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Old Sunday 4th February 2018, 23:51   #1
bluespiderweb
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No birds? What do you like to look at then?

It's Winter here on the East Coast, and many of the birds have just moved on, so there isn't much out there unless you get lucky with that, and the weather.

I have been battling some medical issues lately, and haven't been able to get out much either-maybe good timing for not wanting to be out in 20 degree weather with a wind! That was my last experience, and it wasn't a lot of fun!

So, I'm looking out of my window (just like the Great Grey) now that I've been home too much, I know what I look at, but wondered if I'm just weird, or do others do the same when they're stuck at home, or in the field, with no birds or wildlife to look at.

Sure, I see squirrels, Crows, & Starlings (at speed mostly in the evenings), the numbers of obliging Turtle Doves roosted, and once in a while a Turkey Vulture in the sky. My last sighting of a different bird was a week or so ago now, a Tufted Titmouse with a nice orange flank feeding on the berries left on an old Cedar tree at the corner of the alley-so I got a good look with my 10x, all of about 15 SECONDS or so-yeah, so now what? He didn't return.

I am situated in a small town, looking out at the end of an alley that goes for a whole block, and then some trees beyond on a hill. At least the alley with all the garages and garbage cans has some charm-it is tree lined, with all manner of odd framed garages, but the trees are the key, thankfully for that! And it faces Southwest, so I see the sunsets when we have them, unless I'm napping!

Odd observation #1 Contrails-I really enjoy watching them develope, evolve and how intricate they are for fine tuning a binocular. At sunset they can look like they are on fire too, which I think is pretty neat. Yeah, neat-is what I still say-I never converted!

Odd ob #2 Play of light among the leaves as the sun makes its rounds, especially in backlit scenes.

Odd ob #3 Textures in tree trunks, buildings, roofs (especially slate roofs or shingles that are variegated slate).

Odd ob #4 Clouds (who doesn't look at clouds, I know), but I really love looking at them! I saw a Pteradactyl fossil in one single cloud the other day, and an Orange Persian cat with his front leg extended at sunset the same day. Sure, I'm on some medication, but really, who has not seen pictures in the clouds? Of course, they don't have to look like something either-clouds are just fantastic to watch evolve too, and their forms are so varied-and why I bought a cloud identifying book a while back. Like the prismatic colored clouds near sunset in Winter mostly I think-pink, yellow and green are what I see here sometimes-often layered. I believe what someone said or I read that it is from water vapor in the clouds. You can see some of these things without binoculars, but with them, it's so much better!

Odd ob #5 Large water droplets on a dwarf or weeping sour cherry tree in a neighbors yard. This trees thin and many paralell branches seem to hold large drops of water for a while, and if you're lucky, when the sun comes out they glow like Christmas lights in various colors. Of course, the neighbor's string of Christmas lights at night were better, but still-something nature provided was better being unexpected.

Odd ob #6 (last one, I promise) Glass windows reflecting bright, colorful patterns at sunset (green & gold or orange in combination) kind of parabolic like the old way of stacking a sheaf of wheat. I tried taking pictures of it with my telephoto, but it didn't capture it-would have to fool with the settings to be better, which I will do when I feel better.

I used to photograph most evening sunsets after I retired and was at home, which lead to a ton of pictures of the same alley/trees/houses on either side scene in such varied combinations of light, colors and sillouettes that it never bored me. OK, yeah, I'm a simple guy, for sure. But it beats the heck out of just looking a computer screen like I am now for a long time! For me, anyway. Those pictures might be lost now-as my old computer died. I did ask a tech to download them on a disc, but I'm not sure it worked yet.

I would rather be out in the woods and fields though, than anywhere else, with a nice pair of binoculars, and a place to my own. But when you can't be there, then what?! I'm not quite at the point of looking for that big jumping off spot, you know, but it's getting closer, and I can feel it! ; )

How about you guys-what do you like to look at when your favorite choices are limited by circumstance? I tried just looking AT the binoculars for a little while, but hey, I'm not THAT simple! Just kidding-I do like the look of some better than others, no doubt, including some oldies but...you know.

I do know that if you are reading this, you ARE bored, and I'm sorry for that, but maybe you've seen things others haven't, and we can all look for them too when we don't have a lot to look at!
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 00:09   #2
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Barry, very nice observations.

I of course look at the night sky, and in the daytime, people, cats, foxes, squirrels, aircraft etc.
There is always something.

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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 00:47   #3
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Barry, very nice observations.

