandpiper - Tees Marshes

On Thursday I had a quick look over to Teesside as I had not been there for about 4 months.
It was rather quiet - typical for the time of year. However a walk along Greatham Creek and the down to Seal Sands produced a nice Curlew Sandpiper.
It was feeding amongst Ruff and Dunlin, then it flew closer and decided to have a snooze only about 15 yards away.  It kept looking up and then putting its beak under its wing.  Just as well because a Sparrowhawk came low over the pool and spooked all the waders.
The hawk didn't catch anything, but that was the last I saw of the Curlew Sandpiper.
Also Avocet, Curlew, Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover around.

Friday, 2 August 2013

More Whinchat

Whinchats and Merlin
I re-visited the Whinchat in Teesdale again this morning, and there were not so many there, I think a family must have moved on now. (Again the heat shimmer and wind were a problem)
However there were still at least 6 birds around, or maybe 5 now because I think a Merlin may have taken one of them.
I was sat watching and digiscoping the Whinchats when I saw something else move in the corner of my eye, I looked and this female Merlin flew low over the heather then dropped down into it, I got my camera onto it but was not fast enough. The Merlin flew up,then down the valley with something in its talons.  The only birds that I saw in the area were Whinchat and a single Wren.
After a while I decided to walk further down the valley, checking the trees and rocks as I did. After about 300 yards a Ring Ouzel flew across and grabbed my attention, I saw where it settled and set my scope up, as I did this, the Merlin flew up from a small rocky cliff only 25 yards away. I MISSED IT - damn the Ring Ouzel.
The Merlin flew further down the valley and I carefully followed, I saw movement in a tree 100 yards away, I checked with my binoculars and saw the Merlin sat in a tree, Mistle Thrushes were going barmy around it. Just as I got my scope onto it, it flew not to be seen again.
The Merlin remains a bogey bird as far as photography is concerned, but what a great bird to see.
A 3rd trip in a row to see a Merlin at this location!!
A trip down to Low Barns and a Kingfisher has returned to West Lake. But the lake is heavily weeded up with all this hot weather.

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire