Prompted by two recent posts I wanted to ask a quick question about birding in August, as well as, weigh in on the angled vs. straight topic.
First, the birding question. My wife and I are planning on heading up to the Burlington area in the beginning of August; is there really any hope of finding Bicknell's in the proper areas this time of year? Just weighing my options on where to spend our limited birding time. We would love to see a Bicknell's, though we'd rather spend time in areas that would be more productive if searching the mtn. tops is ultimately a wild goose chase.
Does any one have any recommendations on other areas that should be pretty good birding at this time of year? We know the greater Burlington area pretty well but have not birded this area much.
For my two cents on the scope questions. I agree with all of the comments I have read thus far. Angled is definitely the most popular selling model from most all manufactures these days. The main reason is in fact that almost everyone of any height can look through at the same bird without having to make any adjustments to the tripod. Also, if you are birding with smaller children all you need to do is locate a bird (preferably one that will stay put) loosen the tripod collar and turn the eyepiece downward so that the kids can look up at the bird. Not ideal, but it does work well!
While I will make no specific recommendations on particular brands (though, outside of the known top quality brands there are a few lower cost optics that are great given the price), I will say that like with many things in life; with optics you get what you pay for. I suggest that you do your homework and ultimately buy the best optics that you can afford. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed if you do.
Also, make sure to get a tripod that is sturdy and sufficient for the size and weight scope you intend to purchase. If you go the cheaper route on the tripod you have a great chance of wishing that you had not.
Probably the most important thing to do is to try out as many scopes from as many manufactures as you can. There is no substitute for actually looking through the scope yourself. Price aside, you are looking to get a piece of equipment that will look and feel good to you. Sure all the statistical information will aid in the decision making process but you want to be sure that you are going to enjoy this investment for years to come. I recommend trying to find a shop in your area that has a selection of optics that you can actually use before you make your decision. If this is not an option, just ask folks during your next group birding trip. I am sure that they will gladly let you look through their equipment.
Also make sure that you are buying from an authorized dealer. Many of the top optics companies have a Minimum Advertised Pricing policy to which authorized dealers must adhere. If you notice that many companies are offering a particular optic at the same price (give or take a few cents) and one offers the same optic at a much lower price, then there are two options. One, the company is a non-authorized dealer (or possibly one who will lose their license). Two, the optic may be a "Gray Market" item. Meaning that it does not carry a USA warrantee and you could find a significant cost or hassle associated with having to return it for repairs.
Thanks in advance to all who wish to share comments on birding in August.
New Jersey Audubon Society
Cape May Bird Observatory
701 East Lake Drive, P.O. Box 3
Cape May Point, NJ USA 08212-0003
Ph: 609-884-2736 / Fx: 609-884-6052
www.njaudubon.org / www.cmbo.org