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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 20:46   #1
ColinD
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Caspian Tern, but a bit of moan about digi scoping

Just experienced the highs and the lows of modern day birding. When I learned that my sons needed dropping off at their friends in Rainford for the afternoon, my initial reaction was great, Martin Mere here I come. However before setting out, I decided to have a quick look at Birdguides just in case. I had mixed emotions when I saw that there was a Caspian Tern at Leighton Moss, on the Eric Morecombe pools.

Mixed emotions, because at less than an hours drive, and being one of the commonest species I have never seen in the UK, I felt I had to go for it, but I really have dipped on so many Caspian Terns in the past, that it hardly seemed worth the effort to inevitably be told that it had gone, probably to Martin Mere knowing my luck!

Anyway, I went, but with a heavy heart. Loads of cars on the car park when I got there, I avoided making eye contact with the birders walking back from the hide, because I wanted to leave the bad news to the last minute. I reached the hide, could barely open the door because of the masses inside. I could no longer delay the inevitable - Me: "is IT still here?", Crushed and apparently dieing birder: "No, last seen an hour ago". Dear God, hides are horrendous places! I half expected him to finish with the words "Help me, please".

I didn't even go in the hide, and five minutes later I'd stomped back to the car telling myself that I hate hides at the best of times, so I'm certainly not going to wait in a crush worse than at football match, just in case a stupid tern decides to come back, on a gloriously hot sunny day. I decided to even avoid Leighton Moss itself and went to a quarry at the side of the reserve, to look for flowers and butterflies.

Here I spent a relaxing hour on my own, sunbathing amongst various orchids, and watching a variety of butterflies, dragonflies and day-flying moths go about their business. My intention had been to get off home from here and forget the tern. However, the red mist that had decended on me when I was told that the tern had not been seen had now lifted, and I sent my mate a text. Me: "Any news on the Caspian Tern?" Friend: "Last seen at 4:00pm". It was now 4:30pm, so it had obviously returned in my absence. Little did I know, at 4:00pm it was apparently on the reserve itself NOT the Eric Morecombe Pool.

So armed with half the information I needed, I headed back to the wrong place, to find the car park almost empty. Just as I started walking towards the hide though, a stream of cars started to pull onto the carpark. A miracle had happened! The tern had quit the reserve and was back on the Eric Morecambe Pool, and for once, I was leading the pack, and boy, nobody was going to overtake me!

Even so, the hide was full, but at least I got in, and got onto the bird almost straight away, a massive tern, dwarfing Teal and Redshank alike, with a carrot for a bill. Briefly it was seen in flight.

And here's the little moan. Not a big moan, just a little one, so don't take it personal. Back in the old days, when a bird was as obliging as the Caspian Tern eventually was today, birders would set up their scopes, have a good look, on rare occasions take a few notes and then go, making way for others after just a few minutes. Photographers had their own windows in hides. These days, everybody is a photographer, and apparently has the right to sit there for hours, often taking up a whole window to themselves, trying to get yet another crappy photo of the bird, while the queue grows outside the hide. At least before digital, you were paying for each photo and therefore took a limited number.

To be honest, I'd like to see all tripods banned from hides, that would double their capacity straight away. I had my scope with me, but not my tripod, and trying to force my way to a window to rest on, past the heaving masses clicking away was quite an adventure, but the point is, when you got past the forest of tripod legs, there were actually seats available at the front!

Oh well, I saw one of my bogey birds superbly, and escaped the hide to tell the tale, and had a bloody good day. Oh, and there were kids in the hide as well. Don't tell me they're learning anything about nature in a situation like that.

