Weekend Digiscoping Spotlight 17

Jordan RutterField Work, General News and Info, Photography1 Comment

The Weekend Digiscoping Spotlight will highlight some of the fun shots we’ve gotten recently with a camera paired with a spotting scope. We welcome submissions of your favorite digiscoped shots to be featured in future spotlights, just use the contact form in the menu above.

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Great Lakes Piping Plover with chick in Michigan - Digiscoped using iPhone 4, Leica APO Televid 77, & Phoneskope adaptor - Photo by Jordan Rutter

Great Lakes Piping Plover with chick in Michigan – Digiscoped using iPhone 4, Leica APO Televid 77, & Phoneskope adaptor – Photo by Jordan Rutter

When it comes to checking up on piping plover families, a scope is usually the only way to go. The chicks are so small and are colored for perfect camouflaging with the sand and beach vegetation. If brooding, the parent color bands can be especially difficult to see. When born the chicks on average weigh ~8 grams (aka 8 paper clips) and are literally the size of a cotton ball on toothpick legs. They’re adorable but definitely difficult to keep track of so having a scope makes things easier.

With color bands and up to six individuals (two adults and four chicks) taking pictures/videos through my scope has really paid off in being able to instantly record who is who during certain situations/behaviors. Being able to visually document these birds as well has actually proven to be incredibly valuable for my graduate research. Though no specific project has started or focuses solely on these pictures/videos yet, being able to accurately record individuals (reading color bands is basically another language sometimes) and using them as a teach tool to the citizen scientists who volunteer for us is priceless. Getting to document cute behaviors like chicks preening themselves is an added bonus too.