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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Birding after surgery... (1 Viewer)


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Long story short I had open heart surgery to replace a valve and an aortic prothesis August 23rd. Now I don't know how many of you have had to have this done BUT it's, I'll say, something else. So I've had a lot of time off work, about 10 weeks more or less. My rehab was primarily walking and I've been doing a lot of it. Thankfully walking can take place with a binocular on you chest(or slightly below) so that has been my preferred method.

So, I've been able to do a lot of birding. Of course it started out with short trips that got progressively longer. I've been birding 43 days since my surgery. I've birded many days in a row. I had the best September and October I've ever had as far as number of species goes. I was able to see several life birds which is rare at this point. I've been able to use a lot of different binoculars and mostly in the 30mm to 32mm range. One thing I noticed was that a heavy binocular is not your friend post open heart surgery. Also, I had to wear binoculars a little lower on the chest than I typically like. This was no problem with the Rick Young UL harness.

I started out birding with a Zeiss Victory Pocket 8X25. It of course is lightweight and almost like carrying nothing, especially with the RYUL harness. I carried this binocular for my first trip post surgery and as good of a 25mm the VP is I quickly decided I was going to go the route of a larger objective binocular regardless of comfort. Migration was on and had a little trouble finding birds at times mostly due to eye placement and focusing issues.

The Nikon Monarch HG 8X30 came to my rescue and was the binocular I used the most during this time, especially early on. Small, lightweight, and a large FOV it was just what the doctor ordered so to speak. Just a very nice binocular. I'm not sure if I could find a 8X30 I would like better. Its only real competition is the CL 8X30 B. I actually like the CL 8X30 B more than I used to. Although optically excellent, I'm still not crazy about the focus adjustment.

As you can probably imagine I had plenty of time to shop for binoculars online. I did purchase two. One was a binocular I've always wanted to try, a GPO Passion ED 8X32. I used it for several days. I was very impressed with the Passion ED 8X42 but this time it just didn't work out. I felt like optically it just wasn't up to snuff. ALSO the focus adjustment developed slop/play after a few days. In no way did it compare to the other two. Time to move on to something different.



As healing progressed I decided to reach for a slightly larger/heavier 32mm, the SV 8X32mm. Even compared to the MHG and the CL B the SV 8X32 is easily the best. Best optics. Best handling. Best flat field. Fastest bird acquisition. To this day it still may very well be the best birding binocular I have. Swarovski dropped the ball when they quit making this one.


The second and last binocular I purchase was a Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8X32. Years ago I tried this binocular at Magee Marsh optics tent. Eye relief was just short of enough. New glasses or changing eyes seems to have given me a little ER so, I saw a great price with a great return policy and decided to just give it a go. What a fantastic binocular! Smoothest focus of any Ultravid I have. ER is literally perfect with the eyecups all the way in. Image quality is exactly what would be expected. Very easy to see what others see in this binocular. I'm gonna have to do some more in depth comparison.


Recovery? I went back to work full time Monday. Chest still a little sore otherwise doing okay. It's easy to see how someone that is retired or doesn't work can have incredible bird numbers. A total of five life birds for me in less than four weeks. I was especially excited about the MacGillivray's warbler, gray gull, and the vermillion flycatcher.


I'll be headed back out Saturday with the UVHD+ 8X32!
Good to hear that you are up and running again after the surgery Chuck and may you use all those beautifull binoculars in great health in the future!

I have a Leica 8x32 UVHD (non +) and as a matter of fact it has the finest focus of all my Leica’s. Normally i take this nifty little binocular with the sharp view and high contrast with me on long hikes and i use binoculars with bigger objectives from my house. Last week i had a sore shoulder from helping a friend moving to another house. So when i detected goose over the river I grapped the little Leica and was ready to go. Again pleasantly surprised what a perfect image they give in such a small package.

All the best!
Congratulations on your remarkable recovery! That was a very pleasant and inspirational post and I enjoyed it and the great photography immensely. Thank you for posting it!

Really great to hear you had a good recovery, all my best wishes. My dad had a similar surgery and I remember it was indeed «something else», as you say, so I can truly sympathise. I loved the calm and positive (and brave) approach you had to recovery, via birds and binoculars (I think there might be a best-selling book there, if I may say it ;)).
prayers for your continued recovery my friend.

we're both SLC fans so I appreciate your opinion. would you grab the UVHD (or EL) over the NL? interested in ur opinion of 32 UVHD vs NL. size and weight adv. of the Leica is very appealing.
Awesome story, not event (sorry). Wish I'd known...
Did something sorta similar. Coerced daughter to drive me to favorite birding spot with smooth, flat trail, 3 days after new hip, summer before last. Soon as I could drive it, used the VP825. Good, not quite good enough. 2 years later, hip, followed by hernias, busted ankle, new eyeballs, each recovery was walking, binos birding. Keep diary of walking/hiking history as well as bird list. Surprising whats out there when thats what there is to do, you slow down, stop and stare. Merlin sound is a new found friend. Never had EL832. Bought NLs, thanks to you. Very grateful to be back doing this. Heading out in few mins.
Be well.
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Hello Chuck,

I am happy to read that you are doing well and that you used your rehab leave for good bird watching.

Take care,
Glad you’re back to birding. My partner had an aortic valve replaced after endocarditis. He is doing great now - hope your recovery continues well :)
prayers for your continued recovery my friend.

we're both SLC fans so I appreciate your opinion. would you grab the UVHD (or EL) over the NL? interested in ur opinion of 32 UVHD vs NL. size and weight adv. of the Leica is very appealing.
So no NL has touched my hands since August. I've actually got the NL, UVHD+, and EL SV 8X32s in the Jeep for tomorrows birding trip. It's going to be a group trip behind the gates on TVA property. Should be out there quite a while so I'll try to compare those.
Thanks so much for the kind words, well wishes, and prayers everyone! What a great group we have here!

To kind of follow up... I was supposed to be in the hospital 5-10 days....I was out in 5. I can't describe the challenge of getting and and out of bed for a while, lol! They didn't want me to drive for 28 days but I talked them down to 2 weeks! LOL. Carol drove me around to some of my local birding spots until I felt comfortable driving and she trusted me. Supposed to be out of work 10 to 12 weeks and made it back in 9. I'm recovering great!
Thanks for sharing and glad you are recovering well. 5 lifers in 4 weeks, that's impressive!

Were they all in your home state or did you get to do some traveling?
Offffft - that is major surgery indeed, and I am very happy to see that you have travelled far down the road to complete recovery. Top effort for the lifers though, especially that Vermillion!

Stay on that recovery road, and m y best wishes travel with you.
Thanks for sharing and glad you are recovering well. 5 lifers in 4 weeks, that's impressive!

Were they all in your home state or did you get to do some traveling?
One was at a semi-regular spot, the MacGillivray's warbler. It is a very rare bird for Alabama, period. Usually Texas and West. The others...I happen to be in Destin and got reports of them being in the area!

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