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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 21:12   #2
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Managed to see the bird myself a bit earlier than you Colin.Managed to squeeze into the hide and get a seat with half decent views over the heads of some birders at the front.Also noted 3 birders with cameras on tripods taking up most of the seating in the far corner opposite the bird.Two windows birderless because you couldn't get in for them.
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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 21:16   #3
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Have to admit though than I am a digiscoper,but try not to get in anybodys way.Didn't manage any shots today,bird left 5 mins after my arrival.
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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 21:33   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Pain
Managed to see the bird myself a bit earlier than you Colin.Managed to squeeze into the hide and get a seat with half decent views over the heads of some birders at the front.Also noted 3 birders with cameras on tripods taking up most of the seating in the far corner opposite the bird.Two windows birderless because you couldn't get in for them.
I saw the Caspian today as well. Good views over peoples shoulders and thru their legs. Then i squeezed to the front and managed to get a seat. Some birders at the back then looked thru my scope. i then moved out and let someone have my seat. Great to chat to some of GB's finest photographers who were in the hide as well. No moans from me, but it seems the current trend that any bird/anywhere someone has to whinge and wine about petty things. You work hard all week and you are suppose to de-stress and chill at the weekend. Relax and enjoy yourselves - you arn't at work now and you are supposed to be enjoying yourself.
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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 21:49   #5
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Good to see someone can enjoy British Caspian Terns!

No honestly, I ain't jealous.
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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 21:59   #6
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Originally Posted by Andrew
Good to see someone can enjoy British Caspian Terns!

No honestly, I ain't jealous.
Have not seen one since 1988 - an awesome monster of a bird and thoroughly enjoyable. Might even change my name to Caspia
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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 22:17   #7
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Cogratulations on the Caspian Tern, Fab bird.

As a digiscoper I try to spend no longer at a hide window on a bird than I would if I were scoping it normally. I find that experienced digiscopers have their kit preset and once on the bird will simply pop on the camera, shoot the desired images and move away for the next birder to enjoy the sights.

Must be honest though - with affordable good quality hide clamps widely available I too would like to see the demise of tripods in hides as I often fear tipping over someones pride & joy (and my insurance company is still reeling from replacing a rake of camera kit lost on a recent bird photo excursion).

Hope your birding pleasure is not unduly impacted by digiscopers in the future as we all need to demonstrate courtesy in hides to ensure nobody misses a good bird.
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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 22:57   #8
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Room enough when I got there late on. Fantastic bird, looked so mean for a tern. Only two lifers this year so far, but drake King Eider and Caspian Tern means I'm not complaining!

Presumably if everyone took detailed field notes the same problems would occur?

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Old Saturday 16th July 2005, 23:23   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinD
Back in the old days, when a bird was as obliging as the Caspian Tern eventually was today, birders would set up their scopes, have a good look, on rare occasions take a few notes and then go, making way for others after just a few minutes. Photographers had their own windows in hides. These days, everybody is a photographer, and apparently has the right to sit there for hours, often taking up a whole window to themselves, trying to get yet another crappy photo of the bird, while the queue grows outside the hide. At least before digital, you were paying for each photo and therefore took a limited number.

To be honest, I'd like to see all tripods banned from hides, that would double their capacity straight away. I had my scope with me, but not my tripod, and trying to force my way to a window to rest on, past the heaving masses clicking away was quite an adventure, but the point is, when you got past the forest of tripod legs, there were actually seats available at the front!
Personally I don't see why people spending afew minutes watching a bird and then moving on should be something to be aimed for. I will spend as long as I can watching any bird that I don't get to see often. I take photos, I take notes, I enjoy watching the birds and will happily spend hours doing so.

As for tripods in hides, I never quite understand the problem... surely a row of tripods set up behind the seats doubles the capacity of the hide, saves everyone battling to get to the seats. As for hide clamps, in my experience they're useless - I had one for a while but soon got rid of it. I found that my scope wobbled whenever anyone moved in that hide. If you find it hard to get past us tripod users in a hide I recommend use of the phrase 'excuse me' - usually solves the problem.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 00:10   #10
Rob Smallwood
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I think that the problem lies with people who are not prepared to give up space in a hide for others to enjoy the same birds.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 00:26   #11
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I have maybe 3 terns. Not even looking for them usually. Suddenly one day this spring, there they were, two huge caspian terns. I have a sort of picture, but they were sleeping.

As far as the hides go, maybe small 20x scopes ona MONOPOD is the answer. You just sit down and hold it on the floor sitting. My scope is too big for my monopod.

We had a thread on bird names some time back. The Finnish name does not mean anything much, but Räyskä still sounds comical to me. the ä is like the a in black.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 07:49   #12
Nick Smith
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Smallwood
I think that the problem lies with people who are not prepared to give up space in a hide for others to enjoy the same birds.
Its funny how on this thread and others on BF you hear birders saying things like not giving up seats in hides, and then there is the bad behaviour at twitches etc - i never see any of this. Yesterday, there was a good constant flow of movement in the hide. People asked to look thru your scope if they were at the back and had not seen it, they then got a seat soon after. I have been on most major twitches in the last three years and this year have been out birding on most days of the week. I don't see bad behaviour. On the Sooty twitch, because the tern had disappeared and our boat man wanted to head back to Cemaes Bay, we jumped ship, only this was from Holyhead. A birder who had parked at Cemaes Bay offered to drive down to Holyhead to pick us up. He did, and at 23-00hrs, he started to head home to Hants.

Bad behaviour? Maybe its because as i said in an earlier message, i work hard all week, looking forward to the weekend and to wherever i am going. I don't let litlle things irritate me.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 08:32   #13
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In fairness Colin only had a "little moan" - it wasn't a full scale rant!

Most birders are well behaved, many are extremely helpful and some exceptionally so. There are also those not so well behaved - it would be odd if it were different I suppose.

I just happen to tend to agree that at some sites (and not just twitches) "hide-hogging" does go on. There is certainly a small RSPB reserve that I visit reularly where "the locals" not only don't make space for new visitors but also make little effort to assist with locating birds of interest.

Any way, it is a gorgeous day here in sunny Manchester, my plans to search for the missing Caspian have been "kyboshed" by a poorly son so I'm going to sit in the garden and try to turn one of the Swifts in to a Pallid! (If I do you'll have to form an orderly queue as the garden isn't big and I got here first!!).
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 08:48   #14
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Wink

[quote=Rob Smallwood]
I just happen to tend to agree that at some sites (and not just twitches) "hide-hogging" does go on. There is certainly a small RSPB reserve that I visit reularly where "the locals" not only don't make space for new visitors but also make little effort to assist with locating birds of interest.

QUOTE]

Slighty different with the small hide/i'm here for the day situation. Yesterday's hide was a good size with those incredible recent inventions - moving benches to allow you to set a tripod up instead of fixed benches that you need a physics degree and be a contortionist to set your scope up. Ah but we can't set our scopes up or sit looking a birds, or take pictures, or take notes, or talk, cos the bloke behind will moan
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 09:28   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv
Personally I don't see why people spending afew minutes watching a bird and then moving on should be something to be aimed for. I will spend as long as I can watching any bird that I don't get to see often. I take photos, I take notes, I enjoy watching the birds and will happily spend hours doing so.
See I can't do that. If there is a big queue to see a bird, and if it shows well, and especially if it is an easily identifiable bird such as a Caspian Tern, I have a look for a few minutes, and then go, to give somebody else a chance. I feel guilty that I've been watching it too long whilst others haven't even seen it yet. It's old fashioned manners. I'm too sensitive I suppose.


Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv
As for tripods in hides, I never quite understand the problem... surely a row of tripods set up behind the seats doubles the capacity of the hide, saves everyone battling to get to the seats.
Not true. The tripods are behind the seats, but nobody can sit on the seats because you can't get near them.

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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 09:36   #16
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[quote=Querquedula]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Smallwood
I just happen to tend to agree that at some sites (and not just twitches) "hide-hogging" does go on. There is certainly a small RSPB reserve that I visit reularly where "the locals" not only don't make space for new visitors but also make little effort to assist with locating birds of interest.

QUOTE]

Slighty different with the small hide/i'm here for the day situation. Yesterday's hide was a good size with those incredible recent inventions - moving benches to allow you to set a tripod up instead of fixed benches that you need a physics degree and be a contortionist to set your scope up. Ah but we can't set our scopes up or sit looking a birds, or take pictures, or take notes, or talk, cos the bloke behind will moan
I said don't take it personal. Most people I'm sure who read my original post would have noticed that it was very light hearted, and not too serious, just as my attempts to see the bird weren't all that serious. Hence my visit to the quarry at Leighton Moss rather than stay in the hide awaiting the birds return. I wasn't really all that bothered if I saw any birds at all yesterday, the quarry was the place I really wanted to be.

As it happens, I had a good view of the bird and did manage to squeeze into a space to rest my scope on the window, and everybody around me was very friendly.

But now you mention it, yes I do think you should show some respect for the guy behind who wants to see it as well.

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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 10:03   #17
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I think all RSPB hides should be burnt to the ground - the only thing they attract is dudes!

:-)
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 10:27   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Smallwood
Any way, it is a gorgeous day here in sunny Manchester, my plans to search for the missing Caspian have been "kyboshed" by a poorly son so I'm going to sit in the garden and try to turn one of the Swifts in to a Pallid! (If I do you'll have to form an orderly queue as the garden isn't big and I got here first!!).
Ha ha! I was doing that yesterday as well. Didn't work for me either. all Swifts remaining solidly Common. It will happen one day, though. Still it gave me the chance to revel in their reckless dashing, which is truly one of the pleasures of birdwatching.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 10:29   #19
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I think all full RSPB hides should be burnt to the ground - the only thing they attract is dudes!

:-)
.....
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 10:32   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
I think all RSPB hides should be burnt to the ground - the only thing they attract is dudes!

:-)

Tom, the hides at Bowling Green RSPB, Radipole RSPB and Lodmore RSPB were all burnt dowm, I trust that you were not involved.
I am very surprised that the Moderators have not "burnt down" your post. Roger
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 11:19   #21
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Colin,

Just look what you have started now!!

I love the forum, and email too, but this thread does clearly illustrate that it is very hard to tell if someone is frowning or smiling when posting - however many "smiley" faces are used!

Looks like I'm barred from reserves for being grumpy and Tom will have to be run out of town for behaving like a Welsh Nationalist from the seventies!!

PS - all swifts remaining stubbornly "common".
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 11:49   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
I think all RSPB hides should be burnt to the ground - the only thing they attract is dudes!

:-)
I'm with you there mate!

Twitchers should have priority admission to all birding sites and suppression made a capital offence.

Regards

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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 12:21   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
I think all RSPB hides should be burnt to the ground - the only thing they attract is dudes!

:-)
"Real" birders shouldn't go to RSPB sites, they should leave them and the hides for us dudes!.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 18:47   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinD
I feel guilty that I've been watching it too long whilst others haven't even seen it yet. It's old fashioned manners. I'm too sensitive I suppose.
I'm not talking about stopping other people seeing the bird, but I really don't see why I shoudl move on after a few minutes. However easy the bird may be to ID, for me that's not the whole point. Sure I want to ID a bird, but I also want to watch it's behaviour, see how it flies or feeds.
As for manners - I'm happy to let others look through my scope, or to help people get on 'the bird' - but I see nothing bad mannered about enjoying it myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinD
Not true. The tripods are behind the seats, but nobody can sit on the seats because you can't get near them.
Obviously different design of hides to the ones I use locally where there are often tripod users standing and other sitting. Like I said, if your struggling to get to the seats why not say excuse me - it really does work. With my scope on a tripod it's far easier to let others have a look than if I'm balancing it on the window of the hide.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2005, 19:09   #25
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[quote=postcardcv]I'm not talking about stopping other people seeing the bird, but I really don't see why I shoudl move on after a few minutes. However easy the bird may be to ID, for me that's not the whole point. Sure I want to ID a bird, but I also want to watch it's behaviour, see how it flies or feeds. QUOTE]

So as far as your concerned if you get to the hide first, you can stay there as long as you like? It wouldn't bother you if the hide can only fit 20 people with tripods, you'd happily let another 100 wait outside for an hour or two, while you studied the birds behaviour? Or do others have to make way for the people outside, but not you?

Lets reverse the situation. Your standing at the back of the queue of 100, waiting and waiting and waiting while others inside study its behaviour. Then it's gone, and you missed it. How do you feel then? Now I know why I try to keep away from hides!

By the way, I'm not saying this is what happened with the Caspian Tern, I'm speaking hypothetically now.

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