Sunday, 15 November 2009

Our fat grey friends

Fat friends in a field

Oh joy! Goose count day. Why did I volunteer to do this? A good excuse for a day out birding when boxes should be unpacked or the boat tidied up or the garage sorted, but actual time to look at other birds was a bit limited as I tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to navigate the lanes and tracks north of Kirkwall and Tankerness.

Counting more than 5,000 Greylags uh! Trying to string a "rossicus" and failing rather dismally; does anyone else have trouble with pink and orange when on geese? (15th from the right in the pic is the culprit methinks.) Finding one Barnacle. A loose feeding flock of 10 Great Northerns was nice. Counting more than 600 Pinkies. No time for gulls and no time for the couple of finch flocks. Even less time to join Julian on Deerness and enjoy large falcon sp or his 80 pet Snow Buntings.

On the whole other motorists were tolerant of my erratic parking, stopping in the middle of nowhere on a narrow lane to count the rather distant geese.

The only other excitement of the day was the final collapse of my tripod's head. It has been gradually becoming more senile through the autumn. Today it just gave up any attempt to maintain the decorum between scope and tripod and let everything "hang loose, man". I seem to have a problem with these bits of kit. Dear Manfrotto please make your expensive stuff without the built in self-destruct. In recent years I have junked one carbon fibre (totally useless, leg catches just give up and spare parts are apparently unavailable) and two tripod heads (screws bend and break if you look at them - slight exaggeration; and in this case whole mechanism just disintegrates into a jelly like mess). However, I guess the legs of this aluminium one aren't too bad. I'll probably buy Manfo again as the alternatives I've tried in the past have either been more fragile and just generally hopeless (Velbon) or well made but no good for birding (Benbo). Dear Benbo, please make a birding tripod with a cracking good spotting scope head and bring it in for less than £150. Off to the Warehouse Express or Clifton Cameras site now, might even treat myself to a non-swivel plate thing - devilish expensive though.


Nick Carter said...

The "non swivel head" thingies are expensive but they do work. I think i have a contact at Manfrotto somwehere if you need it, they sent me some spares when mine had a wobbler

Alastair said...

Thanks Nick. Manfrotto - spares I had been led to understand that these were two worlds that never meet .... I've ordered a new head and a non-swivel thing as I remember you said yours worked. I would like a contact name at manfrotto because I might be able to salvage this existing head as a spare or a car clamp or something.

Nick Carter said...

I'll e mail the details I have.