I so seldom ask for a day off from work that when I told one teacher about it, she was shocked. “YOU are taking a day off? That seems impossible,” she said.
That and the fact that taking a day off means losing a day’s pay tells you how crazy I am about birding this year. I just couldn’t stand the thought of waiting a whole week to get down to Point Pelee again. Every morning and evening we get an email from the park listing the new species that have arrived. Today a Pacific Loon and Parasitic Jaeger were sighted off the point. I am keen to see an Orange-crowned Warbler, a Louisiana Waterthrush or a Hooded Warbler. I remember what a White-eyed Vireo sounds like, so maybe we can find that one, as well.
On a related note, I am thinking of getting new binoculars. My very first pair were hand-me-downs from my late father, passed to me via my mom. I still have them but haven’t used them in decades. My next pair I bought for myself: $29.99 from Wal-Mart. They served me well from my teens into my thirties. Finally in the 1990s, when I realized birding was becoming a serious hobby taking me to all the best birding hot spots around North America, I upgraded from the cheapos and ordered a pair of Celestron from Eagle Optics for around $200. Though still worthy of being passed on to a beginning birder, these showing their age. Notice that my field guide is held together with duct tape, but I’m not trading it in! They don’t make the Peterson’s that compact anymore, so I’m holding onto it.
Sylvain’s are better than mine. Sometimes when I want a better look at something, he will hand his over for a couple of minutes.
So last weekend we stopped at the optics expo at Pelee Wings so I could try out the various brands, strengths and fancy engineering. I tried out everything from Kowa and Vortex to Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski. A few of the binoculars I took for a test drive would cost me three months’ salary.
I learned a little bit about what makes a binocular good. All I knew before was that magnification (the first number) and diameter of objective lens (the second number) has to be balanced against weight and image stability…and price, if you believe in money. What I had not thought about was that there is another factor that greatly influences image crispness, and that is the quality of the lens or glass itself, including coatings. With high quality glass, you can skimp a bit on light gathering (objective lens diameter) and still come out with a superior image. So much to think about! I have to do more research, perhaps.
Anyway, we are getting up super early tomorrow in order to be in the park by 7:30. Poor Sylvain has to set his alarm for 4:00 or 4:30 in order to accomplish this, so I won’t request it more than once a year. I should hit the hay now, too, don’t you think?