I of course look at the night sky, and in the daytime, people, cats, foxes, squirrels, aircraft etc.
There is always something.

Regards,
B
+1 for textures in tree trunks, and there are also subtle color shadings as well.

Endlessly fascinating.

Even better when they are wet.

Anything and everything is better with binoculars. The human eye, as marvelous as it is, becomes miraculous when helped along by good optics.
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 00:52   #4
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Barry, I hope your medical issues improve. It is not a lot of fun to be stuck inside.

We border a green belt and there are no fences so you can pretty much always see some birds, squirrels, people, aircraft, cats, dogs, and other assorted things. We have some big Pine Trees and Blue Spruces which I like to look at and especially under. I also look at the night sky especially when there is something unusual taking place. I have always been an amateur astronomer having big telescopes in the past. I am always testing some binoculars so I look a lot at different signs and license plates to test for sharpness of my latest acquisition. I look at the black smoke stacks on the neighbors house against a white sky to test for CA.
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 02:55   #5
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Barry, very nice observations.

I of course look at the night sky, and in the daytime, people, cats, foxes, squirrels, aircraft etc.
There is always something.

Regards,
B
Hi Binastro, thanks! I used to look at the sky too some-but it requires me to lay on my bed and look at it upside down, and hard to get a steady hold. Maybe I'll have to give it a try again and see how it works out again on a good night!

Of course, that also runs the risk of nodding off and sending the binoculars flying if you do it laying down like me!
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 02:59   #6
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+1 for textures in tree trunks, and there are also subtle color shadings as well.

Endlessly fascinating.

Even better when they are wet.

Anything and everything is better with binoculars. The human eye, as marvelous as it is, becomes miraculous when helped along by good optics.
I do agree with that wholeheartedly, Maljunulo! You see things that aren't even there with your naked eyes! It's also feeling like Superman because you can see that well too!
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 03:10   #7
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Barry, I hope your medical issues improve. It is not a lot of fun to be stuck inside.

We border a green belt and there are no fences so you can pretty much always see some birds, squirrels, people, aircraft, cats, dogs, and other assorted things. We have some big Pine Trees and Blue Spruces which I like to look at and especially under. I also look at the night sky especially when there is something unusual taking place. I have always been an amateur astronomer having big telescopes in the past. I am always testing some binoculars so I look a lot at different signs and license plates to test for sharpness of my latest acquisition. I look at the black smoke stacks on the neighbors house against a white sky to test for CA.
Thanks Dennis, no, it's not fun. But I have been out, to do errands, etc, just not for fun much at all. My fun is behind double glazed window pane right now, but I'm very glad I have that at least, and binoculars make it so much better!
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 04:26   #8
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Barry,

Keep your head up, the rain has finally stopped and a nice night after all for viewing the night sky, the sun will be out soon and your Eagles are Superbowl Champs.

A.W.
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 08:07   #9
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I really enjoyed reading your post and couldn't agree more about clouds. These swathes of water vapour are endlessly fascinating. From our upstairs back window we have a line of oak trees at the bottom of our long narrow back garden and a variety of other trees scattered about. Some of them have had leaf buds ready for spring for a while now, some wait till later. Some of them have moss in forks that our Long-tailed Tits gather to build nests with in a couple of months time and there are a few patches of lichens too. We have some visitors from your side of the pond too: Grey Squirrels. And although they have brought some problems with them their behaviour is interesting as are the few neighbourhood cats to dare to prowl through our garden. They all understand having a finger pointed at them while you stare at them. One or two stare back for a while but they all slink off in the end. We like cats but discourage them round the back because we have bird feeders there that have birds standing in line all day.
Is this possible for you? I mean to put out a seed feeder with sunflower hearts in and another with fat blocks in, and if you can, a bowl to catch rainwater with a few stones in so the birds can decide how wet they want to get. If you can do this then in a couple of weeks you should get a few bird visitors coming regularly in the winter.
Behind the row of oaks the ground falls away because we are on a hill and over the tops of the oaks we can see houses on the other side of the valley and above them we have what we call moors. These are wild open country on acid soils and which have a fabulous show of pink heather at the end of summer. The houses are interesting with different roofing materials and different colours, as are the parked cars. This variety of colours is great for checking out the colour balance of binos. In the few farm fields between the houses and the moors we can sometimes see flocks of sheep (in a month or two there will be lambs careering about too) small ponies, the occasional big horse, but never any cows.
Down one side of our back garden is a Hawthorn hedge and sometimes it is covered with spiders webs that light up when the sun is shining from the right angle and after a shower sometimes it sparkles with rain drops and all of this stuff looks better through binos.
We live about 40 miles from one of our biggest airports so the sky is often criss-crossed with contrails and the airliners that make them. We are also under the track of airliners heading across the Atlantic on a 'big circle' route and very occasionally we get something special flying over like the Battle of Britain trio of Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire, but more frequent are helicopters and last week there was an army twin-rotor Chinook that cruised through sounding like nothing on earth and looking like something prehistoric.
Sometimes our back garden is home to a family of Wood Mice and a few years back they persisted long enough for me to get an article written about their behaviour and we have had visits from other mammals too: fox, field vole, bank vole, brown rat and common shrew.
With some binos to hand there is always something to look at, but I hope your medical condition improves soon so you can get outside more regularly when the weather picks up.

