Monday, January 7, 2008

New Year Digiscoping

Bird Watching Editor Kevin Wilmot writes:

Happy New Year, everybody, and good birdwatching to you all!

This year, I have decided to act on at least one of my resolutions: to take up digiscoping.

After threatening to do it for several months, I finally took the digiscoping plunge at the weekend with a morning trip in hazy winter sunshine to Ferry Meadows Country Park near to my Peterborough home.

Armed with scope (Swarovski ATS65 HD), camera (Nikon Coolpix P5000) and the appropriate adapter, I wanted to try to photograph the abundant wildfowl and gulls that frequent this three-lake nature reserve.

However, a wheezing Greenfinch was too tempting a target to resist even before I’d arrived at the lakes, perched promisingly, but at distance, at the top of a tall tree. You can see the results above (click the picture for a larger version). Not bad, but could do much better...

Tufted Ducks and Coots were the next birds to receive the Wilmot digiscoping treatment, neither very successfully I have to admit.

Still, the ‘delete’ button is a wonderful invention, and it was then off for coffee and bacon baguette at the waterside café… when a flock of 20 or so Pochards landing obligingly some 50 metres away had me scuttling for my scope again. Now these proved a real challenge as they nervously made off towards the other side of the windy lake, and you can see my best effort here.

Finally, the group of dozing Black-headed Gulls on the jetty close to the café made the easiest subjects of the day, and I think the results show this.

Anyway, I’m not ashamed to show you my first attempts at digiscoping, thanks also to my colleague Mike Weedon, who weaved his magic with some very welcome Photoshop work on the images.

The main problems I encountered were these: 1 - Focusing through the camera’s display screen was difficult in the glare, and 2 - Birds move, and the camera’s half-second delay between shutter being pressed and photo being taken resulted in more shots of empty water than of birds. But, improving is all part of life's great adventure...

The best thing is that digiscopiong is fantastic FUN! The digiscoping bug has now well and truly bitten and I can’t wait to get out again.

Watch this space!

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