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

Monday, 28 April 2014

Last Few Days at Various Locations

It has been quite busy here in the North East with the spring birds coming in.  I missed out on a Wryneck at North Gare, but they are still coming in so - fingers crossed.
I went to Bishop Middleham specifically for the Yellow Wagtails, probably the best spot for them in the North East.  There were about 12 of them flying between a stone wall, crop fields and a sheep pasture. They are so bright in the sun.

Next I went to Tunstall Resevoir for Redstarts.  When I set off from home it was overcast but fairly bright, when I got up to Tunstall it was foggy and dull, but I persevered.
Immediately I found 2 Redstarts singing and at times fighting - both male.
On Sunday I saw that a Dotterel had been reported over at North Gare, not far from where the Wryneck had been seen. So on Monday morning I went over in hope that they were still there.
They were, on the Golf Course though which meant that I could only get to withing 40 yards of them, the light was poor again but managed a couple of record shorts. Another bird had joined it over now and the pair of them were taking over the fairway.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Pied Flycatchers - house hunting

Last weekend I paid a visit to Tunstall Woods hoping to find Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers. I did not see or hear any Redstarts, but there were at least 6 Pied Flycatchers - all male.
I watched two Pied Flys squabbling over a nestbox which was quite fun to watch. There were a number of holes around in the trees but they seemed to prefer the nestbox.
At one time one bird was in the nest box, the other flew up and began tapping the outside of the box, eventually the bird inside the box flew out and a mid air battle ensued.  This happened 4 times.  I am sure they have resolved residency by now.
There also should be females there by now too, and Redstarts too I hope.

"I need to find her a home, she`ll be here soon!"

 " I'm not sure she'll like this - perhaps its a bit small"

 "I like this,  plenty of room for the kids, but she'll just say its draughty"
"What about this prefab, nice and modern, secure door, but needs the roof fixing. Oh I`m not sure, I'll just wait till she gets here!"

Panama Part 3

I have been a bit slow updating this blog with the Panama report mainly because I have either been editing the photos or going out birding at this important migration time. (my excuse anyway).
One of the birds that I really wanted to see in Panama was a Great Jacamar, but this was definitely not a guaranteed bird.
Normally I believe they keep to the shadows of the jungle, when we spotted this one we were 65 meters up an observation tower. It may have responded to the guides(Alexis) bird calling and it ventured up to the canopy.
It was still difficult to get a good shot of it as there were many branches in the way but they have turned out better than I thought. It was catching large insects in the canopy and bashing them on the branch.
Another interesting, fun sighting was this Flame Rumped Tanager having a fight with itself in the wing mirror a truck.
It may have been a fight to the death if the driver had not returned and drove away.
We had to be especially quiet when our guide took us to a Spectacled Owl roost not too far away from the Canopy Tower. Although it looks quite angry in this picture, it was just yawning. A superb owl and quite big too.
This is another Slaty Tailed Trogon, they were not particularly rare but could keep to the dense part of the jungle, they can be heard calling from a long way off.
Finally, on one of our trips it was the driver and not our guide who heard and spotted this fairly common but elusive Streak Chested Antpitta. 
Again, typical of the species it was in the shadows of the undergrowth and I had to adjust the speed of the shutter to 1 second, the problem with this was the Antpitta was calling all the time and it would take a deep breath and expand like a pufferfish, so that it could give its long repeating call.  This give it a strange appearance of it being able inflate and deflate. A great find by our driver.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Panama part two

It wasn't all birds - not quite, we did see quite a few mammals and reptiles at the Canopy Tower in Panama.
This Basilik Lizard was about 15 foot up a tree, when I have seen them before they have always been on or next to the water.
I digiscoped this and the narrow depth of field created by the scope benefits this picture as the lizard is pin sharp and attention is focussed on it by the blurred (boceh) effect around it.
Of course we heard Howler Monkeys every morning at around 05:15, but we didnt see any close to the tower but we did see them when we went out on the trails.
One group of Howlers seem to be badly affected by a disease which created large lumps with holes on their throats - Alex our guide said that it was the Botfly and they would eventually die from it.

