Monday, 13 July 2015

Red-Footed Falcon Staffordshire

When a Red-footed falcon was reported at Chatterley Whitfield, Stoke on Trent on Thursday the 9th of July, I was interested. When it was still being reported on Sunday the 12th and considering some of the excellent pictures I had seen of this gorgeous falcon, I couldn't resist it anymore and set off to check it out myself.

I took the new Novagrade Standard smartphone adapter with me intending to put it through its paces "in the field," so to speak.

The bird gave great views coming close enough to delight all the photographers. The only sound to be heard whenever the bird moved was a barrage of rapidly firing shutters from behind the artillery battery of massive lenses. I set up my iPhone5 on the universal adapter, pointed my scope in the same direction as the other lenses and attempted to get some record shots myself.

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 A very enjoyable Sunday afternoon, with a bonus Black Redstart thrown in for good measure. Incidentally, this was my first Black Redstart, it's one of my "If you had been here 5 minutes earlier......" Birds.

Monday, 6 July 2015

The Versatile Bridge Camera

I do like messing about trying to capture record shots of the Birds and Nature I see when out and about on my travels. If the wildlife is cooperative I can use my Phonescoping or Digiscoping set up. However, by cooperative I mean stationary. Unfortunately, a lot of wildlife won’t be this cooperative and some other way of recording the moment is required. 

Obviously there is the dedicated DSLR paired with a suitably large and impressive lens. The drawback here is mainly the astronomical expense of a decent long lens, and the issue of carting it about in conjunction with binoculars, scope and any other birding paraphernalia. I am first and foremost a birder/nature watcher rather than a photographer, so I just want record shots without carrying too much more equipment with me. This is where bridge cameras come into their own. Yes, they are a compromise on image quality compared to a DSLR, but in exchange you get incredible zoom facilities. I hadn’t used my bridge camera for a while, but recently I have taken it out and about and can’t understand why i ever decided to leave it at home when I’m wandering about? It’s an old Canon SX40 that has already been superseded  twice by Canon with the SX50 and SX60 and if rumors are true, another is imminent. I am in the market for an upgrade, but I’m taking my time researching what model of bridge camera my replacement will be.

Getting the record shot

Friday, and the first White Winged Black Tern for 10 years was reported in Staffordshire at Middleton RSPB.  I arrived home from work, changed, and was soon out the door again with the birding gear and on route to Middleton.

On arrival I soon located the Tern on the Jubilee Wetland section of the reserve. It was feeding on the wing and putting on a great display. I really wanted to try and get a record shot, but the speed the bird was moving made Digiscoping impossible. I had brought my old Canon SX40 Bridge Camera along and turned to that to try and capture a record of this bird. 

If you have tried to capture a fast moving bird in flight with a bridge camera, you will know it is far from easy. It is however more likely to succeed than trying to focus and Digiscope a fast moving target. I persevered, putting the camera in various modes to see if any would produce an acceptable result. The outcome was I managed a few record shots of the White Winged Black Tern that are acceptable to me.

This has again driven home just how versatile these superzoom bridge cameras are in terms of record shots for any nature enthusiast that doesn’t want to carry about a big and very expensive DSLR lens and camera.






Further Proof

Then on Saturday Mrs Moocher and I ventured further afield and headed to West Wales in search of UK Dolphins. We arrived at the Cardigan Bay area at about 11am and started our search. The place is gorgeous, and the birding was pretty good too, with flocks of Chough being a particular highlight. Eventually, the search paid of and we found a Pod of Dolphins. They really are amazing creatures. One female had a calf and even though I got good views through the scope and binoculars, I could not digiscope a picture. They didn’t stay on the surface for more than a few seconds and then they were gone again. Not enough time to find them in the scope, focus the camera and take a picture. I again tried with the Canon SX40, the dolphins were distant so I was working at full zoom with 1.5x digital teleconverter. It was enough to get me some record shots. Someone from the Seawatch project arrived and got their DSLR out with 300mm lens. They decided not to bother as the Dolphins were too distant. They were impressed with what I managed with the little SX40 handheld.

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So, I have again convinced myself of the value of a decent bridge camera for nature photography and birding. The search begins for a SX40 replacement.