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Scope for pelagic birds from shore


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I don’t have an adapter for the phone and I doubt I would use it if I have one. I always just keep looking through the scope. If I think I can attempt to get a picture, which doesn’t occur often, I just hold my phone up to the scope and take digis. Most of the good birds are far out and you usually can’t base your ID off of plumage features, as the birds usually look like dark blobs. Flight style and shape is the most important way to ID to species, though for some species pairs you sometimes need to get a better looks at color (for example: Aincent vs Marbled Murrelet). 

Edited by Connor Cochrane
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12 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I don’t have an adapter for the phone and I doubt I would use it if I have one. I always just keep looking through the scope. If I think I can attempt to get a picture, which doesn’t occur often, I just hold my phone up to the scope and take digis. Most of the good birds are far out and you usually can’t base your ID off of plumage features, as the birds usually look like dark blobs. Flight style and shape is the most important way to ID to species, though for some species pairs you sometimes need to get a better looks at color (for example: Aincent vs Marbled Murrelet). 

Thanks. I’ll experiment tomorrow when I go to the harbor for my first seawatch and see what works best. 

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20 hours ago, IKLland said:

Do you recommend holding the phone up to the scope when you see something, or leaving it attached using the phone adapter on the scope?

I wouldn't attach the phone to the scope. You will be doing the vast majority of sea watching actually looking through your scope, so trying to attach and reattach your phone, even with a good phone adapter, for documentation purposed is in effect, useless.

The vast majority of what you see on a sea watch will be flying, so digiscoping it will be next to impossible. You can hold the phone up for a digiscope if there is something sedentary on the water, like a scoter, loon, or murre, but even that is challenging.

There is a lot to say here, but to keep it simple, I would first ditch trying to document stuff via your phone or camera and just practice looking through your scope and getting used to using it to study birds. Sea watches are hard and rewarding at the same time. Trying to get pics or digiscopes can be nearly impossible, so I would focus on simply working on your ID skills of the birds you will see offshore.

You may be worried about trying to document birds so that you can get ID help later, or have "proof" if you think you saw something good, but if you think you have seen something rare, write down what you saw and noticed and include that in your eBird report (versus regurgitating what is written in a field guide). Most importantly, be prepared to let things go. You simply can't ID all that is offshore...nobody can. For example, today I had lots of fulmars offshore (which I confidently ID'ed), and thought I had a possible Ancient Murrelet (which I couldn't confidently ID due to the distance it was at), so I had to let the murrelet go. People who claim amazing things every time they sea watch are often making lots of it up. Don't be one of them. Get used to the common stuff, and you'll be able to pick out more interesting or uncommon birds as time goes on and with lots of practice.

 

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23 minutes ago, DLecy said:

I wouldn't attach the phone to the scope. You will be doing the vast majority of sea watching actually looking through your scope, so trying to attach and reattach your phone, even with a good phone adapter, for documentation purposed is in effect, useless.

The vast majority of what you see on a sea watch will be flying, so digiscoping it will be next to impossible. You can hold the phone up for a digiscope if there is something sedentary on the water, like a scoter, loon, or murre, but even that is challenging.

There is a lot to say here, but to keep it simple, I would first ditch trying to document stuff via your phone or camera and just practice looking through your scope and getting used to using it to study birds. Sea watches are hard and rewarding at the same time. Trying to get pics or digiscopes can be nearly impossible, so I would focus on simply working on your ID skills of the birds you will see offshore.

You may be worried about trying to document birds so that you can get ID help later, or have "proof" if you think you saw something good, but if you think you have seen something rare, write down what you saw and noticed and include that in your eBird report (versus regurgitating what is written in a field guide). Most importantly, be prepared to let things go. You simply can't ID all that is offshore...nobody can. For example, today I had lots of fulmars offshore (which I confidently ID'ed), and thought I had a possible Ancient Murrelet (which I couldn't confidently ID due to the distance it was at), so I had to let the murrelet go. People who claim amazing things every time they sea watch are often making lots of it up. Don't be one of them. Get used to the common stuff, and you'll be able to pick out more interesting or uncommon birds as time goes on and with lots of practice.

 

Thanks. I’ll really try to study them. 
 

What I meant was to leave the phone with the adapter on the scope, and instead of looking through the scope, I’d look at the phone’s screen. That way, I can see what I’d be seeing through the scope, and can easily take a photo when I want. 

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2 minutes ago, IKLland said:

Thanks. I’ll really try to study them. 
 

What I meant was to leave the phone with the adapter on the scope, and instead of looking through the scope, I’d look at the phone’s screen. That way, I can see what I’d be seeing through the scope, and can easily take a photo when I want. 

I would not recommend doing that. It’s already hard enough to see birds far out through the scope, the added challenge of looking through the phone would make it much harder to find and identify birds. 

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Just now, Connor Cochrane said:

I would not recommend doing that. It’s already hard enough to see birds far out through the scope, the added challenge of looking through the phone would make it much harder to find and identify birds. 

Thanks. I’ll try both anyway and see what works. 
Do you have any suggestions on how I can really learn about the birds I can expect to see down here from shore through the scope?

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44 minutes ago, IKLland said:

Do you have any suggestions on how I can really learn about the birds I can expect to see down here from shore through the scope?

Here is a simple guide; sea watch with other more experienced birders; spend time looking out at the ocean; go on a pelagic 😁

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6 hours ago, IKLland said:

What I meant was to leave the phone with the adapter on the scope, and instead of looking through the scope, I’d look at the phone’s screen. That way, I can see what I’d be seeing through the scope, and can easily take a photo when I want. 

This.  I was under the impression that an attached phone would continuously display what's coming through the eyepiece.  If that isn't the case, I withdraw my previous comment.

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18 hours ago, IKLland said:

Thanks. I’ll really try to study them. 
 

What I meant was to leave the phone with the adapter on the scope, and instead of looking through the scope, I’d look at the phone’s screen. That way, I can see what I’d be seeing through the scope, and can easily take a photo when I want. 

Your eyes>your phones camera

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1 hour ago, chipperatl said:

I think I saw you got a GoSky scope.  Your thoughts on it?  Blown away by how well mine is compared to what I was using.  Well worth the relatively paltry $$ spent on it. 

 I’m not sure! The one day I had time to try it, it was the windiest day ever! I have a stable tripod, and I just couldn’t keep it from shaking. I’m gonna hopefully try again Sunday. 

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