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The Binocular Journal

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Old Thursday 29th March 2018, 22:56   #1
black crow
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The Binocular Journal

I had an idea while hiking today for an ongoing thread. I'm going to throw it out on the waters here and see if it floats.

My idea is sort of like journaling about the use of our binoculars. I thought this would include basically two parts but there could be more.

Part one is, what interesting, cool, unusual things did you see in your binoculars this outing, whether birding, hiking, boating, off your deck, at your bird feeder, stargazing, whale watching, etc. Part two is how did whatever pair you used work for you on this day. Any thoughts from power to ease of use, objective size, ergonomic issues, comparisons with other binoculars, likes, dislikes etc.

For me this nicely covers the things I am interested in about binoculars. What you see and how they work. This can be long or short. A sentence or half a page. I'm going to start this off with my day. I may keep it going even if I'm the only one because I like to combine both aspects of binoculars, the tech side and the artistic side ...and I like to talk and I likely have too much time on my hands. Outside of myself though I think this is a good way to learn about how binos work in daily or weekly field testing and over time a binocular you really think you like in April, you may think differently about in September. I'm interested in these things.

Thursday March 29

Today I hiked 7 miles on the Hitt Road Trail and the Fell On Knee Trail at about 5000 ft. I really didn't see much today in the way of wildlife. I saw several groups of Turkey Vultures circling, groups of about 12-15 birds. The other interesting thing I saw was at the top of a snag of about 200 ft a Flicker was sitting. I was almost at his level as I was walking along very steep trail that dropped right off sharply down the mountain. As I put the binoculars on him he just dropped/fell down off that snag, tucked his wings tight to his sides, pointed his head and beak straight down and out stretched and free fell just like an arrow straight down for about 100 ft before pulling out. I followed him in the binoculars most of the way. I've never seen one do that before.

Also I met a man on the trail that was setting out flag markers to create a new trail off of Fell On Knee which will be called the Wonder Trail. It should take about a year to complete and connect up with Rd. 2060.

Today I had out for testing a brand new pair of Celestron 8x32 Trailseekers. In my mind I was comparing them to the Sightron Blue Sky 8x32. Here's how that went.

The Trailseeker goes for $185 and the Sightron about $178. The Celestron and Sightron dead center are totally equal to my eye and I may like the Celestron a tad better at center. They are very nice but too close to tell at least out in the field. Both soften gradually out to the edge with the Sightron just a tad less soft at the edge. Both seem to have the same sized sweet spot. The Sightrons have an 11 ft fov advantage. The Sightrons are about 1/2 inch longer and almost 3 oz. (19.8oz.) heavier. I really like the smaller size and weight ( 16oz.) of the Celestron's. Both can be used easily with one hand which is very nice with the Sightron only slightly easier to hold that way.

A weakness in the Celestron that I saw was that at the very edge of the view there was a slight ring of reflected light. Nothing as bad as my Zen 7x36 but still there and a tad distrating. Other than that I really like the Celestron's optically and I love the size and weight but I'm going to have to send them back because I get very slight but almost constant partial blackouts from those eye cups. Which is strange to me because I have the same pair in 10x32 with no blackout problem at all. Go figure. So back they go but they are a nice little binocular.

Time for a nap.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 04:24   #2
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Black Crow, Great post, and great idea. I will attempt to contribute. There are some who have gone in this direction a few times, most notably, since I've been reading the forum, is Chuck, but others have also done it, usually in conjunction with reviewing specific binoculars, or comparing them in the field. I try to bird every weekend, and usually send out a 'weekly bird' type of report to friends and family, but it is mainly photos, not binocular based rumination. I'll see if I can put something together as I move forward...

I'm a big Flicker fan, so it is fun to read of your observation of its big dive off the snag. Also the idea of the trail on the slope that elevates one at the level of, or even above the bird. There's one of my birding walks I take that runs up and over an earthen dam. Once on the dam, there's a vast area below in which vultures and hawks will glide at your eye level or lower, affording an amazing view, with no crick in the neck necessary. Even close range in a small space, with a trail on a slope that puts one at mid-tree with a bunch of passerines can be a treat.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 04:32   #3
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Very good. Watching a raptor at eye level is quite an experience. From my deck on my house I can look down on Buzzards Eagles and Hawks but it's long distance and I use 25x100. It's a really interesting angle for observation though. I live in a pretty steep valley. We have beautiful mountains on all sides. It's a place I could only dream of living as a boy in Michigan.

I'm livin the dream. I look forward to your contributions.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 11:35   #4
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Last week I was camping in the Dauphin Island campground on the Gulf coast south of Mobile, Ala.

