Using a Scope While Birding

Good Morning GreatBirdPics Members!

Yesterday I mentioned that birding buddy Mark had purchased a scope.   A scope lets you zoom in on birds that are quite distant – quite a bit more than binoculars.  But scopes are not useful for all types of birds.  For instance it would be very difficult to use a scope to observe warblers.  They jump around so much you’d never be able to keep the scope trained on them.  On the other hand scopes are great for waterfowl and relatively slow or nesting birds.  Now that fall migration is on for waterfowl we use our scope on a regular basis; during the summer we don’t use it as much.

We didn’t have a scope the first couple of years we were birding.  If we went out with a group on a birding trek usually one or two people had scopes with them and they would always invite the scopeless birders look through their scopes.  Today, in the COVID world we live in, looking through someone else’s scope would be irresponsible (transmission of COVID can occur through the eye).

Which scope you buy depends on how much you want to spend.  Some scopes can be purchased for $300.  You can easily spend $3,000 for a scope, too.  We purchased one midway between that price range.  Remember that you need to buy more than a scope.  You also need a tripod to support it and a device called a “head” which connects the scope to the tripod.  The head will allow the scope to swivel atop the tripod and will lock the scope in place when you find a stationary bird to observe.

A scope is a major investment but worth it.  A scope will open up a whole new world of birding to you, allowing you to see more than you ever could before.

Our members are seeing lots of birds with their cameras.  Emil Baumbach has been back at Montrose Beach getting great shots of migrating shorebirds.  Check these out:

Black-bellied Plover  A great shot of a relatively rare bird.

American Avocet  Emil looks like he was laying in the water to get this shot.  Love the upturned bill – when it bends down to forage in the shallow water the end of the bill ends up horizontal to the bottom, which it then sweeps back and forth looking for food.

Crayfish eating machine.  Emil is known for his closeup shots.  The eye really stands out in this one.

Scaly pattern of feathering on the back is a sign that this is a juvenile bird.  Another beautiful shot – looks like it was taken at dawn.

I know others have been posting pictures, too.  Will highlight some of those tomorrow.  Until then, Happy Birding!


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