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Showing posts from February, 2011

Amazing optics

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My eye caught a movement in the semi-darkness. I could just make out in the dusk that something had landed at the base of a bush, halfway up the cliffside. As I lifted the binoculars to my eyes, my assumption was immediately confirmed. Thanks to an image brighter than my own eyesight and with the magnification offered, I had found the bird that we had been waiting for. Although well past sunset, its shape and cryptic plumage was readily visible. Straightaway I called out "Eagle Owl" and the rest of the group followed my directions to find it. Normally when one considers binoculars for very low-light conditions one looks for as low a magnification as possible, generally seven times (7x). However, the binoculars I was handling were 12x. Now if you ask most experienced birdwatchers what they think of 12x binoculars, hands raise in horror at memories of massive pieces of equipment, barely possible to raise to one's eyes, let alone keep steady, purchased by ill-advised novic…

Unashamedly anthropomorphic

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Sometimes it is impossible to resist being anthropomorphic...describing animal behaviour in terms of human attitudes and motives. Two incidents last week on the same day, at the same place (indeed minutes of each other) prompted such a lapse! I was with a group of four people, David and Kath from the north of England and Liz and Brian from Wales and we were at the wonderful Portilla del Tiétar viewpoint in the Monfragüe National Park. It is the sort of place where one can easily spend hours, just waiting for birds to arrive, enjoying the magnificent scenery and other wildlife. Angel Tear's Narcissus was coming out into flower near where we stood and an Eagle Owl sat incubating her eggs. We spotted an Otter swimming to a rocky bay with a catfish in its mouth and watched as it clambered up onto a rock to eat it. Then it swam out again to catch another. This caught the attention of a Grey Heron which flew in to stand beside the bay. The Otter returned to the bay and ate its fish whil…