Monthly Archives: April 2013

Digiscoping with the Swarovski ATX-85 Scope

We recently got the new Swarovski ATX-85 spotting scope in for evaluation and have really enjoying digiscoping birds with it. In addition to the crystal clear, tack sharp image quality, this scope also has a really well-designed digiscoping options for point-and-shoot cameras as well as micro 4/3 and standard DSLR cameras. Below are a few modest examples.

A Salton Sea Chase

Nashville Warbler, digiscoped with the Swarovski ATX-85

Nashville Warbler, digiscoped with the Swarovski ATX-85

We drove to the Salton Sea, looking for the recently reported Cave Swallows. There we found a group of Nashville Warblers playing in a palo verde tree, easily 70 yards away. In this case, the distance actually helped, as it gave us a few more seconds’ time to get one of these hyper-kinetic little birds in frame for long enough to snap off a shot or two. Most of the shots didn’t work out, primarily because of obscuring branches, but this one did. Now how often do you see people digiscoping a quick bird like a Nashville Warbler?! This picture was taken with a Nikon CoolPix P 300 camera, using Swarovski’s DCB II adaptor and the Swarovski ATX-85 spotting scope.

More Local Digiscoping

Digiscoping a Greater Yellowlegs

Digiscoping a Greater Yellowlegs with the ATX-85

We chased a potential Solitary Sandpiper along San Diego Creek in Irvine early one morning. It was a very gray, overcast morning with a heavy marine layer, so there wasn’t much light available. We dipped on the Solitary but got this very handsome Greater Yellowlegs as compensation. We pushed the ISO setting on the Nikon CoolPix to 800 to stop the motion of this actively feeding bird. Thereafter, everything came pretty easily.

Lastly, given that this is a system new to us, working quickly under sub-optimal conditions, the results were good! We are really looking forward to getting to know it well!

Birdless Joys of Birding – Part 2

Birdless joys of birding occur when a birding trip turns up other cool animals (see Featherless Joy of Birding). On a previous birding trip to the East Mojave Preserve we had an opportunity for photographing interesting non-avian critters. At the Baker Sewer Ponds, we encountered this male Western Zebra-tailed Lizard – females lack the black bands on the belly.

Western Zebra-tailed Lizard

The Western Zebra-tailed Lizard lives in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and the Great Basin. It is diurnal and forages for insects and smaller lizards except during extreme heat. When not taking refuge in the shade, it maintains only minimal contact with the ground. As seen in this photo, only the vent and heels are touching the sand. Zebra-taileds will occasionally take this a step farther and stand on only two feet at a time.

When they are scurrying around (25+ mph), Western Zebra-tailed Lizards curl their tails over their backs like a scorpion. Sometimes they use only their hind feet. They usually don’t allow close approach. I took this photo from a distance of about 40′. I used a point and shoot camera through a Kowa TSN-884 spotting scope with their new TE-11WZ 25-60x wide angle zoom eyepiece. The zoom features two elements of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass. This is an innovation in Kowa eyepieces which improves contrast and sharpness by further reducing chromatic aberration.