Not about everything

December 28, 2010

My first twitching experience

Filed under: biology,bird,nature — takaita @ 09:13
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Birdwatchers (or twitchers) have it easy. Personally I am more into dragonflies. Of course there is information available about which species can be found where. But then still the area is a lot larger then the dragonfly, which means some searching and luck or experience.

Birdwatchers do it differently. Whenever there is a rare bird, they come from all places to “spot” it. Some even have a deal with their employer that they can leave their job to spot a new species for their list. They get notified on their mobile phone, by email or whatever means there is for instant communication.

This time I read about an invasion of Bohemian Waxwings. A bit of a rarity. Several individuals were spotted in my city, on walking distance from my home. So I walked there. There was only one left, but so easy to find.

People watching a Bohemian Waxwing

Permanently a small group of people was standing and staring. The people can be spotted from far away. And on arrival they kindly pointed to the top of the tree where the bird was. I took a photo as well.

Bohemian Waxwing

March 13, 2009

The Robin is a curious bird

Filed under: biology,bird,nature,things to do — takaita @ 22:30
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The Robin is a curious bird. I only found out since the time I usually carry around a camera on my walks.

European Robin

Currently I am more into dragonflies than into birds. Mainly because dragonflies are easier to photograph, but also because there are fewer species of them which makes them usually easier to identify. But because the dragonfly forum which I frequent, is on the same site as a bird forum, I sometimes read go to read that bird forum. Especially in the winter when there is not much to do at the dragonfly forum.

That bird forum is interesting. When I was young I had some interest in birds and bought a quality bird guide (from my own hard-earned money) in order to identify the species I saw. I still have that guide, but it is totally out of date. It seems that every species in that guide now has been split into several species or subspecies. Of course that is mostly done to satisfy the need of the bird watchers. They love to have a check behind as many species as possible. Did you know that there is a special word for this kind of people? They are called “twitchers” and it is not easy to become a fully accepted twitcher. There is a long trajectory, in which you first see only common species, then find out that there are rare species too – which you apparently start seeing everywhere until you realize that you are just fooling yourself (and others) and return to seeing common species everywhere with only very occasionally a rare species (after which that sometimes gets eaten).

An essential part of bird watching is bird listening. I remember reading a story on mentioned forum about someone who though he had seen an extremely rare species (at least for the Netherlands).¬† Because many bird species migrate between their summer and winter residence, bird listeners spend a small capital on microphones and spend days and nights on locations where these migrating birds fly over and occasionally come to the ground to feed. With these microphones they try to identify migrating birds by their sound. I don’t know how hard that is. I have trained myself to recognize about 10 or 20 bird species by their sound. It always makes me happy to hear the first Chiffchaff again in spring – and it can surprise me sometimes that others don’t notice. But the real twitchers take that to another dimension with their microphones. So this person wrote on the forum about a sound he heard, which was familiar, but then he swa the bird and it did not look like the species it sounded like. Then he remembered that there was this species which sounds like the familiar one, looks a bit like another (also familiar) species, but is very, very rare. Did he see that very very rare species? He could not be sure, because he heard nor saw it again. But he wrote a long story on the forum with remarkable details such as how many meters away he saw the bird (he measured it very precise, something like 84.5 metres), wrote about the sound he heard and what he thought about it at that moment and then what he thought when he saw the bird and if he could be sure if the bird he saw was the same one as the bird that made the sound. I was impressed. True, not everybody on the forum was as impressed as I was.

Anyway, these kind of stories are what keeps me interested in the bird forum. People want so much to see some rare species and at the same time are aware that they are probably mistaken when they think to have seen one. This tension between desire and self-control and an effort to be ‘scientific’ gives many contributions on this forum a great suspense.

The Robin is a curious bird. I only found out since the time I usually carry around a camera on my walks. First time was when I took the photo displayed at the top. Walking in the dunes I noticed a Robin. I prepared my camera in a reflex, but mosty expecting that the bird would have flown far away by the time I had it in focus. To my surprise it did not fly away, but kept sitting there, seemingly watching me.

Last week I must have remembered that moment, when I was in a city park which has some pretentions to be natural, and saw another Robin no too far away. The thought came to me that I should just stay there with my camera ready until the bird would come to watch me from a bit closer. Half to my surprise that was exactly what happened. The bird came to me to have a closer look. And this was the result.

Robin

October 30, 2008

Long exposure bird photography

Filed under: bird,nature,nature photography,photography — takaita @ 20:46
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The “Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen” (Society of German Animal Photographers) has a prestigious yearly photography contest. Recently the 2008 results have been published: the “Europ√§ischer Naturfotograf des Jahres 2008” (European Nature Photographer of the Year 2008).

You will understand that I want to be mentioned there too one day. So I looked at the winning photos closely. One thing was interesting: many winning bird photos were long exposure photos, but taken in daylight. Moving birds, a blurred image. I am not sure if I can explain it well, it is the best you will just look at it. Check out this photo, and this and also this one, and you understand what I mean.

This is inspiring photography. This is something to try myself. I took my camera, set it on ‘shutter priority’ at 1/5 or 1/20 seconds and went to the nearest park in my city. There are no rare birds over there, just some gulls and pigeons, ducks and such. You can imagine. That does not matter, this is not about the species, this is about the revolution in bird photography. A revolution I did not start, but of which I certainly want to be part of.

And here are my results:

Long exposure bird photograhy

Long exposure bird photograhy

Long exposure bird photography

What do you think? Am I going to be the next winner of this contest?

(Additionally, I did some more of this and some results aren’t that bad: see here)

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