Both Danika and I knew that we were at a serious disadvantage birding without a good scope. After Christmas were for once, flushed with a bit of cash, when I saw a great deal come up on Eagle Optics. I placed the order in the middle of the night (not wanting to change my mind) and then putted around the house for the next few days like an expectant father waiting for the scope to arrive.
I opted for the angled eye piece as I find that more comfortable to use, but the day after it came… I played hookey from work and went to test it out. We went to the Coxsackie Boat Launch, where a great number of gulls had gathered. Before with just binoculars, we could usually pick out the regular gulls and maybe with some luck, something easy like an Iceland Gull.
With its range (20-60 x 82) suddenly we could examine and look at each individual gull. The regular gulls were very easy to pick out and study in their various plumages, the Iceland Gulls were even easier to find, but with some searching and close examination of sleeping birds and birds that were partially obscured, we were able to start regularly picking out Lesser-Black-Backed Gull. What used to be a 3 Gull stop in Coxsackie, started regularly turning into a 5 Gull Stop! (could have been easily 6, but Glaucous Gull refused to show its self while I was there!).
Its second test came at the Hudson River at Stillwater. This is a notorious good duck/bad light location, with the ducks a good distance off. Even with these conditions the scope performed tremendously, allowing us to examine each Goldeneye, Mallard, Black Duck and Merganser and pick out the less common ducks in there such as Bufflehead and Ring-necked Duck.
But perhaps its greatest test was recently. Danika and I did a tour of the lower part of our region, starting in Chevoit in Columbia County. We knew there had been reports of Great Cormorant in the area (as is becoming increasing more common in March), but were a little dismayed at the distance to the channel marker from our location. A quick binocular scan, showed something on the marker, but this distance was going to be a challenge even for our scope. But we set it up and were amazed by what we got. We were aided by favorable light conditions, but looking through the scope at is maximum, gave us no doubt as to the ID of the Cormorants on the marker. We could see the white facial marking, clearly identifying the birds as Great Cormorants! Later on in the day at 4-Mile Point in Greene County, I could see a Cormorant on a channel marker and even with poorer light than we had before, I was reasonably certain that the bird was also a Great Cormorant, which was confirmed when 3 Double-Crested Cormorants swam over and sat next to the bird, allowing, clear and great side-by-side comparisons.
At $600 this scope was a steal. In my opinion (and maybe I’m bias), it handles as well as more expensive brands at half the price. It is easy to transport and light weight and comes with enough protective gear to survive a nuclear blast* (*not guaranteed). It has not fogged up, even when going between temperature extremes.
In conclusion, this is a scope for serious bird watching, the kind of scope where you need details at long distances. But both Nikon and Eagle Optics in my opinion delivered the most scope for the dollar. High praise indeed and well deserved.