About Me

My photo
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, 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.





Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Teesdale Spring Birding

It looks as though Spring is finally here in the North East.  It has been a cold dry spring up here, but there are young birds about and the trees are just about all in full leaf.
I have had a few nest boxes in a wood for a few years now, trying to get Redstart in them, but mainly blue tits have taken up residence in all but one box, which is currently empty. But I did hear and see a male Redstart singing in the wood - so hopefully it will find the nest box with a mate.
I also have a resident Tawny Owl in there - the first time I have seen one here.
A Wren was sing loudly on the unfurling bracken stalks, and Curlews were calling loudly desperately trying to warn the sheep away from their nest.

Further up the dale I walked down a track and heard this piping call from the heather, it took me a couple of minutes for it to sink in my brain and recognise what it was calling - at first I couldn't see it but it was a beautiful Golden Plover
 As I watched it sink down so it was just visible I saw a movement to the right of it and this tiny golden ball of fluff appeared, it can't be more than a couple of days old.
I went further down the track and saw Cuckoo, Grey Wagtails, a pair of Ring Ouzels, and a very large bird of prey in the distance again.
But there was nothing to compare the size with, and the automatic settings says Buzzard, but it did not fly like a Buzzard - it was probably over three quarters of a mile away and despite getting it in the scope I still couldn't get a positive ID on it.  But I believe it is a possible Eagle - the second time I have seen it, and others have had views too. So fingers crossed someone will get a positive ID on it soon.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Dipper at Low Barns

DIPPER - LOW BARNS


I was tipped off about a Dipper feeding young on the river at Low Barns, this provided an opportunity to digiscope the bird from a distance as it brought in food to the nest.
I sat hidden for a while and just watched the bird foraging the rocks and collecting caddis flies, may flies and other unknown aqautic bugs, when it had a decent amount it headed back to the nest location.
It kept landing on the same rock, before flying up into the nest to feed the young.
When it was away from the nest I set my scope up and focused it on the rock. 
I used my phone as a remote control and moved away from my scope and out of view of the bird.
This is a great technique for not disturbing birds as I can see a live image of the bird on my phone from 20 or 30 yards away.
It means importantly, that the bird is not at all aware of me and is not disturbed. Also I can get into a comfortable position and see the shot that I am taking.
The down side is that there is about a second time lag.  This can make it difficult sometimes.
It was interesting watching the bird just before it flew up into the nest as it did a wing flapping display, I have never seen this before

 Thanks to Dave M for letting me know.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Back to British Birds

I have so many Costa Rican bird photographs I could put on here, but I am getting behind with my UK bird photos now, so that it for Costa Rican birds.  I will be making a Costa Rica Bird Photobook and putting a link on here for anybody that is interested.

Some photos of a Green Woodpecker - first of all I had to sneak up them in the grass as they were feeding, very challenging as a Green Woodpecker is very wary normally.

Then later this female was in a tree displaying to a male that was calling about 20 yards away


These are the best photos of this species that I have ever had so I am well pleased

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Costa Rica - Frogs and Lizards

Costa Rica Reptiles
Below are some of the stunning reptiles that we saw.
Red Eyed Tree Frog - These were taken using a low powered torch rather than using the camera flash which is too powerful for use on the nocturnal frogs - this would probably harm them



Of course when we were out on our birding trips we came across other interesting animals, and some of the reptiles in Costa Rica are just as colourful as the birds.
Male Green Iguana
We had great opportunities to photograph the Red Eyed Tree frog at La Selva and Tortuguero and Green Iguanas, Green Basilisk, Brown Basilisk, American Crocodile, Black Cayman and a Spiny Lizard.  Possibly the best of all was a beautiful but dangerous Eyelash Pit Viper
Eyelash Pit Viper
This snake was at Arenal Observatory Lodge and it stayed in the same location for at least 3 days, who knows if it caught anything while we were there but it didnt seem to move much - which is part of its hunting technique.

Female Green Iguana
 Spectacled Caiman
 Green Basilisk Lizard
I don't think that I have seen one of these before - I think we normally see the Brown Basilisk.  This was at Tortuguero in amongst all the canals and mangroves.

 Red Eye Tree Frogs
What a stunning frog this is and it seems to be the most common of the frogs that we saw



American Crocodile
It was estimated that this croc was over 12 feet long - huge.  We were watching from a boat. And below some of the Crocs resting at Tarcoles Bridge - there is one here that is absolutely huge twice a thick as the othes.

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
Barn Owl in North Yorkshire