Digiscoping Images – Birds

For the last few weeks I have been out golfing but the sunny Easter weather took me to the local bird pond to photograph the birds. With digiscoping, bright weather is required, otherwise the images will not come out well. 

Below are some images I took.

Male Tufted Duck
Female Tufted Duck
Coot
Coot obscured behind some reeds.
Teal
Grey Heron
Nesting Whooper Swan
Great Crested Grebe

The Whooper Swan is unusual because Whoopers usually fly to Iceland to breed over the summer. This swan seems unable to fly the journey to Iceland so has remained behind. There were no other Whooper swans in the pond, but there was a Mute Swan so it may be that he is the father!

The digiscoped images have come out quite well. I find that the camers slightly over-exposes the images so it is best to take images in RAW format and under-expose the shots.

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Digiscoping Birds at the Local Pond

The weather was lovely and sunny today in contrast to the pouring rain which has been present since the beginning of December.

I was up and out early with my sunglasses on to catch some photographs of the birds in my local pond. Approaching the pond, the birds were all swimming about near the water’s edge, but as soon as they heard me approach they moved to the centre of the pond.

Bird pond

The photo above gives an indication of how lovely a day it was.

Setting up my tripod and scope I realised I had forgotten the attachment for my SLR camera so I had to use the camera on my mobile phone, which is very good.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

The Canada geese above were all sitting together on the banking but soon moved off into the pond when they heard me approaching.  

On the small island on the pond a few Canada geese were also resting. There was a slight commotion and I noticed there were two Cormorant in the area acting in an aggressive manner to what looked like an injured Canada goose lying in the grass on the island.

Aggressive Cormorant

Cormorant

The two of them soon calmed down!

The Cormorant on the right is a juvenile bird as can be see by the large white breast and brown colour. This turns darker with age.

Cormorant

Gadwall and Whooper Swans

In the pond were Gadwall – there are beautiful birds but always hard to photograph as they stay in the middle of the pond. I will try and get a photograph of them next time.

Whooper Swans

On the opposite bank were a group of Whooper swans. These are winter visitors and will soon be leaving to go back to Iceland for breeding. They can be identified by their yellow beaks.

Diving Ducks

There are a number of diving ducks in the pond including Tufted ducks, Goldeneye and Widgeon. Goldeneye male birds have black heads, while female and juvenile birds have brown heads. All have a white spot in front of the eye. 

Goldeneye
Tufted Ducks

It was a lovely way to spend the morning before a game of golf in the afternoon. On my way back home to change and get my golf clubs, I saw a Bumble Bee flying about. Very unusual to see one so early in the year.

Coming home from the golf it was just getting dark at 17.30. The dark days of winter are leaving us and the light summer days are almost here.

Can’t wait for summer.

Hogganfield Loch Revisited

View Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow in a larger map 

It had been a while since I last visited Hogganfield Loch in the north of Glasgow so it was time for another visit.

The weather has been very cold of late and the birds are not as lively as they would be if it was much milder. It has also been my spring holiday fortnight and I have not managed to get much walking done, as the weather has been so unpredictable.

Cold Weather for March

Although the strong easterly wind had died down after blowing cold air for over a week, it was still quite windy at Hogganfield. The smaller birds were getting blown on the choppy water and many of them were huddled around the shore area. 

Hogganfield Loch

Hogganfield is very popular with visitors as it is in a residential area and the birds are used to humans and are not afraid. As a result, they come very close to the viewing area as they are fed by the many visitors. 

Swans

There were a large number of Mute swans and a small number of Whooper swans. Mute swans are resident in the UK, but whooper swans migrate to the Arctic in Spring for the long summer days which extend the breeding season.

White Goose

There was also a white goose which I had seen previously and many Black-headed gulls. There was also a large number of Tufted ducks further out on the loch.

I had also been told that there was a Ruddy duck on the loch but I was unable to spot it with my binoculars or my scope. Ruddy ducks are American imports and have been culled in recent years.

Great Crested Grebe (digiscope)
Great Crested Grebe (digiscope)

Pochard and Great Crested Grebe

Walking around the loch, I spotted some Pochard and two pairs of Great Crested Grebe. Although I often see Pochard at my local bird watching pond at Baron’s Haugh in Motherwell, I have not seen any Grebe.

Most of the Pochard were huddled on the bank of the ‘island’ as it was so cold and they were using the “wing tuck” method which involves resting their heads on their backs and nuzzling their beaks into their back feathers. This also allows birds to rest their neck muscles and also makes for better heat conservation.

Pochard using ‘wing tuck’ (digiscope)
Great Crested Grebe using ‘wing tuck’ (digiscope)

Fortunately the Grebe did lift their heads occasionally so I was able to get some photographs of these beautiful birds. I used my scope and mobile phone to take some photographs of the Grebe and Pochard which came out quite well considering my hands were so cold.

I had managed to get some good photographs so I decided to wrap it up for the day and come back on a better day when the birds were more lively.

Facilities at Hogganfield Loch

As Hogganfield Loch is very popular there is always a small shop selling refreshments and there are also toilet facilities in the golf course building it is good for a day out with friends.

Digiscoping

On arriving back at the city centre I walked to an excellent camera shop in Parnie Street, off Argyle Street, called ‘Merchant City Cameras’ to get information on turning my spotting scope into a digiscope, using my SLR camera attached directly to the scope. Merchant City Cameras is a great camera shop as the staff know what they are talking about and give good advice. I have previously bought a lot of my camera equipment from them.

Came out with a Zeiss catalogue and information on how to do this. I will be getting set up for this in the near future so the photographs turn out better than they do using my mobile phone camera.

Further Information

Hogganfield Loch is off the M8 at Junction 12 and can also be accessed by  bus from Glasgow City Centre. Numbers 6, 32, 37, 38 and 96 all go there. 

Address: Hogganfield Park, Cumbernauld Road, Robroyston, Glasgow G33 1AH.