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

Friday, 4 August 2017

Bee-eaters at East Leake

Before I went to RSPB Sandy at the weekend, I decided to drop into see the Bee-eaters which have nested at a quarry in East Leake

Apparently there are 3 nests which are due to fledge within the next week or so. There have been up to 7 Bee-eaters seen at once, so this is great news, particularly if they all fledge.

It was very windy on the day I went to see them with showers too.  The birds were up to about 250  yards away and never closer than 150 yards.

This made it really difficult to get good photos of them, although I think my photos compare favourably with others that I have seen of these birds.

The benefit of digiscoping is the distance I can still get birds, the draw back was the wind  and tripods do not go well together.

Its a shame it was not possible to get closer, but best to avoid disturbing them, as they are so rare in this country.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Hobby RSPB Sandy

The trip down to RSPB Sandy this year was excellent as usual with the birds showing very well on my first visit on Friday, on the Saturday and Sunday they showed less well, perhaps because there were so many people about.

This year they have raised 3 chicks which can be seen in the nest from the RSPB viewpoint and they will probably fledge this next weekend or so.
Here are a few of the my digiscope shots of the adults.

I also managed to video one of the adult birds plucking a Swallow, and although they were about 300 yards away I think I got a half decent video of it, it was fascinating to watch though.

The first day I was there it seemed to bringing more birds back to the nest, probably because it was so windy, and there were not so many dragonflies about.  But they fed mainly on dragonflies on my next two visits.
A great weekend, as I also stopped off to see the Bee-eaters which have decided to nest to the south of Nottingham, quite distant views and windy conditions though
I will post these shots later.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Red Backed Shrike - South Gare

I checked the bird reports after getting back from Scotland and saw that a Red Backed Shrike had been spotted and showing well at South Gare in Cleveland.
I just had to get up early on the Sunday morning to get photos of it, Shrikes are my favourites, so hopefully it would still be there.
As I arrived I noticed another birder onto a bird, it had to be the Shrike. So I parked up and joined him, and saw that the bird was sat in full sunshine half way down a bush - out of the very strong wind that was blowing.
I got some great photos as I stayed with the bird for the next couple of hours - until too many people turned up to watch.  Then I moved on
What a stunning bird it is!

Birding in the Borders

I went up to the Borders at the weekend to see what raptors were around up there and although I saw plenty of birds of prey they were fairly distant and with a wind and heat haze the photos of them were very disappointing. I have been here a few times and see some great birds but never have been able to get great photos.
However, as soon as I arrived at the location I saw a male Hen Harrier drift down the valley.  I stopped briefly to watch it before moving off/
I went to another layby and a male Hen Harrier drifted across the road in front of me while I was driving and went up the valley, possibly the same bird.
For the rest of the day I only saw female hen harriers, loads of views but not sure how many different birds, she was feeding young birds at the nest.

There were Merlin about too, at one point there were 3 merlin sat on a rock in the distance - too far even for a digiscope shot.  The adult merlin kept harrassing the Hen Harrier too.
Also seen were Buzzard, Raven, and a possible quick view of a Short Eared Owl.
Further up the valley I found an area where there were a few Whinchat, and very nice they were too, they were feeding young birds too, probably still in the nest.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Peregrines in Yorkshire Dales

I had heard that the Peregrines had just fledged and are hanging around the cliffs, thanks to Pete.
A very early morning departure had me at the Peregrine site by 7:30 ish, This meant I had the place to myself.  Straight away I saw one young bird perched on the cliff edge.  I got a couple of shots before it opened its wings and took off into an updraft.
Already the wind was starting to pick up - it was going to be a tough day to get any digiscoped shots. It was also overcast, but I though it looked promising - and eventually the sun broke through about 10:00am
I got to my favourite location, but I could not see any Peregrines.  After about 30 minutes an adult bird appeared, chased a few Jackdaws and then headed off to perch on a crag about half a mile away. It took it about 15 seconds to get there, it would take me half an hour, it was not worth trying to stalk it. It was probably already watching me anyway.
Another hour passed then I heard a young bird calling, it must have been perched on the cliff directly below me.
I changed positions again, I eventually spotted it as it was ripping into what looked like the remains of a pigeon.
The wind was very strong now and although I tried to digiscope it, the wind vibrations were just too much.
I moved back to my original position which paid off as all 3 young birds appeared on a ledge, one of them is a little bit smaller than the other 2 and was more reluctant to take to the wing.
I got some half decent photos of the birds, These are the conditions where a camera will beat the performance of digiscoping - so I turned to my Nikon P900.
It was a successful trip, but was spoiled by turning my ankle badly.
I reckon its going to take an operation to get my ankle right now, the ligaments and tendons are just so loose, my ankle turns at the least bit of uneven ground - which is no good in this hobby.
Oh well, at least I have some nice shots of Peregrines again this year.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

More Cuckoo pics - all digiscoped!

Ok so to a brief description of my cuckoo encounter.
This is the fourth trip in 3 weeks to try and get good photos of cuckoos, I have no problem finding them (or them me), but getting decent photos has proven more challenging

 I went to my secret wood first, and despite hearing and seeing two birds fly down the valley they did not land. Previous trips here they have landed on the edge of the wood and in a small copse close by but not today.  I walked to the end of the wood where there is a pair of Buzzards holding territory - but I can not see a nest - I think it is there somewhere but I do not want to risk disturbing them.

In the wood I finally saw a pair of Redstarts initially at the end of the wood, but then a male Redstart was singing around a nest box I have set up for them - so hopefully they still might nest in it.
I also heard some Crossbills in the top of the trees and on closer investigation I saw two young birds feeding on the cones - there were more about too.
Another nice find here was a Chiffchaff taking food back to a nest that was hidden somewhere in the bracken.

I then ventured to another location in Teesdale which I know tends to be good for Cuckoo, and as I walked down the valley I was hoping to see Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Merlin and Cuckoo.
At first there was no sign of Ouzels or Whinchat,  but then as I got down to a group of trees I heard a Cuckoo calling and then I saw it fly out from the trees with a Merlin on its tail - wow. The Merlin was calling all the while too, they disappeared over the edge of the hill.
I got down to a comfortable location and set up my tripod and waited - sheltered from the strong wind.
Only about 10 minutes later 2 cuckoos came into the trees and spent a few minutes chasing each other about. The female moved off leaving a  male sat in the trees, I took some photos, then I was amazed as flew down to the grass about 15 feet in front of me, picked a caterpillar up and returned to the tree.
The Cuckoo then spent the next four hours in and around this line of trees in the valley.  Although I had camouflage gear on, I am sure it new I was there, but it was not at all bothered by me.  In fact at one stage, I was sat on the ground with my back against a post and it flew down within 8 or 9 feet of me and picked a caterpillar up and sat there for about 2 minutes . I was gobsmacked, it was one of those experiences that will  be remembered.  I got photos of it in various locations, with one of my favourites being it sat on top of sign post warning of dangerous mines.

I got absolute loads of photos, exhausted 3 batteries, and the cuckoo was still there when I left.

The Merlin was heard a few times during this cuckoo encounter, and I will return in the hope to get photos of that.  On the way back up the trail, I also found a pair of Whinchat and a single male Ring Ouzel which was keeping its distance.

This was my best days birding in this country for a couple of years, what an experience.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Amazing Cuckoo day

This is just a quick post to get some photos on my blog - more to come later, plus a better description of this outstanding day.

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire