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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

What did you see in your binoculars today? (2 Viewers)

Yesterday I got an email from eBird, rare bird alert in the county, two sightings of a long tailed duck on a lake nearby! I had to work, but this morning I took my binos and scope and hit the road to search for a new lifer! I spent some time trying to find an access to the water, eventually found a roadside nook and looked around. Canadian geese, mallards… hmmm… maybe in the distance, on the far bank.

I pulled my scope out, saw ripples from atmosphere, hard to see detail that far away, but wait, white flashes, flapping wings! Zoom in, the image darkens, but definitely flapping. Odd though, it appears to be a couple feet above the water. Perched on branch in the water? But the flapping, it keeps flapping, then pauses, wings still extended, then repeats… it’s cold, overcast, no way a bird would be sunning. I wish I could see it more clearly, definitely a duck, but can’t see more than that. I have to get closer.

I drive to a boat landing, not sure I’m really supposed to be there, but it’s early and no one will notice if I’m quick… I’m worried there’s a rare duck caught in fishing line or something, urgency justifies my potential trespass, I’m sure. I park close to the water, with binos I can see about as well now as I could with the scope from across the lake. Pull out the scope, minimum focus now (30x) I can see… duck on a post on the water… is it really a duck? It’s too upright, not the right posture at all… now I see two dozen ducks and geese in the water, clustered close to the post on the water - mallards, red heads, Canadian geese, all sitting calmly on the rippling waves… cold breeze, no one taking shelter, no bills tucked in… why are they so close together? They’re not really moving, just bobbing… what is going on…

I saw the boat on the bank a ways from the ducks earlier but thought nothing of it. The shoreline of most of this lake is dotted with boats and small docks. But now I see dark shapes in the bushes just feet from the shore by the ducks, two heavy hunters sitting, not motionless. All the birds are fake. I’m furious. I look it up, yeah, hunting is allowed here. News to me. I drive home annoyed. Will ignore future sighting alerts from that lake.
 
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We are having the rainiest autumn of (at least) the last 50 years or so around here (the island of Ibiza in Spain). Each day is an endless catalogue of clouds and striking skies. Along with the rain there's an interesting array of migratory birds that are visiting the island in this formidable weather, so day in day out you make an unexpected encounter with a species you haven't seen for a while. But yesterday I came across an old friend in its favourite spot: a kingfisher perching by the overflooded pools of the salt marshes. It stood still in the pouring rain before leaving, as it usually does, like a blue lightning in the storm. Although the light was fading fast (it was nearly around sunset time) I was lucky enough to have a bright 7x42 with me... and a scope to take the picture.

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two lifers today for thanksgiving - I'm pretty excited about them but they both get an * in my book...

1) Northern Shrike! I have been anxious to see this one since I learned about it years ago. I see pics on twitter all the time but never saw one myself. Today I'd just finished an hour long checklist in a favorite local hotspot and I was just about back to my car when I saw something land on the tip top of a tall tree, maybe 70-80m away. It had a posture like mockingbird, but I've never seen one in this area. Who knows, probably a blue jay, binoculars up - black wings and eye stripe on white/grey bird!? So far away, but it really looks like a shrike! Hurry to the edge of the lot and look again, really looks like it, but so far still, not a sharp view in my 8.5x from here. I saw it swoop down into the lower scrub. I hustled to get closer for a positive ID. 30 minutes later and no more sightings... I'm pretty sure that's what it was but dammit I wish I could be certain. I'll be back to that spot, maybe tomorrow...

2) Sharp-shinned hawk. I bet I've seen these before, but I have really struggled with distinguishing sharp-shinned from Cooper's hawks. It doesn't help that much of the time I see them they're juveniles. I think I've mostly seen Cooper's, based on size in the juveniles, and I've finally become better at recognizing the cap versus hood, distinction based on the relative color of the nape in adults. Today was the first time I could be sure that the nape of this small adult was dark. It was still a struggle from a distance, but I was able to get close enough to see, despite my dogs pulling on their leashes as I watched.

