[Tweeters] Speaking of scopes...

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 7 20:01:02 PST 2013

Dear Caryn,

Here is a bit of advice regarding scopes: a cheapo scope on an excellent tripod is better than an excellent scope on a cheapo tripod.

When I finally got my first scope in 1988, it was a Bushnell Spacemaster, which cost me the then-princely sum of around a hundred and eighty dollars. By 1988, the Spacemaster was no longer the state-of-the-art optical device that it had been in the 1970's--but birding with a scope of any kind was a huge step up. In fact, I would say that birding with any sort of adequate scope is as big a step up from birding with just binoculars, as birding with binoculars is from birding with the naked eye. I know that I got two lifers the very first day I went birding with the scope (I think they were Elegant Tern and Pacific Loon, if I remember correctly).

For a long time, I used a cheapo tripod with the Spacemaster.

By the late 1990's, I was ready to move up to a good scope. I opened a special savings account at the bank. Every time I wanted to go out for a sandwich or see a movie, I put the money into that account. I had the money for a top-of-the-line Swarovski in less than a year, even though I was not making much of a paycheck at that time. It goes to show how much money a typical American blows on silly luxuries.

 For some reason that I have since forgotten, I first bought a good tripod, in advance of buying the new scope. For a while there, I was birding with a tripod that cost more than the scope on it!

One September day in that epoch, I found a Wandering Tattler at Rosario Head. I was able to ID it through the Spacemaster, but it wasn't a great view--just enough to see the field marks. Then along came a lady, bearing a state-of-the-art scope wobbling atop a wretched tripod. I helped her get on the bird with her scope, but neither she nor I could see aught of any recognizable value through it. The image was bobbing up and down more than a Spotted Sandpiper on a hot piece of andesite. So I let her look through the  Spacemaster. She got to see her first Skagit WATA--or was it her lifer WATA?--through the trusty old Bushnell. Then we put her scope on my tripod, and both enjoyed superb views.

Now, if some miscreant were to filch my Swarovski scope, I'd get an 88-millimeter Kowa. Either that, or I would get a used late-1990's-vintage Swarovski 80-millimeter, with fluorite-enhanced glass, which is what I have now. I think my 16-year-old Swarovski is better than the new Swarovskis. I had to send mine in to Austria for some work, and they sent me a new one as a loaner. I was glad to have the old one back--it was better.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch 


> From: Caryn Schutzler <bluedarner1 at seanet.com>

>To: tweeters at u.washington.edu

>Sent: Saturday, December 7, 2013 12:12 PM

>Subject: [Tweeters] Speaking of scopes...



>...tis the Season. Finally thinking about purchasing a scope - have I gotten by this long without one? I've always met generous birders willing to let us peek thru theirs, but think it's about time to ante up for one of our own. (until hubby sees the pricetag that is!! :)


>Could I please get your suggestions for the best scope for the "best price".  Also, I already have a tripod for the camera - do scopes need their own  "special" tripod ?


>And then - would I be able to "digiscope" with a Nikon camera? Would that mean I would need a Nikon scope?


>Any and all suggestions would be most appreciated.


>Stay warm birds and birders!!


>Caryn / Wedgwood


>Thanks for the info regarding insuring the scope! Maybe that will be hubby's stocking stuffer!! :)_______________________________________________

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