On the road close to the canopy tower we saw a Northern Tamandua - a type of black and white anteater which lives mainly in the trees, at times it was covered in ants and it was difficult to see who was eating who!
It eventually moved up in the tree and went to sleep on a branch.
The other monkey that we saw in the area was a White Faced Capuchin, which is a small cheeky looking monkey, which at one point sat high in a tree and faced us off, baring its teeth at us.

Next report is back to the birds.......

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Home from Panama

Finally I arrived home after a very long flight and wait.
The Canopy Lodge where we were at in our final week was not ideal for updating my blog and it was difficult to get photographs attached.
So now I will publish some of the photographs with brief comments on them. Certainly it will not ba full photo log of what I have seen or photographed, I saw over 330 species of bird in the 2 weeks that I was in Panama, thanks to some fantastic guiding by Alexis Sanchez of the Canopy Tower group.
The photos are predominantly of birds but there are some mammals and reptiles thrown in too.

One of the first birds that we saw on Semaphore Hill was this smashing Black Breasted Puffbird, it was perched quite high up but thanks to the digiscope I managed to  get a decent shot of it
 There were 4 kinds Trogan that we saw the first of which was this Black Throated Trogan also seen on Semaphore Hill
 This beautiful Broad Billed Motmot on the world famous Pipeline Road was sat over the trail and was really quite approachable, most of the other Motmots that I saw were perched in deep shade, so this was a nice treat.  The Pipeline Road holds the world record for the highest number of species seen in 1 day.
 Below is the stunning Red Backed Tanager - this is a male but the females are still a brightly coloured bird.  This was at the Ammo dump pond, where there were absolutely loads of species of birds and it took about an hour and a half to move 20 yards away from the Canopy bus that transported us to  this site - it was so good.

To be continued.........

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Update from Canopy Lodge, Panama

Unfortunately I have not been able to keep this holiday updat very up to dat. This is mainly due to the   Highly intensive birding. There just isn't time.
We are now at the Canopy Lodge after an amazing week in the Canopy Tower, only this morning there was a Mississippi Kite migration of over 4000 birds - what an amazing sight.
Other highlights have included, Spectacled Owl, Rufous Nightjar, Grey Chacalacas, a hummingbird garden with 100' s of birds constantly in the garden which include 15 species, armadillos, Olingo, Porcupine, agoutis,Basilisk Lizard, crocodile, Cayman, Amazon Kingfisher and loads of species of Tanagers.
it is cooler here at the lodge but is still hot.  An armadillo has just walked by as I am writing this.  Amazing. I don't think I can send pics from here so will attach them from home.

Friday, 4 April 2014

First Post From Panama

This is the first chance that i have had to update my blog since coming out to Panama.  The birding here is fantastic and intensive with 6:00 am starts and 2 trips a day if the trip is not an all day trip.
I have managed to get great shots of 4 types of Trogon, Great Jacamar, Black Necked Puffbird, White Whiskered Puffbird.
Yesterday we came across and Army Ant swarm, this attracts many different kinds of Antbirds, Woodcreepers, Antshrikes, and Antwrens. It was amazing to watch so many birds just following the ants waiting for something bigger to jump out of the way of the ants.
On our first day out we came across a Northern Tamandua which is a kind of Anteater. It was about 20 feet up a tree being quite lazy lounging on a branch.
Other mammals include Howler Monkeys, waking us up at 5:10 every morning, White faced Capuchin monkeys, White Tailed Deer, 3 Toed Sloths, and just 1 hour ago we had our first Possum.

There are many types of hummingbird here around the Canopy Tower, and are frustrating trying to get flying shots. But I am getting great perched shots.
The highlight so far is a pair of Sunbitterns which we saw yesterday.
My digiscoping is out performing the DSLRs here for the birds, mainly because the conditions are dark in the jungle.
Having 3 trips today, which includes an evening trip to look for Owls and nocturnal mammals.

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire