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Monthly Archives: February 2012

29 Feb

Binoculars by day and binoculars by night is a fairly accurate way of describing the way I use binoculars. By day, I am very much into birdwatching, and by night, it’s astronomy with the binoculars (and/or the telescopes, of course). In other words, I am an around the clock binocular user.

It’s been this way most of my life. While in college, I discovered that my birding binoculars could be used for astronomy. Good thing, too, because poor starving college student that I was, I could only afford one binocular. Many years, later, I actually bought giant astronomy binoculars in …

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28 Feb

Birdwatching is often about surprises. Sometimes you see birds in the binoculars that are far outside their normal range. Sometimes you see birds in the binoculars that have arrived earlier or later than usual during migration. Sometimes you see a bird in the binoculars that is uncommon to truly rare. You never know for sure until you raise the binoculars for a closer look.

It’s not hopelessly random, though. By doing a little research you can find species of birds that bird that might potentially be seen in your area during a given time of year, so you keep your …

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27 Feb

My philosophy on cleaning lenses on any kind of optics, whether we’re talking binoculars, spotting scopes or telescopes, is that less is more. This less is more approach is especially important with binoculars since we tend to use binoculars frequently and therefore are tempted to clean binoculars more than other types of optics. What’s the problem with too much cleaning?

There is a risk you take every time you touch a lens surface and it involves the fragile and thin lens coatings on the surface of the lens that are used to increase light transmission though the lens. Rub too…

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24 Feb

I began birdwatching at a very early age, thanks to encouragement from my mother who was quite the nature lover, herself. We had no binoculars at the time, but that didn’t stop me. We had an old reprint of the Audubon portfolio that I used to identify the birds I saw in the backyard and the neighborhood, so off I went in search of birds.

It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I actually decided to buy binoculars and get serious about bird watching. The thing I remember most from those early days was just how much better …

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23 Feb

When it comes time to buy binoculars, sometimes it’s an advantage to think outside the box, defy conventional wisdom, go against the flow or whatever. I’ve done this quite a bit when selecting binoculars and been the better for it.

For instance, at a time when large 42mm birding binoculars were standard equipment for birdwatching, I decided to drop down to smaller 32 mm binoculars and even compact binoculars fro my birding. The result? I discovered that I could identify just as many birds in the smaller binoculars and, of course, smaller meant lighter and, all else equal, a bit…

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22 Feb

What’s your favorite binocular?

To be honest, I hate such questions. Anyone who knows me knows better than to ask such a question. Where is it written that I have to have favorite binoculars or even spotting scopes or telescopes or, for that matter, favorite fishing rods, pistols, kayaks or a favorite in any other category of outdoor gear? Favorite questions always irk me.

I like all my binoculars or I wouldn’t own them and I’ve never seen a need to limit myself to one single binocular. I greatly enjoy the luxury of choosing that best binocular for a given …

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21 Feb

In birdwatching, it is common to keep various lists of birds seen in the binoculars or spotting scopes. These lists can be temporal in nature – a list of bird species seen during a week, month or year – or bird lists can be geographical in nature – for a specified region, as in your state or just your backyard. The boundaries you set for your birding list are really up to you. (I’ve been known to concoct some really crazy combinations, just for fun.)

I’m not as much of a “lister” these days, though, mostly because I don’t have …

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19 Feb

Well, what do you know? After not seeing a single Pine Siskin at out feeders, this winter, I finally saw on over the weekend, several in fact. That’s birdwatching for you. You just never know what you’ll see in the binoculars or spotting scope from one day to the next. I love it.

Pine Siskins are known for their wandering ways in the winter, so not seeing one until this last weekend isn’t all that unusual, but it made me smile, all the same. Seeing any new bird in the birding binoculars after seeing the same birds for literally months …

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17 Feb

It may seem to be the dead of winter for many parts of the country, but a look at the calendar tells those of us who love birdwatching that it’ll soon be time to grab the birding binoculars and birding spotting scope and do some serious work. Early spring in some areas brings a spectacular influx of migrating waterfowl and wading birds.

I’ve yet to see too many states that could compare to my old home state of Nebraska in this regard. In March, in the central part of the state, huge numbers of waterfowl gather in the rainwater basin…

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16 Feb

I’m not sure if it’s a tribute to my tenacity or more of a measure of my desperation to do some astronomy, but I have been able to do some astronomy on nights when it is partly cloudy. Depending on how fast the clouds are moving against the other wise clear sky, I will either use my astronomy binoculars or one of my small telescopes.

If the clouds are moving, quickly, it is time for a quick look with the binoculars and usually the quicker the better, before the next patch of clouds invade my little section of the sky. …

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