Near the trail from CG to beach is an Osprey nest with an adult bird. Another adult came with food,
and I heard very loud Cheep-Cheep-Cheep coming from two voices.
Several days later while walking in the Auburn Sanctuary beside the campground, I heard a very loud commotion coming from the area of the nest (could not see) and then saw an Osprey flying away with a bird in its talon.
I was using a Cabela Euro 10x32

For those unfamiliar with the area, this is a great place to be/bird; but I was early for Spring Migration.

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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 12:09   #5
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i sometimes forget i am watching the world through binos for many minutes at a time. the world most people live in is remote to me anyway. they are langham8x25 and fine for my little peephole into nature in my small backyard.

when the trees are empty and the hedges quiet, no tits, no blackcap, magpies or jackdaws or pigeons to watch, i often sit in my chair and peer into the hedge bottom. behind the lit up world of the garden and tree tops and sky, there is a half lit underworld of dead leaves, twigs and dried grass. there, if i am quiet and wait, will be within moments always a shadow or a highlight that moves and draws my focus. it may be a bumblebee crawling from shelter toward the light, or the hop and scrape of a blackbird, the bright eye of a robin and more rarely the brown on brown of secretive wren. the bins bring it to me and gather the light my ordinary, unenhanced eye misses.

i want to be a tenth my size, dressed in drab brown and green and walk in that world. so i do, through my binos. not imagination or fantasy needed for this, just quiet and calm. a quiver of leaf, a dunnock appears, a rare colour is a great tit that has made the journey down to seek fallen seed from the table above and unusually, entered the shadows. a quick scurry and it is a wood mouse, rat large in my vision. then a hop and skip and eagle sized female blackbird enters, tail up, mouse darts away.

moments of stillness, a shadow moves across the dark field of view, a huge black eye. rabbit. today is easter my mind says and laughs and wakes me. i pull back from the binoculars as his head pokes out, normal size, then out he comes, a minute on the fresh grass. i pick my phone up slowly and take a shot, then realise, just eight feet away, a tabby cat is watching. the rabbit raises its head, they watch each other and both turn away slowly. a clatter as fat wood pigeon drops to the fence above. i turn back, cat and rabbit gone, 14 sparrows invade the suet balls and long tailed tits are in the tops, another pigeon drops in, a jackdaw is watching.

i place the phone down, shall i pick up the bins? no. time for a cuppa.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 16:48   #6
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I feel all that Jape. You and I are from the same tribe. I love looking into dark corners and looking into dead debris to see what is going on. I love looking at insects and especially when they are in flowers.

You really can write my friend. You took me right in there with you on that experience. Thanks for sharing that.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 17:36   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black crow View Post
I feel all that Jape. You and I are from the same tribe.

You really can write my friend. You took me right in there with you on that experience. Thanks for sharing that.
you poor sod. i wouldnt wish my life on anyone!
a couple of people have remarked on my writing and i appreciate that. it has taken me 60 yrs to find a way of communicating and still it often fails. if you saw my writing based on how i really think you would say i was mad! oh, hold on, they done that
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 17:46   #8
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POOR SODS. That's the name of the tribe all right.

Nobody wants to know what goes on in anyone else's head. I'm pretty sure of that. (there's that dang lady head again, what DOEs that mean?)
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 17:54   #9
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We are on holiday in the south-east county of Suffolk, in an area of heaths and woods and huge marshes. It is birding paradise although it is a bit early in the season yet. Our holiday cottage looks out onto a patch of sandy heath with trees at the back and as with most woods around here, if you listen during the day you will regularly hear the laughing call or 'yaffle' of the Green Woodpecker. This is a big feller, and yes its green and has this patch of vivid red over its crown as well as bandit-black eyepatches and moustaches.

And yesterday while we were getting ready to go out, there was a Green Woody just about 10 metres from our back window. It was digging up ants and when its head came up from dipping down to the sandy soil we could see its long tongue slipping back into its beak after being poked down a sandy hole to gather up ants on its surface.

Later in the same day, the sun came out and warmed up the marsh we were walking around. Overhead 7 Marsh Harriers soared and quartered the reed beds and around a corner, just a few metres away from us, a young dark Grass Snake coiled up in the sun. It gave us a look and slithered off through the reeds.

Moments like this are special and binos bring the action closer. No wonder we love 'em.

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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 18:28   #10
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Yeah no wonder. Gotta love the holiday. Good for you. Take every one you can while you can. What set(s) of binos did you bring with you if I may ask?

