Sunday, June 5, 2016

Curlew Sandpiper! - 13 May 2016

Yesterday, Steve Jones stumbled upon an ABA Code 3 Curlew Sandpiper at the corner of Angola and Raab Rds in Swanton, OH. The Code 3 status means that only 1 or 2 birds are seen annually in North America, and that fact that this bird was found in breeding plumage made it even more special. I was able to digiscope it from ~150' away!

Wakodahatchee Wetlands, FL - 04 May 2016

I hopped on the Florida Turnpike and headed north about an hour’s drive to Delray Beach, Fl and Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The 56-acre wastewater treatment facility houses the state’s largest Wood Stork rookery, and the ~½ mile boardwalk wends its way through several ponds and a waterbird paradise.

Gray Kingbird

Purple Swamphen

Least Bittern

Black-necked Stilt on nest

Glossy Ibis chicks and Tricolored Heron chick foreground

Burrowing Owls! - 04 May 2016

While in Miami I drove to Brian Piccolo County Park to look for Burrowing Owls. Sunrise at 7 am provided some nice digiscoping opportunities from about 40' away. Zeiss 85T*Fl, 40X W eyepiece, Sony a6300, Sigma 30mm f/2.8, Digidapter.

Digiscoping Lizards - 02 May 2016

While in Miami, FL for several days I visited Crandon Park and tried digiscoping some shorebirds. I then visited Fairchild Gardens, where birds were largely absent, but the lizards were not. So, I digiscoped everything from Spiny Iguanas to smaller Basilisk Lizards to tiny Anoles. Zeiss 85T*Fl, 40X W eyepiece, Sony a6300, Sigma 30mm f/2.8, Digidapter.


Prelude to Biggest Week in American Birding - 30 Apr 2016

I had a few opportunities to digiscope while visiting Magee Marsh in NW Ohio. The BWIAB Festival begins this week, but work scheduling will keep me from attending. So, I took advantage of some nice weather and got out there a week early. This Warbling Vireo provided some gorgeous portraits from just 20' away. Zeiss 85T*Fl, 40X W eyepiece, Sony a6300, Sigma 30mm f/2.8, Digidapter, ISO 500, 1/250 sec. at f/3.5.

A stop at the Ottawa NWR gave me opportunity to digiscope some newly-hatched Killdeer.

Sony a6300 AF Issues - 24 Apr 2016

While browsing the Sony Alpha Forum I came across an interesting and ultimately-important post from a user describing autofocus irregularities and the need for Manual Focus-Peaking. Basically, when one uses AF in Standard color mode the focal points may or may not be on the critical location for accurate and sharp images. For most imaging setups using the standard array of E-mount lenses, this may not be critical, i.e., you can't really tell that the camera is front- or back-focusing. However, for someone who may be using the camera for digiscoping the problem become all-to apparent!

I had this same problem w/ the Sony Cybershot RX100 III when I was using it for digiscoping. I always felt that the camera was missing critical autofocusing when I used it in AF mode. It worked much better when I used Focus-Peaking in manual mode. The same holds true with the new Sony a6300.

I played with the camera a bit using the AF mode by focusing on the keyboard in front of me. Sure enough, if I photographed a particular key, the key behind it was sharper! So my suspicions were right: unless I was manually Focus-Peaking I was missing critical focusing through the spotting scope.

The Forum User suggested switching the color mode in the camera from "Standard" to "Vivid" or "Landscape" Mode, and tweak all of the color options to "+3". The result is more-accurate AF at the expense of higher-contrast or over-saturated images. However, if you shoot RAW then the Standard defaults kick-in during post-processing. So you get the benefits of an accurate AF system. But, you must shoot RAW!

I played with the camera by setting it in "Landscape" Color Mode with all settings at +3, and my digiscoping attempts seem to improve significantly capture critical focal points (like eyeballs on a bird). I've since set the camera up for two User Modes: 1-Manual Focusing using Focus-Peaking, which I prefer to use almost 100% of the time. 2-AF Mode using the "Landscape / +3" settings, for I'm digiscoping fast-moving subjects and don't have time to focus-peak.

In the meantime, I played with AF-Tracking in the yard with Asia as my subject. The camera does a nice job following motion as she trotted toward me, or groomed in the grass.

And, They're Gone! - 18 Apr 2016

Several folks have mentioned a massive exodus of Dark-eyed Juncos from their yards today. I have not seen any, either. The American Tree Sparrows are gone, as well. Suddenly, the feeders look very lonely. I did have a visiting Cottontail Rabbit and a Red Squirrel. American Goldfinches continue in good numbers, and a Pine Siskin lingers. The Black-capped Chickadees have an active next in the Bluebird Box. Red-winged Blackbirds continue, as well. And, the Eastern Towhee continues.American Toads are trilling in the field out back, and American Woodcock continue to 'peent'.