Archive for February, 2014

Leica Birding Team: Bill Schmoker

Willy sets up on some waterfowl at the local reservoir

Who is this Bill Schmoker? Is it Bill or Willy? How does he make such beautiful photographs? Where exactly is “Co-lo-ra-do”?? Answers to these questions are probably not answered in this interview, but perhaps some more interesting ones will be! Read on to find out…

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SNOW on paper A short look inside the process of illustrating a Snowy Owl, pieces 1 – 3


When Leica Birding Team’s Jen Brumfield heard about Project SNOWstorm, the crowd-funded project to study the Snowy Owl invasion of 2013/2014, her first question was “What can I do to help!?” Since then Jen has been working on a sketch of a Snowy Owl that will be made into prints to be given away to people who have donated $1000 or more to the campaign. In this exclusive dispatch she gives us a glimpse into her artistic process. Read on to see her work in her own words…

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Florida Scrub-Jay

Florida Scrub-Jay

Of the first 100 species seen by Athena, all were classified by the American Birding Association (ABA) as “Category 1″ birds on the ABA checklist. Not surprisingly, code 1 birds are the easiest birds to see described as “Regularly occurring North American Avifauna” that are both widespread & numerous. Some of these birds still require traveling [...]

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Wordless Wednesday


This Common Nighthawk was hiding in plain sight at Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado in July 2013.

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Athena in The Bog – Part 1


Leica Sport Optics Product Specialist, David La Puma, escorts Athena the Wandering Ultravid into the North Woods, in search of boreal species, epic owls, and wayward falcons. On their first stop they look for a Gyrfalcon in the Buena Vista Grasslands. Will they see it? Read on to find out…

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Leica Stories: Keith Hansen

Keith Hansen demonstrates the set-up in the field

As Steve Howell notes, one of the nice things about living in the small town on Bolinas is that it is also home to birder and bird artist extraordinaire Keith Hansen, whose gallery-studio downtown is the hub of the local birding scene. Keith has a well-worn Lecia scope, and has self-built a wonderful rig on which he mounts a video camera to capture any and all ornithological moments. Visitors to his gallery can view real-time video of birds outside the window, as the video-scope setup is linked to a large screen. This also means that if a rare bird pops in (and they do a lot!), Keith can switch to record mode and “nail that puppy” as he says. For example, he has documented 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at his feeder, of about only 14 recorded in the state of California. The rest of us would still be fumbling for a camera and the bird would have got away! At Keith’s gallery the other day I asked him about his Leica scope.

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Wordless Wednesday: Amazon!


A row of Leica spotting scopes helped participants at the 2013 Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival get amazing looks at the Amazon Kingfisher.

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Observing Plovers in Florida

adult male "Florida" Snowy Plover - Leica digiscoped image 2/16/14

Notes from field study of the “ringed” plover group from the gulf coast of Florida, and subsequent research at home reveals some curious mysteries.

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What’s in a (Bird) Name? Part 2: Embrace Hypocrisy and Promote Ambiguity

You might logically call this a Western Winter Wren or, if you don’t know that the Pacific is a bloody great ocean, how about Pacific Wren? Marin County, California, Nov 2012. © Steve N. G. Howell.

In part 2 of the “What’s in a (Bird) Name?” series, Leica Birding Team member Steve N.G. Howell takes on ambiguity in the bird naming process. Of course, no one tackles their subject quite like Mr. Howell, so read on and prepare yourself for a good laugh.

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Leica Stories – Around the Big Island in Four Days

I'iwi were also common

Leica Birding Team member John Sterling provides his report on a recent trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. John is immersed in everything ornithological but has recently (7 years ago) discovered a love for wildlife photography. When not traveling overseas leading tours or working on research projects, he spends his time in his native California working on research and conservation projects, teaching birding classes, and exploring all 58 of the state’s counties as can be seen on his website;

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Athena’s View

note the owl image and the actual bird in the background

Check out the view as seen through Athena our binocular on a big year – 2014!

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New Name

"Athena" the 7x42 Ultravid HD on a big year in 2014!

We received many helpful suggestions for a name for our new wandering Ultravid binocular and decided we liked this suggestion the best.

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Wordless Wednesday


Taken with iPhone 5, Phone Skope adaptor, and Leica Televid APO 65mm spotting scope.

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Leica Stories: Ioana Seritan

Ioana (in the yellow sweatshirt) at Pawnee National Grasslands during 2013 Camp Colorado (Photo by Jennie Duberstein)

Leica Birding Team member Jennie Duberstein brings us another dispatch from the field, this time about the 2013 ABA Birder of the Year, Ioana Seritan. Jennie wears many hats in the birding and ornithological community, and one of those is Czar of Youth Birding. Okay, maybe that’s not an actual title, but if it were, Jennie would definitely have it (and she clearly fills the roll of this unspecified position in her daily life!). It’s also great to catch up with Ioana after her first year of undergraduate work at UC Berkley; We hope you enjoy this piece as much as we did!

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Rare Birds of North America: The book, and what is a rare bird?


In this latest dispatch from our Leica Birding Team, Steve NG Howell takes you behind the scenes of his latest book, a collaboration with WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide director, Will Russell, and world renowned artist, Ian Lewington, titled Rare Birds of North America. Read on to hear about the making of this excellent book and get a taste of the beauty and content within. Let the rarity search begin!

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