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Using bike lights for birding?

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Old Monday 25th March 2019, 10:27   #1
ialarmedalien
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Using bike lights for birding?

I've read about using lights with red filters for nighttime birding/mammal watching, and was wondering whether I can use my rear bike lights for that purpose. I'm going to Skomer next week and have been advised to take some lights with a red filter for watching the Manx shearwaters. Beyond this trip, however, I am not sure how much nighttime nature watching I will be doing, so I am reluctant to shell out on gear that I may not use again (and add to the pile of "stuff" I have accumulated over the years...). Any advice?
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Old Monday 25th March 2019, 11:07   #2
PYRTLE
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You've almost answered you're own question by saying you dont want to shell out on equipment that you're unlikely to use again. At least the bike light will serve some purpose if it's got some serious luminar output. Or a mate that will lend you a head torch or similar with a red filter.

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I bought a good one from Alpkit for under 20

Have a great experience by the way.
P
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Old Monday 25th March 2019, 12:07   #3
ialarmedalien
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Thanks Pyrtle - that is helpful. Which model of torch was it that you got, out of interest?
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Old Monday 25th March 2019, 13:16   #4
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It is a camouflage Gamma, the latest one is a mk III but this still has the red / green and multi bright white l.e.d.s
Mine also has a rear red, which is handy for when on a bike in the dark.
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Old Monday 25th March 2019, 19:23   #5
dantheman
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Think perhaps you can you use a bit of red plastic (such as the wrapper from a Quality Street Strawberry Cream) on a more powerful torch (or even the front headlight?!) ... ?
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Old Monday 25th March 2019, 21:45   #6
jurek
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If you have a normal torch, take it and a simple piece of red foil, wrapped with a rubber or adhesive tape.

Bike light, I am afraid, will be very weak. You may also check if your mobile phone has a sort of red app.

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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 07:51   #7
kitefarrago
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The rear light of a bike is designed to be seen, and not to see by, if you see what I mean. I don't think you'll get any joy from that.

If you have a sufficiently powerful front light you may be able to improvise the red filter as suggested by others. I think having a powerful torch is useful for purposes other than wildlife watching (power failures immediately come to mind), so I don't think getting one is necessarily a waste of money even if you decide that night-time mammal watching is not for you.

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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 08:21   #8
ialarmedalien
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I'll do some tests this evening and see whether they will work (they are pretty bright, although the light may not be directional enough to be useful). Previous threads I'd read here and elsewhere were talking about expensive high-powered fancy torches, which seemed a bit OTT for my purposes. However, since it seems that there are far less expensive versions available, and I can DIY the red filter, I might as well get a torch if the bike lights aren't up to the job.
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