Saturday, 22 February 2014

Sandwell Valley - February 2014

Last Sunday I was once again volunteering in the hide at RSPB Sandwell Valley (this blog post concerning it being somewhat late due to intervening computer issues and a wee holiday in Barcelona!) It was my new scope's (Nikon ED50) first outing so I was dead excited to be trying it out, and to also try my luck with my first attempts at some digiscoping too.

At the reserve the water levels were very high after all the recent rain, bird-wise it was on the quiet side, however the Oystercatchers had recently returned so it was good to see them back - hopefully they will breed again successfully this year. It's the same pair we've had over the past few years, they're easy to recognise as the female only has one foot so is nicknamed Stumpy! She seems to get by well enough, it only causes her problems when she tries to scratch her head with her remaining foot which usually results in a bit of a tumble. Here are some digiscoped attempts at the Oystercatchers!

Digiscoped Oystercatcher.

Digiscoped Oystercatcher.
Haha, kind of shoddy - I think (well I hope) that the main problem was not enough light in the hide - my camera (ancient Canon Powershot A520) is a reliable friend in good light conditions, but anything suboptimal makes it wobble around all over the place and a steady hand indeed (or a tripod) is required. I don't have a digiscoping adaptor currently, I was bewildered by the range on offer when I did a bit of Googling so thought I'd try without one to begin with before shelling out (or just fashioning something out of a loo roll tube and gaffer tape). Here's another one of a Cormorant:

Digiscoped Cormorant.

A highlight of the day was the loads of Snipe resting, feeding and bathing on the islands in front of the hide, here's my best attempt at a digiscoped pic of them:

Digiscoped Snipe.
Not great! But my new scope also made sketching a bit easier, and the Oystercatchers and Snipe provided some good opportunities. I've mainly stuck to easier resting poses again where the birds keep relatively still, although I tried to do lots of quick sketches of the Snipe as they were moving around a bit more, which I quite like.

Oystercatcher sketches.

Snipe sketches.
Next time I will have to attempt digiscoping outdoors in better light :o)

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