Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Geese galore

first an update of last few days birding, Nowt special on patch but Redwing and 2 Stock Doves in the Garden.
Had the Day at Minsmere, but was pretty quiet, saw the usual Bitterns, Ducks, Marsh Tit, Water rail and Marsh Harriers. 2 Whooper Swans were new to me here.
Then had a walk along the beach at Kessingland, 9 Eiders, Pintail. 3 Red Breasted Mergansers a Guillemot lots of Red throated Divers, Wigeon, Teal and Common Scoter

Onto today, well I lied when I said id had my last tick of the year on my last blog post. Today Rach n I headed south to North Warren RSPB, a reserve we had never been too and just south of Minsmere.  The place was good for Geese and there had been Bean and White fronted geese on site. Id also seen that a radio tagged Lesser White fronted Goose had made it to Minsmere last night, so was hoping to find that somewhere or at least twitch it when it turned up.
Anyway we arrived on site and could scope the 100 or so Barnacles (feral) with a handful of European White-fronts in a distant field. We headed around to the dis railway until we reached the bigger flock of Geese. Firstly a count of 150+ Black tailed Godwits. Then we reached the geese, an incredible 168 European White-fronted Geese.


Then I spotted 14 Tundra Bean Geese  (year tick)and eventually counted 20.

After watching the geese for a while I couldn't believe 4 LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE including the radio tagged bird walked out the long grass to the left, what a bonus. Well done to the chap who spotted em). Now the birds were sub adults and had been rung and tagged in Sweden followed here and a bit of info on the re introduction here.
So not a real tick but I could hardly look away could I ;-) Bit far for pics but you get the idea.

Anyway we did the circular trail finding 2 Chiffchaffs and ended up back in Thorpness for a great burger n chips in the Kitchen Restaurant well sat outside with the dogs, it was lovely. Great end to a super day.


Friday, 26 December 2014


Yesterday and today fairly quiet on the patch but 2 fieldfare in off the sea. 3 duck sp probably long-tailed duck together. Red throated divers. Gannets. 100 common scoter and 4 med gull 3 Adults and a 1st winter.
Christmas morning 330am I was rudely awoken by a small group of Berwick's Swans or could have been Whoopers, (I was half asleep) flying low over the house a great garden tick..

Looks like I'm going to finish 2014 on 150 species for the patch of Corton and my life list for Corton is now up to 176.
Looks like ill finish my UK year list on 226 worst tally for many years but I've not left East Anglia.
Life list for UK on a lowly 384 but local stuff is more important these days.

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year and once again thanks for your continued support with my blogging.

Review of the new Leica 1.8x Extender for the Leica Apo 82 and 65 scopes.

Leica very kindly let me borrow there new 1.8x extender, it fits nicely onto the leica apo 82 and 65 range of scopes. This new adapter fits directly onto the scope and then the main zoom lens fits above it. Unfortunately this will only work on angled Scopes but not straight.
This zooms up the 25-50x eyepiece by another 1.8 making the lens 45-90x.

Fitting the extender onto the scope is fairly straightforward and is exactly like fitting the main lens, and its just as quick and easy to take off too.

The first time I took this out to test I actually digiscoped with it, taking pictures of a really nice Desert Wheatear. I was amazed at the results as the quality seemed better with the adapter than without it. I felt the results were actually DSLR quality. Then I started using it just to look at the bird and the image were stunning. I will say the conditions I was testing in were perfect, light breeze, sunny and the bird was close.  I will say I'm taking these pictures with slight Vignetteing and cropping them back at the computer as this gives the best quality results. Although I'm yet to test it on further away subjects.

Original image
Its been tough since then and testing has been sporadic but this time I decided to go out in bad conditions, drizzle bad light and birds further away. Once again I found the results tremendous even in less than perfect conditions.



So time to test it on birds further away 50m + Again impressive even with minimum vignetteing the images were superb in good light.

