Hunt for your binoculars
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 email@example.com 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://somdaudubon.org/ and check out the long list of upcoming events.