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Using bicycle for bird watch

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Old Friday 17th November 2006, 11:35   #1
SerpUa
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Using bicycle for bird watch

How you use the bicycle for bird inventory or/and bird observation?
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Old Friday 17th November 2006, 11:51   #2
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Hopefully Karl J who is a long time member of BF will see this thread. I am sure he does all his birdwatching on his bike.
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Old Friday 17th November 2006, 12:43   #3
matt green
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Using a bicycle for birding is fantastic,

Especialy if you cover an area where you could not possibly use a car,ie small forest tracks etc.

Also you have a better awareness of birdsong,your unrestricted vision is
also helpfull when looking for animal tracks/footprints.

haven't ridden a bike myself recently (used to,and lots),my local area of interest is easily accessable on foot,however if I lived somewhere like exmoor
or the south downs I would definately use a bike as my main form of transport.

It also stops you from getting fat (note to self)

Matt
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Old Saturday 18th November 2006, 18:21   #4
Karl J
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Hi SerpUa, always good to hear of another birder cycling. I think there are a fair few out & about

as matt says its fantastic way to get around, as you get to hear the birdsong (even if, like me, you don't know what it is) and can stop to see whats about.

anyhow i suppose the first thing is how to carry your gear about, and that really depends on your bike. It'll help if you have a rack on the back of your bike as you can strap your tripod on there. A scope will strap on the back too but perhaps it's wise to wrap it in something protective first (like carpet underlay or bubble-wrap ... maybe have the stuff permanently taped onto your scope), or perhaps just put it into a pannier bag so it doesn't get damaged if you go over bumps and things. Fixing a shopping basket on the back works well too, you just throw everything in there and strap your tripod across the top of it.

I would certainly suggest avoiding a rucksack though as it'll make you sweaty and can cause lower back pain.

Personally i then put my binoculars, digi camera, notebook, guidebook etc all into a handlebar-bag on the front as these are most likely to be needed first (along with my sandwiches )

If you haven't got a rack on the back, well ... you can get around it with a little ingenuity and a bit less gear. A water bottle cage is just about big enough to fit a small scope (Opticron Mighty Midget etc) into. Binoculars, notebook etc will all fit into the rear pocket of a cycling jersey or jacket. Or you could hang your bino's round your neck and under one arm, that way they won't swing about but will still be handy.

Then just decide where to go

(and don't forget to oil your chain )

cheers
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Old Saturday 18th November 2006, 18:39   #5
bitterntwisted
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl J
Hi SerpUa, always good to hear of another birder cycling. I think there are a fair few out & about

as matt says its fantastic way to get around, as you get to hear the birdsong (even if, like me, you don't know what it is) and can stop to see whats about.

anyhow i suppose the first thing is how to carry your gear about, and that really depends on your bike. It'll help if you have a rack on the back of your bike as you can strap your tripod on there. A scope will strap on the back too but perhaps it's wise to wrap it in something protective first (like carpet underlay or bubble-wrap ... maybe have the stuff permanently taped onto your scope), or perhaps just put it into a pannier bag so it doesn't get damaged if you go over bumps and things. Fixing a shopping basket on the back works well too, you just throw everything in there and strap your tripod across the top of it.

I would certainly suggest avoiding a rucksack though as it'll make you sweaty and can cause lower back pain.

Personally i then put my binoculars, digi camera, notebook, guidebook etc all into a handlebar-bag on the front as these are most likely to be needed first (along with my sandwiches )

If you haven't got a rack on the back, well ... you can get around it with a little ingenuity and a bit less gear. A water bottle cage is just about big enough to fit a small scope (Opticron Mighty Midget etc) into. Binoculars, notebook etc will all fit into the rear pocket of a cycling jersey or jacket. Or you could hang your bino's round your neck and under one arm, that way they won't swing about but will still be handy.

Then just decide where to go

(and don't forget to oil your chain )

cheers
Karl,

have you ever looked at somehow getting your scope handlebar-mounted so you can bird without ever dismounting? I've been pondering this and reckon it must be possible somehow, but not sure if it's desirable or useful?

Also, is bubble-wrap/carpet enough to dampen shocks. I'd be very concerned at the damage vibration might do to my scope. Do you or anyone know if this a real problem and how you can be sure its mitigated?

Thanks,
Graham

PS- SerPua, hope you get set up to bird and bike. Your work and location are fascinating. You shoudl document all your experience - I reckon there is a book deal for the story of a woman birding chernobyl on a bike!
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Old Saturday 18th November 2006, 20:01   #6
Karl J
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Hi Graham

similar but not handlebar mounted - i did come up with a way of mounting a scope along the crossbar a couple of years ago with a section of a monopod fixed inside some guttering downpipe, but the problem was keeping the bike steady enough to use it as a tripod in anything more than the slightest breeze. I think it'd probably work better though with the scope attatched to the rear rack somehow, and then use a rear-mounted kickstand to keep it upright and steady (hopefully)... but i havent tried it

as for the underlay, perhaps i should have mentioned a stay-on case too - i just assumed everyone had them on. So that'll absorb some of the vibration, the tyres absorb a bit too, and the underlay hopefully absorbs enough of whats left so nothing is damaged. Perhaps its none too scientific but mine's done several 1000 miles like that on the road and still works fine / doesn't rattle etc. Admittedly i wouldnt want to try it on a rocky off-road / mountainous track though.