I'm going to look for a picture of the Green Woodpecker. Sounds beautiful. To think of all the pretty birdies I'll never see. I spent four months in Fiji many years ago and the parrots were scarce due to imported mongoose but beautiful almost beyond belief. This morning taking the dogs out to do their thing there was 7 or 8 big old Turkey Vultures in the tree next to my house. I've never seen them within several blocks of my house before. I had some Olympus 12x25 compacts on hand to view them. For a $55 optic they are right up there with my Meopro IMO.

I'm about to head out for our daily hike (we = 2 dogs).

If I ever find out how to shrink my stored photos to a size this forum will handle I'll show you around my digs. I have some really nice pics from many years back when this town was smaller and quieter and there were a lot more wildflowers where homes now stand.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 19:13   #11
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i use android app. called 'photo and picture resizer' the icon is blue sqyare outline with an arrow top right in case you get others in a playstore search. really easy, fast and customisable. just be sure you dont use 'replace original' option when you save unless (as i do) you use a folder if copies to work on and store originals in backups as i also do.
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 22:37   #12
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You are speaking to a computer illiterate friend but not to worry because in my wisdom I have surrounded myself with computer geeks as friends. I'll ask one for assistance soon. In the meantime I must consume these crock pot (prepared while I hike) beef ribs. Why are my dogs staring at me?
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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 22:46   #13
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enjoy the ribs, im still on porridge until i can insist my mind controls itself enough to go out and deal with the masses. your dogs are staring at you because they simply dont understand why beloved master hasnt prepared ribs for them and insists they eat kibble. i used to throw an occasional argumentative serf to mine, keeps their loyalty 100%
if you have an android phone or tablet its not hard. playstore is an app. on most phones and you just search for photo resizer with the icon i mentioned. it is very easy to use.
but if you use a laptop or desktop computer i just need to know what OS it uses. pm me if your geek mates arent about.

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Old Friday 30th March 2018, 23:46   #14
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Thanks mucho.
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Old Saturday 31st March 2018, 09:09   #15
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[quote=black crow;3698179]Yeah no wonder. Gotta love the holiday. Good for you. Take every one you can while you can. What set(s) of binos did you bring with you if I may ask?
QUOTE]

BC

My kit box for the holiday has in it 3 binos for reviewing: Zeiss 8x25 Victory Pocket, Meopta MeoStar 7x42 and Opticron Explorer 8x42. I added to these two old favourites: Meopta MeoStar 8x32 and Zeiss FL 8x32.

They all have distinct personalities and I am enjoying their company. Troubadoris stays faithful to her Leicas although she has made the occasional complimentary remark about the little Meopta, which from her (not being such a bino maniac as me) it high praise indeed.

Lee
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Old Saturday 31st March 2018, 09:28   #16
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Having only a Meopro I've oft wondered what the view in the Meostar would be? They are regarded highly by everyone owning them here as far as I remember. I don't remember a negative comment. I've never been to a "birding paradise" When I went to Fiji long ago I was expecting that only to find that the imported Mongoose had decimated the bird population on most of the islands. There are over 300 islands there. I made it to 8 of them and didn't see many birds. Did see see a huge amount of Flying Foxes however. That was a weird sight to see them leave their roost trees at evening in huge groups.

I hope you continue to enjoy your vacation and hope to hear more about what wildlife you see. You know that green woodpecker you mentioned looks a tad like how some parrots were colored in Fiji.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3119/...e87c2e915d.jpg
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 02:55   #17
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Well not much seen the last two days even with long hikes. I'm just checking in to bump this and keep it current. A Varied Thrush is about all of note. A very beautiful bird for sure. I heard a new birdsong I didn't recognize. It was long, varied and really sweet but it was a shy bird and would not give up it's location or a view. On a very steep mountainside that looked almost vertical I saw some metal reflected in the sun but even with 10x against a tree it was too distant to identify. Amelia Earhart came to mind but that might be a long shot.

I'm finally letting myself get a little excited about the new Nikon Ell 8x30s I ordered. My luck has been so poor buying binoculars lately that I'm a little paranoid. I bought the last one on Amazon and I hope it wasn't a bad sample return. I keep telling myself there's no point thinking like that but I can't help myself. I read that Allbinos rated them 9th best binocular they've tested in their size catagory. Something around 79+%. What I wonder is will I be able to see that? Most decent binoculars ranging from $200 to $2000 look pretty similar to me dead center. They will be here Tuesday. Will I be wowed guys?
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 03:06   #18
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I really like those Flying Foxes! They are gentle animals, and eat only fruit, but you wouldn't think if if you just saw them-they do like like meat eaters! Green Parrots yes, but a green woodpecker, wow!

