Category Archives: Apps

Demons Of The Swamp Vol.3

Fans of The Cramps will get the title and if you don’t like The Cramps a. What is wrong with you? b. Why are we friends? Maybe we’re not.

Anyway, a blog post. First in a year? Does anyone still read blogs? If so read on.

Yesterday I went on my first twitch in absolutely ages. What did I twitch? A Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, some call it Western Swamphen, I still prefer Purple Gallinule. Will it ever be accepted onto the BOU British List? I doubt it but then Chinese Pond Heron made so maybe.

Anyway one arriving at RSPB Minsmere we were soon watching Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station. I mean the Swampmonster.

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Sizewell B

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Purple Swamphen

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Purple Swamphen

After a while of watching the Swampdonkey walk round a pool a sort of purple haze descends on a man and it was time to head off to the visitor centre to buy some china tea cloths or something and a coffee and bacon butty.

Around the centre, as well as the stench of composting toilets, are lots of Buddleia bushes. These attracted a steady stream of insects and a steady stream of photographers.

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Migrant Hawker

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Peacock & Red Admiral

By now we needed to see more birds and better insects so yomped a whole 300m to look at the Stone Curlew, two adults and a chick. Can’t be too many places you can see Purple Gallinule and Stone Curlew in the same reserve.

Back towards the centre we dipped Pantaloon Bee but scored with the Beewolves and a bonus if somewhat shy Purple Hairstreak.

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Beewolf

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Beewolf

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Purple Hairstreak

We finished our day watching a pair of Honey Buzzard put on a full flight display over Westwood Lodge at Walberswick. The three lifers in the day Brian Moore’s granddaughter Rosie certainly hit a purple patch!

All photos were either iPhonescoped (still or 4K video) or taken using the camera on the iPhone 6S. Stills from video were taken using the StillShot app.

 

 

 

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The Warbler Guide App – A British Birder’s View

Every autumn I have a recurring daydream… the dream goes that I’m birding the ‘dead pines’ walk on The Garrison on Scilly. The tail end of a hurricane has battered the islands for two days but now the sun is out and the birds are busy feeding up. A Blackcap is tacking and a couple of territorial (European) Robins are tic-tic ticking but then I hear a high pitched sip. It’s unfamiliar but soon I glimpse a bright yellow throat on a bird as it moves through the pines feeding. Bright yellow super, two big white wing-bars and I’ve bagged myself Britain’s first twitchable Blackburnian Warbler. Mayhem ensues and I dine out on it, literally, all week in The Scillonian Club.

The Warbler Guide App

The Warbler Guide App

The reality is I’m more likely to find a dull greenish-grey bird that stumps me. Is it a Blackpoll Warbler, Bay-breasted or Pine? I’m not sure, I can’t realistically take out every field guide going along with my bins, scope, camera etc so all I have is my phone. Knowing I have to sort this out before I make a fool of myself, oh I learned the hard way on Shetland. Buoyed by finding a Swainson’s Thrush I got cocky. Yes that Grasshopper Warbler had pale tips but a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler that doesn’t always make.

So, I need to sort this. The Warbler Guide, see my review here, would be useful now. If only there was an app… with those calls. Well soon there will be.  Due for release in early 2015 The Warbler Guide App will be a major boost for the UK rarity hunter (I’m sure it will also be a major boost for birders at Magee Marsh or Point Pelee in Spring too or a lone UK birder in British Columbia (me)).

Calls are also something that we birders find very useful as I alluded to earlier. As I walk along with non-birders they are often surprised when I mention a bird without apparently looking… “how did you know that?” they ask and it’s often difficult to say by the call as they might not even have heard. Redwing at night is one that often gets non-birders and me as we walk back from the pub. The Warbler Guide did a great job at explaining sonograms and calls but now we are going to be able to put the song or call to the picture that can only increase our learning. The person who knows everything is usually the one who knows least. birding is all about learning.

I can’t wait to load the app and get using it and I will be posting a full review in due course. Meantimes you can keep following the blog tour by visiting Warbler Watch tomorrow for a Q&A with Tom and Scott.

Warbler Blog Tour

Brotton Borough

News came through on Thursday, as I was ill in bed with the Jimmy Smitts, that an Eastern Crowned Warbler had been seen at Brotton in Cleveland (North Riding of Yorkshire). Arses! Literally…

Still not being 100% right I thought I had to risk it and thankfully Greeny was driving the next day so here goes… bung myself up and hope I don’t give the others a dose of the Brads.

Arriving early it was like a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ but in reverse as numbers started to build up and unnerve the locals.

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The Birders

The Birders

The Birders

The Birders

Soon enough though the bird was found and led by El Presidente chaos soon reigned as anxious birders crashed around the woods.

The Birders

The Birders

Finally and by staying reasonably patient I managed my first views of Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus and eventually got a few photos and i bit of video on the iPhone by iPhonescoping.

Here is a still from the video grabbed using the StillShot app.

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Finally I managed a couple of record shots with the DSLR.

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Before The Flood

Just got a chance to process a few images from Monday’s trip to Norfolk. First up are some terrible DSLR shots of a couple of the Parrot Crossbills at Holt Lowes.

Parrot Crossbills

Parrot Crossbills

Parrot Crossbill

Parrot Crossbill

Parrot Crossbills

Parrot Crossbills

Next up are a few shots from Wells Harbour taken before the devastating storm surge that hit the North Norfolk coast on the evening of 5 December 2013

Wells Harbour

Wells Harbour

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Wells Harbour

The top one is taken from the iPhone 4S with the Pro HDR app and the lower shot using Hipstamatic. Below is a DSLR shot from the outer Harbour.

Wells Harbour

Wells Harbour

The blog title was inspired the the live album recorded by Bob Dylan and The Band back in 1974.

 

Parrot Fashion

Here’s a retro clip of the Parrot Crossbills at Holt Lowes yesterday. It was taken on the iPhone 4S using the 8mm movie app and with the Kowa TSN-IP4S adaptor on the Kowa 883 with a 30xWW eyepiece.

Parrot Crossbill

Parrot Crossbill

Quorn Mills

A quick camera+ shot this morning processed in app using colour vibrance at 50% and adding a border.

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Quorn Mills

Video Nasty

Anyone of a certain age, i.e. me, will know full well what a video nasty was. The ‘classification’ was brought about by intolerable pressure that Mary Whitehouse and her right-wing media attack dogs (some of whom also owned Pornography empires) put on the most right-wing of British Governments led by that evil witch Thatcher to stop adults watching films that they wanted to see. Well this has nothing to do with that but more to do with a new game app advertised to me on facebook called Deer Hunter.

Oh Deer!

Oh Deer!

I mean come on… it’s not even as though the film is a classic (if you’re being totally honest with yourself anyway) but really facebook. If your advertising is that smart you might want to send me apps on hunting and killing DEFRA ministers but I’m hardly likely to buy this… now if it were an app that allowed DEFRA ministers (and other Tory scum) to rag a Buzzard’s nest or pop down a few Carbofuran laced Rabbit carcasses or even help farmers knock off a few Badgers you might have a hit!