Saturday 23 May 2015

Digiscoping Little Ringed Plovers …again!

Yesterday, I returned to the nesting Little Ringed Plovers and discovered they’d disappeared?!? No idea what happened, unfortunately. But, not to be deterred, I went in search of other bundles of feathers and found another nesting pair, at another site, which were well on the way to success. In fact, they had 4 fluffy little fledglings, although it took more than 2.5 hours observation, over 2 days, before all 4 revealed themselves.

This new family were an ideal subject on which to practice digiscoping, located on private ground and remaining flipping miles away. I’d estimate the group were mostly 60+ metres from me, although both adult birds halved that distance at various points for brief periods. The fledglings were scampering all over the place, often only 1 of the 4 was visible whilst the others were hidden in low growing vegetation.

I used the same set up as before (Swaro ATS80HD, DCB-A adapter, Panasonic DMC-G3, 20mm f1.7) but was also trying out a remote shutter release, to reduce vibration/movement as much as possible. I’d tried digiscoping on Friday afternoon but the heat haze was awful. This morning was overcast, fresh and calm so I thought I’d give it another go. I could have done with more light: it was difficult to get a workable shutter speed at a reasonable ISO. But, I came away with records of the family that I would not have been able to get with anything else I own. In the end, once I got the hang of taking photos with the set-up, I digiscoped some video footage and pulled a couple of stills from that. The white balance is off (which I don’t seem to be able to put right in post-processing) and the quality is poor in terms of sharpness but I was asking an awful lot of the system. Ultimately, I think the distances involved were probably pushing my luck, especially with such a small species. Anyway, all good practice and they were wonderful to watch!

How many chicks can you get under a brooding parent….?

Distance approx 60m. Digiscoped: Swaro ATS80HD, DCB-A, Panasonic DMC-G3, 20mm f1.7, remote shutter release

    ...the answer is FOUR! (still from video)
    Stretching the growing wings (still from video)

EDIT: Update 03 June 2015

I visited the LRP family today and the juveniles are now able to fly and almost the same size as the adults. Now that they are less vulnerable, here’s a contextual shot taken from where I was standing and showing the location of the birds during the digiscoping session. I could barely see them with the naked eye…


  1. After seeing your images i might go back to Digiscoping.
    Brilliant captures.

    1. Very kind of you to say, John, thanks. Once the young are a little older and more independent (and thus safer), I'll add a contextual image to the post, showing the distances involved. There are certainly a lot of variables to deal with when digiscoping but having a stationary subject makes it infinitely easier ;o). Thanks again.

  2. Great work as ever Lucy - certainly pushing the boundaries at that range, and good results!

    1. Thanks Martin. Although not always great quality, it is amazing the kind of detail you can pick up at these extreme distances with the digiscoping.


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