It is certainly true that in the UK we are uniquely blessed with a great diversity of magnificent garden birds, from robins to warblers to name but two. However, to observe some of our rarest and most glorious birdlife you’ll need a decent pair of bird watching binoculars and the appropriate location.
Britain’s Island nature means that it has over 11, 000 miles of coastline, making it the ideal home for a truly astonishing amount of shore and sea birds. Some of the most familiar include Puffins, viewable in places like Anglesey , and kittiwakes, observable on the cliffs of Northumberland, which means that some truly world class birdlife is never more than a few miles drive away. When observing coastal birds, a pair of binoculars really come into their own, as seabirds often nest on cliff edges a fair way out to sea making them difficult to spot with the naked eye.
As well as an enormous coast-line, the UK also possesses more than its fair share of inland water-masses, from lakes to canals systems (which is one of the reasons that it makes the perfect destination for migrating birds.) Some birds you can expect to see hanging around our marshes and waterways include bitterns and avocets, but be prepared to stake out waterways in strategically placed hides – and remember your binoculars.
As well as beautiful birdlife, the UK is also home to some truly dramatic birdlife, in fact some of the most iconic birds of prey call England home, for at least part of the year. Some notable examples include Ospreys (who migrate to and from Africa) and Golden Eagles, up in the highlands.
Last year we gave you the Last of the Celestron Advanced 80 EDR at the low price of £300 This year we have managed to get our hands on the last of the Celestron 100EDR’s. The scope is supplied complete with a Celestron CG5 Equatorial mount making a combination ideal for both imaging and observation. The advanced ED optics Give images and views free from chromatic aberration (colour fringing). The price of this combination is £395.00 including delivery, a big saving when you compare it to the cost of some of the competitors scopes on the market, in fact the mount alone would set you back £210.00 (Synta Optics Skywatcher EQ5 mount). So if you are in the market to upgrade your tube, mount or both this is a perfect time to jump in.
At our offices in Morton Bagot we have a Wildlife World nest box complete with integrated camera. We have noticed a fair amount of activity with the prospective parent(s) making there way back and forth with nesting material. Hopefully although the nest building is a little latter in the month than previous years we will be lucky enough to get another successful pair using the nest box again….I’ll keep you updated.
We have now had delivery of the first batch of Minox HG 8×43 ‘Japan’. As promised by Minox UK they are an identical spec to the now European made HG’s and available to purchase at £399. There are only a handful of these Japanese models available so are only going to be available for a limited time, given the saving of £350.00 over our usual price for Minox German HG 8×43 am sure that they will not hang around too long. So if you are in the market for a high optical quality binocular at an ultra low price then this is the model that you should be looking at.
Bird watching (or twitching) is a truly egalitarian hobby, and all you need really is a pair of eyes. However, if you want to become a master of bird identification you’ll need a pair of bird watching binoculars. Luckily there is a wide range of binoculars available, to suit any level of experience or budget.
The first issue to consider, and the reason why binoculars are ideal for bird watching, is portability, and whilst it is a function of all binoculars that they are portable to an extent, some kinds of binoculars are clearly more portable than others. For beginning bird watchers or birdwatchers that want a truly portable viewing solution, compact bird watching binoculars are ideal, such as the “Nikon Sprint IV.”
If you want telescopic level magnification, however, you’ll need a larger pair of binoculars that will be able to gather a great volume of light. Whilst not as portable as compact binoculars, large binoculars are able to offer greater levels of details and are therefore ideal for stationary viewing activities, such as viewing from hides, a great pair of large binoculars are Minolta’s Classic II Binoculars, which benefit from great quality and a large field of view.
The is another alternative for bird watches other than binoculars, however, namely spotting scopes, which can offer greater magnification thus making them ideal for long distance bird watching, and tripod mounting; a great spotting scope is the “Opticron HR80 GA ED”.
It is a fact of British wildlife, that some of its biggest stars such as tawny owls, badgers or fox are either crepuscular (active most during dawn and dusk) or completely nocturnal. They probably aren’t aware, however, that for wildlife lovers this isn’t the most convenient schedule. There is, however, a way to observe wildlife at its most prolific during the darker hours – with night vision technology.
For those interested in UK wildlife apart from just birds and insects, you will have to adapt your viewing habits to suit some pretty strange habits. Badgers, for instance, begin to be active at around nightfall. You might think observing such magnificent creatures would be a near impossible task, but with badgers this really isn’t the case and they are in fact relatively common. Basically, in order to almost guarantee nocturnal, a nocturnal badger sighting all you need to do is to find an active badger sett; it should be relatively easy to identify whether a sett is active or not, as it will most likely have footprints and fresh droppings near the entrance – of course, it’ll be dark so you’ll also need a night vision scope.
It might also surprise you that some other of our most iconic animals are also easily spottable – such as tawny owls. Firstly, you will be able to tell if an owl is in your area by identification of its calls (twit-woo for a male and kee-yar for a female). Then, use a night vision scope to scan the treetops.
For anyone interested in astronomy, and tempted into buying a telescope you will probably have encountered a variety of different kinds of astronomical telescopes throughout your research. This can be quite daunting. However, it turns out telescopes aren’t actually as complicated as they first appear, and the various types are actually relatively easily explained.
Although there are many variations between telescopes, basically there are two main types of astronomical telescopes, each with clear advantages and disadvantages:
Very briefly, refractor telescopes use lenses to bend the light that they receive, causing convergence on a focal point near the eyepiece. This simple design has some obvious advantage of reflector telescopes (the other type.) Specifically, refractors are more durable than their counterpart, due to the fact that their parts are well enclosed, which also means that they are easy to use, and do not require frequent cleaning. This durability and ease of use makes them suitable for beginners, as well as those requiring sturdy equipment, such as for field work.
Reflector telescopes or Newtonian reflectors are more complicated affairs, and involve the use of mirrors to focus light towards an eyepiece. The increased amount of component parts, when compared with a refractor, means that reflectors are not as durable, and require frequent cleaning and recalibration. However, they are the perfect choice for observing deep-sky objects and practicing astrophotography, whilst also being cheaper up to certain sizes.