I began with a pair of Nikkormat cameras (one for color film, the other for B&W), and upgraded bodies through the EL, ELW, FE, FE2, N2020 (Nikon’s first AF body and a camera that felt very low end to me), 8008, and N90S, with a 6006 for my wife to use loaded with color negative film.
My film days ended in November of 2004 when I got a D70 body and embraced the wonderful advantages of digital. I moved up to a D200 body in 2007, making the D70 a backup. In 2011 I picked up a very clean D300 and found it so much better than even the D200 that I added another D300 and sold the old D70 and D200. I could never go back to film.
For most of the time until 1998 my primary setup for birds was a manual focus 400mm f/5.6 EDIF Nikkor mounted on a TC14 converter (560/8 equivalent). It was a fine lens: light, compact, portable, and sharp. I retired the 400 when I went auto focus with a 300mm f/2.8 AF-S and a matching TC20E 2x converter (600/8 equivalent). Not as light or as compact, but very sharp with better close focus and delightful auto focus. I’ve replaced the original TC20E with the optically improved TC20E III version.
I still use a couple manual focus lenses on my D200, including my ancient 200mm f/4 Micro Nikkor.
I always use the big lens on a solid tripod - a carbon fiber Gitzo 1325, with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head and a Sidekick gimbal mount. I'll use this or a smaller tripod with shorter lenses as well if I want the best image quality, but will hand hold 200mm or shorter for casual shooting.
To deal with the harsh shadows of the contrasty desert light in AZ I use fill flash from a Nikon SB-800 flash when absolutely necessary, but I'm not a big fan of flash lighting and avoid it as much as possible.
The down side of digital is the computer resources necessary to support it. I've been a Mac user since the early 1990's, using Windows PC's only when required to do so at the day job (when I have one). When my old PowerMac G4 finally died in 2012 I replaced it with a faster and better iMac, although I’m still a few years behind the power curve of Macs. I also have a 17” PowerBook G4 of about the same vintage as the dead PowerMac that is now reserved for trips (if I ever get away sometime again).
Everything is shot in raw format (called NEF by Nikon), converted in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), and post processed in Adobe PhotoShop. I’ve recently added Apple Aperture on my computer and will evaluate that for importing NEFs ad performing raw conversion.