December 19, 2008

Snowshoeing with Binoculars

On the eve of the Winter Solstice, Michigan is enduring one of its first major snowstorms of the season. Schools are closed, roads are impassable, and the sound of a lone, struggling snowblower echoes through the neighborhood.

Despite the wintry weather, though, I've just spotted a Junco outside my window. There goes a Cardinal. A Chickadee. I know of a stand of conifers where Long-eared Owls take refuge in conditions like these. The temptation to find winter birds is simply too great, so I begin to don layers of waffle-knit and fleece garments for the trek outdoors.

Essential for my journey are good pair of snowshoes. Mine are nothing fancy--an aluminum-framed set with vinyl panels and plastic bindings. I bought them at a nearby "big box" store. I prefer to use an old pair of cross-country ski poles, salvaged from a local thrift store, for balance. The loops over each handle are essential for quickly accessing my binoculars.

Today I am glad to have my father's old pair of Bushnells, because I can easily turn the large focus wheel without removing my heavy mitts. I don't use a harness, but you might find one useful for keeping your binocs from swinging to and fro. My layers and oversized winter coat are keeping everything in place today. I snug a beanie hat down to my eyebrows and head outside to begin my adventure, snowshoeing with binoculars.

If you are interested in learning more about snowshoeing, visit these websites for basic information: