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Monthly Archives: March 2008

31 Mar

It’s hard to think of warblers when our woods and trees are still covered in snow, but it is nearly April, after all. Time to pull out the bird guide and start reviewing. Okay, after all these years, that’s just an excuse. I’m just too impatient to sit and wait for the warblers to arrive, so I like to browse through the warbler section in my Sibley’s to whet my appetite.

In our area, we have about 35 species of warblers. That’s respectable in anyone’s book. For eastern warblers, I much prefer the steadiness and wider field of view afforded …

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27 Mar

If I had money and didn’t know what to do with it all (fat chance on either score), I might consider starting a collection of old binoculars. I would do this more for nostalgia than for investment reasons, simply because I like old binoculars. Indeed, if I could wave a magic wand and have all the binoculars I have owned in my lifetime, suddenly appear, I would have quite a collection. In fact, some might even been considered collectible. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. I wonder which of today’s current crop of binoculars will someday rate …

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26 Mar

Now and then a customer ask what someone should use to clean a binocular. You can, of course, go with fancy chemicals and lens tissues, but I have had my best luck with a simple lens pen. These go under many brand names, but the one I currently have is the Nikon version. They last a long time and the little squeegee tip is perfect for cleaning around the edges of the lenses. Next best is a lens cloth. These are a better option for large lenses, especially for eyeglasses. I carry one all the time.…

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25 Mar

Spring did not make an appearance, this weekend, despite the calendar. That’s not to say this girl didn’t get out and ride and see some wildlife. One of my close encounters was with a striped skunk as it ran across my path in a local, suburban neighborhood. No, I did not stop to get a better look with my monocular, not would I have used a binocular had I been carrying one. There are times when discretion is more important than optics. Besides, the skunk did not appear to be in too much of a hurry. Can’t say the same …

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24 Mar

I am sometimes asked what makes good handling in a binocular. To me it is a binocular that, of course, fits comfortably in the hands, but it is also a binocular that is well balanced when I hold it. I find that a binocular that is well balanced can compensate, to some extent, for a little extra weight. I am fussiest most of all, though about focusing. I must have a binocular that places the focusing mechanism beneath my index finger, automatically. Since I often use a binocular with one hand, I cannot go hunting for a focusing knob when …

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20 Mar

It’s not like me to go for looks, but I have to say, one of those Swarovski Crystal Pocket binoculars, such as the Nabuccoa, would look good around my neck. Of course, I would not buy such a binocular on looks, alone, but, hey, these are still the great Swarovski Pocket compact binoculars underneath that Swarovski Crystal exterior. Can’t think of a nicer thing to take to the next opera or concert at the Chicago Symphony. Who knows, I might even have to wear a dress to do these binoculars justice. Not sure my usual blue jeans would be a …

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19 Mar

Although I use individual eyepiece focus (IF) binoculars for astronomy on a regular basis, can’t say I have much use for IF in my birding binoculars. IF is just not a practical system for close in work on warblers and sparrows and much of my birding is for these groups. That’s not to say IF binoculars cannot be used for some types of birding. I once knew a guy who swore by Steiner 7×50 military marine binoculars and, for his birding, they suited him well. He was a duck hunter by fall and a waterfowl birder by spring, operating out …

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18 Mar

Had a customer on our forum who found an old Carl Zeiss 7×50 binocular in his loft, which he thinks may have belonged to his uncle. Wow! Most folks are lucky to find a cheap binocular hidden away, but I’d say this customer hit the jackpot. May have been a marine binocular version, from the description, but regardless of how old, it is still a Carl Zeiss and a real treasure of a binocular to find. Now that’s what I call the luck of the Irish, given the date of the forum post.…

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17 Mar

A binocular that offers great optics by day should be a great binocular for astronomy at night. Right? A binocular that kicks butt for astronomy should be a great choice for day work. Right? Not necessarily. The two applications certainly overlap, but I have seen many a great birding binocular come up short at night in terms of image brightness and optical correction, especially for flare and coma. Likewise, I have seen some high end astronomy binoculars that didn’t have enough color correction to satisfy me for birding. You can tweak optics for a specific application, but doesn’t mean it …

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13 Mar

When at first you don’t succeed .. when at second you don’t succeed … when at third … That’s the name of the game when it comes to finding deep-sky objects with a binocular from a very light polluted observing site. It’s taken three nights and a bit of ingenuity, but I finally detected M81/M82 in Ursa Major the other night with my astronomy binocular. My normal routine had not been working, so I got creative. Too much light outside for my eyes to become dark adapted? No problem. I sat in a darkened living room with a towel over …

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