First. I have to say: Wow! THANK YOU! It is amazeballs that what people have pledged so far! Holy crap! I had no idea what to expect donation wise for my Big Half Year, but I thought $1000 should be doable over 6 months, but I wasn't sure. Well, here it's the end of January and I'm almost halfway to my goal! Thank you guys, so, so much! This is fantastic for the Friends of Sax Zim Bog, they are at 20% of their overall goal and with so many participants, I know we are going to be able to make it and get a welcome center built!
I thought I would set a personal goal of having 31 bird photos posted to my Big Half Year photo album by January 31 and I do! There are still more coming from Florida, but it's pretty amazing that the photos are coming along so well.
Check it out, it's Non Birding Bill actually using a spotting scope! What is he looking at?
A crap ton of herons, ibises and a couple of roseate spoonbills at Merritt Island NWR. Even he had to concede that a roseate spoonbill was cool. He actually really enjoyed birding in Florida. Two things helped: one, I didn't force him to do my typical pace and two, the birds were big, obvious and easy to see. Had I started with that instead as a birding introduction instead of brown birds around the college dorm in Terre Haute, Indiana, it may have made a better impression.
As we moved around places like Viera Wetlands, he heard me say more than once, "It's like shooting fish in a barrel!" The birds are so easy in Florida, they are mellow like the above white ibis, used to people and pose in great light. After I would digiscope a few shots with my Nikon, I'd quick switch over to my iPhone to grab a few shots:
It's crazy to me that I live in a day and age that I can just hold my phone up to a spotting scope and take a photo like the one above and then immediately share with hundreds and in some cases thousands of people. We live in a day and age technological miracles and I think that gets lost sometime in the craziness of news and life. Just think about the type of photos you can get that even a decade ago would have been a triumph of the human spirit if you got a grainy image.
With my new Swarovski scope and digiscoping set up, I'm going to have to completely change my photo delete policy. I've always had a pretty liberal delete policy with photos. I know that I have to take hundreds of shots to get some usable ones. I know as a bird blogger, I don't have to have "perfect" shots to post. It's not like a print quality publication where the photos have to be tack sharp to even be considered. I've posted some blurry shots if the story behind them was interesting. But with this new set up, I'm getting too many photos in focus. Above is one of hundreds of northern pintail shots that I took to make sure I got a good shot for my Big Half Year album.
But also got some cute ones of pintail pairs dabbling together--a little pair bonding date.
And then there was the pintail male splashing like crazy on his bath. Most of these I would delete, saving a few for a blog post. I kept track of what I took in Florida. Between my iPhone and my Nikon V1, I digiscoped 6461 photos! So far I have only deleted 2487...that's too many keep.
Part of it is that I digscoped birds I would normally avoid because I'm trying to accumulate species for my fundraising list. But on the other hand, this set up makes getting great shots super easy--look at that boat-tailed grackle shot--it's pretty! But I'm going to fill up my drive too quickly if I am keeping over half the photos that I take on any given trip.
If you are a new digiscoper, that is something to consider. I've been trying to post how many shots I take at a time to help give new digiscopers an idea of how many photos you can take, just to try and get one or two photos. It's ok, you can delete them. Pop in a movie on Netflix and then delete away. Unless you're in Mongolia, most birds you will find again and try to digiscope again.