Monday, May 21, 2007

Bird watching: using SMS/MMS, internet and digital cameras

This weekend I was on the island of Texel in the North of The Netherlands. The island is 25 by 10 kilometres. It is amongst others famous for its catamaran race around the island. But it is also a paradise for bird watchers. This weekend was going to be my initiation in the world of bird watching.

I had picked up my binoculars, but they were not good enough. I was kitted out with professional binoculars and a telescope. Also the regular photo camera was not good enough; a semi-professional camera should be used. And yes the change in quality was noticeable. Also the photographing through the objective of a telescope was demonstrated. Some beautiful pictures were taken.

We went all over the island to special places. On the island there is a place with an island with stern; it is one of the five places in the Netherlands, but this is the only observation post open to the public (photograph taken with a non-professional camera). We observed many birds. We even found a mandarin duck, which most likely has escaped from a birds’ park or a zoo.

I was also initiated in the way bird watchers use the digital media. They use frequently the digital camera and especially the digital zoom. We had a discussion on JPEG and RAW as formats fit for bird watchers. We went also to internet and went to several sites, such as, and, where observations can be recorded. For the real (professional or semi-professional) watchers there is a SMS/MMS service, where bird watchers can leave there latest interesting observations. Whenever a special species shows up, it is put on the SMS/MMS channel and a race for the place mentioned has started.

Looking at the sites it is clear that a complete live encyclopaedia of birds and other animals is available, including the latest spotting. This month a humpback whale (see photograph) was sighted near the Dutch coast and in the Marsdiep, the trough between the mainland and the island of Texel. An SMS went out and the watchers, regardless whether they were bird watchers or reptile watcher, came in droves, recording the event for the future.

Photograph by Eric Menkveld ( c) 2007

Blog Posting Number: 760


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