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

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