Always read the instructions first… preparing for the Big Garden Birdwatch

Will starlings top my garden birdwatch for the third year in a row?

Will starlings top my garden birdwatch for the third year in a row?

So this weekend is the Big Garden Birdwatch, and as always I’m waiting to see whether the weather produces a bonanza or a damp squib.

I decided to try something different this year, which is to photograph the birds that come to one of the feeders over the hour. I could do this from the house of course, but instead decided to be a little more ambitious and setup a wireless remote trigger on my camera. That way I can place the camera closer to the feeder, and still take shots on autofocus from the house.

The trigger arrived a week or so back, and I eagerly set about connecting it up. Now, there is a little confessional note here. Since I was a boy I’ve never been a fan of instruction manuals. Lego sets, Transformer toys, my tendency was always to unpack and have a go. That glossy piece of paper held no interest to me. It would be nice to think that, as an adult, I’d be a little more sensible about this. But no. The toys get bigger and more expensive, but the boy remains the same.

So it was with the trigger. Unpacked, batteries in, connected up without a glance at the pointless sheet of words and pictures. Then…nothing. I pressed the button, nothing. I tweaked the settings, nothing. I changed the frequency, nothing. The signal was being sent, but not received.

I spent a good 45 minutes trying to sort this out, before eventually concluding that it was broken, or at the very least incompatible with my camera. A search on the internet suggested my camera wasn’t actually compatible with wireless remotes, which directly contradicted the blurb on the trigger-sellers website. Angry emails were mentally composed.

The next day I got ready to box it back up to be returned with a demand for my money back. Then, while putting things away, I noticed something on the receiver I hadn’t noticed before. There, on the side of the unit, was an on/off switch, firmly set to off.

I don’t think there is any mystery or tension in this story, so there is no need to build up the fact that, of course, turning the switch to “on” solved the problem. And yes, the instruction sheet marked this very clearly. Maybe on my next gadget I’ll be older, wiser, and read the instructions first!

So, we’ll see Sunday how both the birdwatch and the remote photography works. I’ll tweet my results on Sunday morning, and follow up with the pictures in the evening. I’ll even break out the updated graph:

I wonder what will top the charts this year? Starlings have held sway so far, but Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Wood Pigeons have all been in good numbers this year.

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3 Responses to Always read the instructions first… preparing for the Big Garden Birdwatch

  1. Tony says:

    Nice post David. I’ve personally plumped for Goldfinch, oh so abundant in lots of gardens right now and a true bird conservation success. Speaking of which, some of your redaers might be interested in my post below, which mentions how we can go beyond #BigGardenBirdwatch and all become citizen scientists.

    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell and naturestimeline

  2. Pingback: Big Garden Birdwatch – 2016 results – A bumper bird bonanza! | Why watch wildlife?

  3. Pingback: The Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 – Are you ready? | Why watch wildlife?

I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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