Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Swarovski Binoculars and Red Tail Hawk

Today I received my new pair of Swarovski EL 8.5x42 WB binoculars, which also included a snapshot adapter for taking digital pictures with the binoculars. Not five minutes after opening the box, I looked out in my backyard, and saw a red-tailed hawk sitting in a tree! What a perfect opportunity to try out my new toy. I grabbed the binoculars, adapter, and my Canon PowerShot A590IS camera. Here's the first pic I got -

Not bad! The hawk shortly flew down to the ground and kicked some leaves around.

Something scared him into a tree then, and I got these great pics -

Here's what it looked like without the magnification from the binoculars and adapter -

Makes a big difference. The hawk then flew over my head (!) to another tree and hopped around trying to get a better view of a squirrel. Eventually a bunch of blue jays landed in the tree and started harassing it, even running into it, until it had enough and flew away. I was so glad I had the chance to try out my new Swarovski binoculars and look forward to getting more practice with the snapshot adapter. This red-tailed hawk made species #22 for my yard list.

You can see all the pictures I took, good and bad, here:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Digiscoping Workshop 2009

Always busy but the birding buzz this past Sat-Sun-Mon Oct 10-11-12 was exceptional at FRBC even if the weather did little to cooperate. On Saturday we held our first Optics workshop delving into the art of digiscoping at the South Platte Park and the Carson Nature Center. All toll 58 nature photographers braved snow, wind and 20 degree weather to gather in expert advice from the masters from Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, Vortex, and Nikon.

Clay Taylor presents digiscoping at the Carson Nature Center

Our lead instructors Clay Taylor from Texas, Jeff Bouton from Florida, and Bill Schmoker of Denver were fantastic in their presentations and demonstrations of the various spotting scopes, cameras, and binoculars. Even with harsh weather conditions much was learned from the classroom, field work, and duck blind. We observed over 150 ducks, grebes, and shorebirds from the Carson Center’s duck blind and on the trails winding along the South Platte River.

Bill Schmoker talks technique on wildlife and birding photography

People attending were very appreciative of the great facilities provided by the South Platte Park. We highly recommend the excellent birding to be had year round in this close in Denver City Park.

Equipment demonstrations of Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, and Vortex in 20 degree weather!

Leica's Jeff Bouton works one on one with attendees.

Following the Saturday digiscoping workshop, on Sunday I participated in the annual “Big Sit” bird watch at the Heronry Overlook in Chatfield State Park. I was only able to do about an hour late in the day of this dawn till dusk event as work at the store got in the way. However I was pleased to see our out of state experts Clay Taylor and Jeff Bouton help out along with Bill Schmoker. The day was still cold but not as overcast as Saturday and the attendees almost broke a record for species counted. I believe over 65 were seen by the time I left shortly before sunset.

The Chatfield State Park Big Sit at the Heronry Overlook

The Big Sit is a national event sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Each state has several and individuals can even establish their own to report findings. The Chatfield Big Sit is hosted by the Denver Field Ornithologists (DFO) and is organized by DFO member Joey Kellner. It is in its 7th year and is a great opportunity to contribute while honing your birding skills. The public is welcome to look into the fun event next year.

On Monday I was privileged to join Clay Taylor on a birding adventure in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We started out early from Littleton at 5 AM had breakfast in Lyons and promptly entered the East Gate around 8 AM. The trail ridge road was closed for the winter but we got around the east part of the park pretty good. Two herds of elk were roaming the meadows and we practiced some digiscoping. I got a few shots of them as well as video of Clarks Nutcrackers foraging some Ponderosa Pines. Clay, being from the East, enjoyed seeing and photographing Magpies, Red Breasted Nuthatches, and Mountain Chickadees. All birds he rarely has the opportunity to see. We finished at noon and departed the park as Clay needed to catch a4:30 flight back to Texas.

Clay Taylor digiscoping Clarks Nutcrackers in the Rocky Mountain State Park

An immature White Crowned Sparrow shows himself outside the Carson Duck Blind

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Colder Weather Brings in All the Birds

When the weather turned so cold last weekend my feeders were covered in all different species of birds. My two thistle socks and the tube thistle feeders were covered with American Goldfinches, Lesser Goldfinches, and a few House finches. The Northern Flickers, Red-shafted Flickers, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and a few Red-breasted Nuthatches kept the suet feeder quite busy. The Eastern Blue Jays and Chickadees were eating the peanut slipts so fast it was hard to keep up with them. They can be quite demanding at times. The Sparrows, finches, and Chickadees filled the six perches in both of my caged feeders constantly. The Mourning Doves and the one Collared Dove ate a lot of safflower. I go through a ton, at least it seems that way, of bird food during the colder seasons, but it is truley worth it to see such a variety of birds.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Digiscoping/Wildlife Photography workshop OCT 10

Tops in the field come to FRBC to put on an interactive wildlife photography workshop at the Carson Nature Center Saturday October 10 from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm. Pictured here top down is Bill Schmoker, Jeff Bouton and Clay Taylor.

