This gorgeous bald eagle was photographed by Mike Szmigielski at the Brackendale dyke on the Squamish River one November morning. Notice the impressive wing-span, powerful beak, massive talons and piercing eye. Magnificent! Mike said,
there were quite a few eagles hanging around in the trees, along the river banks and flying above. Several were fighting each other over fish carcasses. This eagle was at about five meters above the river, kind of hovering then slowly floated downward ... it then swooped down at a quicker pace, only a few feet above the water, grabbed what I thought was nothing at first but was actually a scrap of Pink Salmon that was floating by from an earlier fight between a group of eagles.
I want to birdwatch: what's better, binoculars or a spotting scope?
Most of us have looked up at the sky and seen an eagle or a hawk circling high above, looking for prey. It's amazing to think that they are hunting rodents from such a height. How wonderful it must be to have such sharp vision! We humans need help in the form of binoculars or a spotting scope to enhance our relatively poor vision. In order to choose the appropriate optical instrument, it's important to consider both your own environment and that of your observing target.
Observing from terrain with difficult access.
Atlantic Puffin with fish in beak
When your observing puts you on "rocky ground", portability becomes a key factor. It may not be practical to carry or use a tripod in these situations. Having smaller, lightweight binoculars may be an attractive option.
Observing a stationary, small, distant target
Nuthatch feeding a nestling
Consider the benefits of a spotting scope in this application. With its tripod, there is no need to hold binoculars in shaky hands for long periods. A nice steady view and increased magnification can make a spotting scope an excellent choice. Some binoculars can also be mounted on a tripod for increased viewing stability and comfort. We carry a good selection of binoculars, spotting scopes, and tripods that you can take outside and try before you buy.
Watching birds in flight
If you are observing birds (or other things) that move around, you might appreciate having a wider field of view. To track birds in motion or to watch large flocks, consider hand-held binoculars with a wide field of view. There is a trade-off for magnification but it will be much easier to keep the target in view.
Observing other wildlife
Of course, the same considerations apply to all wildlife observing, not just birding!