Category Archives: iPhone 5S

Otter Than Hell

Embarked on an ill-fated trip to Aberdeen and Northumberland this week with Colin and Steve. We should have known it was doomed when the M6 was closed causing us to divert up the A1 and A66.

Otter, Seaton Park, Aberdeen

Otter, Seaton Park, Aberdeen

Arriving at Aberdeen there was no sign of the Harlequin Duck despite a number of visiting and local birders scouring the area. Dipper is always nice to see but I don’t normally travel 450 miles to year tick one. This Otter though did provide some entertainment and did allow me to film it on the iPhone.

Goosander

Goosander

After finally admitting defeat we tried to salvage something from the trip by going for the Black Scoter at Cheswick in Northumberland. Again despite much searching we were again bitterly disappointed.

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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

Penny Buns

This afternoon I took a bit of TOIL, I had planned to take the whole day but decided with the prospect of a night game in the FA Cup Second Round a possibility not to use up too much leave. Came home and decided I’d take Minnie for a walk on Beacon Hill.

Almost the first Mushrooms I found were Ceps Boletus edulis. The first lot were pretty small and a bit dog-eared but the next one was a whopper! I don’t have small hands but I got my hand in for scale.

Cep (Boletus edulis)

Cep (Boletus edulis)

Cep (Boletus edulis)

Cep (Boletus edulis)

Cep (Boletus edulis)

Cep (Boletus edulis)

Further round were plenty of Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria… my favourite!

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

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.

141031_Brotton_2

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

Fungi

Yesterday morning Leigh and I took Minnie up to Beacon Hill Country Park and to do a bit of mushroom hunting. My target was Fly Agaric but the first shroom we came across was this. I think it’s a False Death Cap Amanita citrina but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

False Death Cap (Amanita citrina)

False Death Cap (Amanita citrina)

Further up the path we found plenty of Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria most of which had been battered but this one was in one of the sheep paddocks  and the latter one was an older individual right by the path.

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

 

Unmasked Shrike

After almost 10 years of hurt I finally nailed down Masked Shrike for my British List… and at Spurn! It almost didn’t happen. I hadn’t really noticed that since I upgraded to iOS8 I hadn’t been getting birdnews messages from Birdguides, so on Saturday mid morning I was shocked to log on to facebook to see messages about a Masked Shrike at Spurn… arses! I sent plenty of urgent texts, Greeny and Jamesy had both gone, Archie wasn’t around he was in Norfolk. Bollocks! Suddenly a text back from Dave Hutton… he was up for the trip on Sunday. Yes! With Masked Shrike veterans Dave Gray and Archie both on board we had a car full.

Sunday morning was clear with stars littering the dark skies above Quorn as I took Minnie  out. Don’t get me wrong the County Council turning off streetlights pleases me… clear skies overnight before a twitch make me anxious. My last attempt at a Masked Shrike ended in disaster at Uttoxeter when Keith Allsop’s oh so reliable Saab 93 blew a head-gasket on the A50 near midnight back in 2004.

140921_Spurn_1

The Bridge of Sighs

By the time we crossed the Humber Bridge we knew the bird was there and we were soon watching a stunning juvenile Masked Shrike. I love Shrikes, they’re my favourite genus and a new one on my British List is something special. My long range iPhonescoped shot was poor, in fact it’s a video grab that a took as the bird flicked its tail around in true Masked style.

Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike

After a while we decided to try and see some of the other great birds around but on the road we stumbled into the Shrike again giving superb views.

Masked Shrike © Dave Huttom

Masked Shrike © Dave Hutton

Here’s another shot, this time a digiscoped shot by Justin Carr.

Masked Shrike © Justin Carr

Masked Shrike © Justin Carr

In the Churchyard we couldn’t connect with the Wood Warbler or the OBP on The Canal but we had great views of the Red-breasted Flycatcher and this dancing Whinchat.

Kilnsea Churchyard

Kilnsea Churchyard

Whinchat

Whinchat

Spurn Point

Spurn Point

After a Pasty and Coffee it was where to go next. Sammy’s Point was decided upon to get far from the maddening crowds.

Easington Bound

Easington Bound

At Sammy’s we couldn’t find the Yellow-browed but another less showy R-b Fly gave us all the runaround.

Archie Plays With His Squeaker

Archie Plays With His Squeaker

Celebrating In Style... Lager Shandy!

Celebrating In Style… Lager Shandy!

 

By now we were ready for home and Archie wanted to listen to Manure demolish Leicester City on the wireless… 2-1 at half-time meant United were back… at 3-1 he was ecstatic… oh how the mighty fall!

Archie! What's The Score

Archie! What’s The Score?

With his pride having taken a battering the only option left was to join Dave and find peace in sleep… wrong!

Sweat Dreams

Sweat Dreams

Sweaty Dreams

Sweaty Dreams

A great day out with some brilliant laughs – almost all at Archie’s expense. Still he has the power to financially cripple the lot of us… what a banker!

 

GBrf Class 73/9 73961 On Test At Rothley GCR

Yesterday my work took me to Rothley station on the Great Central Railway where amongst the Wednesday scheduled services they were testing one of GBrf’s newly rebuilt 73/9 Electro-diesels. Being rebuilt locally at Brush in Loughborough with an MTU 1,600 hp V8 engine replacing the 600 horsepower (447 kW) English Electric 4SRKT Mk II engine. The GCR with it’s 75mph test running speed limits being on Brush’s doorstep it’s a great place to catch up with stuff on test. Here are a couple of shots of 73961 coupled to Class 31 D5830 for insurance.

GBrf Class 73/9 73961 at Rothley (GCR)

GBrf Class 73/9 73961 at Rothley (GCR)

GBrf Class 73/9 73961 at Rothley (GCR)

GBrf Class 73/9 73961 at Rothley (GCR)

Also around was the partially built Project X Diesel Brake Tender (TOPS code RTV).

Diesel Brake Tender

Diesel Brake Tender