Lee
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 08:43   #10
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Thank you Andy, yes, I did manage to get some skyviewing tonight for a short chance between the weather. I got to see Orion, and probably Saturn and Jupiter before the clouds moved in again tonight. Yeah, how about them boids?!
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 09:17   #11
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Great story!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
Barry
I really enjoyed reading your post and couldn't agree more about clouds. These swathes of water vapour are endlessly fascinating. From our upstairs back window we have a line of oak trees at the bottom of our long narrow back garden and a variety of other trees scattered about. Some of them have had leaf buds ready for spring for a while now, some wait till later. Some of them have moss in forks that our Long-tailed Tits gather to build nests with in a couple of months time and there are a few patches of lichens too. We have some visitors from your side of the pond too: Grey Squirrels. And although they have brought some problems with them their behaviour is interesting as are the few neighbourhood cats to dare to prowl through our garden. They all understand having a finger pointed at them while you stare at them. One or two stare back for a while but they all slink off in the end. We like cats but discourage them round the back because we have bird feeders there that have birds standing in line all day.
Is this possible for you? I mean to put out a seed feeder with sunflower hearts in and another with fat blocks in, and if you can, a bowl to catch rainwater with a few stones in so the birds can decide how wet they want to get. If you can do this then in a couple of weeks you should get a few bird visitors coming regularly in the winter.
Behind the row of oaks the ground falls away because we are on a hill and over the tops of the oaks we can see houses on the other side of the valley and above them we have what we call moors. These are wild open country on acid soils and which have a fabulous show of pink heather at the end of summer. The houses are interesting with different roofing materials and different colours, as are the parked cars. This variety of colours is great for checking out the colour balance of binos. In the few farm fields between the houses and the moors we can sometimes see flocks of sheep (in a month or two there will be lambs careering about too) small ponies, the occasional big horse, but never any cows.
Down one side of our back garden is a Hawthorn hedge and sometimes it is covered with spiders webs that light up when the sun is shining from the right angle and after a shower sometimes it sparkles with rain drops and all of this stuff looks better through binos.
We live about 40 miles from one of our biggest airports so the sky is often criss-crossed with contrails and the airliners that make them. We are also under the track of airliners heading across the Atlantic on a 'big circle' route and very occasionally we get something special flying over like the Battle of Britain trio of Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire, but more frequent are helicopters and last week there was an army twin-rotor Chinook that cruised through sounding like nothing on earth and looking like something prehistoric.
Sometimes our back garden is home to a family of Wood Mice and a few years back they persisted long enough for me to get an article written about their behaviour and we have had visits from other mammals too: fox, field vole, bank vole, brown rat and common shrew.
With some binos to hand there is always something to look at, but I hope your medical condition improves soon so you can get outside more regularly when the weather picks up.

Lee
Lee, I can't thank you enough for taking me for a trip to somewhere I've always wanted to go-Merry Old in fact! What a wonderful story and write up, thanks very much for my visit with you! ; ) I really feel like I've been out of the house now, and I had a lovely time! I love England's countryside, especially all the old growth trees, and surrounds. It seems so less sterile than here, where everything like that is devastated when we build things. I have quite a few books with lots of pictures of your beautiful country.

I would have put up a feeder and bath a long time ago if I could, but we rent an apartment, so it isn't possible. My back alley view brings birds only as close as about 30 yards or so where they can roost on something. That's why I like 10x, I think!