Well, speaking of green, I took my new to me green Zeiss FL 7x42's out today for the first time today, a rare treat for me in the last few months. It was a great weather day-mid 50's, with a light wind and mostly sunny. I went behind my wife's office that borders the railroad tracks, and beyond an old industrial compound with fields of wild grasses. Unforutunately, there was some new work going on on the railroad side, that seemed to involve laying new track for a spur, so a lot of brush that had been great bird cover was just torn out there. The field closest to the RR track seemed to be roughly cleared of brush too, though the field beyond that still had the rough cover of before, which I was glad to see. But now it smelled of fresh Creosote, from the new RR ties laying on the ground. That smell got to me a few times today, but it didn't ruin it, though I didn't like it for me or the birds and animals about.

The bins really are great-excellent detail near and far, and contrast to match, with colors pretty neutral from what I see. What surprised me was how 7x42 was adequate for near and far-even the open areas, and the horizon too-and all in between! I thought 7x was tame compared my favorite 10x magnification. Sure, you see closer, though unless you hold steady, sometimes you see even less!

Anyway, this is supposed to be about what we saw, and that is why I started this post. Nothing I saw will thrill most of you seasoned birders, but I was pretty happy to see what I did today, and just being out there made me feel alive and a small part of the world, once again!

First I saw some Crows, chasing and diving on a larger black bird, which I was having a hard time deciding what it was. It just looked like a larger Crow, with a little lighter color under his wings, it seemed. First I thought Turkey Buzzard, but looked to have a black feathered head, but I wasn't sure. What I ended up thinking is that it might have been a Raven, which I've never seen before in person that I knew of, so it might be a first for me. 10x might have helped here! It had settled on a building, and one of the Crows was really diving on him a lot. The Crows seemed to lose interest after a while, and both flew off.

Then I heard another call that seemed familiar, and finally I spotted it-a very bright orange-red Cardinal. On and off, I heard one of my favorites-a Mocking bird calling-sometimes he was in the bushes, but I did see now and then and I ejoyed his musical songs. As I was walking around, I heard a Robin, and later saw a couple, and heard another call I knew-a Redwinged Blackbird sitting in a tree's top branches. Nothing says Spring like Robins and Redwinged Blackbirds around here. In the meantime, I'm scanning the grounds and enjoying the crisp wide view of the FL's and thinking this was great!

Then I saw a big bird perched on top of a telephone pole-a hawk, I thought, though he was hunkered down a little bit, and his head was facing the other way. I even thought it could be an Owl, until he turned his head to the front, finally. It looked large, and I thought maybe a Goshawk or a Redtail, and found there were a pair of Redhawks there after he took off, and they started climbing on the thermals and wind.

So I went back to scanning, and not much showed up-more Crows, Starings here and there, a couple of different Sparrows, and Mounring Doves of course. I also saw a couple of propeller small planes, and I watched them as they flew by. While I was watching the last one, a Redtail hawk flew by in the view that I was unaware of being there-pretty neat, a small prop plane and a Retail in the same view!

I did see a pair of Canada Geese by a small retention pond after, and more in the far field. I checked the bins for flare near the late afternoon sun, and it showed little flare, so that was good to not see! Then I looked up in the large tree I was near, and there were a bunch of Starlings that had landed there without me even knowing. I scanned the tree with my bins, and I noticed a bright green, almost like Kiwi green, and I thought that was odd, for a bird around here. What I saw was the iridescense of the Starling's bib colors in strong sunlight, and it was great! There were others that showed some ruby-purple on their heads, and one a more teal like color on his chest-it was beautiful seeing those colors jump out at me! It reminded me of the hummingbirds colors. I have seen Starlings before, but I think never from below, with strong sunlight on them. A real treat for me, even though some are probably ho-humming right now about Starlings! That's OK, I know my adventure wasn't big time for most anyone but me out there today, and I can live with that! I had a great time, and hope I can keep getting out and about this Spring. If there isn't snow too-another couple of inches is predicted here for Sunday night into Monday! Yikes, give it up will you, mother nature; this is Spring now!!!

