Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Frenzy From Turkeys To Waterthrush

 This time of the year gets crazy for birders. You feel like you want to be out every chance you can get looking for birds because they are suddenly everywhere you look. From Tom turkeys displaying their fans...
 to Snowy Egrets showing off their yellow feet. There is so much to see it is overwhelming.
We wanted to move on from the fairgrounds to search the forest for new arriving warblers but we can't ignore a female bluebird that seem to be posing for us.
Then a male bluebird shows up and you just can't resist stopping to admire his brilliant blue and orange plumage.
 We finally made it out to the forest where a Louisiana Waterthrush sang his song from a branch above us.

The fun and frenzy of Spring migration has just begun!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Checking In On The Heron Rookery

 We are very fortunate to have a large heronry or heron rookery as it's more commonly called. There are dozens of Great Blue Heron nests and often in excess of 100 herons at its peak. The location used to be a secret only known by a few but now all the local birders and photographers know about it. Fortunately, the nests are well protected by a body of water surrounding by a strip of land. It is a good distance away from the viewing area and chock full of nests.
The herons are all over the areas gathering food and nesting material. Even my point and shoot can catch an occasional flight shot. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

I Avoid Wind Most Of The Time...But

 I'm still waiting for that warm spring morning for that ultimate birding experience. I've been contending with the wind the last couple of weekends. I'm not a big fan of wind while birding so I've tried to stay in protected areas like ravines or dense forest.
 Fortunately, there are plenty of birds like this Song Sparrow that like to stay out of the wind too.
 Cedar Waxwings sometimes get so intoxicated on berries that the wind blows them into the woods. 
A male bluebird deep in the woods can brighten up even the cloudiest day!

As a rule I don't like wind but there are some exceptions:

  • I like wind if I'm going to fly a kite. I haven't flown a kite since I was about 12 but if I were going to fly one then I would probably welcome a little wind.
  • I like watching the wind blow leaves around on a mild fall day.
  • Naturally, I like a breeze on a very hot summer day.
  • I enjoy the look and feel of the wind that kicks up during a thunderstorm.
  • I know that strong winds can sometimes drive new birds towards the ocean shoreline.
I think that just about covers it but if you an think of more examples feel free to share,

Saturday, March 31, 2018

5 Reasons I Now Use Pocket Binoculars

One of the first things I did when I started to become interested in birding was to research what would be the best choice of binoculars for birding. After talking to experienced birders and trying out various models I came to the conclusion that a high quality 8x42 roof prism binocular would work best for me.

 I later purchased a more compact 8x32 pair as a back-up option but hardly used them.I still preferred the optics of the 8x42 even though the 8x32's were a little bit lighter.

At the time, no one recommended using pocket binoculars because they were not considered to be good enough for birding but pocket binoculars hae improved over the years. I recently traded in my 8x32's for Swarovski CL 8x25 pocket binoculars (seen above resting on a standard sized smart phone). I truly can stuff them in my coat pocket when I'm walking around and that has some advantages. 

Here are 5 reasons why I have been getting a lot of use of these new pocket binoculars: 
1) The newer models of high end pocket binoculars are really bright and sharp!: I don't feel like I'm missing much using the smaller Swarovski 8x25 pocket binoculars. They seem just as sharp and clear as my larger binoculars with the only sacrifice being field of view. There is a smaller exit pupil which means they shouldn't be as good as larger models in lower light but I haven't noticed that much of a difference.
2) They are great to bring with you while hiking: I was into hiking before I became more interested in hiking. It's much easier to carry pocket binoculars around a just in case  your run into some interesting birds while hiking deep out in the woods.
3) It's easier on your neck and shoulders: You don't have to walk around with heavy binoculars hanging around your neck and it's less stress on your arms and shoulders when staring up into trees. 
4) Less equipment to carry when carrying a camera and/or scope: Sometimes you might be primarily focused on using your camera or scope. Being able to carry your binoculars in your coat pocket in these situations is convenient.
5) They are perfect for the glove compartment: It's nice to always have binoculars available when your driving around. You never know when you come across a bird you want to check out. These binoculars easily fit in your glove compartment even with their protective case. 

I'm not giving up on using my full-sized binoculars but the benefits of the smaller ones are such that I plan to give them equal time this year. 

Note:There was recently an interesting article in Birdwatcher's Digest comparing the different models of pocket binoculars.I purchased mine from the Audubon Shop in Madison.