To have a successful bird watching event, a birder must always carry a basic birding kit consisting of a pair of binoculars or a gear for bird watching, telescope or monocular, a study notebook is necessary when conducting a waterfall bird count or watching birds in swampy habitat. During a rainy season a water proof binoculars and water proof notebook are recommended as they will not be destroyed when watered. Having a telescope with a tripod stand is handy in various birds’ habitats. A camera is a must have photo taking equipment, and one with capability of being mounted on telescope or binoculars is recommended to aid in clear picture taking. A playback or recording, laser pointer, compass, a whistle and GPS are among useful equipment for guiding in the field. Have a list of all equipment written and assign one person responsible for collection of these equipment after a group birding activity. Other essential birding gear to consider includes relevant wear and not just a cloth but a birding gear clothing with side pockets, a bag, field shoes among others accessories that may make your bird watching expedition a success. When dressing up avoid having bright colored clothes as they are easily spotted by birds.
Binoculars and Telescopes
Bird watching Binoculars are equipments with two mounted glasses side by side pointing the same path. With binoculars birders are able to view with both eyes when watching birds out of reach with bare eyes. They are designed to be held with both hands with the strap put on the neck to prevent it falling to the ground. Binoculars ranges from small to large models providing a three-dimensional images and are manufactured in all sizes and shapes. The best birding binoculars have a magnification ranging from x7, x8, x10 or any with a clear view of an object and easily adjustable. Lights enters binocular through the objective lens which are normally labeled as 8×40 etc. and with a larger objective lens the greater the light gathering potential of the binocular. Binoculars with high quality optics significantly have much better light gathering than poor quality lenses, it’s been observed that binoculars with higher magnification are difficult to hold and focus steadily in the field and sometimes a birder will have difficulty in identification of birds hence birders should avoid purchasing higher magnification equipment . The basic shapes of binoculars available for birders in the market are the roof-prism and classical with varying advantages, while both shape are good for bird watching the roof prism binoculars water and dust proof tend to offer higher quality photos but others also prefer classical shape. When purchasing binoculars with better quality always check the optic quality with either minimal or none warping effect around the edges with a crystal sharp to the edge.
A poor quality optic binocular will be difficult to focus making your birding very difficult, some best quality binoculars brands includes Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica among others. Kids binoculars are also available for young children during Hiking, bird watching, hunting, and other sporting activities, before buying a kid binocular, consider introducing them toy binoculars for learning and adaptation. Currently the following kids binoculars are available in the market and can be purchased in any of the major online stores vanstarry kids binoculars; BESPIN kids binoculars, Think peak toys binoculars among other varieties and for a detailed guide check on our best kids binocular review and safety tips kids while using binoculars.
For a telescope, you’ll need to have sturdy tripod as you can’t hand hold as it will shake in windy environment. Light camera tripod stand should be avoided for the telescope as they will not withstand a windy situation making your birding a frustration in the field. Watching birds from the car is enjoyable when using car window mounted telescope
Bird Watching Cameras
Spotting small birds from a distance may require birding cameras with huge lenses, these cameras are very expensive and may be out of reach for many birders but there are some good quality and pocket friendly cameras you can purchase. A simple digital camera with capability of being place against the eye piece of your telescope or the binocular will make your outing more enjoyable and stress free allowing you to identify as many bird species as possible. So when shopping around for a birding camera, you should consider if the lens of the camera will fit into the eye piece of the binoculars or telescope when extended. Sometimes a small digital camera is what you need to capture a eye-catching bird photos, and when in the field birding with your child all you need is a small digital camera to enable the child learn photography. With a smart phone you may not need a sophisticated digital camera anymore, we have so many photography apps that make it easy to take and edit photographs when out birding. For backyard bird watching all you need is your current Smartphone to capture those great small birds.
Recording and Playback equipment
Songs and calls of birds are recorded using these great equipments which most birders rarely carry them during morning or evening bird watching. The importance of recording birds’ songs and calls is for later identification of birds and learning, in some habitats birds rarely comes out and using playback equipment may trigger movement of these birds. Recording and playback gadgets are helpful in forest canopy, undergrowth, papyrus thicket habitats. With improved technology a bird twitcher only needs to carry with them a recorder such as iPod for high quality recording as oppose to the days when big tape recorders were the order of the day. When choosing a recorder, it’s recommended to purchase a zoom microphone which is a directional and can point to any direction and birder travelling with MP3 will need to carry a separate speakers. When selecting a recorder consider small ones with their own batter helping in powering an amplifier. When in the field do not disturb the birds with your playback equipment, use when you have to and you feel the bird is hiding or can only respond when their call is imitated.
Bird watching Laser pointer
Are you a bird guide helping visitors in your locality to observe birds, if so then you need a laser pointer to point out a bird for your visitors in trees, swamps among other habitats. Pointers are helpful and at the same time they can be harmful if pointed directly into bird’s eyes due to the laser light effect and do not point or shine it at a person or your visitors. As a tour guide a compass help locate direction in thicket or forest when you lose direction or tracking a bird location and when mapping bird species a GPS helps record a bird’s location.
We’ve only looked at a few birding equipments and accessories and when out watching birds in different habitats and with advancing technology and innovation you’ll come across helpful equipment aiding your birding expedition. Always prepare your itinerary early enough and put together all the necessary equipments in one place and record what you have when guiding visitors.