How to be a Birder part 14

Hint # 14 Use a camera

With the advent of cheap, easy to use digital cameras with great zoom facilities, bird photography has become accessible to everyone. One doesn’t need to buy big, expensive telephoto lenses to get great shots of birds. An added bonus is that you don’t have to lug around a wheel barrow load of camera equipment, lenses, tripod, flash units and other assorted gear. If that turns you on, fine. Go ahead and ruin your back. Only joking. If you want to go down the professional photographer path you probably will need a truck load of gear, but for the ordinary birder, the modern digital camera means light, compact, ease of use and great results.

When I purchased a new digital camera in the middle of 2005 I rediscovered my interest in photography. Many years ago, over 30 years ago in fact, I bought a cheap SLR. I even got to the point of developing my own slide photos. I couldn’t really afford too many extras like expensive telephoto lens, and gradually the interest waned. The digital age has reignited a passion for photography.

I bought a Canon Powershot S2 IS digital camera with a 12x zoom facility. Now this was something of compromise. I bought it especially for the trek in the Everest region I did last January (read my travel blog for details of my adventures). I wanted a powerful camera with plenty of zoom but it had to be compact. I didn’t want to carry a great deal of heavy equipment, and the Canon, while something of a compromise, was ideal.

It has proved to be amazingly adept as a great camera for bird photography. It is easy to carry, even with binoculars around my neck. I have a loop tied in the strap so that it fits over my wrist and just dangles from there when not in use. This way it doesn’t bang against my binoculars. Nor does it interfere with viewing a bird using the binoculars. It is simple and quick to use and the 12x zoom facility is brilliant.

UPDATE: The model of camera I write about above has been through a series of different models and seems to be no longer available. Several new series of models have replaced it, and prices have dropped in recent years. Check out your favourite camera shop.

Updated November 2013.

Silver Gull

Silver Gull

My first Blog entry

I am a first time Blogger. This is my very first entry having successfully stepped through the setup process.

I am reasonably familiar with the world of blogging because I regularly read the blogs of my daughter Rose in England and son Simon in Sydney (when he’s home), mainly to keep up with what they are doing and where in the world they are!

I plan to include recent interesting sightings of birds in and around our garden and property on the fringe of the rural city of Murray Bridge in South Australia. Our home is situated on 5 acres (2 hectares) of land. We have about two acres of mallee scrub and have planted several thousand trees and small plants on the rest.

I will also include reports on any trips I take here in South Australia and in other parts of Australia – and overseas when that happens. I also plan to include photos of birds (and other interesting things) taken with my new digital camera, a Canon Powershot S2 IS. The 12x zoom facility is great for birds shots. (Update: I updated my camera in 2011 to a Canon Powershot SX20 with a 20x zoom. Photos from the latter part of 2011 were taken with the new camera.)

Crested Pigeon

It has been raining steadily here all morning so we are confined to the indoors. The bird life has been very quiet during the rain, but when I went to check the rain gauge a few minutes ago I observed five rather wet Crested Pigeons on a nearby power line. Sometimes I have observed up to 30 or 40 of these beautiful birds all perched on the power lines that run along the side of our property. Above is a photo of a Crested Pigeon taken yesterday. It was quietly sunning itself near the house. I was able to sneak up to within about 4 metres from it.



Yesterday I also managed to get a good photo of a male Mistletoe Bird. These delightful little birds are quite common around here and are frequent visitors to our garden. About 15 years ago this was the first species I recorded nesting in a plant we had planted on this property.

This post was updated on 2nd September 2015.

Good birding.