This blog shows my photos taken through digiscoping and are mainly of birds in the North East of England, which has been my main interest for the last few years. VIEW MY LATEST PHOTOBOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
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
I spent Saturday morning at South Gare in the hope of migrants coming in, and for the Red Breasted Flycatcher that had been there all week
Of course when I turned up there was no sign of the flycatcher - a big bogey bird for me.
However there were some Goldcrests in the sycamores near Paddy's Hole.
There were perhaps 20 or birds there and were unbelievably approachable. At one stage I put my Canon SX 50 on macro and was around 5 inches away from the bird as it fed happily on small flies. They were really not bothered by me (and other birders/photographers), and continued to feed, the only thing that was bothering them was the howling westerly winds - which also spoiled the influx of migrant birds.
Here is an assortment of other birds seen at Maspalomas Gran Canaria,
This Kestrel was extremely approachable as it sat in a large bush and sorted its feathers out. Interesting to see the colour difference to our UK Kestrel.
Walking round the lagoon area I scanned the water edge on the other side and to my surprise, sat there was a Squacco Heron, I tried some photos but they were just too far away.
It then flew up and landed on the dead tree in the lagoon, this was closer but still I need to switch the digital zoom on, something I rarely do. They are a bit grainy because of this.
I have tried for years at Gran Canaria to get a good shot of a Sardinian Warbler, they are not particularly rare, they are just in the middle of the bushes all the time, I always end up with twigs in front of them.
But after a couple of hours in the dunes trying to photo them without success I returned to the hotel for breakfast and this female Sardinian Warbler land just in front of me on the fence and posed, now I just need the male!
There were always parakeets flying around making their raucous calls. I found a group of them picking the cones off a tree and couldnt resist a few photos - these are Monks Parakeets.
Finally a couple of landscapes - a fantastic sunrise, and the low down sun making the sand ripples stand out on the dunes
After my success with the Desert Grey Shrike, I then wanted to get photos of Hoopoes.
Although I saw them on most days they were proving difficult to get anywhere close to them, until I had found out where they were hanging out.
At around 9 each morning a pair of hoopoe were returning to the same tree to perch preen and squabble.
So I decided to sit and wait for them coming - hidden by bushes, and sure enough a hoopoe turned up and started preening itself and although the sun hadn't risen above the dunes fully the light was quite good and I got some great shots.
A couple of days later, the same thing happened only this time a hoopoe flew from the tree over the dune and dropped down, I climbed the dune - these are big dunes and searched the low bushes and eventually I spotted the Hoopoe feeding on the ground
Surprisingly this bird was very approachable, and as I stood there (i was camouflaged in sandy coloured gear) the hoopoe came to within 6 feet of me. Brilliant as it fed in the sand pulling up grubs and things.
This is the 3rd species of Shrike in a period of 2 weeks, the Desert Grey Shrike (koenigi), recently reclassified from the Southern Grey Shrike species.
I have seen these in Gran Canaria before when they were the Southern Grey Shrike, but never in the numbers that I encountered in the last week. I believe I saw 4 maybe 5 different shrike.
On first day at Maspalomas I took a walk into the nature reserve, and first of all notices 5 herons circling in a a thermal, then higher up in the thermal were 8 spoonbills. I have never seen spoonbill here before. I was hopeful that they would land in the lagoon.
Then 5 minutes later I encountered my first Desert Grey Shrike of the trip. I had left my scope in England and relied on my Canon SX50, I first of all took some distant shots of the Shrike, then edged closer, it was very approachable as it perched in a 15 foot high bush. I sat and watched it, it flew into a low bush chasing something (a Sardinian Warbler I think), but was unsuccesful and it returned to its perch above me.
It then flew off after awhile, and as I watched it, it chased another small unidentified bird about 50 yards away. And so it carried on - I never did see it catch anything.
About a mile away from that encounter, I saw another Shrike sitting in a bush and approached this bird easily. This one was calling its rasping call, and singing too - a quite pleasant chirpy song. Comparing the photos between the two birds proved they were different.
Over the week that I was at Maspalomas I saw Shrikes on everyday, sometimes as many as 4.
At around 10 every morning there was a Shrike singing in a bush in the middle of the Camel Safari compound.
It was fascinating to watch the Shrikes hunt, call and sing, without them being disturbed. They are my favourite species of bird and it was great to get such good photos of them in the excellent light of the Canary Islands.
On my second day there I was determined to get a photo of the Spoonbills - if they had returned to the lagoon.
I was out at first light (easy to do in the Canaries at this time of year - 8am), and walked down the edge of the lagoon, and straight away spotted the Spoonbills feeding as a team in a small creek. However it was impossible for me to get close to them with out disturbing them, every footstep "crunched" on dead twigs and stones and thick thorn bushes were in the way too.
I decided to be more patient hoping they would move to another location and I moved away from the lagoon in search of Shrike and Hoopoes.
Canary Chiffchaff were very common and I could hear Sardinian Warblers as I walked over the dunes. I saw the Shrike again, but decided to go down to the lagoon again to an area I know where the Hoopoe like to feed. There were no birds, but there were footprint signs and holes where the Hoopoes had been digging. I would return
Then the Spoonbills flew into the lagoon about 50 yards away, excellent. I stalked them behind a bush about 30 yards away, laid on my back on the dune and edged out from behind the bush. They remained calm and were busy preening, and some decided to have a snooze.
I took a few shots and watched them, I also noticed that 2 of them had coloured leg rings on - hopefully I will be able to find out more about these birds as I notify the BTO, who may help with the leg rings.