On October 10th we at FRBC will be joined by S & S Optika and Mike's Camera of Denver to host a digiscoping/wildlife photography workshop. We are extremely pleased to have Clay Taylor, the top digiscoping expert from Swarovski Optik, and Jeff Bouton, the top digiscoping expert from Leica Camera, available to lead the half-day event at Denver's South Platte Park.

You can learn to take pictures like these nesting Great Horned Owls or Broad Tailed Hummingbirds both in Chatfield State Park.

Clay and Jeff will be joined by one of Denver's premier nature photographers Bill Schmoker of Nikon Camera to give classroom presentations, demonstrate equipment in the field, and photograph live in-the-wild birds and raptors from the nature center's fabulous duck blind. Check out Nikon Digiscoping where Bill is a featured Nikon Prostaffer. After taking photographs in the field, a review of the experience will take place back in the classroom with a demonstration of photo shop software.
We will have available the spacious and very pleasing Carson Nature Center's classroom that overlooks the South Platte Park and all of the trails that wind along the South Platte river to work with. The classroom offers fabulous views of the Rocky Mountains. Along with Clay, Jeff, and Bill there will be a host of representatives from the top sport optics manufacturers of cameras, spotting scopes, and binoculars available to answer questions about their products. On hand will be the latest and the hottest equipment from Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, Vortex, Kowa, and Nikon at a minimum. Mike's Camera will have a multitude of point and shoot and SLR cameras available for demontration.
There are so many things you can do when photographing and or digiscoping wildlife, especially birds. Check out this short video of the baby Broadtailed Hummingbirds pictured above being fed in the nest digiscoped with a Leica point-and-shoot camera and a Swarovski spotting scope. It can be seen here on
No matter what your experience level, if you are interested in what's new in wildlife/outdoor photography and/or learning more about the exploding popularity of "digiscoping" then this is a perfect opportunity for you. Space is limited and there is a small rental fee of between 6-11 dollars for the facility depending on your residence. We will fill the workshop vacancy on a first come first served basis.

You will need to contact the South Suburban Park and register at this direct link at You can also call the Carson Nature Center at 303-347-5999 and register for class number 674401 or 674402. Either way you will be able to secure a place in the workshop but hurry.
The Carson Nature Center is located near the NW corner of Mineral and Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. It is directly behind the Aspen Grove Shopping Center along the South Platte River. Overflow parking can be accommodated in the adjacent Park- and- Ride lots. The exact address for google map service is South Platte Park 3000 W Carson Dr Littleton, CO 80120-2968.
Snacks and refreshments will be available in the classroom. The event will be co- hosted with S and S Optics of Denver and Mike's Camera.
Morning Session: 9 AM - 1 PM
Afternoon Session: 2 PM - 6 PM

Check out the article on the workshop in the Denver Post Littleton Hub section entitled The Art of Digiscoping.

With interest we have the all presenters available for Sunday sessions as well.

Learn more about Jeff Bouton at

Learn more about the South Platte Park on their Facebook page here

Hope to see you at the workshop. Check out this digiscoped picture of a young Osprey in the nest. Picture was taken with a Leica C Lux 3 camera and a Swarovski 80mm HD 20x60 scope. The second picture shows the nest, which is about 200 yards away, with no scope and at 1x zoom.

Pretty cool! Mom and Dad Osprey would get upset if we came any closer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 3, 2009

