It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were saying goodbye to our summer visitors and breeding birds, but in a couple of months the early migrants and visitors will start to return from their wintering grounds to breed again. Our resident birds will already be looking for suitable nesting places, so now is the time to get those bird boxes up! Our friends at HandyKam provide a huge range of specialist camera boxes in all sizes from tit and sparrow to Barn Owl. They also have a great Camera Traps and feeding station cameras, bringing the wildlife and birdlife of your garden onto your TV screen! Like having your own Springwatch! For a look at their full range and to contact Mike and the team for expert advice, please click on the link on the right.
Firstly, an admission. Since the time I could afford decent binoculars I have been a staunch Leica user, so this review is not without bias. Having said that I have tried to be as objective as possible. Unfortunately I can’t find anything negative to say about these new Leica Noctivids!
With a trip to Norfolk on the horizon, I had the choice of either the 8×42’s or 10×42’s on loan from South West Optics. After discussion with Steve and a look through both, I decided on the 8x, although both were staggeringly sharp in the afternoon light. The first thing that immediately strikes you, before you even get them out, is the pouch they come in! You may laugh, but it’s plush, as you would expect from Leica. The second thing is the field of view. IT IS ENORMOUS! I had to check to see if I had the bins the right way round at one point as the Ocular lenses are nearly as large as the Objectives. This initially caused me a few problems with vignetting as I usually have my eye cups right down. However, with a little advice from Steve on eye-cup adjustment, the problem was solved and without the loss of field of view. And so into the field………….
En-route to Norfolk we took a ‘short’ detour to darkest Derbyshire to ‘twitch’ the Dusky Thrush there. Arriving before first light gave me the opportunity to trial the Leicas in poor light. I knew my own Leica’s came into their own at dawn and dusk, so hoped the Noctivids would perform as I didn’t want to miss the bird! I should have known by their name that I had nothing to worry about. In the gloom of first light I heard the Dusky Thrush make an alarm call as a cat stalked through the orchard in front of us. With the Noctivids I could make out a sillouhete and while a few around me questioned, “Is that the bird?”, I could clearly make out the supercillium above the eye and other markings on its head and breast, allowing me to confirm that it was the Dusky Thrush. The Noctivids certainly performed superbly!
Once in Norfolk the weather remained dull and overcast. The occasional rain gave the Noctivids their first ‘waterproof’ test. These are Nitogen filled and waterproof to a depth of 5 metres but fortunately the showers we endured were by no means flood proportions and the bins survived the rain! Leica’s innovative AquaDura® coating ensured a stunning, crystal-clear view at all times. Water and dirt simply roll off the lens surface and fingerprints are easily removed with a soft cloth. They are also surprisingly light at just 860g and combined with the neoprene strap were very comfortable around your neck. The sun came out on our second day and the Leicas were just superb, I can’t put into words how clear and sharp these binoculars are! I must admit to feeling a bit smug with as I walked into the shop at Titchwell RSPB with these round my neck and standing next to the sign that stated, “Coming Soon: The New Leica Noctovids”. I pointed out to the assistant that SOUTH WEST OPTICS already had them in stock! There is only one negative I have to say about these Bins. They don’t belong to me and I have to give them back! They come with a 10 year guarantee and covers for all lenses and of course the plush case! I just need to wait for the guarantee on my current Leicas to run out to convince my wife I need new ones! When I do, the Leica Noctovids will be my first choice. For further info, price (currently on winter Sale!) and great quality service, contact Steve Rogers at South West Optics on 01872 263444 or visit the website SOUTH WEST OPTICS to view the full range.
Thank you for everyone who sent us suggestions for your favourite and most useful bird books! Identification books unanimously took all five top spots but honourable mentions go to a few other books that just missed out. Below we have compiled all of the suggestions into a list which caters for all levels of birding skills.
We want to find your most recommended bird books for a feature on the webiste in a few weeks time. Whether its the most useful for identification, has an excellent layout or just your go-to book please let us know your favourites. It doesnt have to be just identification books, ‘where to watch’ books, photographic portfolios etc are equally relevent. Thank you in advance!
Whenever a new Field Guide appears on the scene I always ask myself the same question. “Do I really need another new field guide?!” This is especially true for identification guides to British birds. There are so many adequate bird ID books out there now and so many on-line aids I have to ask myself if the age of physical paper versions of books are actually worth having? However, I am of an age where I like the feeling of having an actual book in my hand to browse through and read without having to wait for the next page to download. I also find myself increasingly impressed by photographic guides, so having reviewed the superb Crossley ID Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland a while ago, I was looking forward to the new Britain’s Birds Identification Guide arriving on my doorstep. And arrive it did, with a bump! The book is almost twice as thick as the Crossley Guide but once you open it up you can understand why. It is packed to the brim with undoubtedly the most superb images you will see, all 3,200 of them! There are a few you may have seen before, I’m sure I recognise some of the rarer species photos as previously published in magazines or on the internet? The book is set out in a similar fashion to the Crossley Guide with birds of all plumages set against a suitable habitat, but the difference with Britain’s Birds is the fine detail. Each species page for birds occurring regularly or as residents, has a distribution map and brief description of plumage, voice and other things to look for, but most helpful are the salient ID features found close to and around each image.
There are two things in particular that make this book stand out for me and ensure it has a place in my library. Firstly, the flight comparison pages. Most of the non-passerines get individual pages showing similar species comparatively in flight, which is of great help if you genuinely want to use this book in the field. And secondly, the additional rarity pages. These are found at the end of each family section and again show some superb images of rare and scarce birds found in Britain. I imagine these pages will be perused more than most by some of my birding peers!
In conclusion I would say that this is probably the most complete and comprehensive British Bird Guide I have seen for a number of years. It will no doubt be of interest to birders, regardless of experience or expertise and the authors have certainly set the standard for all future photographic guides.
The book depicts 648 species including all those on the official British and Irish lists up to March 2016. It is now available and can be purchased from the link below (ISBN: 9780691158891).
Reviewed by P. Freestone (6th Aug 2016)
We are now in the process of putting together our 2012 Rare and Scarce bird report, a job made much easier thanks to the efforts of Alan Lobb, one of our Species Data Recorders, who has done an amazing job creating a very usable database for our species writers! We have however, hit a snag. Our friends at RBA have concluded they can no longer sponsor us, so we have lost their financial contribution towards printing. Also despite amazing sales of the 2010 report, the 2011 edition has not sold as well as we expected, probably due to the financial climate! In order for us to go to print with the 2012 edition we desperately need to raise funds through Sponsorship and/or sales of the 2011 report. We regularly have between 800 – 1000 visits to the wesbite every day and the site is free to all of you. All we ask is that our readers please consider buying a 2010 or 2011 report. If just 200 of the 6000+ visitors (per week) bought a copy of the report then we would have the funds for printing. Please consider buying one and supporting us. Copies can be purchased HERE!! Or at SW Optics in Truro, Paradise Park at Hayle, Harbour Book Stores in St Ives or the Post Office, Connor Downs.