Posts Tagged ‘PhoneSkope’

Snowy Showoff: Bill-vibrating behavior

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I recently had the pleasure of attending the 39th Western Field Ornithologists Conference in San Diego, California. Among the wonderful places I birded was the San Dieguito River Estuary in Del Mar. Its banks and mud bars hosted a pleasing variety of shorebirds (Pacific Golden-Plover, anyone?), and landscaped properties bordering the river teemed with bird life. But I think my personal highlight of the stop was a Snowy Egret engaged in a behavior I’d never seen before. It was out in shallow water, facing in the direction of a light current moving inland with the rising tide. The bird was crouched horizontally, holding its bill in the surface of the water burbling away like a kid about to be rebuked for blowing bubbles in their chocolate milk.

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Dueling Video Techniques

Both digiscoping and DSLR rigs can be used to obtain high-quality video of birds.  Below we'll compare results from a Nikon DSLR rig (right) and a Leica APO-Televid + iPhone rig (left.)

More and more I find myself looking for opportunities to shoot video of birds along with stills. With HD video recording capability now widely featured in DSLRs and high-quality cell phones it has become easier than ever for birders to grab really neat movies of their avian subjects doing cool things. On my annual sojourn to northwest Wisconsin this past June I had a cooperative Yellow-bellied Sapsucker whose favorite drumming post was right outside my cabin. I took advantage of the opportunity to film the bird both with my DSLR rig and through my Leica APO-Televid 65mm spotting scope. Below I’ll summarize a few considerations for both rigs and present short movies taken with each setup for your perusal and comparison.

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Thrasher Quest

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Leica Birding Team member Bill Schmoker finds that the fabled Trasher Spot in Maricopa County Arizona doesn’t disappoint!

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Suet Piranhas

Bushtits raiding the suet, Longmont, CO  February 2014.  Photo by Bill Schmoker, Leica Birding Team

For most of the winter I’ve been enjoying the hit-and-run tactics of a Bushtit flock in my Longmont, Colorado back yard. Up to about 15 of the wee long-tailed fuzz balls will make a raid on my home-made suet in the morning, attacking it with fierce gusto like a school of suet piranhas.

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