Calumet & the Nikon ProStaff
Mary and I went down to Calumet yesterday. This is a bridge site with so many beams, crossbars and the like, it is horribly difficult to actually see the birds, much less get identification information.
I am happy to report, however, that we not only saw a peregrine come out of one of the previous year’s nest holes during a probable nest exchange, but we got her leg bands!!
Her name is Mariott (b/g 8/*A). She was born in 2001 at the City Center in Minneapolis, MN. Considering her age, she may very well have been the adult female in Calumet for some years, but we’ll never know for sure since this is the first time we’ve ever gotten her leg bands. In FACT, this is the first time any female adult has been identified at that site. Exciting!
I want to say that we owe it all to my wonderful, darling and beautiful new scope: the Nikon ProStaff 20-60 x 82. I am in love. This is definitely the best scope I’ve ever worked with and was worth spending a bunch of my poker bankroll to add it to my gear.
This replaces my Meade Redtail, which served me very, very well for a number of years. Sean, my mom and my mother-in-law all went in on that scope and gave me a GREAT birthday present in 2006.
I’ve donated the scope to Mary, since the scope she generally uses has a straight eyepiece instead of an angled eyepiece, which makes it downright painful to watch something that is high above you for any more than one second (if you can actually contort yourself into position to look through the eyepiece, that is). So, now Mary has an extra scope in case someone comes along with us, or someone forgets to bring a scope, etc…
Mary used the Meade in Calumet and I found myself looking over at it with some sadness. I guess when your equipment goes through years of hour-upon-hour field work with you, you can get a bit attached. When Mary packed the scope up at the end of the trip, I saw her looking at her Bushnell with much the same expression. We had a good laugh at our sentimental streaks.
If the Meade had to go to a new home, I’m glad it went to Mary. It’ll keep on workin’!
Back to my new infatuation, I will say that the brightness and sharpness of the view through the Nikon is a marked improvement over the Meade. Since we had the two scopes side by side anyway, I was able to pick the same spot high up on the bridge and look through both to compare. Now, it’s good to remember that the Meade is markedly less expensive than the Nikon, but that said, Nikon made the extra cash outlay worth it.
I could definitely tell that the bird had a leg band on with the Meade at that distance (maybe 450 feet or so?) and I could even tell what color it was. With the Nikon, I could read the top black band the first second I got a look at it, clear as a bell. The NOTORIOUSLY hard to read green band took me about 6 seconds to read. In fact, I read the band so easily and quickly, I actually had time to call Mary over and have her verify the numbers while the peregrine was still mid leg preen. Stunning.
I realize I sound like an advertisement here. Sorry about that! I am absolutely sure if my eye ever gets lucky enough to look through a Zeiss or Leica scope, it will patently refuse to ever look through the Nikon again, but then I’m fairly sure I will never be able to spend four grand on a spotting scope, so this is a perfect compromise. After all, my bond with my scope begins and ends with peregrine falcon leg bands and the Nikon can read ’em well.