22 Oct 2017

21 Oct 17 - The Fine Art Of Chimping

I got introduced to the fine art of Chimping, about the time I got my first Canon camera. It sounds an abusive term (& sadly there are some abusive alternatives), but the Urban Dictionary describes the photographic use of the phrase as "What one does after taking a picture with a digital camera and looking at the result: derived from the words they speak when chimping: Ooo-oo-oo!".
Peter Moore Chimping (over Sabine's Gull photos): Cogden Beach (4 Nov 2013)
My own attempts at Chimping are more varied. If I've just taken some photos & the Bird is still present, I will probably have a quick look to see if I need to improve on the camera settings. If the Bird has gone, then there is little point.

Fast track to Saturday: it was blowing a gale (Storm Brian to be exact) and regular heavy showers were promised. The second best place I could think of being (first involved a lie in) was the Middlebere hide as the tide was rising soon after dawn. So it was an early start to get to the hide for dawn. Good job I did get there that early as the tide was further in than predicted due to the effect of the wind & the low pressure. It ended up with the highest Spring tide I've seen at Middlebere in 20 years of watching the site. There was just enough time for a quick scan of the Waders before they disappeared into the marsh to roost. The highlight was clearly the Stilt Sandpiper, but also 17 Avocet, 3 Grey Plovers, 28 Lapwings, a Curlew Sandpiper, 5 Knot, 3 Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, 65+ Dunlins, & 605 Blackwits. There was a good scattering of Teal & a few Wigeon. Normally, once the tide is up, then Middlebere quietens down an hour or so after the channel is covered in water. But due to the extreme tide, the Waders were constantly moving as each of their regular roost spots flooded. Heavy showers came & went, as did brief patches of sun. With the strong winds & rain, I couldn't think of anywhere else to go & didn't feel tempted into a Studland seawatch, so I stayed put. A couple of Marsh Harriers appeared, followed by a Peregrine to stir the Waders & Wildfowl up. Then there was a shout from Mark Wright or Aidan Brown who were also in the hide of a close Sparrowhawk. I looked out & seeing it was close to the hide, I grabbed the camera rather than the bins & fired off a couple of shots from the front window, followed by a few more from the side window. I noted it was a large female Sparrowhawk, but otherwise didn't get a lot on it as the camera looked out of focus. It was quite distant when I put the camera down & as it had gone & the view through the viewfinder hadn't looked impressive or in focus, I failed to do any Chimping. I just assumed the photos were probably rubbish as I the camera wasn't set up for flying Birds. Moving on to that evening, another photographer, Simon, posted an email saying he had seen a Goshawk an hour after I left (after 8 hours in the hide that didn't seem fair especially as reliable records in Poole Harbour are rare). Later that evening, I had a twitter message from Mark to say our Sparrowhawk had been a Goshawk. Went to check the camera, only to find it was still in the car & it was hammering down with rain again. When I looked at the camera the following morning, then I was shocked with my photos: not only was it a Goshawk, but a bloody obvious Juv & a couple of presentable photos. Assuming it must have been a male given its size.
Goshawk: The large teardrop spots on the breast makes it a juv. Based on the large Sparrowhawk feel, it must have been a male
Goshawk: blatantly obvious as a Goshawk had I bothered Chimping
Goshawk: Later in the afternoon, I realised my camera eyepiece viewfinder was out of focus which is why I had been struggling to focus all day
Goshawk: The best photo of it flying off over the marsh. Note the bulging secondaries, narrow primaries & long barred tail
This is only my second Poole Harbour Goshawk. The previous one was also a Juv Male which was seen with sometimes local Purbeck Birder (when not living in France), Steve Morrison, on 22 March 15. It bombed the South Haven reedbed & pool, circled once more around the area, before departing for Poole over the harbour mouth.

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