While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Digiscoping Wallcreepers - finally!

many will know that for a long time I have equated the finding [discovery] of a wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) equivalent to the claim that a dodo just flew past one's office window. either that or the creative result of spending way too much time on photoshop.

that up until this afternoon.

I was out for a bit of a wander in one of the spots where stringers had laid claim to seeing one of these [previously] mythical creatures - the hopeful optimist in me is alive and strong after all ;-)

just a few meters in to the little gorge and a GORGEOUS little wallcreeper pops out of a hole and starts to flutter up the wall away from me. Having taken out a different digiscoping setup today - one that I had not used in a good month (straight scope and DCA adapter) - I missed the crucial shots when the bird was just a few meters away (that will teach me for taking "unfamiliar" equipment with in to a potentially critical situation. Dale Forbes, you are a digiscoping/birding fool).

But Lady Luck was firmly at my side this afternoon, because she came back a few minutes later and posed for me. Picture this, there I am with a female wallcreeper right in front of me, just a few meters away, and I am trying my best not to shake/shudder with excitement. in a dark canyon. on a swing bridge. none of which is conducive to taking great digiscoping shots. but I did get some nice hey-ma-look-at-the-pretty-birdie-I-saw-today shots.





wallcreeper female showing off her flashy red wings. there is some vignetting to the images. I'll blame it on the bunny.

It turns out, they have a nest right there, and after a good hour, the much darker male came by with some food for the female (looks like a cricket - that is the bug photo for Joan ;-)

the darker male wallcreeper with a cricket for the female. i presume she is incubating or still has very small [altricial] young

The wallcreepers were very very flitty birds. They did not, however, seem to be bothered at all by my presence (their behaviour was exactly the same 100m away as when they approached me to about 10m away). But the longest the wallcreepers ever sat still was no longer than one billionth of a second. but then again, I have been known to exagerate. The red windows in the wings, continually flicking the wings and their flitty nature are all adaptations to flushing insects on the cliffs. The thing is that their prey is very well camoflaged and hard to see, but as soon as they move, they give themselves away. Lots of insectivores use this strategy (ever wondered why wagtails wag their tails?) and it seems to work quite well, but still these wallcreepers have absolutely huge territories in order to find enough sustenance on these rather barren alpine cliffs.

I will have to come back another day (when there is better light) to get some good shots of the alpine wallcreepers.

Happy [alpine] birding
Dale Forbes

21 comments:

Born Again Bird Watcher said...

What an superb bird and recorded so expertly! Thanks very much for sharing these images with us all.

The Early Birder said...

Well done Dale. These are better images than I remember thro' the bins in Bulgaria plus a very sore neck!

Arija said...

Thanks for finding my blog, means I could also find yours, and what a beauty if is! Great captures indeed of such a flighty little thing. I have treid for two years to get a decent picture of or willie-wagtails with very limited success.
The only Alpine birds I really know are the 'Berg Dohlen' in the Swiss alps. In our times in Tirol I concentrated mainly on the flora.

Amy said...

Oh my, what stunning photos of a beautiful bird! So nice of her to show off her lovely red wings, too.

Kelly said...

...wow....the scarlet wings of this bird are gorgeous! Beautiful photos...also enjoyed your narrative!

Neil said...

Great photos love the spread wing.

corey said...

That is just too nice. And I think that the bright color on that bird indicates that it is a lost North American species and doesn't belong in Europe at all. So kindly send it over here and we will give you what must be a European bird, the Brown Creeper.

Thanks in advance for being so understanding.

Gaelyn said...

Great captures. And what a beautiful bird. Never seen a wallcreeper before. Nice that they were comfortable with your presence.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Dale. What a fantastic find!! It is a beautiful bird too except for when it eats my bugs. LOL!! Thanks for the pic anyway. :)

I find in places where there is not much human traffic, the birds and animals do not really mind humans which is nice as one can get quite close.

Are these just insect eaters Dale? With those long beaks I would think they drink nectar too?

I could not comment yesterday as our connection was so slow it was taking forever to download the pictures.

A wondreful post. Thanks.

lazyclick said...

Gorgeous!! I loved the shades red, white, brown ... colors in its feathers. Lovely snaps. Never seen this bird before.

Shady Character said...

What a beautiful species! Thanks for sharing the results of your combined determination, luck and skill. :)

Matt Latham said...

Superb Dale - this is a bird on my want to see list.

Kevin said...

Great captures Dale !what a unique Background I know about unfamiliar equipment in the heat of moment CHOKE!!

JRandSue said...

Dale superb Wallcreeper images.
John.

mick said...

A beautiful bird - and great photos too.

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

Oh my, these are excellent captures of a wallcreeper. When luck and patience come together, the results are just marvelous. Thanks for sharing, Dale.

BW said...

Exceedingly good Wallcreepers, Dale, which historically have not been photographed very well (by any method). But, as I'm sure you realise (and have probably already acted upon) this now means you have to return to the site and take the ultimate Wallcreeper shots of all time...
Mike

MaineBirder said...

WOW, awesome bird and photos! You have captured it nicely!

MaineBirder said...

That is a cool looking bird, great photos! I'd love to see one of those one day.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding pictures dale and a really nice write up - deffo a bird on my digiscoping hitlist for 2011. peace and light Dickie.b :)

Dale Forbes said...

@Dickie.b, thanks for the comments. somewhere in one of my posts I write that I searched for them intensely for 2 years before finding one. This year I had 3 nests! awesome birds. I plan to write a 10,000 Birds and www.birdingblogs.com post on wallcreepers in the next couple days so you might want to check those out!