Digiscoping by Binocular

I practiced digiscoping with binoculars today. I don’t want any more crappy pictures of cool birds, like the Red-bellied Woodpecker set I took on Wednesday. Digiscoping is basically shooting a picture through a spotting scope lens. You can take advantage of the magnifying power of your lens and the camera’s optical zoom to get high magnification. (Your final magnification is the power of your lens multiplied by the camera’s optical zoom. My binoculars are 8x, and my camera is 3x, so that makes 24x the highest magnification that I can get, which is decent.) Depending on your equipment, you can get some pretty high-quality images (and save a ton of money on telephoto lenses).

There are three huge challenges to this (due to my equipment) that usually don’t present with digiscoping in general. First, I’m using binoculars, and they have to be manually held to the camera. Second, my binoculars are out of alignment, so aiming is hard; what you see out of one barrel is not what you see out of the other barrel. Third, my camera is old and has a viewfinder instead of an LCD screen display, so I have to guess and set the binoculars to be slightly unfocused if I want a picture that isn’t a complete blur when using the 3x optical zoom.

View from my room. I practiced digiscoping on the lampost.
View from my room. I practiced digiscoping on the lampost.
Lampost at 8x
Lampost at 8x
At 24x. The aim is off because my binoculars are out of
At 24x. The aim is off because my binoculars are out of alignment.

Adventuring

I went to Prospect Park on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and did some intentional birding for the first time in about a year. We’re in the middle of spring migration, and I did get some good looks at a male Scarlet Tanager, a male American Redstart, a family of Red-bellied woodpeckers, and an Ovenbird. I think that this is the first time I’ve stalked down and actually located a bird. Of course, the fact that time wasn’t an issue (I’m stuck here for two weeks, help) was a plus. I suppose I could’ve just been lazy and checked off the birds I identified by ear, but I also (really) wanted to see them. I’ve made it a rule to not count life birds I’ve heard but not seen, unless the bird in question is an owl. But once I’ve gotten past the barrier of actually seeing a life bird, I’m allowed to count it by ear.

A real tree.
A real tree.
The south side of the park overlooks the Poestenkill River.
The south side of the park overlooks the Poestenkill River.
View of Troy and Albany.
View of Troy and Albany.
Red-bellied Woodpecker; digiscoped through binoculars
Red-bellied Woodpecker; digiscoped through binoculars

Prospect Park is no Mt. Auburn; I only saw a handful of species in a two-hour period, and I had to hunt them down as well. The good thing about birding in the city is that whatever park you’re at is probably going to be a “migrant trap” at at least some level. A city park is like an oasis in an asphalt desert, and will usually concentrate migrating birds. What’s good for birders is usually bad for birds.

I did a lot of planning for near-future trips to Prospect Park and Oakwood Cemetery that would hopefully increase my species count, but then my bike got stolen on Thursday. In broad daylight, too. I came back from Prospect Park at 9:00, and noticed that my bike was missing at around 4:00. I wasn’t the only one who had their bike stolen; apparently, someone was taking advantage of the lack of people on campus. Well, that just shot the trip plan to Oakwood, and possibly fall trips to the river to look for ducks.

I also went to West Hall a couple of times. I’m still working on getting The Lark back and trying to not completely screw Pathetique, which I feel is inevitable. I also tried my hand at the musical genre for the first time. I found and printed “Stars” from Les Miserables. This genre is a lot easier; it’s designed so that playing both hands at once is easier than playing them separately at first (if you know how the music goes, you can cheat and skip counting).

Crazy West Hall Dumpster squirrels
Crazy West Hall Dumpster squirrels

High School

For me, high school was a humbling experience. The transition from middle school to high school, coupled with a transition from a different school system in a different town, allowed me to experience my first Cs, Ds, and Fs. (Not as course grades; don’t worry.) In middle school, I never got anything below A-, and exerted minimal effort.

Fact: ABRHS certainly is tougher than a lot of other schools in MA. If you graduated at the top of the class, chances are, you probably went to a great college, and you probably will be very successful later on in life. ABRHS does prepare students well for college; most graduates I know are doing quite well in college.

It’s great if you graduated from ABRHS with flying colors, but the rest of us mortals would do well to remember that we are far, far, far from the top, even if we are considered “smart” in college.

(I’m posting this because I’m slightly pissed that certain people have forgotten this, and have become exponentially obnoxious since high school.)

Relay for Life ’09

A homeless woman set up camp on the edge of the track. She didn’t interact with anyone; she just wanted a place to spend the night. My team member approached her, asked, “Would you like some breakfast?”. The woman said, “Oh, yes please!”, and he gave her some of the bagel breadsticks that he took from the concession stand.

I get pissed off and judge people all the time. I wish I wouldn’t. Helping people regardless of condition– isn’t that what training to be an EMT is all about?

Side note– Sleeping intermittently for about an hour while sitting up on the bench of an ambulance (which is tilted  forward at a 50-degree angle) and snuggling up against the M-tank is not particularly fun. But it was worth it 🙂

Blood Drive Fail

In March, I decided that I wanted to give blood. I got a slight cold three days before the drive, and couldn’t.

The next opportunity coincided with Hell Week.

After two relatively happy, healthy, and stress-free weeks, I decided that I would try again. I felt fine on Thursday. I gave blood. I felt fine afterwards. On Friday, I realized that I had a slight common cold symptoms, but I blamed them on allergies. Turns out, there actually is a cough/bug going around campus. Which means that the pint was probably bad. I called ARC, and they’re probably going to throw it away. This was my first blood “donation”, by the way.

I just want to help, but my body clearly doesn’t.