SerPua - i'd second Graham as i'd be really interested to know how you get on & what you find etc
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Old Saturday 18th November 2006, 20:21   #7
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Cheers, Karl. Your experience gives me more confidence. Underlay cut to allow focus wheel access - in addition to the stay-on case I have - should be enough then. But that's with scope in pannier bag, not bungeed straight onto bike, right? And that's not off-roading, just bridleways?

Bike as tripod with stability was a potential stumbling block I realised. Standard kick-stand doesn't really do it.

Thanks,
Graham
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Old Sunday 19th November 2006, 15:59   #8
Karl J
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Hi again Graham, either bungeed onto the rack or in the pannier. ... actually if mine was in the pannier i prob wouldn't bother with the underlay. Another idea i sometimes use is a bit of quite hard chair-foam about 30cm x 20cm (i got it off a stall on Norwich market). Duct taped up it makes a pretty solid but springy cushion and then put that between the rack & scope before its bungeed on

handy for sitting down on the job too

(last reply ought to have said sink waste pipe for the mounting, not the guttering downpipe i tried first because that was too big so i changed it . Still didn't work properly though ... huh)

And yes, road & reasonably well surfaced bridleway etc
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Old Sunday 19th November 2006, 23:18   #9
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when im "cycle-birding" i usually wear a vest or combat trousers so i can stash smaller items (digi camera, notebook..) and wear my binoculars underneath my jacket so they dont swing around a lot. I also bring a messenger bag (the type that has one diagonal strap), it is easy to swing around so you can get to a field guide or camera. i also have a little bag that fits on the inside of the frame, just below the seat. thats better for summer, when you dont want to wear to many layers.

my advice is
-travel light
-bring a drink with plenty of glucose/sucrose ( ie energy drink)
-bring a multi-tool, especially when off-road
-keep eyes and ears open!
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Old Tuesday 20th February 2007, 19:30   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spargeltarzan
when im "cycle-birding" i usually wear a vest or combat trousers so i can stash smaller items (digi camera, notebook..) and wear my binoculars underneath my jacket so they dont swing around a lot. I also bring a messenger bag (the type that has one diagonal strap), it is easy to swing around so you can get to a field guide or camera. i also have a little bag that fits on the inside of the frame, just below the seat. thats better for summer, when you dont want to wear to many layers.

my advice is
-travel light
-bring a drink with plenty of glucose/sucrose ( ie energy drink)
-bring a multi-tool, especially when off-road
-keep eyes and ears open!

Buy a "scopac" for carrying your scope on its tripod whilst on the bike - they are fab as you can use both hands for riding and it won't damage your scope as your body will absorb the shocks.
Cheers
Jono Leadley
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Old Tuesday 20th February 2007, 20:18   #11
Karl J
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hi jono, interesting advice

i havent got one so never tried it, but if we're talking about the same Scopac here i'd be a bit careful with carrying that on a bike. From just looking at it wouldn't it make your centre of gravity a good bit higher and make you a little unstable ?

and bear in mind the shape of your back is not the same when riding a bike as it is when walking (which as i understand it is what it was designed for)


but interesting to know if anyone else uses one on a bike ?
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Old Thursday 22nd February 2007, 20:31   #12
Jono L
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl J
hi jono, interesting advice

i havent got one so never tried it, but if we're talking about the same Scopac here i'd be a bit careful with carrying that on a bike. From just looking at it wouldn't it make your centre of gravity a good bit higher and make you a little unstable ?

and bear in mind the shape of your back is not the same when riding a bike as it is when walking (which as i understand it is what it was designed for)


but interesting to know if anyone else uses one on a bike ?
That is the exact thing. I carry a big ol Leica 77 on it with a slik tripod, a weighty combo if ever there was one and it is not destablising at all. The worst thing is I am quite into my mountainbiking and if I get a bit excited and do something a little daft I often feel the pain of my Leica colliding with the back of my bonce.

I used to carry my set up on a shoulder strap but I had a near fatal accident in a gravel pit with one of those huge yellow quarry lorries when my pedal fell off, I went over the handle bars and ended up trussed up by my tripod strap like a chicken, just as the juggernaut came bearing down on me......
Go for the scopac, they rule!

I have also recently got over the fact that they look a bit dudey as being on Fair Isle, I saw the legend Derek Shaw the Warden using one, so they must be cool!

And no more back ache is bliss....

Cheers
Jono
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