Friday, July 24, 2015

Midwest Birding Symposium, Sept. 10-13, 2015


Registration has begun for the 2015 Midwest Birding Symposium (MBS) in beautiful Bay City, Michigan. It's a jam-packed week of  speakers, activities, and of course, birding! Clear your calendar, friends, and get alongside one of the Great Lakes for fall migration!  The 2015 MBS will once again be a highlight of the birding year.

Historical and culturally vibrant Bay City is located along the Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, 120 miles north of Detroit. This location was selected for all the right reasons: a great stepping-off point for field trips in birding hotspots at the many parks, wildlife areas, and natural habitats in the area; an 18-mile river trail; boat rides and cruises on the bay in the evening; and, the city is home to the country's largest antique mall. What's not to like?

The list of speakers and trip leaders at this year's MBS is not only impressive--it reads like a Who's Who of the birding world: Dr. Pamela C. Rassmussen, Kevin Carlson, George Armistead, Sharon Stiteler, Alvaro Jaramillo, to name a few. You'll be listening to, learning from, and walking alongside some of the most respected experts in ornithology with subjects such as  birding by listening, wood warblers, gull ID, birding ethics, managing a NWR wetland, digiscoping, and much more. Attend a multi-media presentation by Josh Hoss that chronicles his Big Green Year, where he saw 200 species while traveling only by bicycle! Or meet John James Audubon, as portrayed in a special program by Brian "Fox" Ellis. View the current list of scheduled programs here.

This year's MBS is hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest, Michigan Audubon, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy,and Go Great Lakes Bay. These organizations, and the MBS hosts, have teamed up to plan an unforgettable symposium for all, so don't miss the chance! Participants may stay at the Doubletree Riverfront, right on the Saginaw River. It will be a Midwest fall migration experience to remember! Fabulous birding, informative and entertaining programs, sparkling Lake Huron, new friends, and crisp bright September weather.

Eagle Optics is a proud sponsor, and will have a presence, along with many other quality vendors, at the MBS Birders' Marketplace. Stop and see us for expert optics advice, and a try-before-you-buy binocular, spotting scope, or tripod.

The 2015 MBS: It's like going to bird-watching camp!  Register today. We'll see you there!


Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Recalling Shorebirding off Cape Cod

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(Reprinted from Sept. 2013)
I had the opportunity to travel to Swarovski's U.S. headquarters in Warwick, Rhode Island earlier this summer. After a day of meetings with several other birding bloggers from across the U.S. and Canada, we were treated to a day of birding on South Beach, just off Chatham on Cape Cod. It was a fabulous day with new friends and LOTS of shorebirds!
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Our morning began early, of course (if there's anything I've learned about birders, it's that they're up before the sun when they're motivated). On a picture-perfect day, we spilled out of the van and on to the beach in Chatham, at the elbow of the flexed arm that is Cape Cod's shape.

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Loaded with binoculars, scopes, tripods and other assorted gear, we assembled and waited for transport to the South Beach area of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.  Soon our taxi boat picked us up and whisked us across the channel--a 10-minute ride.


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Above: Rob Lancellotti of Swarovski, one of our terrific hosts for the day.  As you can see, there were smiles and anticipation as we motored out, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Cape Cod coastline.

Slipping in to the cool water, we waded in to South Beach.  Before we even got there, some of these crazy cats set their tripods up right in the water to view the first birds of the day.
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I'll have to admit I was humbled by the birding knowledge and skill of my comrades. I was definitely the rookie of the group, even though I've been birding for years. But that didn't matter one bit. I was welcomed in to the fold, and I learned a lot from this talented and generous group of people. All I had to do was shadow these guys (and gal) and absorb as much as I could.
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Above is Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik: our intrepid trip leader, tireless tour guide and local birding (and food) expert. A Connecticut native, Clay now lives in south Texas.  He helped each of us find numerous life birds, and genuinely celebrated every single one with us.  This guy is, in one word: focused. And that's not just an optics pun, folks.

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Photo by Drew Weber


We were the only humans on South Beach for most of the day. Gloriously, it was just us, the birds, sand, and waving sea grass. Curious Harbor Seals would bob up to peek at us from time to time.

I started noticing Horseshoe Crabs--whose eggs are a major food source for shorebirds--on the shore. Many of them weren't home, their empty shells evidence of their propensity for molting. They can live to be 20, and will molt several times before they reach maturity. Some of these discarded shells were huge! I found a weathered and windswept grand daddy shell that resembled a helmet, and wore it on my head for part of the morning. My Norwegian heritage must have been emerging--fortunately, no one in the group questioned me on this.

