Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Swarovski AT 80 ? March, Kent UK.

…yet another proof of the advantage of a stable image in a great telescope!

As some of you will know, I am conducting a series of amateur trials to test out the Swarovski AT 80 High Definition scope supplied by the manufacturer. Yesterday (10th March) I took it down to Pegwell Bay again in very different conditions. Last time I went it was very dark and murky, this visit was in a typically early Spring day in England ? a strong and biting March Wind with a few passing showers but a bright sky sometimes a clear and blue as high summer, at others dotted with shower clouds.The other change was that I was trying out a new tripod supplied by Viking Optical ? their Viking S ? a version of the Slik range with a fluid head very familiar to many birders. I found it excellent and a compromise between my two other tripods. I have been using a terrific Cullman tripod for years ? it has a great action and, for me a big plus, it is very light to carry. The drawback is that it is a little lightweight and awkward to use with my new scope. Recently I have been using a very solid tripod supplied by Swarovski ? a great product and one I`ll continue to use for sea watching in high wind, but id is very heavy. The hide at Pegwell Bay is just about within my range on a good day ? if the arthritis is being kind I can manage it but not with a heavy tripod being like the proverbial straw on this camel`s back. The new Viking S is just right, it has much of the stability of the Swarovski but is nearly as light as the Cullman.So the light conditions were excellent and I had a very nice few hours even clocking up my first migrants of the year ? six Sandwich terns and many of the usual waders, ducks and so forth. In these conditions I was able to see through my binoculars that, sat on a signpost on the spit well over a mile away was a small raptor. With the scope I could see that it was a merlin and not a kestrel or peregrine. This alone would be sufficient proof to me of the superiority of this scope. The image was clear despite the haze and distance with no distortion and very good colour accuracy. I remain very impressed.At much closer range the zoom allowed me close inspection of the gulls. A lot of common gulls (not so common any more) were coming into full adult plumage as were black-headed and both black-backs and herring gulls. However, amongst them was another? quizzing it led me to record it as a first winter Mediterranean gull ? the first time I have felt confident in such an ID and yet another proof of the advantage of a stable image in a great telescope!


4th July 2014