Saturday, March 31, 2018

5 Reasons I Now Use Pocket Binoculars

One of the first things I did when I started to become interested in birding was to research what would be the best choice of binoculars for birding. After talking to experienced birders and trying out various models I came to the conclusion that a high quality 8x42 roof prism binocular would work best for me.

 I later purchased a more compact 8x32 pair as a back-up option but hardly used them.I still preferred the optics of the 8x42 even though the 8x32's were a little bit lighter.

At the time, no one recommended using pocket binoculars because they were not considered to be good enough for birding but pocket binoculars hae improved over the years. I recently traded in my 8x32's for Swarovski CL 8x25 pocket binoculars (seen above resting on a standard sized smart phone). I truly can stuff them in my coat pocket when I'm walking around and that has some advantages. 

Here are 5 reasons why I have been getting a lot of use of these new pocket binoculars: 
1) The newer models of high end pocket binoculars are really bright and sharp!: I don't feel like I'm missing much using the smaller Swarovski 8x25 pocket binoculars. They seem just as sharp and clear as my larger binoculars with the only sacrifice being field of view. There is a smaller exit pupil which means they shouldn't be as good as larger models in lower light but I haven't noticed that much of a difference.
2) They are great to bring with you while hiking: I was into hiking before I became more interested in hiking. It's much easier to carry pocket binoculars around a just in case  your run into some interesting birds while hiking deep out in the woods.
3) It's easier on your neck and shoulders: You don't have to walk around with heavy binoculars hanging around your neck and it's less stress on your arms and shoulders when staring up into trees. 
4) Less equipment to carry when carrying a camera and/or scope: Sometimes you might be primarily focused on using your camera or scope. Being able to carry your binoculars in your coat pocket in these situations is convenient.
5) They are perfect for the glove compartment: It's nice to always have binoculars available when your driving around. You never know when you come across a bird you want to check out. These binoculars easily fit in your glove compartment even with their protective case. 

I'm not giving up on using my full-sized binoculars but the benefits of the smaller ones are such that I plan to give them equal time this year. 

Note:There was recently an interesting article in Birdwatcher's Digest comparing the different models of pocket binoculars.I purchased mine from the Audubon Shop in Madison.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Early At The Shore With Oystercatchers

 I made a stop down at the shoreline early in the morning. I was trying to catch low tide hoping to find shorebirds.
 The only shorebirds I came across were American Oystercatchers.
 They had no problem finding plenty to eat.
 The oystercatchers were boisterous making lots of noise communicating with each other. I also saw my first 3 Great Egrets of the year.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Scenery Trumps Weather At Chatfield Hollow

 We were back to winter weather this weekend as it was in the 20's with a moderate breeze this morning. We had a snowstorm this week so I was looking for a place I could walk around without having to wear snow shoes which brought me to Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth.
It turned out to be a good choice because the access roads were plowed and the small amount of snow on the boardwalk was packed down for easy walking.
While walking around the state parks and forests in Connecticut you often come across work projects completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. This little camp which is now being used as a nature center is an example of that. Most of the bridges,stairs in the forest, and bridges seem to be holding up well. It seems they did some quality work back then.
I didn't come across any rare or unusual birds but was happy to see a few familiar feathered friends like this White-throated Sparrow out catching a bit of sunshine. It was one of those mornings when the benefits of nature's scenery outweighed the discomfort of winter weather.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Feathered Friends Of The Fairground Fields

 It was a windy, overcast weekend and the fairgrounds along with the other fields in Wangunk Meadows were flooded from the recent nor'easter. Once March hits these flooded fields start to attract all sorts of birds.Hidden behind that distant clump of trees on the left were Green-winged Teal. Wilson's Snipe have also started to move in.
 Wood Ducks that didn't want to get their feet wet took breaks in the trees (sorry my point and shoot doesn't like cloudy days).
 I also counted 24 Great Blue Herons flying in ready to claim their own nest at the local rookery.

It's just the beginning of March which is a little early for so much activity. If the weather is decent then  Wangunk Meadows (eBird) will live up to its reputation as a local hotspot.