Then as I was deciding my body had enough standing today, I was sung off by the Mocking bird, and it was a fitting goodbye for a great day for me out in nature again. It's where I belong, I concluded today!
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 04:12   #19
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Seems to me like you saw a lot today. Amazing what you can see close to home. I see more bird variety and numbers in my yard than I do in this old growth forest I hike in. I'm fine with Crows and Robins. I just like to watch any bird. I even really like Starlings. Juvenile Turkey Vultures have an ashen gray head but it's not the time of year for them. I do know Ravens and Crows do not share territory around here at least so they might have been chasing off a Raven that had wandered in. There seems to be a distinct demarcation line here and within just a few hundred feet of elevation the Crows disappear and Ravens take over. I find crows hard to look at in binoculars. They are so black that they just sort of look two dimensional if the sun is in the wrong place in relation to where I'm standing.

I'll bet those Zeiss are nice. I like 7x as much as 8x most of the time. Today I used 10x Meopro. I still can't decide if they were the best choice for me. One day I love them and the next I'm not sure. Does that ever happen to you?

It's great that you were able to get out and about for some time in Nature today. I hope that continues and gets better and more often as the warmer spring weather comes on.
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 08:47   #20
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Yesterday we walked further than we have in a long time, right down the centre of the huge marsh and reed bed of Walberswick and then back to the start via a rough track on the north bank overlooking the marsh, just like we used to do in the 1970's. Boy what a day. We saw our first ever Firecrest from only 6 metres and low in a tree. What a stunning bird (and the Meopta 7x42s imaged it beautifully), plus we had Siskin, Marsh Harrier, Bearded Reedling, Water Rails calling (sounds like a mortally wounded pig!), Bitterns booming, 5 otter sprainting sites proving they are present, two Great Spotted Woodpecker males so engrossed in territorial dispute that they didn't notice us so we got close to watch them posing and displaying and last of all what looked like a Mole Cricket burrow. These haven't been reported from here since the mid 1800s so we need to contact the local nature trust so they can take a look.

Now, that Firecrest. Back in the day when we were first learning birds we got it into our simple minds that the difference between our native Goldcrests and the occasional visiting Firecrests was that the latter had a red streak down the middle of its yellow-gold crown. Hence the name fire-crest. This did not prepare us for yesterday's bird with its huge white supercilium separated from its golden crown by a black stripe. This gave its head the appearance of a mad technicolour humbug sweet, all stripes with a bright dark eye and slender bill. It was just a stunning beauty and a fabulous Easter present for us.

Being Otter-lovers, it was a treat to find the 5 spraint (smelly poo) sites confirming Otters are regular visitors here.

We arrived back at our holiday cottage absolutely bushed but thrilled to bits with our sightings.

Happy Easter to all.

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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 09:26   #21
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Wow! That sounds like a fantastic day. Please take me with you next time. What a nice life you've got going on. I've never gone to an actual birding site. After that report I guess I better put it on my bucket list.

Let's see in 1971 I was graduating high school so that must make you about....
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 13:34   #22
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In 1971 I was just starting my first full-time job and I retired in 2007!

Actually this holiday is rather unusual for us as we mostly go to the west of Scotland or the islands off the west of Scotland and right now we are diametrically opposite to this being in the south east of England. Most of our nature observation is done out in the wilds rather than in reserves such as the ones we are visiting now.

But actually wherever you go in countryside or semi-countryside, if you look, there is always something of interest. Every corner of every field, forest, marsh, mountain, sea coast or river or lakeside, has its own little story to tell of how several species of any group you care to mention survive and reproduce alongside each other.

Lee
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 16:24   #23
Kammerdiner
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Hey BC, play the song of Pacific Wren. Just a hunch on that song you heard. I look for Varied Thrush whenever I'm out your way and they often favor similar habitat. If it is a Wren, play a song on your phone and trust me it will make its presence known.
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 17:39   #24
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I enjoyed watching a couple of wolf spiders fighting on a sunlit pot outside the backdoor with my 6x papilios. That way I am standing right by the kettle,’so I don’t need to move for a brew and I don’t need to put a coat on.
It’s amazing what the world looks like on the small scale, as more creepy stuff wakes up in spring I am going to enjoy these bins! Blackcrow welcome to the wide angle Porro club... be immersed!
Troubadour, i’d get a trail cam or night vision to see what stuff is wandering about after dark in that place. Coming from London I class Suffolk as east (rather than *south* east ;-). )

Cheers

Peter
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Old Sunday 1st April 2018, 17:41   #25
black crow
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I do not have an IPhone because the FBI, CIA and DEA is always tracking me. (this is not a paranoid conspiracy theory, you can trust me totally on this)

I will google that song and let you know however.

EDIT: Yes that sounds like it all right.
http://www.audubon.org/news/listen-e...ific-wren-call

They play it slowed down also and it's trippy.
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Last edited by black crow : Sunday 1st April 2018 at 17:51.
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