Archive for the ‘Leica Sport Optics’ Category

Background Check

Sharp-shinned Hawk digiscoped by Bill Schmoker

A lot of digiscoping tips and discussions center around gear and technique. These are certainly important but once your rig is dialed in it is important to also remember to spare some thought for composition.

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Leica Boosts the Highest Peregrine Count

Group BINs semicircle FKH n falcons

With yet another world record for the highest count of “Falco peregrinus” during a single count season, the Florida Keys Hawkwatch continues securing its place as the Peregrine Falcon Migration Capital of the World. Every fall season, hawkwatchers flock to the southernmost chain of islands along the Atlantic Flyway to participate in the Florida Keys Hawkwatch (FKH), a [...]

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Snowy Showoff: Bill-vibrating behavior

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I recently had the pleasure of attending the 39th Western Field Ornithologists Conference in San Diego, California. Among the wonderful places I birded was the San Dieguito River Estuary in Del Mar. Its banks and mud bars hosted a pleasing variety of shorebirds (Pacific Golden-Plover, anyone?), and landscaped properties bordering the river teemed with bird life. But I think my personal highlight of the stop was a Snowy Egret engaged in a behavior I’d never seen before. It was out in shallow water, facing in the direction of a light current moving inland with the rising tide. The bird was crouched horizontally, holding its bill in the surface of the water burbling away like a kid about to be rebuked for blowing bubbles in their chocolate milk.

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My Big Sit

Leica Birding Team member Jennie Duberstein tells us how she passed the time when her Big Sit turned into a Big Flop.

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Birding at 15,000 Feet: A Colorado Chronicle

Western Kingbird digiscoped through Leica APO Televid spotting scope

The adventure began at the Denver airport baggage claim area, where I first met my fellow campers for 2014 Camp Colorado. The American Birding Association runs the camp, which is sponsored by Leica Sport Optics. After loading up the van we immediately found the first bird of trip, a Western Kingbird, in the airport parking lot.

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Advice for Young Birders

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What advice would you give to a young birder looking for a career in ornithology? Leica Birding Team member Jennie Duberstein shares her two cents.

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Dispatches From the Field: 2014 Camp Chiricahua

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Leica Birding Team member Jennie Duberstein is in the field in southeastern Arizona this week, co-leading Camp Chiricahua with Michael O’Brien and Louise Zemaitis.

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My Favorite Binocular – Jennie Duberstein

Jennie after seeing her first bird with her brand new Ultravid 8x32s--a Swainson's Hawk carrying food to the nest.

Leica Birding Team Member Jennie Duberstein talks about why her Ultravid 8x32s are her choice in the field.

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My Favorite Binocular- Bill Schmoker

Bill Schmoker sharing the pleasure of viewing Mountain Plovers on Colorado's Pawnee Grasslands, trusty Ultravid HD 8x32 at the ready.

An amazing part of being on the Leica Birding Team is choosing a binocular to use. Conversely, a really tough part about being on the Team is choosing a binocular, given the mouth-watering range of choices in the Leica stable! With well-used and loved Ultravid 8x42s already in my quiver, I thought I’d evaluate something in a different niche to support my birding style. When I’m afield, I’m usually toting a DSLR rig and spotting scope in addition to my bins. I also travel a bit and know that every cubic centimeter of camera bag space is precious, especially when flying. To top it off there’s more gray in my beard than when I started this game, and when I’m already strapped up with a DSLR on one shoulder and a scope on the other my neck appreciates whatever break I can give it. So I decided to give the 8×32 Ultravid HD a go to gain weight and size savings. My only regret is waiting so long to get into Leica 32s!

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Travis and the year that was – Whirlwind review 2013

Travis after viewing the "Island Scrub-Jay" off the coast of California.

Leica Store Miami manager Peter Dooling ceremoniously unpacks the Traveling Trinovid and it’s off to the races. With the assistance of Rangel Diaz and Rafael Galvez the first birds are enjoyed and the Traveling Trinovid receives his name “Travis”- it’s April 7th, 2013. Forty species were seen to include Piping Plover, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, and other [...]

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My Favorite Binocular – Alvaro Jaramillo

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As a teenager birder I always had crummy binoculars, it was all I could afford, the realities of life. I convinced myself that if I could identify birds with optics that distorted the image and colors, well that was great training. In other words, the challenge of not seeing the birds well was good for me – gain through pain! I was so wrong.

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Who’s Your Mamma?

This male yellow warbler was feeding an angry brown-headed cowbird chick several times his size at Tinicum NWR in Pennsylvania.

Birds have all sorts of crazy antics and nesting behaviors—from multiple female anis who all lay all their eggs in the same nest and raise the chicks communally, to swallows who use nothing but mud and spit to build their nests, and more, but in my opinion, one of the most fascinating behaviors of all time belongs to a group of species called cowbirds, who leave the dirty work to over a hundred other species.

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Lesser and Common Nighthawks – wing shape and pattern

The pale (white here) bars across the primaries of Lesser Nighthawks are closer to the wingtip than on Common Nighthawks. On Lesser Nighthawks, the bar isolates a dark wingtip that approximates an equilateral triangle (three even-length sides) - the pale bar on a Common Nighthawk isolates a decidedly longer isosceles triangle of dark at the wingtip.

This photo primer discusses the ID of Lesser and Common Nighthawks in the field [and on the branch, and even in the air!]. While geography and a knowledge of status & distribution can get you pretty far with this species pair, it’s helpful to focus on wing shape and exact pattern in order to nail down an identification.

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“Get to da choppa!” Helibirding for science and style

Ammodramus sparrows were remarkably easy to see from the helicopter. Often, it was fairly straightforward to separate small, pale Saltmarsh Sparrows...

It’s hot, humid, and buggy – time to enliven your birding with a bit of a change in perspective. Join Leica Birding Team member Tom Johnson on a helicopter bird survey in New Jersey.

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Dispatches from Camp Colorado: Day 1

2014 Camp Colorado participants enjoy the view over North Saint Vrain Creek in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hi folks- Bill Schmoker checking in here from the American Birding Association’s Camp Colorado at the YMCA of the Rockies in beautiful Estes Park, right on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park. I can see the 14,259-foot summit of Long’s Peak out my dorm window and have 21 eager and talented middle- & high-school kids in the adjoining rooms resting up after a fantastic first day of camp.

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