Do I need a telescope when I go birding?

Frequently asked questions about birding #14

Do I need a telescope when out birding?

No. But one can be very useful.

I went for 25 years before buying my first telescope for birding. They can be rather expensive; mine was the cheapest available and I find it terribly bulky to carry any distance seeing that it also needs a tripod. It usually only comes out of the car when I don’t have to carry it more than a few metres. I must say, however, that there are two really wonderful uses of a telescope.

    • When trying to identify water birds on a lake, river or estuary. Unless you want to get very wet, cold and muddy it is hard to get close to the birds way out on the middle of a lake. It is here that a telescope is essential and the main reason I bought one.
    • If you are into bird photography, try digiscoping, that is, digital photography using an attachment that lets your digital camera take photos through the telescope. Alternatively, using an old SLR through a telescope can be very effective. My camera has a 12x zoom which almost replicates the effect without needing either an attachment or a telescope. Again – look at my photo gallery to see the results.

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