How to Digiscope

Recently I helped shoot this video on setting up a Swarovski spotting scope for digiscoping. For any readers not familiar with how I take photos through a spotting scope, this pretty well explains it.


Chimney Swifts

Last night while I was walking my dog, we came across a flock of Chimney Swifts preparing to roost. This is the second time I've been able to watch this spectacle happen right off of Main St. in the small town where I live. It's mesmerizing to watch these birds swing through the air together as the flock makes pass after pass by their chosen roost. Too bad the sound didn't come out on this recording, as it enhances the whole experience.



Binoculars as a camera lens

I spent some time today at Pheasant Branch Conservancy shooting some footage for a video on digiscoping. While there, I spent some time experimenting with a camera adapter designed for use with Swarovski binoculars. The Snap Shot adapter is a simple accessory that snaps on to the eyecup of the binoculars and helps hold a point-and-shoot camera to the binocular's lens.

Above is a photo of a Monarch Butterfly that I shot through a Swarovski 8.5x42 EL with my Sony camera. I was very pleased with the results and think I might try some more of this digibining in the future, though it's no substitute for the magnification of a spotting scope.


Harvesting Stone for the Garden

Right now I'm between birding trips and about to head out to Rockport, Texas. With hurricane Ike brewing in the Atlantic at the moment, it could make for an interesting trip. As of right now, I plan on flying out Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime, I thought I would blog a bit about another passion of mine other than birding, working in the garden.

Last weekend we began a much delayed project of putting in a new path through the garden in the front of our house. It wasn't the most convenient time to begin a major project. School was starting and the calendar was full of last-minute summer activities to squeeze in. What prompted the impulsive decision to tear up our front yard was a trip to my friend Willi Lehner's cheese cave.

This is a picture of the cheese cave (the entrance is still under construction). Unless you know any artisanal cheese makers, you may be wondering what on earth one does in a cheese cave???? Well, Willi constructed this magnificent underground dome to age his award winning cheeses. Why do you need a cheese cave to do this??? If I knew a fraction of what Willi does about cheeses, I might be able to field that question. What I do know is that he makes the best cheeses that I have ever had the privilege to taste, so I'm not about to question the wisdom of such an undertaking.
Here's a picture of the entrance to the cave. Another friend of mine, Larry Cooper, made these exquisite door handles.

This is a small portion of the stone that was unearthed to construct the cheese cave. When I saw these piles of stone the wheels began to turn and the next thing I knew, I was home in my garden moving plants and excavating a pathway.

This is one of my favorite garden/prairie plants, Prairie Dock. This particular plant's flowering stalks stand over 10 feet tall.
The garden path is well on its way to being constructed. By the end of Labor Day weekend, we just got started laying the stone. It was a big undertaking for the weekend, though certainly a labor of love. In between my trips around the country, I relish the opportunity to be at home with my hands in the earth. It's a great connection to the small piece of land that is my home and personal touches like our gardens remind me that there is often no better place to be.

As I write this, the path is not much further along than it was after Labor Day weekend. My hope is to get a few more stones in place before I fly out to Rockport on Wednesday, unless Ike changes my plans. Regardless, I'll have a nice project to look forward to when I return.