Asterisks or not, I'm pretty pleased with my birding day!

Update: went back the next morning and confirmed sighting of northern shrike - an asterisk no more!
 
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A pack of 10 wolves feeding on a Bison carcass in Yellowstone National Park. After they had fed for awhile they left the carcass, regrouped and howled for about 10 minutes. One of the most amazing things I have ever observed!
no doubt! what luck!
 
Well, not much actually.

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There was a lovely pre-sunset light and I've grabbed my "kitchen window binos" to scan the landscape (with the hope of maybe spotting some cranes), but only discover they were all fogged up. Oddly enough, I've not left the house or opened the window (so no sudden change of temperature), I wonder if the mere warmth of my hands holding the binoculars has been enough to get them fogged this badly. They were lying on the marble countertop, so maybe they were colder than I thought. I guess it's the sad story of unsealed binoculars on very humid climates. Do you also get things like this?
 
Well, not much actually.

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There was a lovely pre-sunset light and I've grabbed my "kitchen window binos" to scan the landscape (with the hope of maybe spotting some cranes), but only discover they were all fogged up. Oddly enough, I've not left the house or opened the window (so no sudden change of temperature), I wonder if the mere warmth of my hands holding the binoculars has been enough to get them fogged this badly. They were lying on the marble countertop, so maybe they were colder than I thought. I guess it's the sad story of unsealed binoculars on very humid climates. Do you also get things like this?
Did two sessions in Keoladeo Ghana today. The noisy Painted Stork colony looked great against the rising sun. Most of the morning went in watching the fishing frenzy of Cormorants (Little, Indian, and Greatarr), Darters, River Terns, Egrets ( Large, Small and Intermediate), two young Blac-headed Gulls maintained their distance. Grey and Purple Herons, Swamp and Moorhens, Waterhens and Jacanas.A lone female Black-necked Stork. A Solitary Marsh Harrier gave some nice shots.
The afternoon, a trip through the woodland led to a big female Rock Python basking. The male was coiled up beneath a tree. Red-crested Pochards, Tufted, Spotbilled Ducks, Gadwalls in good numbers. A few Greylag Geese too.
A large flock of Green Pigeons were gorging themselves on Zizyphus fruit. A few Zitting Cisticolas, Oriental Magpie Robins, Common Stonechats, Pied Bushchats two species of Bulbul. The best sighting was that of an Oriental Honey Buzzard.
A couple of Marsh Harriers again and an Indian Spotted Eagle.
Used a new binoculars. 8x32. Not sure if I will keep them.

Arijit
 
We are in full winter here, lots of snow, I saw a Coyote on the prowl from my farm house window. I used a 15x56 binocular
tripod mounted. He was looking for mice in the snow, they have a good nose and can hear the mice. Mice are an important
part of their diet, as well as most anything that they can run down.
I recall about 3 summers ago while sleeping I was awoke by a den of coyotes who had just killed a deer fawn only 50 yds from
the house.
Jerry
 
Another new visitor to my garden - spotted a male European Goldfinch from my kitchen window. Luckily my Zeiss 10x42 were standing right beside me. I spent some time watching it feed on teasel seeds. Quite a nice bird with its vivid red face.
 
During the day a couple of geese (swimming, flying and searching for food in the field), a few crows, Eurasian blue tits which I can see every day at the feeder in the garden and a robin.
And at night I looked at Orion, the Pleiades and Hyades. Used mainly my 10x45 DDoptics "Pirschler", which has quickly turned into my favourite bino, and my Optolyth 8x30 (another favourite because it is so lightweight).
 
Dark eyed Junco, and Oregon variant, pine siskin, american goldfinch, black capped chickadee, house finch, house sparrow, song sparrow, the typical bird feeder fare.
 
Male Siskin in our garden and male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers visiting our bird feed to eat the fat-blocks, much to the delight of the Blackbirds who flew down underneath the feeders to gather up all the fragments that flew off the fat-blocks as the Woodpeckers used their powerful beaks to feed.
 
Visitor to our water stations...
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