20th January 2016 – American Wigeon at Grindon Lough

When I arrived at Grindon Lough this morning I was the only one there, which is actually just how I like it. I kinda like the challenge of finding my own stuff rather than being put straight onto a bird by others. So I parked up and set about finding the Yankee Wigeon that had been there on and off for a few weeks. An initial look through my bins revealed that Wigeon were spread about everywhere – some were relatively close and others were as far away as they could be. I figured that if it was amongst the furthest birds on the very far northern side I might be struggling even with my eyepiece zoomed up to 60x. So with my scope set up I decided to go through the closer birds first. No joy. I then moved on to birds a bit further back and scanned through them. Still no joy. So unless I’d overlooked it or it was out of sight somewhere it had to be in the very distant flock of Wigeon that were grazing near some Canada Geese. With my eyepiece set at maximum it wasn’t going to be a great view that’s for sure. As I scanned through them at that distance I was really quite chuffed with myself when I did pick it out, it was actually pretty obvious even at huge range. I grabbed my trusty old coolpix 4500 and due to the distance and poor light began taking pics using a shutter speed of 1/8sec or sometimes 1/4sec! – these were going to take ‘record shots’ to a new level!… honestly it is in both of these shots below…

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And then another birder arrived from the northeast and asked me if I was on it. I gave him directions and he was soon watching it too. The flock of Wigeon then suddenly took flight, some landed in the water and others flew a bit closer towards us. I was amazed that I quickly relocated it again, it was still distant but the views were far better than they had been…

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And you know what, despite the dodgy, almost mocking looks I often get from folk with all their fancy new digiscoping gear and massive lenses I’m still happy with the results I get from my coolpix 4500. Yeah it’s 14 years old, but for getting record shots of very distant birds I think it still does a half decent job. I’ve always thought that any shot is better than no shot at all. So until it finally packs up I’ll continue to dust it down and bring it out. Anyways, with more and more birders now beginning to arrive I made a swift exit and headed for home.

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2 Responses to 20th January 2016 – American Wigeon at Grindon Lough

  1. scott black says:

    Hi Just a note to say how much I enjoy your blog, always very interesting and entertaining. I was sorry when you stopped the regular posts but understand your reasons, glad to see you are doing a bit of birding again, also always super images, not that many miles up the road from you and i still have not witnessed the Aurora

  2. Thank you for your kind words and I hope that you get to witness the magic of the Northern lights – it’s a superb spectacle.

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