No excuses for the lack of blogs so here I go turning over a new leaf with a commitment to more frequent posts . It has actually been a great year of activities so far at Front Range Birding and I will retrace some of our steps and share them here over the next few weeks so please bear with me as we cover such outings as the Raptor Road Trips of January, the 5th annual FRBC Open House in May, our July Alpine Wildflower Walk on Shrine Ridge above Vail Pass, and the ongoing Walk the Wetlands treks with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. We just joined Twitter so you can follow our future excursion plans as well. Be sure to sign up with us on Twitter here: You will be up to speed on such items as our Book signing event with author, illustrator, and photographer Scott Rashid and his new book Small Mountain Owls on September 12 from 3 to 5 PM at the store and our upcoming digiscoping workshop on October 10 at the Carson Nature Center with Swarovski’s Clay Taylor and Nikon's Bill Schmoker. Anyway I will start with our most recent adventure in August in Chatfield State Park. The first Sunday of each month we “Walk the Wetlands” of the South Platte River in Chatfield State Park just southwest of Denver, Colorado. This recent walk was productive as usual with the added bonus of a great view of nesting Broadtail Hummingbirds being. Here are several pictures along with video. The picture and video wss digiscoped with a Leica C-Lux camera and a Swarovski HD 20x60 Spotting Scope at a distance of 50 feet. On an earlier walk in Chatfield I digiscoped this Red Tail Hawk chick in the nest with the same equipment from about 1000 yards.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Backyard Update

Things have been quite busy lately and noisy too. Yesterday I saw my Red-shafted Flickers bring in their two babies to feed on the suet. They look so funny trying to figure out how exactly to hang on to the tail prop suet feeder. The Blue Jays are bringing their babies in to feed on the peanut splits. You can easily tell when they show up because the babies haven't found their "voice" yet and squawk loudly. The same goes for the Flicker fledglings. The little house Finches are showing their babies how to land on the bird bath on our deck railing. They flutter around until they decide that they can land on the edge or the rock in the middle. The Lesser Goldfinches are teaching their little ones to hang on the long nyjer thistle sock. Most of the baby Robins are starting to loose their spots and have learned where the raisins are and carry on to let me know when the raisins are gone. On last Wednesday my husband called me to the kitchen window to see a chipmunk checking out our deck. We live near Kipling and Bowles and were wondering how the little guy came to our area. Are they finding their way into residential areas or did he just hitch hike down from the mountains via some one's trailer? Has anybody else seen chipmunks this close to town? Anyway I love this time of year and seeing all our new little residents.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Very 1st House Wren

On Thursday, May 28th I was out refilling my ground feeder for the Mourning Doves, when a little House Wren hopped off the feeder and went behind a small storage unit, tail straight up and all! I went back indoors as I didn't want to frighten him away. I was so excited to finally have a little Wren at my feeder! Maybe he will eventually use the Bronco wren house I bought for my husband at our Open House here at the store last year. I've got my fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April Snowstorm

It's spring at Shannon's house, but I'm still in awe of what the end of winter (hopefully) brought to my house. We just has a large storm, which brought snow, rain and thunderstorms. After shoveling for the first time, I filled up my feeders and put some extra ones out. The number and variety of birds I got was amazing! Here is a list of what I saw during the two days of the storm.

Pine Siskins - large flocks, first time I've ever had them
American Goldfinches - bright yellow for spring
House Finches - ever present at my house
Western Meadowlark - under the feeder picking at sunflower seeds
Dark-eyed Junco - I saw one, but there could have been more
Red-winged Blackbirds - males still wearing their winter coats
Doves - two flew over, don't know if they were Mourning or Eurasian Collared
American Robin - one sat on my fence
American Crow - also on the fence

I feed 100% Black Oil Sunflower. I had a hopper style feeder, a caged tube feeder, and a metal mesh No/No Feeder. I loved the madness of all the birds, but I'm also happy the snow is melting now! Sara

They're Here!

It's beautiful today. A little while ago I was out on my deck cutting up some string into little pieces for nesting material, when I saw a male Goldfinch at my sunflower chip feeder. I thought I heard another little finch when I spied a female Lesser Goldfinch in the neighbors crab apple tree. I sat down on the steps and waited. While sitting there I saw no less than four pairs of Lesser Gold Finches coming to my feeder. What a joy to see! Now I know Spring is officially here! And while watching the finches a pair of Downy Woodpeckers came to my feeder as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Backyard

This winter has been terrific for viewing birds in my backyard. I've had everthing from Flickers, Red and White breasted Nuthatches, Chickadees, Sparrows. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Juncos, Blue Jays, Robins, and of course all kinds of Finches. I can finally pick out the difference between the House Finches and Gold Finches. There has been a male Finch that is orange instead of the usual pinkish red ones that you normally see. He is just as orange as a pumpkin! I thought that maybe I had a new Finch! After doing some research, I found out that this guy is just a variation of the House Finch that can even have a yellowish tint to to them. I've been trying to get a photo of him, but either I've got the camera and don't see him come or he's there and I can't get to the camera fast enough. As soon as can get a picture of him I will post it. Wish me luck!