Now to test at 500m The quality is never going to be great at these distances, theres no camera out there that will produce stunning shots but at least with this set up the images are acceptable record shots. Here's a Digiscoped shot without the Extender

So you can see the difference, below is a picture of the same birds but with the adapter.

A Shot of a Bewick swan at 250m

Overall I'm very very impressed with this awesome set up for Digiscoping and I hope you'll agree the pictures say it all.

Now onto the practicalities of using this set up for birding. Theres certainly pros and cons with this and the pros being the quality in good light is awesome almost right up to 90x. This is a great set up for searching through huge flocks of distant Geese and Waders and is brilliant when sitting in a hide where the buffeting of the wind is greatly reduced. For General use this set up is superb.
Another pro is the lens sits nicely in the leica cover that's a bonus as I always like to put the cover back on when finished useing the scope and when its raining.

The cons are the light needs to be very good and In poor conditions its unusable at 90x but at 36x its still very sharp and impressive. Its inevitable your going to loose the light the higher magnifications but its still usable, just bring the magnification down a little.

My birding involves a lot of sea-watching in poor conditions and unfortunately I do have to take it off and even in good conditions the quality and sharpness for me just isn't quiet there.
Another con which is to be expected is focus length is massive so going from short focus to long focus is very tricky going from a tree to something on the sea is difficult and takes some getting used to.
Lastly I would recommend a very good sturdy tripod making the shake at higher magnifications reduced because the greater shake is to be expected at higher magnification.

In conclusion would I buy one... Hell yeh I would for my type of birding and digiscoping there's more pros than cons and it takes no time at all taking the extender off if I'm going to be doing a seawatch, that's the only time I wont use it and for normal birding you could keep the extender on permanently.
Still a bit of testing to do whilst I've still got it but I think I've used it in all conditions and covered all angles.
For all those Astronomers out there I think this set up is pretty impressive even for taking shots of the moon.
Retailors such as Focalpoint Optics ring Paul Brewster or Viking Optical ring Paul or Scott, can get you this piece of kit for a competitive price but it does seem to be retailing at between £262 and £320.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Oh Hello

Well Hi again, sorry its been a while but I've been away in Paris and not really seen much in the dark, EXCEPT only a patch tick, im still running around the patch in the dark with the dogs so its really hard to spot any birds although I have seen Snow Bunting in the head torch and this week my patch tick. I was running along the west side of the New Sewage Works when I spotted what I though was a Barn Owl, now it was pitch black and only caught it in my light. So decided id better ignore the record. Luckily as I was driving to work a couple of days later I spotted it again in the very same area hunting, wicked I can tick it now woohoo.
Anyway that's been it until today when Rach n I had the day in North Norfolk.
We travelled through Horsey looking through the geese but nothing exciting. a Female Hen Harrier was nice. Onwards along the coast checking more small flocks of geese until we reached The Causeway at Lessingham where we stopped to search through a small number of Swans, Bingo! 9 Bewick Swans 5 Whooper Swans and 2 Mutes. Its great to find Bewicks.

And the Whoopers

And 3 Species together

After lunch we headed for Cley and checked through the Brent geese, it wasn't till we reached the Beach road that we found the Black Brant. Also here were Pale Bellied Brent and a Hybrid.

Also Hundreds of Golden Plover

Continued onwards to Wells where the regular Shag was in the Harbour and then at Holkham 31 European White Fronted Geese. I failed to find any Bean Geese in the few thousand Pinks.

A Barn Owl was a bonus here.
Finished at Burham Overy Staith where it was great to watch the Rough Legged Buzzard and possibly a second but I wasn't able to see it fly so could have been a very very pale Common Buzzard. It Sat the whole time and when I looked away it bugged off.
It was great to watch 3 Shorties in the same area fighting between themselves and the Marsh Harriers. A Merlin and another Barn Owl finished the day superbly.
Thankyou North Norfolk :-)
I have a little free time now over the Christmas period so hope to catch up with some proper birding.