Who am I?

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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Friday, 20 December 2013

Will they?

On 10th February 1991 I went, with Bill Pegram, to Kenton Railway Station, Harrow, in order to twitch Waxwings. There were four bird feeding on some ornamental berries, I recorded them as hawthorn, but they might just as well have been peaches! I knew nothing, and still know very little, about plants. The illustration, from my diary, is the upper limit of my artistic ability and, as such, a demonstration why the digital revolution has played a vital role in my continued interest. First it was digi-scoping, using my Kowa TSN and a Nikon CP 775 (2 million pixel) compact camera, progressing to a CP 7600 then, via a Fuji Finepix "bridge camera", to my present (vintage?) Canon EOS d400 and Sigma 170-500mm lens.
10.02.1991 - Kenton Railway Station
My point is that I felt the need to twitch Waxwings - at that stage in my birding development; they were a very special species which required a specific set of weather conditions to precipitate such an occurrence in our part of the UK. My pathetic illustration was the only way which I could ensure that my diary was able to recall more of the event, rather than a boring collection of day lists and counts when looking at it at a later date. I realise now that the artwork was naive, to the point that it represented what I thought I should have seen - rather than the details of the individual (s) that I had actually witnessed. What is central, however, is the fact that this silly, inaccurate, caricature is capable of transporting me back to that chilly February afternoon, when I first managed to see a Waxwing!
 
A female, one of a group of four, that I found feeding along Dumpton Gap Road, Ramsgate.
They were very scarce visitors to Kent in the 2009/2010 winter - so "twitch on!"
They caused quite a stir.
The advent of the digital revolution has meant that my artistic skills are no longer required, even the most technophobic dullard (that's me) has been given the tools to capture images of what we encounter. Modern phones are better able to image capture than the most advanced dSLR cameras of the early years of the new millennium - technological advancement at a pace to create, rather than satisfy, demand. In recent winters, it seems, Waxwings are far more regular in their appearances in the SE. I have used my image capture technology, in its' various guises, to record the actual birds that I've had the good fortune to see - so the records are of actual birds, not a wishy-washy attempt at art.
With all this stuff going on, the early digital gear hasn't become bad, it has become less good? I still use my EOS d400 - purely because I'm unable to justify the expense of a new camera; given the amount of use it would get. If money were no object? Sure, I'd get another DSLR camera and lens - but it is, and I ain't, the results that can be obtained by my, now very unfashionable, gear is perfectly usable for the purpose of blogging. I don't think that this is too far removed from my attitude to fishing tackle - sure there have been some major innovations in rod and reel technology - yet the gear I use is still capable of dealing with anything I'm expecting to catch within the UK.
 
Pegwell Bay NNR - Boxing Day 2011

It doesn't matter how many times I encounter these wonderful birds, it is always a pleasure.
Do they look surprised? Or are they just puzzled by all the attention?
Will we get another Waxwing invasion in 2013/14 winter period? I've already recorded a group of five birds, flying over Pyson's Road Ind. Est. and Birdguides are reporting odd sightings from other parts of the UK. With the weather forecasters predicting some atrocious weather in the northern regions of Europe, there are all the ingredients, in place, to see Waxwings make their advances across the North Sea and down through Scotland and England to, once again, grace the Cotoneaster and Rowan berries of Thanet - I live in hope. If the sighting of a Waxwing ever proves to be a disappointment, then I will cease looking at our natural world! They are that special in my own journey, of discovery, to ensure that every encounter is a special one.

Not every image has to be of top quality, there might well be some details that would be missed if all that was attempted
was a field sketch. How many observers would have spotted the combination of coloured rings?
1/500th sec is all that was required to grab this shot - a great deal less time than was required to make my crappy sketch!
 

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