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Our friends from Swarovski brought a wheeled cooler filled with sandwiches and water and dutifully pulled it through the sand to our lunch spot (I did NOT make these tracks!) I'm pretty sure they took time out to eat, but as quickly as possible, got right back to looking for lifers.


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Part of the fun was entering our sightings, right on the spot, to the eBird website.  We saw 48 species for the day. You can view our list here. If you haven't tried eBird yet, learn how to share your sightings here.

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After several hours of roaming through the sand, it was nice to just sit and relax. I let myself be distracted by the shells, rocks, and surf as the sun began to descend.


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At around 4:30, the tide came in, allowing our taxi boat to return for us. Tired and happy, we returned to the mainland with memories--and friendships--to last a lifetime. Thanks, Swarovski!

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Photo by Sharon Stiteler


Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NEW VIDEO: Optical Quality 101

If there's one thing our customers struggle to understand, it's why one binocular costs $100 and one costs $500, but on paper--they look exactly the same. Why shell out the extra bucks, many wonder. Is it worth it? What differences will I see in the binocular image?

In an effort to help you see the differences between an entry-level and a higher quality binocular, we present the video, Optical Quality 101. It's an excellent way to see and learn how certain optical characteristics affect your viewing experience. These characteristics include:
:
Center Resolution
Edge Sharpness
Field Curvature
Chromatic Aberration
Brightness & Contrast
Color Tone

So whether you're shopping for a binocular or just want to up your level of expertise, we invite you to have a look. As always, if you have questions or comments, please call us at Eagle Optics.

 

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Nov. 4-8, 2015


The famed Rio Grande Valley, at the southernmost tip of Texas, boasts the largest concentration of tropical birds in the U.S. Its diverse habitats are home to birds and wildlife seldom seen in one place, and the area is well known to birders around the world. If you’ve never been there, it might be hard to know where to begin to see it all. Fortunately for you and me, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival (RGVBF) puts it all together for us.

Now in its 22nd year, the RGVBF is known for its down-home, friendly feel. Started by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1994, this 5-day event is a well-oiled machine, but has never lost its sense of community. I remember heading off to my first RGVBF with Eagle Optics in 2011. My coworkers were always buzzing about RGVBF, and after my inaugural trip, I understood why. Everyone who attends is made to feel like family.

Just today, RGVBF staff member Sue Griffin told me registration opened earlier this week, and 200 people have already registered. That means field trips are beginning to fill.  See what I mean? RGVBF is approaching quickly, and participants are eagerly anticipating that warmTexas hospitality, meeting new friends, and seeing amazing birds. Sound good to you, too?  Check out registration info here.413463_10150668010308847_59781802_o

The host city, Harlingen, sits between the Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges, and is the perfect stepping-off point for the numerous field trips available to attendees. But, good luck making your choices! The myriad of offerings include bird and raptor banding, butterfly viewing, birding by river pontoon, shorebird ID, a quest for parrots, (whew!) and more. You can download the 2015 brochure here. Choose from trips to Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park and World Birding Center, King Ranch, Boca Chica, South Padre Island, and the numerous nearby preserves and sanctuaries. There are also pre-festival and post-festival trips planned to make the most of your visit.
While some trips have limited space due to early registrations, there is still good availability left. Not sure which field trips are right for you? The website makes recommendations for first-timers, families, and those who prefer minimal walking. Time to make your decision, folks. You don't want to miss this opportunity!

Altamira Oriole by RGVBF 2015 Artist, Gerald Sneed
You’re probably getting the idea of the depth of activities on the docket. Find yourself engaged in one of the many seminars. Sit in on the Big Sit or ride along in a chase van! Study shorebirds, bird photography, learn birding by ear,  and discover the rare seedeater or Aplomado Falcon.  Shop for optics, artwork, books, and related products at the Birders Bazaar trade show.

Don't miss the gracious receptions and happy hour gatherings, and have your books signed, Make a bid at the silent auction, take a family bird walk, and thrill to The Raptor Project's free demonstrations. You’ll be walking with, listening to, and learning from the leading experts in birding. This 22nd annual RGBF welcomes speakers and personalities well-known in the birding industry: ABA Prez Jeff Gordon, Kevin Karlson, Dale Rosselete, Shawneen Finnegan, Greg Miller, Karl S. Berg, and Dorian Anderson.

