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My Gear

There’s more to birding than meets the eye – although it’s true that most of what’s needed does actually meet the eye in the sporting world of Avian I Spy. Cameras, binoculars (or, in my case, a monocular), long distance and zoom lenses: each piece of equipment and resource listed below will play an important part in my Big Year in a Small Town.  The list will most probably grow along with me, but here’s a brief introduction to what can be found in my Go Bag on any given birding expedition, as well as a few  necessities I count on to facilitate The Chase:

  • Nikon D3500 with Nikkor 70-300mm Lens. My favorite camera/lens combo. It gives me a good distance but is light weight and portable.

  • Nikon D3400 with Sigma 150-600mm Lens. Heavy as all get out!  This is the mother of my lenses. I can’t lift it for long.

  • Monopod. Will be attached to my heavy as all get out lens. It will give me a much longer range, if I can keep it steady.

  • Panasonic Lumix FZ80 1200mm zoom. This is a digital zoom process and requires a very steady hand. I’ll get the hang of it at some point, but right now it is in the ancillary bag.

  • Avalon 10×42 WP Monocular. I don’t love binoculars – probably because I had monocular Lasik surgery, so I opted for this little beauty. It is always in my car and has slightly better acuity than my 300mm lens

  • iPhone 8. This is where I keep account of my e-bird checklists

  • e-bird. My on-line birding community and how I connected with my Bird Guru, aka BG. BG is a lurker, watching but never posting. I hope to change this in due time. Anyway, ebird is where I keep my bird lists (life and big year) and lots of photos. It’s also one of the places where I can find out about rare bird spottings in my area.

  • Merlin app. I used to think this was magic – but it is just an algorithm that looks at points and features on a photo and suggests what bird I have sighted. Experienced birders are not fans. I’m not sure I am anymore either because Merlin has led me astray on occasion, but it is helpful when I don’t know where to start. There are LOTS of birds out there.

  • Hydro Flask with coffee. My morning birding trip would not be the same without coffee. I have a 16-ounce watermelon pink Hydro Flask that holds two pods & a splash of half and half. It keeps my coffee piping hot as I sit at the lighthouse or drive around looking for my avian pals.

  • Sibley’s Birding Basics. David Sibley is the Audubon’s Roger Tory Peterson of the new millennium. His drawings and paintings are magnificent and he always has one of the featured bird in flight. This basics book helps me understand shapes and guides me through identifications.

  • Sibley Birds East. This is the birding bible. Although I use Merlin, experienced birders will tell you that a guide book and lots of time spent with the birdies are the two essentials to really becoming a birder.

  • 2019 Subaru Forester. My ride. It can take me on sand trails and through the mud. Has some of the best visibility of any small SUV. The perfect birding car.

  • A pair of comfortable shoes. To walk when necessary, although I do a LOT of birding from the comfort of my Subee.

  • Beach Chair. Once the morning temperature hits 50 again, I will start my birding days perched in this chair on the beach.

  • Hind gloves with leather finger pads. They protect my hands from cold winds and still allow me to use the iPhone/iPad.

  • Reading glasses. Need I explain?

  • SD card reader for iPhone/iPad. If I want to look at the

      photos I have taken on my camera or run them through


  • Mini-iPad. If I need a bigger screen for review.

  • Montem Walking Poles. These are key to my new found

      desire to actually get out of the car and move toward the

      birds. I just have to practice dropping them and pulling

      up the camera with one motion.

  • My Vera Bradley Front Pack. It holds my camera,

      iPhone, reading glasses, SD reader and whatever else

      I need when I step out of the car.

  • My wrap. This varies from a light hoodie to a down jacket (in the requisite hunter identifiable orange).

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