We live about 30-35 miles or so from Philadelphia Int'l airport, and have helicopters around all the time. No Chinooks though! These single rotors make enough racket-I can't imagine what a double like the Chinook sounds like, other than too loud for me! The compression alone is something I don't like to hear/feel when they fly over us here (I'm a bit sensitive to noise you see). Would love to see the WWII trio you mentioned though-love those Spits!

Thanks for the look through your binos, Lee, it was a lot of fun!
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 09:32   #12
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You are most welcome.
Now here is an idea. Over here you can buy seed feeders for birds that attach to the outside of your windows with suckers (its the feeders that attach with suckers, not the birds). Would this work for you if they are available in the States? The birds get used to coming close to your window but it takes longer than a feeder in a garden. One bonus is that when the birds are so close you can easily see differences in plumage so you can eventually hope to recognise individuals. Even if you can't do this there are other things you can do. For example when we first put up one of these window-feeders we could always see maybe 4 Coal Tits coming from the hawthorn hedge to the feeder. However when I noticed the clear differences in their facial patterns I began making rough sketches of these and before many days had passed we knew there was more than 12 individuals visiting the feeder and yet we only ever saw a maximum of 4 at any one time.
Good luck and once again thanks for your kind words.

Lee

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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 15:53   #13
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Hi Barry,
Meteors are seen fairly easily from inside near a window, and the occasional fireball.

You are probably too far south, but I have also seen aurorae and noctilucent clouds from inside and photographed them.

During the day with the curtains almost closed I get a constant display in colour of passing cars, some identifiable like Minis.
This is because a small gap in the curtain turns the whole room into a camera obscura.
Surprisingly, because of the orientation the cars are seen the right was up.
But upside down would also be O.K.

The helicopters here are usually police seeking criminals but also air ambulance and general.

Then there are balloons that are seen often. Why I don't know, perhaps kids lose them. Sometimes many at a time.

Buzzards are fairly frequent at about 1,600ft high and I have probably seen them at night with the Canon 18x50
IS.
Crows, magpies, pigeons are abundant plus robins and smaller birds. Sparrows once common have almost vanished. Some blackbirds. Parakeets sometimes and ducks, although I don't know what types. All from indoors. Owls also in the old large oak in the back garden.
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 16:20   #14
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Besides the above, there are rainbows and double bows to be seen from indoors as well as halos and other atmospheric phenomena
Moon coronas also and moon halos.

If I have a glass of water on the table and the light bounces off the surface of the water onto the wall, I can see this solid building shake when a truck goes by. A primitive seismometer.

When the Sun shines through another glass tumbler there are gorgeous prismatic colours on the kitchen work top which I often photograph. Mainly caustic curves.

If the Sun is getting low through another window with drawn curtains, with a small gap, numerous images of the Sun appear on the wall opposite, one above the other, and slowly move across the wall. Basically, pinhole images of the Sun. Usually 12 plus images.

Then there are strange mulitple lines on the ceiling from another window that I also photograph. Not sure what these are.
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Old Monday 5th February 2018, 20:29   #15
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No birds? What do you like to look at then?
All the smoking hot soccer moms in their Suburbans, Tahoes, and whatall.


(Just kidding-this reply is made purely in jest-I don't even look at birds through bins IN MY OWN YARD if they are in the direction of the neighbors houses for fear I'll get branded "the creep"!)
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 04:37   #16
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I like to look at things that are far away. I am fortunate to live in a deep mountain valley with two very different looking mountainsides depending on which side of the valley you're on. One side is deeply forested and the other side is grassy and moving towards High Desert and Oregon's Great Basin. I hike daily for two or three hours and I love looking across the valley. It's several miles so I like 10x these days. I use compacts because of the long up and down hiking. Right now I'm really digging some Bushnell Legends 10x25. With a harness so I can carry the weight I like Zen Ray 9x36s.
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 05:25   #17
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Wow, even the black crow flew in for this one! Haven't seen you around these parts in a long while. Sounds like a lovely place to be, and good for your 2-3 hour daily hikes! You must be doing something right! ; )

And Binastro, thank you for elaborating on your obsevations around the house-they are very interesting! Great other tips too for viewing!

I know what you mean, David in NC about keeping a low profile too, but also for other reasons as well. I have been keeping watch on my neighborhood drug dealer down the alley too, and not something I wish was messing up my enjoyment of the sunsets I want to see! I try not to let them see that I am watching, but hopefully one of these days law enforcement will take care of them, I hope.
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 18:29   #18
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Greetings bluespiderweb, Yes it's been some time. I hope you are well and happy. I'm looking for a couple of new bins so I knew where to go to get even more confused lol.

