Friday, February 29, 2008

March 2008

Also, coming soon to a shop near you...
(click the pic for a bigger version)
UK readers, why not try WHSmiths or Tesco:

Bird Watching, March 2008

This month, the UK's most popular monthly birding mag includes the following:

Peregrines – Matt Merritt takes an up-to-the-minute look at the spread of these exciting falcons into our cities.

Big Garden Birdwatch – The Bird Watching team report how they and their families got on with the RSPB's huge annual garden watch.

Six weeks to become a better birdwatcher – Jammed full of tips to help you be a better birder by spring.

Andy Rouse Showcase – A brilliant portfolio by one of the World's top wildlife photographers.

ID Insights: small green warblers – All you need to tell a Chiffchaff from a Willow Warbler and a Wood Warbler.

Secret Life of the Goldcrest – The mysteries and secrets of our smallest bird.

Plus Plus PLUS – Ten new Go Birding walks to try; unique site-by-site guide to all the best birds of January 2008; WIN one of four pairs of Vortex binoculars; page after page of ideas for March birding, and so much more!

Go buy it! Or subscribe here:

March Tidetables

In our March 2008 issue, we inadvertently published the UK tidetable for February instead of March. Here is the correct tidetable for March. (click the images to see them clearly)

Monday, February 25, 2008

A spot of local twitching

© Mike Weedon

Assistant editor Mike Weedon writes:

I was out and about early on Saturday morning (23.2.08), searching for a Firecrest which had been seen a little north of Peterborough, when I got a call. Peterborough recorder Brian Stone had seen an egret fly past his house (just west of Peterborough) and was "as certain as I can be" that it was a Cattle Egret. Now, there have been loads in the country recently (perhaps 85 in total), but this was still something special for around here.

Brian declared that he was committed to going off to relocate the bird, but, though I made as encouraging noises as I could muster, this was surely wild-goose-in-a-haystack stuff. I had little hope for the poor fellow.

An hour later, though, and Brian was calling again. The bird was in a sheep field near Fotheringhay, Northants (but still in the Peterborough recording area).

So, when I got home, I rudely bundled the entire Weedon family into the car, delivered my daughter to her singing lesson and took Jo and Eddie on a Cattle Egret hunt.

Half an hour later I was hobbling as fast as I could in the direction of a distant Brian Stone. The egret was wandering around the fields getting bullied by butting lambs, and I never really saw it feed (so, it seemed likely to move on, soon). But it was there and very pleasurable on the eye.

A mere handful of hardcore Peterborian birders saw the bird, and another fistful of the Northants brigade – the bird was a county tick for the UKBS stalwart Bob Bullock. By midday, though, the bird was apparently seen by no-one else and there are one or two local birders left in a deeply-frustrated state of dipping anguish.

At the current invasion rate, though, surely the next Cattle Egret won't be long coming...

Friday, February 22, 2008

He's at it again...

Assistant editor Mike Weedon writes:

Kevin Wilmot's digiscoping has taken another tentative stride forward – his shots are really getting quite good. One day soon, I'll persuade him to abandon the 'auto' setting, and we may see even better shots! Meantime, enjoy these Black-headed Gulls he took at his local country park (click the pics for larger versions).

BW office list update

Our office window year list has now risen to a respectable 38 species. Don't whisper it too loudly, but we are currently thrashing the webteam of the RSPB at Sandy, depite their fancydan Mealy Redpolls on the feeders. Not bad, really, considering we are on a modern industrial estate and they are in the middle of an RSPB reserve!

Here is the current office year list:
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Golden Plover
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Sky Lark
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Carrion Crow

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Urban Birder on The One Show – BBC1

Here, for your viewing pleasure is Bird Watching columnist David Lindo starring on BBC1 as the One Show's regular bird expert – The Urban Birder, complete with binoculars in the studio!! Here, he invites us to watch Robins in his garden...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Digiscoping technique (A640)

Editor Kevin Wilmot adopts the handheld digiscoping pose for the Canon PowerShot A640.

Assistant editor Mike Weedon writes...

Since I wrote about how much I like the Canon PowerShot A640 (in our January issue), I've had quite a few calls from readers asking how I go about digiscoping with it (I use it with a Kowa TSN-823 scope and 32xW eyepiece).

In the Digiscoping Made Easy DVD I used a PowerShot A95 with a sort of metal tube (a Lensmate) clipped onto a bayonet fitting on the camera. The tube slides neatly into the scope eyepiece, centring the camera and holding it just the right distance from the eyepiece – there was no vignetting at any magnification and it worked beautifully.
I upgraded to the A640 because it has twice the megapixels (10 rather than 5) and the macro is amazing (with an incredible close-focus distance of about 1cm).

The downside is that there isn't a convenient Lensmate-equivalent to connect for digiscoping.

Fear not, though, there is an easy solution – plastic tubing.

Below is the step-by-step guide to how I do my digiscoping. To align the camera with the scope eyepiece, I simply use a plastic ring cut from some plastic piping from a DIY store.

I use one of two rings. The deeper one lifts the camera slightly further away from the eypiece, to stop vignetting at the lowest camera magnifcation. The thinner one is for when the camera is slightly zoomed in. (I worked out the distance by measuring how far back I needed the camera until the vignetting disappeared).

If I am going to be digiscoping all I do is whip out the relevant ring, comme ├ža...

...then I pop the ring in the scope's eyepiece.

So, it looks like this.

Then all I need to do is insert my camera's lens in the tube.

So, you end up with a set-up looking like this...

...or, if you like, this...

Then you snap away. Here is Kevin Wilmot impersonating my digiscoping technique beautifully.

The system is very simple, and I think the results speak for themselves. Here, for instance is a shot I took of a Snow Bunting this weekend in Norfolk. Not bad, is it?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How not to use binoculars

Something for this year's Rutland Birdfair? Perhaps put various brands of binoculars up against each other...