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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, 30 November 2014

Water Rail and Mr Fox

I called into RSPB Saltholme again this weekend which has been rather quiet really.
However there was this lovely Water Rail showing outside one of the hides.  It was feeding on bird seed that had been put down for the finches and buntings.

It kept putting an appearance in every 5 minutes or so and stayed for about a minute.
Then it flew to the other side of the hide - no wonder, a fox showed up for her share of the birdseed.
It was not at all scared and just looked at us sat there gawping at this beatiful animal.
This made up for the lack of bird activity around

Stonechat - Cleadon

I made a second attempt at seeing the Siberian Stonechat at Cleadon near South Shields a week ago.
Three hours later after standing and watching and waiting and waiting, I decided that the bird had beat me again (or it has flown).
It had showed the previous day, so my hopes were high, but my patience had worn out.
I put my scope over my shoulder and decided to go back to the car.  On my way back a Stonechat popped up on top of a small bush.
Quickly I got my scope onto it, took a load of photos just in case it was the Siberian, I wasn't sure. It sat and posed only 15 yards away, I made sure my shots were correctly exposed and that the photos were sharp.
The bird flew away about 30 yards - I had got the shots, so I left it alone and went back to the car.  Could it have been the Siberian - I couldn't wait to find out and checked Google for other images of a Siberian - to me it looked identical to other shots taken from various places around the world.  Now I was excited. I had excellent photos of what looked like the Siberian.
I decided to head to Teesside with the intention of going to see the RSPB guys at Saltholme to try and get verification.
The general opinion was that it was an ordinary Stonechat, but nobody was that sure.  I got home and put onto the Birdforum ID site, and quickly got a response - again it was for an ordinary Stonechat.
Damn - I felt disappointed, after all that waiting too.  Never mind its a good shot of a young Stonechat. (Just to clarify - a Siberian would be much whiter under the bill and also with a whiter rump).
Just to to increase my frustration, I had called in at Zinc Works Road to maybe get Snow Buntings, and I chatted to a couple of birders coming off the beach - "Anything interesting", I asked. "Just a couple of distant Red Throated Divers and a Wheatear" they said.
Go to RSPB Saltholme I thought to myself, get an opinion on the Stonechat, and I didn't bother to go look at what I thought would be an ordinary Wheatear.
When I returned home I checked Bird Guides, an Isabelline Wheatear had been found at the Zinc Works Road!!!!!  
A mega rare bird!!!, and I missed seeing it GRRRR! my own stupid fault.  
It hung around for 5 days but dissappeared  before the next Saturday - work got in the way of seeing it too.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Grey Phalarope - South Gare


I went for another visit to South Gare as a couple of Grey Phalarope had been seen there for the last 3 days, ever since we had the north east wind in mid week.  There is also another one at Hartlepool Headland.

When I arrived there were around about 20 people lined up on the beach watching the sea edge - from about 150 yards away!!
I joined them and found out it was the Teesmouth Bird Club outing, so I stood with them until they decided to leave.
The Phalarope was showing extremely well and was going very close to a couple of bait diggers, it obviously was not concerned about human presence.
I moved closer an eventually got to the sea edge with the Phalarope about 30 yards away. 

It fed busily and eventually worked its way towards me, and got too close for me to digiscope. It walked to within 15 feet of me, feeding all the while totally relaxed.
It kept swimming out to see and feeding then coming ashore feeding amongst the kelp and weed.

An added bonus was a Curlew Sandpiper which and times was feeding with the Grey Phalarope.

This is first time I had seen a Grey Phalarope so close, and I had only seen one other briefly at Hartlepool a couple of years ago.

I eventually ran my battery dead and went back to the car to replace it then walked up the pier to see some smashing Purple Sandpipers and 3 Red Throated Divers 500 yards offshore.
A nice couple of hours birding.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER - BROTTON, & ROUGH LEGGED BUZZARD

An Eastern Crowned Warbler has been showing for the last 3 days at Brotton in Cleveland, typically it shows up mid week when work commitments get in the way.
It has however stayed until the weekend so I could not resist getting there early this morning to get views of this MEGA rare bird and hopefully get a couple of photos of it.
I managed to find the location quite easily, there were already a good number of people there who had seen it.
One person said "there it is" and described where it was - could I heck see it. Then later a few people got on to it and gave its location - again I could not see it. This was tough.
Eventually however I did see a bird move and quickly got the bins onto it. At last my first Eastern Crowned Warber.  I saw it catch a small caterpillar and devour it.
I did manage a couple of half decent shots with my canon SX50, But it was almost impossible to get into my scope quickly enough to digiscope it.
Eventually as the morning progressed more and more people turned up, and twitchers were chasing - even running when the bird showed - I left, I really am not happy when birdwatching in crowds
Another new bird for me though.  Its been a good year for rarities for me.

I then moved up to Sleddale to try for the Rough Legged Buzzards. I tried last week without any success, but today there were two - possibly three showing.  A Peregrine Falcon kept harassing one of the birds which was interesting to watch.  I am returning tomorrow to walk the moor with Pete, hopefully of closer views of the birds
A good morning all told

TEESDALE BLACK GROUSE

Last weekend the wind was wild, so rather than nip into a bird hide, I decided to go up onto the moors in Teesdale and birdwatch from the car, in the hope of finding Black Grouse sheltering behind the walls.

At first I could not find them, but I was looking where they usually were - about 100 yards from the car.  They were in fact only about 20 yards from the car in a field busily feeding.
There were 25 grouse at this location - only 4 of them males .

A drive around the dale found another 30 grouse at various locations.  The numbers are looking good again this year.

It will be interesting to see when the temperature drops below freezing to see how many grouse flock up. But it does look promising again.



Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire