A Day Off

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?

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5 responses to “A Day Off

  1. I need a good pair of bins myself, although not being a serious twitcher means that it’s not particularly high on my shopping list.
    There are some with a digital camera included , which would be the perfect combination for me, but in the price range I’m likely to be able to afford I think the quality might leave a little to be desired.

  2. hope your day off to see the birds was fun. let us know your binocular solution. i have a very hard time seeing through binoculars and it is frustrating. a friend once had some teen opera binoculars which had magnificant magnification but not sure they would do for birding.

    • Suki, If you are not wearing glasses, you have to have eye cups on the binoculars. Some models have pull-out eye cups. The other problem is trying to use a pair that is too big for your faceit doesn’t match your inter-pupilary distance. And another problem is that very high powered binoculars often have a very unsteady image; it can be difficult to use those.  If you go to a store like Wild Birds Unlimited, they can help you figure out why you are not seeing through binoculars well.  K

  3. Wishing you a wonderful birding day! May you see wonderous species; color and experience all that joy that brings you.
    I have no doubt you will also find the right pair of specks for your needs and pocketbook!! Hi to Syl for me please.

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