Digiscoping with Zeiss

Digiscoping with Stephen Ingraham of Zeiss

Digiscoping with Stephen Ingraham of Zeiss

Great Blue Heron swallowing a small eel

Great Blue Heron swallowing a small eel

In preparation for the upcoming Zeiss digiscoping classes to be offered through Sea & Sage Audubon in October 2011, we were lucky to be visited by Zeiss’ own digiscoping expert, Stephen Ingraham. Stephen came out to show us how to use the adaptor and how to optimize the camera and scope for photography. The three of us accompanied Stephen to the mouth of the Santa Ana River on a gray and overcast Sunday morning in June. Stephen reviewed with us how to best align the camera and scope and then we were off.
So there we were at Talbert Marsh at a moderately low tide and there really wasn’t much to look at initially. A few Western Gulls lounged around on the beach, a couple of Killdeer screamed warnings to no one in particular and a somewhat ratty Double-crested Cormorant looked neither crested nor double… Then a Great Blue Heron showed up and started fishing in a mat of eel grass within 30 feet of us. Rather appropriately, the heron captured a green eel. Even in that grayish light, the Zeiss Diascope 85 spotting scope equipped with a Diascope Digital Camera Adaptor II and a Canon PowerShot S95 camera, picked up frame-filling detail as the heron subdued and swallowed its meal.

Juvenile Least Tern at Santa Ana River mouth

Juvenile Least Tern at Santa Ana River mouth

Our next stop was at the river mouth, near the California Least Tern and Snowy Plover breeding enclosure. Most of the adult Least Terns were way out on the beach, or out to sea fishing, but we found this juvenile bird well on its way way to independence, though still being fed by Mom and Dad. He’s one of the lucky few who, thus far, have evaded the coyotes and Peregrine Falcons who are interested in making food out of him! You can see how the camera picked up subtle details in the shading of his feathers.

Black-crowned-night-heron-lgOn the way back to the car, we came across this adult Black-crowned Night-Heron fishing right next to the bike path. With one of the broadest distributions of all herons, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is hardly a rare bird, but what a handsome one! This one still had one pale filoplume dangling from its crown and looked quite snazzy. Stephen says that when the gods of bird photography throw a suitable subject your way, you should never turn it down, so we worked at filling our memory cards a bit more. And there you have it: two different users of this digiscoping rig, trying it out for the first time and getting decent quality shots even under less-than-ideal conditions.

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