Walking that two or three hours is all due unfortunately now to Opiate meds as I have a nerve disease that causes lots of pain and numbness in my body and especially my feet. I'm old finally and have to face these things. But without my dogs, my binos and the mountains I don't think life would have much worth for me so let's keep hoping the dogs and I can keep walking. We are having an unusually warm sunny winter here so it's been great. It's over 60 degrees today and sunny which is perfect for hiking at around 3000 ft. Yesterday I saw a Pileated woodpecker. There are a pair that nest near me.
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 18:53   #19
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Greetings bluespiderweb, Yes it's been some time. I hope you are well and happy. I'm looking for a couple of new bins so I knew where to go to get even more confused lol.

Walking that two or three hours is all due unfortunately now to Opiate meds as I have a nerve disease that causes lots of pain and numbness in my body and especially my feet. I'm old finally and have to face these things. But without my dogs, my binos and the mountains I don't think life would have much worth for me so let's keep hoping the dogs and I can keep walking. We are having an unusually warm sunny winter here so it's been great. It's over 60 degrees today and sunny which is perfect for hiking at around 3000 ft. Yesterday I saw a Pileated woodpecker. There are a pair that nest near me.
Sorry to hear of your ills, black crow, but I do know some of what you speak there too. Good for you for not letting it keep you down though. Sure, you'll get all the confusing advice you want here and more! ; ) For Free!

Keep on Truckin'!
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Old Tuesday 6th February 2018, 18:57   #20
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The advice here is only free until you take it. LOL.
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Old Thursday 8th February 2018, 20:32   #21
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I like to hike up to a nice vantage point at my local park and glass across the cityscape at night.
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Old Friday 9th February 2018, 18:49   #22
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That's a nice idea, nac. We don't have a ceety park here, just a town park that closes at sunset! Not much of a veiw either, except for daytime. More birds there though, than in my neighborhood.

Another thing I enjoy looking at are the brick houses on one side of the block. They face the sunset, so they light up at that time, and they are very textured because of the uneven brickwork of the old houses. Nice for checking field of view and focus too.
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Old Friday 9th February 2018, 21:35   #23
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Lovely thread this. And best wishes to all contributors who are dealing with health issues. As regards looking at non-bird stuff, I agree clouds are a must. Especially in these latitudes (53N) with low winter sun over the Atlantic in the evening. And stuff in the sky. Once (years ago) I saw (from the West of Ireland!) a shuttle take-off. Well, a shuttle a few minutes after take-off. Meteors, various constellations. Ships, yachts, prawn-fishing boats and trawlers. Patterns on the surface of the sea. Breakers miles off-shore. On land, in the countryside, archaeology, signs of earlier human habitation. Sometimes what looks like a blank barren hillside, will, on closer inspection with binos, reveal ancient potato-rills, the outlines of a bothy, a few stones that once formed the base of a shebeen where some family eked out a living. I've even found with binos the traces of old 'fulacht fias', which are very ancient cooking sites that involved a pit, a surrounding earthen bank, and cooking or brewing by means of roasted stones thrown into the water-filled pit. I think the self-taught skill of observing birds that most of us acquired as kids serves to make us a little bit more observant and reflective when we look at 'other stuff'. I've never found a good fossil though.
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Old Saturday 10th February 2018, 00:17   #24
Patudo
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If I had no birds to observe I would probably sell most of my binoculars. For me nothing comes close to observing a bird in all its vibrant life (except maybe what gunut mentioned in post #32 in the other thread).

bluespiderweb, I was just thinking that if there are good numbers of starlings, doves and so on in your area as you describe, there might be a Cooper's hawk or two lurking around. From what I gather these birds do quite well in urban/suburban areas and it would be genuinely challenging and satisfying to locate them and figure out their habits. I have seen the Cooper's hawk's smaller European cousin, the Eurasian sparrowhawk, right in the middle of London and a Birdforum member called ChrisKten, also living in the London area, has posted many superb photos of sparrowhawks snapped in his garden. See thread http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=351565
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Old Saturday 10th February 2018, 03:19   #25
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Originally Posted by nacmancer View Post
I like to hike up to a nice vantage point at my local park and glass across the cityscape at night.
Cities can be beautiful at night. I have 25X100 Oberwerks on my deck and can glass parts of my town at night as I live on a hill. There's a couple of winery's about a mile away I can see and look in on the people tasting wines through their big windows.
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