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Night vision equipment for mortals (1 Viewer)


Registered User
United Kingdom
Hi all,

Just wondered if there were any updated opinions or recommendations on this topic, I'm particularly interested in the usefulness of thermal imaging in general day-to-day birdwatching (whats the usable range for snipes/rails in reeds, warbler in a bush/tree etc)?
Thanks in advance
I swept an area of farmland yesterday, and it picked out Linnets in grass at over 50 metres away.
I suspect the conditions yesterday were perfect as it was quite cold, so the birds would stand out. Nothing else was getting any heat.

On sunny days, you get a lot of noise from exposed branches and leaves that are getting heated up by the sun, so I'm pretty sure the maximum range would be lower. I'd guess 30 metres is consistently ok for Passerines.

Insects and stuff it picks up to about 10 metres, I'm guessing

If you were to use it constantly as you walk, It picks up just about everything up before they are aware of you, or they are hunkered down relying on camouflage.

It doesn't work well against the sky, or with a lot of sky in background. I think the sky is seen as cold, and birds, trees, all register as "hot". I haven't tried zooming in to just look at the tree with much less sky perhaps.

Mike Hunter

Well-known member
I purchased a Pulsar XM30 a couple of months ago. For roughly £1,000 the technology in your hand is amazing.

OK, the viewing experience is superior in more expensive models, but I rationalised that I was just after heat signals and wasn't wanting any recording functionality. I particularly like the starting magnification of 2.5x (quite a bit higher in some of the better models which isn't as good for scanning).

Like others on this thread, I've had great views of Jack Snipe without flushing, and recently scanned a woodland where a Red-flanked Bluetail had recently been found, supporting those looking and with bins, that it wasn't in the area.

It didn't work as well as I'd hope in Oman's deserts / mountains as even in the middle of the night looking for owls as there were too many competing heat signals from 'hot spots' (distance didn't help). I did nevertheless find a roosting Pallid Scops-owl (sheer luck as I must have only checked a dozen or so bushes and was starting to get bored!).

Some birders I met in Oman brilliantly found Bruce's Green-pigeon using their Pulsar (which we wouldn't have seen without the equipment).

As a relative newbie with one of these, is there anyone more experienced that could share their default setup when looking for birds. I have mine more or less on factory settings with contrast on 2 out of 10. I'd be happy to try others' recommendations.

Many thanks

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Registered User
United Kingdom
I haven't settled on optimum settings, or even a colour pallette, switching between black, white and multi coloured.
Black hot seems to give the best view of background/features.

I also use mine held side on, the screen in "portrait", so sweeping horizontally you cover more area per sweep


Well-known member
Used my Pulsar again at the London Wetland Centre for Snipe-hunting. Now I know there are 7 and where to go looking. It’s fun to tell others which blank bunch of reeds to look at to spot a sleeping snipe. It was sunny, so I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to work just as well as last time when it was overcast.


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