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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

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Desert Grey Shrike - Gran Canaria

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.

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Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire