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Monthly Archives: October 2008

29 Oct

I’ve had a long and happy acquaintance with Steiner porro prism binoculars. Steiner porros are almost a binocular breed unto themselves – very distinctive in appearance and always solid optically. Although individual eyepiece focus binoculars are not the preferred choice for an all around birding binocular, a Steiner Autofocus (Steiner’s lingo for individual eyepiece focus) makes a great mid to long range birding binocular. I knew a fellow birder who would stubbornly stick with his Steiner 7×50 Military Marine, even for close in work. Wasn’t pretty watching him scramble to focus both eyepieces before a bird moved, again, but no …

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28 Oct

I guess we are all creatures of our own environment and past experiences, even when it comes to our preferences in our pursuits. Birding is a good example for me. Had I been raised in prime warbler country, rather than prime sparrow country, I might be a warbler addict, like so many local Chicago area birders I know. Had I been raised along the shores of Lake Michigan, rather than in the midst of wonderful prairie marshes, I might be more of a gull fan than a shorebird fan. To be sure, I am enjoying this area and the wonderful …

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27 Oct

No hobby or past-time is immune or impervious to digital technology, even birding. You can buy digital bird song devices to take in the field or listen to at home. There are also several excellent websites on birds, the Cornell site being one of my favorites. Still, I like to think that birding will always be a binocular and a field guide, with maybe a spotting scope thrown in for some jobs. Hope I don’t live to see it any differently. I am not opposed to technology by any means, it’s just that going afield without it helps me to …

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22 Oct

One of my favorite little birds, and I do mean little, is the Golden-crowned Kinglet. I see these little ones every spring and fall and usually in groups, so when you see one, you see several. Found myself surrounded by these beauties, this last Saturday, in the autumn woods. What a treat! Really don’t need a binocular to identify a Kinglet – size and behavior and that ultra-thin call will tell you that long before you raise the binocular – but you will usually need a binocular to tell the Golden-crowned from the Ruby-crowned. The difference is obvious in a …

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21 Oct

As a birder, not to mention a vegetarian, the saying, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is not exactly my favorite, but when it comes to binoculars, I will gladly amend that to “a binocular in hand is worth two in the bush … or your car or house and so on”. Hey, if that birding binocular is too big to take along on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to add a compact binocular to your birding kit. Save the bigger binocular for the heavy duty bird outing, but always carry a compact binocular. …

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20 Oct

In these days of uncertainty, what with a troubled economy and the upcoming elections, I take refuge in the simple things that have always been my places of sanctuary. These pursuits include astronomy with binoculars and birding, not to mention bicycling. These simple pleasures do not have to be equipment intensive – you can spend and buy as much or as little as you want on a binocular. The important thing for me is that these pursuits keep me outdoors. Friends have told me that it would be a waste of money for me to buy a house and that …

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16 Oct

I am always amazed to see how quickly the landscape changes in the fall. In the course of one week, it has been much easier to spot a bird in the trees, what with all the leaves falling. Of course, by now the majority of our warblers have headed south, so there are fewer species to see with my binoculars. Of course, there are still Yellow-rumped and other colder weather warblers, not to mention the daily arriving winter species. That means it is time to start throwing seed on the lawn to attract birds close to my window. Nothing like …

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15 Oct

I know everyone gets out the magnifier , at least in a mental way, to scrutinize each and every binocular feature when getting ready to spend the big dollars on a premium binocular. This is as it should be, of course. If you are spending a lot of money on a binocular, you want to know what your money buys. From time to time, though, I have to remind a customer that buying a premium binocular is also an emotional decision as to brand preference, loyalty and that last little bit of irrational impulse. Hey, we aren’t robots or a …

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14 Oct

Had a great time at the opera, this weekend. Saw “Manon” at the Chicago Lyric opera and I can honestly say it was the best evening I’ve hade since moving to Chicago. Natalie Dessay as Monon and Jonas Kaufmann as her lover, Chevalier des Grieux were incredible. Anyone still laboring under the stereotype of the 300 pound opera star, standing around and bellowing an aria should see these two. Both athletic opera stars not only sang to perfection, they moved with grace and beauty.

My friend and I watched it all with optics that were far superior to anything else …

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13 Oct

Still get an old timer, now and then, who is looking for a hunting binocular made in the US. Always hurts a bit to tell them that a binocular truly made in the US from US made parts went extinct many years, ago. Like so many other products, this one has fallen victim to a global economy. There is one binocular, though, that is still at least assembled in the US and that is the Leupold Gold Ring HD binocular and it’s a dandy. This is a solid, rugged hunting binocular with great optics for those “made in USA” fans …

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