Thursday, 6 August 2020

Bearded Vulture at Crowden, Woodhead Pass

The bearded vulture currently in the Peak District has relocated to Crowden at Woodhead Pass so today I decided to call in for another look. Woodhead Pass is a bit easier to get to for me than where it was previously near Ladybower Reservoir, but it's still a pain, mainly because of the traffic around Mottram. It was worth it though because on the ground at least I had far better views today than last time, and it wasn't so windy so I was able to use the full magnification of the telescope. Also today, four ring ouzels from the Pennine Way.

When I arrived it was sitting on a cliff in some woods on the side of Hey Moss less than half a mile from Crowden Outdoor Education Centre and  I watched it there for about 30 minutes at a distance of about 200m. Then it flew north and I thought that was the last we were going to see of it for a while, but it circled round and amazingly landed on the lower slopes of Bareholme Moss just about 150m away from us. It remained here for about another 20 minutes before flying north again up the valley for about a mile or so and was lost to view. I had a walk around the valley looking for ring ouzels and whatever else I might find and continued to see the vulture, but always distantly and in flight.
All of the photos of the vulture in this post were taken on my phone at a distance of between 150 - 200m. It only has to move about 2.5 miles further north to enter Greater Manchester and become a potential north west tick so this might not be my last encounter with the bird.

This photo and the next show how remarkable phone scoping is. The image above is of a bird on a dark cliff on a dull day and was taken through the telescope on 50x magnification. In the photo below I have cropped it quite close. It's not perfect but the image below is still pretty clear and not pixelated. Taking into account the zoom and the crop, the photo below is probably zoomed in about 200x yet look at the birds eye, it's still pretty sharp. I think that these photos are far superior to images I've seen of the same bird in the same spot on the same day but taken with highly expensive DSLR cameras with big lenses. When you zoom in on photos taken with those lenses the image becomes very pixelated. Amazing to think that my photos were taken on my phone!

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