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!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Digiscoping Great White Egret with Canon 7D

Got home from Burgenland / Neusiedlersee National Park late last night and thought I would post a first digiscoping image from the week:

A Great White Egret taken from the Swarovski Hide (Warmblut Pferdekoppel) with Swaro STM80HD spotting scope, TLS800 digiscoping adapter and Canon 7D.

I'll post more when I get a little bit of breather time.

Happy birding,
Dale Forbes

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pannonian Bird Experience

Hi All,

I just wanted to leave a note that I will be at the Pannonian Bird Experience over the next few days and so probably unable to write anything for a while (meetings thereafter...).

If you are somewhere nearby, come visit!


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Eurasian Otters in Europe and Austria

I have just been reading about the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra, Fischotter) and they are, as you can well imagine, completely fascinating creatures.

First of all, their home ranges are HUGE. Males in Scotland have territories along streams and shorelines 39km long, while females only use 16-22km. They will have a good number of resting areas spread out throughout the home range. These otter resting areas are either underground, dry grass-lined dens often with an underwater entrance and separate breathing entrance (holts), and above-ground "hovers". In the areas where they are nocturnal, they typically travel 3-10km in an evening while hunting.

The original of this image is super-sharp and the colours on my mac screen as stunning. Probably my favorite digiscoping photo of the year. Digiscoped with a Swarovski Optik STM80HD, TLS800 and Canon 5DII.

I have not been able to find any recent evidence of otters in Tirol, with two major populations persisting in Austria: one in the north of the country (Waldviertel, Weinviertel in Upper Austria and Lower Austria), and one in the southeast of the country (Styria, Steiermark).

Map from the Naturschutzbund Niederösterreich report "Zur Situation des Fischotters in Österreich: Verbreitung, Lebensraum, Schutz". Green is where they were found in 2000. Red or orange means they were not found. White means the area was not investigated but unlikely to hold otters.

The two photos here are my favourite of the few digiscoping images I managed to get of the otters in Alpenzoo recently. They were both taken with a Swarovski Optik STM80 HD straight spotting scope, TLS800 digiscoping adapter, and a Canon 5D mark II.

Hopefully one day the otter will make a return to the Alps - I would love to be able to experience this incredible creature in their home environment,
Dale Forbes

Sunday, 11 April 2010

My best birding day EVER!

okay, so maybe that is just a little bit exaggerated, but last Sunday really was an awesome birding day: it is not often that I see a good number of species that I think: "WOW! Didn't expect to see you here!"

Easter Sunday saw me going out for a bit of a wander at my local patch, the Inzinger Gaisau, a calling and drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Kleinspecht) was the first bird that made me think: Nice.

But it was the Bluethroat (Blaukehlchen)
Common Snipe (Bekasine)
2 skulking Jacksnipe (Zwergschnepfe), and
2 Ring Ousel (Ringdrossel) feeding in the fields with Song Thrush (Ring Ousel is normally only found at about 1700m and above here, not at 650m asl),
that really made the morning special.

Bluethroat digiscoped on the Kazakhstani steppes last year. Swarovski Optik ATM 80HD, 25-50x zoom, DCB digiscoping adapter, Canon A590IS.

In the afternoon, Barbara and I headed down to Brixleg to go for a walk in the castle's old gardens (Schloss Matzen). There too were a good few Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers starting to breed, but it was the crazy duck on the Inn that was really special:

A single male Common Scoter (Trauerente)

Despite the name, it really is far from common here. In fact, they are more than a little rare in Tirol.

I added this photo to give an idea of how hard it was to get any photos of the duck. It was raining hard, the light was very very poor and all I had was a cheap compact camera (Canon A590 IS) and a really good pair of binoculars (new SLC HD), all done through trees. Digibinning at its extreme!

Happy birding,
Dale Forbes

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Digiscoping Capercaille up close

The Capercaille (Auerhuhn/Auerhahn) is an incredibly beautiful bird, but very seldomly seen in Tirol. We are just starting to enter the display/breeding time (Balzzeit) here in the Alps, but as a species they seem to be really struggling. Part of the issue is how the Alpine forests have changed over the past few decades, with much fewer cattle in the forests and a more intensive use of the forests. The large majority of our forests are controlled and managed by the Austrian state forestry company dedicated to maximisation of wood production, which does not exactly bode well for species that need open forest systems with canopy gaps and open areas for free flight. Wire fences and the intensive use of the forests (particularly in winter) have also made their lives harder.

Being able to see two Capercaille up close in the Alpenzoo a couple of weeks ago, afforded a great opportunity to take some close-up photos of a beautiful male Capercaille.

All photos taken with a Canon EOS 5D mark II, a Swarovski Optik STM80 HD spotting scope, and a TLS800 telephoto digiscoping adapter.

Happy digiscoping,