No matter what your level of expertise, there are field trips, events, and seminars for everyone at RGVBF. That includes beginner to advanced birders, butterfliers, Spanish speakers, photographers, artists, and children.  Also, you won't want to miss RGVBF's famous TV-style Quiz Show on Saturday night!  The organizers have made sure that the welcome mat is wide and welcoming, and the excitement is palpable from beginning to end.

Come to south Texas! Enjoy the Rio Grande Valley and its hosts, and bring your Life List. You’ll be sure to create memories that will last for years to come. See you there!

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Swarovski EL Swarovision on Sale!

Starting today, July 1, Swarovski is offering sale prices on all sizes of the world-class EL Swarovision line.

You can save up to $280.00 depending on the model. Sale prices are as follows:

Swarovski EL Swarovision 8x32 Binocular  $1979.00 (Retail $2199.00)

 $2069.00 (Retail $2299.00)

Swarovski EL Swarovision 8.5x42 Binocular $2279.00 (Retail $2529.00)

Swarovski EL Swarovision 10x42 Binocular $2319.00 (Retail $2579.00)

Swarovski EL Swarovision 10x50 Binocular $2499.00 (Retail $2769.00)

Swarovski EL Swarovision 12x50 Binocular $2549.00 (Retail $2829.00)


Sale extends from July 1, 2015 to November 15, 2015. Please call Eagle Optics for details at 800-289-1132. We'll be happy to get you outfitted with an EL Swarovision--arguably one of the world's finest binoculars!

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mosquitoes Not Invited!


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Summers are too short and outdoor gatherings too precious to let mosquitoes and biting flies spoil the fun.  Set up your ThermaCELL portable appliance or lantern in the yard or boat, and you'll enjoy hours of bug-free time with friends and family.

If you're like us, you aren't fond of slathering insect repellent on our skin (I mean, what's really in that stuff?).  Kids don't much like it, either. It smells bad, makes your skin feel weird, and the spray goes everywhere. Then you have to reapply it throughout the day. And do you really want those chemicals around everyone's food and drink?

The ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Portable Appliance couldn't be simpler to use: just turn it on, set it down, and enjoy your time outdoors. Hey, it works for us. We tested it and were thoroughly convinced. There is no smell, and you don't even notice it's there until you happily realize your yard party went off without a hitch, or an itch. The unit runs on a single butane cartridge that heats a mat which releases a synthetic copy of a natural insecticide. The mats last about 4 hours and keeps a 15'x15' area protected. Nice.

Going birdwatching or hiking? Simply bring the portable appliance along! The holster accessory (sold separately) allows you to clip it to your belt, backpack, or tent pole. The ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Outdoor Lantern, in addition to its bug-fighting power, gives the added benefit of two illumination settings: perfect for the deck, pier, or campsite.

ThermaCELL has got you covered at the lake, on the trail, and at any outdoor gathering. Instead of moving the party inside, keep mosquitoes away while you celebrate summer and fall in the great outdoors!

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Binocular Anatomy 101



Today's binoculars are pleasingly streamlined, user-friendly, and with their often rubber-armored bodies, are more durable than ever. With waterproofing being standard on most models, it's easy to take them along without a second thought, no matter what the weather. Yet if you're confused as to which is the eyepiece which is the eyecup, here's a handy review of The Anatomy of a Binocular.

There are precious few moving parts on a binocular: the center hinge, the eyecups, the focus knob, and the diopter. Each of these parts move in order to customize the fit to the individual user. The center hinge moves the barrels to line up perfectly with your eyes. The eyecups are the rubberized mechanism your face touches while you are looking through the binocular: eyecups extend up to give the proper distance from the eyepiece for non-eyeglass wearers (if you wear glasses, leave the eyecups down). To focus on an object, the center focus knob focuses both barrels simultaneously. The diopter fine-tunes just the right barrel, which accommodates those of us with differences in vision between our eyes. For a greater understanding on the fit of your binocular, see our video, Understanding Binoculars: Fit and Focus.

Lenses: The ocular lens is part of the eyepiece, where the magnification of the binocular is located. The accessory used to protect these lenses is called a rainguard. The larger objective lens is located in the front of the binocular. Its function is light gathering. Tethered objective lens covers reduce the risk of losing the covers in the field. However, both objective lens covers and the rainguards can usually be ordered separately.

The removable tripod adapter plug, in the front of the center hinge, conceals standard-sized 1/4" x 20 threading on which to attach a tripod adapter, in case you want to tripod-mount your binocular for hands-free viewing.

So there you have it, folks. Now go out and impress a friend with your newfound knowledge!  As always, we’ll be happy to answer any questions about your binocular.  Just give us a call at Eagle Optics.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.