It all started in 2001 when our daughter was about to graduate from college. I bought an Olympus camera to photograph the event and while doing so realized it might be fun to take bird pictures as a hobby. So I chose a camera with a 10 to 1 zoom and embarked on a journey that has given me considerable delight for many years.
This was originally written late in 2014 when I was using a Pentax K-3 and I chose between a Sigma 150–500 mm zoom lens and a Pentax 300 mm prime lens, either augmented by a Ricoh 1.4× teleconverter. I've since added the Pentax 150–450 mm zoom lens, which though offering a shorter range than the Sigma and being heavier, is noticeably sharper to the extent that I no longer use the Sigma.
In the three years I've had the K-3, it has performed very well and I've taken well over 100,000 photos, mostly of birds (of course). It's starting to show its age — the sensor has some spots on it that are annoying in shots with a lot of sky, and it often gives up on auto-focusing at the short end of the range.
In 2014, I captured photos of 162 species in North America (all actually in New Jersey). That year, I also made two trips to the U.K. although the U.K. Birds page is still a twinkle in my eye as of January 2017. 2015 yielded photos of 189 species while 2016 just ended stopped at 187 — most of the month of December being lost to a bad cough that kept me indoors.
I didn't count the birds I photographed in the United Kingdom (all but a handful in England, but we did have one day in Scotland). In some cases, I saw birds that we also encounter in New Jersey (e.g., Common Tern and Peregrine Falcon) but it was also interesting to see European species distinctly different from similar familiar species (e.g., Gray vs Great Blue Heron and Eurasian vs American Oystercatcher).
I have very mixed feelings about birds in captivity. While theoretically disapproving, I have to concede that there are photographs I would otherwise not have. In particular, the day spent with Jane and Pete at Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall, was specially memorable.
2017 has started with an unexpected discovery: a bird I mistook for a Black-bellied Plover back in September 2013 at Sandy Hook turns out to have been an American Golden-Plover.
Links on this page
Tthe photos on this page each link to the corresponding page in this site or to Dave's Flickr album for the bird in question.