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Monthly Archives: April 2011

29 Apr

If you are looking for compact binoculars and don’t mind giving up a little of that “compactness”, your best bang for your optical buck is still one of the oldest compact binoculars design, namely the reverse porro prism. I’ve recommended several of these best value compact binoculars to friends and they all love them. These include the Nikon Travelite 8×25, the Pentax 8×25 UCF X II, the Nikon 8×25 Prostaff, the Bushnell Legend Ultra 8×26, the Vortex Vanquish 8×26 and more. Can’t bet any of them for the price.

For those that want to go right to the top in …

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28 Apr

It’s snowing as I write this, though it is mixed with rain, so I doubt we’ll see anything significant for accumulation. Snowing on April 28, though? You have to remember this is the north woods and snow is a distinct possibility well into May. Some of the old timers, up here, tell me they can even remember one year where it snowed on July 4th. This spring snow doesn’t really bother me, though. It just feels right for this country, somehow, and it is certainly a trivial inconvenience compared to the tornadoes and horrible storms those poor folks down south …

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27 Apr

We have Purple Finches nesting on our property and that is saying more than most people can say, since the Purple Finch, in the eastern half of the country, at least, only breeds in the north woods. Just seeing this close relative of the much more common House Finch is a treat. Yes, having Purple Finches nesting in your back yard is quite a birdwatching thrill.

I’ve been seeing a pair of Purple Finches through the binoculars and spotting scope, recently. They have been regulars to our bird feeders for some time, now. I’ve also discovered a couple of males …

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26 Apr

That’s no sparrow bill on that bird. No, indeed, that’s why the Pine Siskin in this pic of mine could not possibly be mistaken for a sparrow, though many a beginner has dismissed this “little brown bird” as a sparrow and therefore just too darn hard to identify. So, here’s a birdwatching tip of the day. When in doubt, check the bill on a bird.

Of course, that is sometimes easier said than done. In typical birding binoculars, that bill can be hard to see, especially if the bird is small, as with the Pine Siskin, or if the bird …

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25 Apr

Sparrows or warblers? This is a question that birders sometimes ask of each other. Simply put, it means do you prefer birdwatching for sparrows or warblers? Both bird groups can be challenging in their own way and both groups are large enough and diverse enough to keep the birding binoculars busy for a long time. I have spent many years working both sparrows and warblers with my binoculars and even my spotting scope.

As far aesthetics go, if you want to see color in birds when you look through your binoculars, warblers are definitely your group, though some sparrow species…

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22 Apr

There was a time when there were no binoculars designated as astronomy binoculars and certainly no binoculars designed specifically for astronomy. What did people use for astronomy binoculars, then? The venerable 7×50 was the binocular of choice for astronomy in the old days and that size was also popular for marine applications as well as low light nature applications.

The 7×50 is still a useful binocular size for astronomy, but the market has moved on to giant binoculars with ever larger objective lenses for astronomy. Yes, the astronomy binocular market has definitely become more specialized and sophisticated. I have no…

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21 Apr

At my astronomy presentation, yesterday, I did not have a section on equipment because there simply wasn’t time and, besides, I am hoping to offer a follow up presentation specifically for astronomy binoculars and telescopes to also include some basic telescope accessories. I did, however, have my small refractor telescope and my Nikon 10×70 Astroluxe binocular on display and both got a lot of attention during our break, especially the astronomy binoculars. I guess the size of a large astronomy binocular makes it unusual and a bit more impressive than your typical birding binoculars, hunting binoculars, sport binoculars and so…

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20 Apr

How much binocular do you really need for birding? That depends on your goal and also somewhat on your skill as birder.

If your birdwatching goal is only to identify birds, then you will get all you need in a porro prism binocular for as little as $150 or so. This is the best bang for the buck in a porro prism birding binocular. For a roof prism birding binocular, the best bang for the buck is around $300-400 and that roof prism design typically means nicer handling and smoother focusing. On the other hand, if you want to see…

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19 Apr

Not much in the way of birds to see through the binoculars, this morning. I’m not sure if this lull in my backyard birdwatching action is being triggered by tonight’s approaching snowstorm or if it is just one of those low spots you sometimes see during bird migration. Either way, this slow day with the binoculars is a drastic change from yesterday’s bird watching with me unable to go for more than five minutes without grabbing the birding binoculars or rushing over to the birding spotting scope at the window. What a difference a day makes during spring migration!

Back…

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18 Apr

We had snow over the weekend, up here in northern Wisconsin, and it looks like we have another big storm ready to push our way in the next couple of days, too. What happened to spring? It is the last half of April, after all.

The lack of spring weather seems to be more an issue with me than the birds or my birdwatching, though, because our yard is just overflowing with birds and spring birds at that. The male Goldfinch in the pic, for example, is enough to tell me that it is late April, no matter what the …

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