Anti-birdwatching device on my telescope

Yesterday I was bringing in the clothes from the washing line just as the sun set. The sky to the west was a glowing gold, when I heard the unfamiliar sound of a woodpecker drumming. A short fast drum of staccato knocks slowed into a couple of distinct sharp plonks and stopped. I can’t remember ever hearing that one before, and it certainly is not the drumming of the only woodpecker I have seen in our backyard, the Common Goldenback.

Anyway, there was I with an armful of dry clothes and I hear a bird which would be a new addition to my yard list.* So what’s a girl to do? I dash inside, drop the clothes on the nearest chair, race to the bedroom and rummage around in the drybox for my binoculars.

Tear outside and take a look at the woodpecker. But alas, it is a silhouette against a gorgeous liquid gold sky… All I can say is that it is definitely not a Goldenback. It has a rounded head and is a smaller size.

So I tear back inside to grab my telescope out of the drybox in the bedroom. More complicated this, because it is dismantled. I have to take the covers off, unpack the eyepiece and screw it on to the end, race outside and try to balance the scope on the verandah grille to see the bird. Alas, it is at an awkward angle and I just can’t keep it still enough. I need the tripod.

Race back inside. Tripod is packed away in the spare room. Find it, take it out of its carrier bag, run outside, unscrew the legs, grab up the scope to put it on the base – and find that the connector is not there. I had unscrewed it from the telescope when I sent it for cleaning – and forgotten to replace it.

Race back inside, find the connector, tear back outside, screw connector onto the underside of the telescope, fit the scope to the tripod. Look up to make sure the bird is still there. It is, even though a good fifteen minutes or more have passed since I first heard it. It is preening in between bouts of drumming.

I swing the scope towards it, find it and begin to focus the black blur into detail…
…and the &%$# bird flies off.

I swear, there is an anti-birdwatching devise on my scope. When you start to focus on an unidentified bird, the bird senses the spin of the focusing ring – and flies off in the opposite direction. Works like a charm.

*I keep a list of birds seen in our garden, or from our garden (including flying overhead) and over the years it has morphed into a very long list – somewhere over seventy species. Two nightjars, two bee-eaters, two sunbirds, two tailorbirds, a whole stack of raptors from honey-buzzards to peregrines, a stack of cuckoos, a spiderhunter, a shrike, a fantail, several munias, prinia, two owls, two coucals, four pigeon/doves, a waterhen, a crake, jungle fowl, several egrets and herons, feral storks, triller, swifts, swiftlets and even a Siberian Blue Robin.

Plus the usual common stuff: oriole, bulbul, magpie-robin, house crow, 3 species of myna, kingfisher, iora, gerygone, flowerpecker, sparrow, starling, two swallows…


Anti-birdwatching device on my telescope — 3 Comments

  1. Your birdlist – even the common ones – is exotic to me. We used to keep two lists in the Carolinas, one for our back yard and one for anywhere else. I think we reached about 27 or so birds in the back yard but never thought of looking at the sky.

    You and your telescope; that is what we Brits call sod's law. I'm surprised the bird stuck around that long.

  2. Maybe it was a UK woodpecker taking a holiday.

    Just curious. When counting flying birds, how do you know if some of them circle back for a second counting?

  3. Peter – you don't.

    However, if you are doing a count while the birds are on migration, or flying to or from a roost, you can be reasonably sure they won't fly past you twice as they are always heading towards their destination.

    At other times, it's just guessestimates, as we call them.

    When I've had raptors over my house, they look like those old World War Two bombing raids – flight after flight, all heading in the same direction…

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