The results are in from the first ever Twitter Digiscoping Duel:
I set myself up at Mr. Neil's yard with the above digiscoping setup--lots of birds and easy Internet access. Alas, my final total was 28 birds. Cornell was kind enough to say, "But should there be a correction for higher diversity in TX," but I think that weather and internet connection can help even out the competition--there were 3 very common birds that I expected to get and did not: blue jay, pileated woodpecker and turkey vulture. I won't post all 28 photos, but I'll post some highlights below:
My first shot of the day was a red-tailed hawk flying away. I found another red-tail perfectly perched in great light later in the day, but I really liked the way you can see the rusty red tail on this guy. Besides, Clay and I weren't going for art, we were going for identifiable photos and well, it doesn't get more identifiable than that with a red-tailed hawk.
Early in the morning, things were going swimmingly. The showy mountain ash tree around the feeders was ripe and attracted loads of waxwings. I expected warblers and vireos would soon follow (the tree eventually did follow this pattern...after the contest was over).
As I loaded up photos here and there on Twitter, I even got a little cocky and added some captions. The above caption with the tree swallow was for Non Birding Bill and a nod to Jack Lemon from the movie The Great Race. I really enjoyed being able to interact with people throughout the contest. It was like being sequestered during a bird-a-thon or at the World Series of Birding. I could see what Clay was up to and see comments on photos...and even answer a couple of bird questions.
I did find the flocks of white-throated sparrows a bit sobering. A week ago today it was 92 degrees F. When I started today, it was blustery and in the 40s. And these sparrows are a sure sign of fall. Sigh.
I did see some crazy stuff going on, like the above immature goldfinches stripping off bark from a dead tree and eating it. I checked Cornell's Birds of North America Online and bark stripping is one of the many things goldfinches will eat.
When it came to the common feeder birds, I tried to get interesting shots--like the above black-capped chickadee. It's as if it's stalking me...and perhaps plotting my demise.
Not all of my photos were worth writing home about. I'm pretty sure that this is the worst shot of a black and white warbler in recorded history. I posted it as a joke and Clay let it go through, he said he could kind of see a black and white warbler...he was too kind.
Here's a candidate for Awkward Family Photos. What is that nuthatch doing--sneezing? Flipping seeds? Swearing? Either way, the rose-breasted grosbeak appears uninterested.
All in all it was a great time and I hope we can do something like this again.
Some of my favorite shots that Clay got are his zone-tailed hawk, yellow-breasted chat, purple martin, royal tern and his winning final bird Mississippi kite. He's got mad skills with birds in flight and digiscoping not to mention a crazy bird yard in Texas.
To see more photos from the day of the Digiscoping Duel visit the Flickr Album.