Hunt for your binoc­u­lars

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­

Th­ese cooler days over the last few weeks have been might­ily ap­pre­ci­ated at my house. And not just for the lower hu­mid­ity and crisp clear morn­ings either.

On bill-pay­ing day, I try to stay as far away from the kitchen as pos­si­ble when my hus­band is open­ing the stack of en­velopes from the past month. I al­ways hate it when he asks me to guess the amount of our elec­tric bill. I also don’t en­joy the quar­terly let­ter SMECO sends me, com­par­ing our elec­tri­cal us­age to our neigh­bors.

If you are a house­hold with five women, your elec­tri­cal us­age is go­ing to be off the charts com­pared to pretty much any­body. But at the end of Septem­ber, my hus­band and I will have smiles on our faces when we get our bill, in­stead of the usual gri­maces.

This turn in the weather means that we are now get­ting into mi­gra­tion sea­son for many of the bird species on the east coast. Now is the time to break out your hik­ing boots and jacket, and hunt around the house for your binoc­u­lars.

I know ex­actly where my binoc­u­lars are. They sit on the pas­sen­ger seat of my car, within arms’ reach any­time I’m out driv­ing. When I see some­thing in­ter­est­ing in the fields or at the wa­ter’s edge I can zip right over to the shoul­der and get a closer look.

I’ve been re­warded nu­mer­ous times with views of out-ofthe-or­di­nary birds like a barn owl fly­ing along a tree­line at day­break as well as a strik­ing white wad­ing bird that turned out to be a ju­ve­nile lit­tle blue heron.

I have to thank my hus­band for the new pair of binoc­u­lars I’ve been hav­ing so much fun with as of late. Usu­ally when he goes on a busi­ness trip he will brings us back small gifts along the lines of cof­fee mugs or T-shirts. So, you can imag­ine my ex­cite­ment when he gave me a box printed with the words “Nikon Monarch 5.”

I had been us­ing the same pair of old Bush­nell binoc­u­lars that I had since I was a kid. I think they were handed down to me from one of my dad’s friends. I am pretty sure they are older than me.

The outer shell has dulled from black to dark gray and the orig­i­nal peb­bly tex­ture has been worn smooth in places by mul­ti­ple own­ers’ hands grip­ping the ar­mor. And while they work fine, they are heavy and clunky to carry around.

This new pair didn’t take any time to get used to. The eye­pieces ad­just for com­fort and they are so light­weight, I don’t feel bogged down wear­ing them in the field. And, al­most as im­por­tant as the com­fort fac­tor, the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is top of the line.

The first night with them, I spent the twi­light hours sit­ting on the front steps watch­ing the hum­ming­birds visit the feed­ers. Even in the low light, the de­tails and bril­liance of their feath­ers through my new binoc­u­lars were bet­ter than what I’d see if a hum­ming­bird was perched on the end of my nose.

I don’t know if I’d ever have got­ten around to re­plac­ing those Bush­nell’s, but I’m so thank­ful my hus­band made a gift of them.

If you are like me and are still car­ry­ing around your grand­daddy’s binoc­u­lars, or maybe you will be buy­ing your first pair, all you re­ally need for bird­watch­ing is a good pair of 8 x 42 or 10 x 42 binoc­u­lars. There’s a school of thought as to which is bet­ter, but all you need to do is try them out and choose the pair you like best. It’s that easy.

I’m not sur­prised Field and Stream named the Nikon Monarch HG the best binoc­u­lar of 2017. But with a price tag of nearly $1,000, that’s not re­ally af­ford­able for most folks. Luck­ily, there’s a whole line of Monar­chs avail­able in a range of prices. My pair didn’t cost any­where near $1,000, and be­sides the lens cap never stay­ing fas­tened.

I am very happy with my pair and thank­ful that my hus­band was so thought­ful. New binoc­u­lars make a great gift for any­one in­ter­ested in the out­doors. ‘Mi­gra­tion on the Point’ There will be lots of mi­gra­tory birds mak­ing

their way through Mary­land over the next few weeks. A great way to get ac­quainted with bird­watch­ing is to go on one of the South­ern Mary­land Audubon So­ci­ety’s field trips.

Tyler Bell, a friendly guy and very knowl­edge­able lo­cal bird en­thu­si­ast, is lead­ing a bird­ing tour called “Mi­gra­tion on the Point” at Point Look­out State Park from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 16.

Bell said that although the field trip doesn’t have any par­tic­u­lar species as a fo­cal point, Point Look­out State Park is one of the “bird­ing mec­cas” of Mary­land. Loblolly pines, mixed hard­woods, beaches, marshes and broad wa­ter views prom­ise a wide va­ri­ety of bird species.

The tour will be­gin at the stand of trees near the light­house and the group will work its way north go­ing through the pic­nic area and up the trails to the fort.

Ac­cord­ing to Bell, this is some of the best habi­tat at Point Look­out for “passer­ines.” Now if you think a “passer­ine” is a bird that’s just pass­ing through, you re­ally should go on this trip. There’s a whole vo­cab­u­lary just for bird­ers.

The word refers to birds that perch, which en­com­passes nearly half of all the birds in the world, and many of the birds you prob­a­bly see on a daily ba­sis and would rec­og­nize eas­ily, like blue jays and robins. Bell said he ex­pects there will be a nice as­sort­ment of war­blers, vireos, and some early thrushes at Point Look­out this time of year.

Birds that aren’t passer­ines in­clude wad­ing birds, hum­ming­birds, wood­peck­ers and birds of prey. And you might get a chance to see a few of those va­ri­eties on this trip as well.

“The pound nets by the in­let on the river side are usu­ally drip­ping with brown pel­i­cans, dou­ble-crested cor­morants, and ospreys as well as a nice as­sort­ment of gulls

and terns,” Bell said.

Among the tern species, Forster’s Terns, Com­mon Terns, and Sand­wich Terns are pos­si­bil­i­ties, and although it’s a lit­tle early, there might be a few rap­tors, too.

Any­one is wel­come to join Bell at Point Look­out on Sept. 16. To RSVP, email jtyler­bell@ya­ or call 301-862-4623 and meet at the en­trance park­ing lot.

And if you like what you see, con­sider join­ing SMAS. To find out more about this in­cred­i­ble bird­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion right here in our com­mu­nity, go to http://som­ and check out the long list of up­com­ing events.

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