Introducing the NEW Kowa iPhone digiscoping adapter

If you have an iPhone 4 or 4s, the camera in your pocket just got a lot more awesome.

Here’s my iPhone 4s mounted on a Swarovski HD spotting scope using the new Kowa TSN-IP4S adapter (yes, it works on a number of scopes/binoculars other than the intended Kowa variety, thanks Kowa!). The main thing to notice is that it’s hands-free!

Anyone who has tried handheld digiscoping using an iPhone can tell you that it’s a tedious act and more often than not you’re going to get sub-par results. With the new Kowa adapter, though, the iPhone becomes a natural extension of the spotting scope and you can go back to focusing on birding, which is where your focus should be anyway.

To make my point, here are a few no-brainer photos (click on the images to open in full-size):

Check out the yellow orbital ring on this immature Wood Duck!
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) with a winged snack
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) ruffled up!
A Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) going deep in the sap well
American Coot (Fulica americana) shouting at me

But having an iPhone as your go-to digiscoping camera has many more benefits, not the least of which are the video capabilities. Here’s some moonwatching video I shot a few nights ago, see how many birds you can count migrating across the face of the moon?

(Note that I have removed the sound from the video; you really don’t want to hear the conversations we have when we’re staying up late staring at the moon, trust me.)

The plethora of third-party apps for the iPhone mean many more opportunities for taking and editing both photos and videos right in your phone (we should really stop calling it a phone altogether and admit that it’s just a small and very sophisticated computer). Here’s a video montage I made using the Kowa adapter and the Swarovski scope. All videos were taken through the iPhone with either the standard video app, a more flexible FiLMiC Pro video app, or the slow-motion SloPro app. The video was edited (I removed sound either when it was windy or when the unrelated conversation dominated the audio track) and assembled in iMovie 11 on an old MacBookPro, but taking, editing and publishing individual videos is just as easily done from within the iPhone itself.

So the next time you’re out birding and you find the first state record, or notice some really cool behavior you hadn’t seen before, or just can’t get enough of that plumage, forget the giant camera and lens, grab your phone and fire away. You can pick up the Kowa adapter at several outlets, but I know for a fact that has them (and they’re my local Madison store, and they’re pretty awesome folks).

Good Birding and Digiscoping,


New arrivals overnight

Although northerly winds clearly dominated at higher altitudes, light southerly winds at the surface allowed for moderate to heavy migration over the region last night. Here’s the radar from sunset last night through 5:30am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour for reflectivity and velocity, and every hour for the regional composite. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.

Base Reflectivity image from Fort Dix Base Velocity image from Fort Dix Base Reflectivity image from Dover AFB Base Velocity image from Dover AFB Composite Base Reflectivity image from the Northeastern USA

As you can see from the composite image, migration was heaviest around the northeastern US and down around the Great Lakes, where southerly winds were strongest along the edge of the approaching cold front. Still, with clear skies and light winds over our area, Zugunruhe got the better of many birds that may have otherwise waited out better conditions just a weeks ago. Such are the patters of spring!

With no weather in the forecast to concentrate birds, but with light west winds over the state, I think the best bets for today will be inland migrant traps (Garret Mountain being my favorite) and coastal locations such as Sandy Hook. Of course, the best opportunity for diversity will be in south Jersey, and with the influx of birds apparent on the radar, we should see some new arrivals there this morning.

Be sure to come on back and let us know how it goes!

Good Birding


P.S. Come check out my migration forecast for the Mid-Atlantic on

Please don’t forget to become a member of the Woodcreeper/Badbirdz flock today. Membership has its privileges, so read the Become a Member post to find out more.

Some video from last night/ this morning

Here are some video clips that I took tonight, of birds flying across the moon during migration. The birds are small, and they move quick, so it’s best if you click on the movie to open YouTube in a separate window (and therefore bigger).

And here’s a photo of my setup:
Watching nocturnal migration

Okay- I’m off to sleep now!


And now for something completely insane…
My buddy Jeff Bouton just lead an 8-day digiscoping trip to Panama. His photos are not only gorgeous, but they’re a reminder that we should be doing one thing and one thing only- SAVING UP FOR ANOTHER BIRDING ADVENTURE. Come live vicariously through Jeff on his flickr site.