Saturday, 17 September 2011

The better part of valour

This morning, I made a super-sophisticated phone-scoping adaptor out of super-secret parts and materials.

So this afternoon I took it out for some scientific trials.

Control photo. Phone camera unenhanced at normal zoom.

DSLR with lens at maximum 300mm

Phone taken using super-sophisticated phone scoping attachment device.

Basically, I have managed to convert my phone into an 8mp camera with 38x magnification. There's more depth of field in a puddle and the lens quality is on a par with a stretched piece of clingfilm, but for distant record shots this is going to be hard to beat.

The log book said someone had seen a Common Redstart over by the target numbers so I headed clockwise and stopped by the Marshland Discovery hide for a bit, where I took lots of bad shots of a Little Grebe with my new toy. I also got some video which I'll post when I can be bothered to wait half an hour for it to upload, but the Samsung does HD video so I'm hoping it might come out quite well.

Came out of the hide and looked up to see this:

It was looking worryingly like it was getting closer, so I beat a hasty retreat to the visitors' centre, got myself a cup of tea and waited to see if we were going to get wet. Five minutes later, the view from the window was a bit like this:

Hung around for a while watching the river with tea in hand, but nothing interesting turned up. I say that - no interesting birds turned up. These were quite interesting:

It's probably a good thing I don't live on the river, much as I'd love to. I like boats, I know what my nerdy tendencies are like and it wouldn't be too difficult to turn into a ship-spotter. Well, look who I'm blogging to, I don't exactly need to justify myself on that score. But I like to keep up some pretence of coolness, if only to myself.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Two Tree Island

In the last week I've had two separate people tell me that they're going on photography trips over this weekend, one to Oxford and one, a little more exotic, to Florence. When I found that the rugby was over on Saturday (if you watched the game you'll know that it couldn't be over quick enough) and that I hadn't actually planned anything else for my day, I took inspiration from these tales of adventure, packed up the camera and, being an Essex boy, headed over to Two Tree Island. And the best thing about Two Tree Island it that as well as looking like this:

And having lots of these to take pictures of:

You also get a few of these to watch:

For those who don't know, Two Tree at low tide is a wader magnet. Waders are one of the many weak areas among my bird identification skills, so the Collins and the scope made the trip as well. I'm heading up to Norfolk for a long weekend in a few weeks time and I need to get in practice.

I didn't make it as far as the hide before the promise of rain turned me back, but there was a flock of about a hundred Oystercatcher feeding on the mudflats with half a dozen each of Redshank and Blackwits and a single Curlew mooching about.

Mystery bird of the day was very Grey and very Plover-shaped, but with a strong patch of golden colour on the lower part of the breast. The Collins didn't help much here as there's no indication that Golden Plovers turn Grey in winter, though I know for a fact that they do - it's just a question of how grey. The thing was planted firmly on the deck, so no flight views to clinch it. I do however have a bad phonescoped picture. The gold doesn't really show up - it's difficult to pick it out from the compression artefacts - but see what you can make of it:

I'm calling it as Golden, but feel free to argue - I'd quite like to be wrong on this one.