Sunday, October 28, 2012

What a Stunner!

All participants who attended the Madison Audubon field trip at Pheasant Branch Conservancy Saturday morning got great views of one of the Le Conte's Sparrows. Though I really like the results of my first round with them last weekend, the images I got yesterday are, in Ryan Brady's words, “Completely ridiculous on every level.” I'm inclined to agree!

While this species can be somewhat secretive, this particular bird perches out in the open quite often to see what's going on whenever people are nearby. I'm sure the photographers on my field trip were also able to get terrific images of this neat little sparrow.

Given the colder temperatures and north winds, I was a little surprised that both Le Conte's Sparrows were still present. I wonder how long they'll stay. The habitat at the prairie is excellent. There is plenty of food and cover for them, but I suppose it all depends how November's weather plays out. So, I wonder what kind of winter we're going to have. I've read that it's likely to be warmer than average, but will it be snowless like last year?

It's been an excellent October with great weather, birding, and photographic opportunities at the conservancy. It will be a month fondly remembered, especially for the two little orange and white sparrows that graced us with their stunning beauty!

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Oct 27, 2012 7:30 AM - 10:00 AM
37 species

Canada Goose 
Wood Duck 
Ring-necked Pheasant 
Northern Harrier 
Cooper's Hawk 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Sandhill Crane 
Ring-billed Gull 
Rock Pigeon 
Mourning Dove 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
Downy Woodpecker 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Horned Lark 
Black-capped Chickadee 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Eastern Bluebird 
American Robin 
European Starling 
American Pipit 
Lapland Longspur 
Eastern Towhee 
American Tree Sparrow 
Savannah Sparrow 
Le Conte's Sparrow 
Fox Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
Swamp Sparrow 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Dark-eyed Junco 
Northern Cardinal 
Red-winged Blackbird 
Common Grackle 
House Finch 
American Goldfinch 

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell


  1. Just amazing.
    If you remember, a few days ago i send you email asking for my previous setup 600mm and your scope.
    I always shoot static birds (like this one so i don't think there would be any problem using your setup?

  2. Hi Lee,

    I hope you can tell from my results that I don’t have a problem using my setup. I don't know if it's right or wrong for you, though. Should you try digiscoping, one thing you'll probably have to get used to is working with slower shutter speeds. Digiscoping is optically slow, the average scope and camera configuration around f/10. You'll notice that the overwhelming majority of my images were taken in sunlight – a virtual necessity for the kind of digiscoping I do.

    The only way for you to be sure is to try it yourself.


    Mike M.

  3. Thanks mike, it is kind of shame we don't have Swarovski showroom here to test before buy. I saw Swarovski people went to a local forum and show them the demo of new ATX scope but not the members, i hope they can arrange one day for that.
    I understand f10, for my pictures i normally shot at f8 so i don't think f10 be that bad (only the thing i will miss would be autofocus). BTW i never succeed in Bird in flight shot so i will not miss that :).
    1 more question thought, i know if i use TC (Teleconverter) it degrade the picture quality.
    How it work in scope, if i can see bird in scope at 30x zoom and then do 70x zoom will i lose the detail on bird or there will be not much lose?
    I can see there is a lot of detail on your birds feather.

  4. Hi Waqar,

    I tend to stay at 25x on the zoom for maximum light throughput to the camera. Given the tremendous focal length even at that magnification, there's really no need to go beyond 25x.


    Mike M.