Granted, I haven't been with Eagle Optics that long, but this booth was the busiest one I have worked by myself thus far. What really made my smile about the Bear River Grand Opening was the number of kids that showed up and the number of parents getting optics for their kids. One family was planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park got their kids some monoculars and pocket binoculars. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with the monoculars. Those 7 power Insights are great. I use one when I walk around Lake of the Isles. I'm on my exercise walk but I want something handy in case a cool warbler pops up. The Insight fits right in my pocket and isn't too heavy at all.
The other binoculars that were really popular at the festival were the Talons. Hands down, I think these are the best binoculars that you can get for under $200. They produce a good, clear image, are purged so they won't fog up on the inside, can close focus within four to five feet, are waterproof and come with an unbelievable warranty (unconditional, short of theft). These are excellent starter binoculars or for someone into birds who can't afford to spend a lot of money at the moment.
While at the festival I found a new use for a tripod, apparently, they're not just for spotting scopes anymore:
If you're not strong enough to hold a ten to twelve pound bald eagle on your arm (they feel more like 50 to 60 pounds after ten minutes) then just rest your hand on a tripod for added stability. Who knew?
I have to say again that you must find a way to visit Bear River Wildlife Refuge in the spring, the western grebe mating is so fun to watch from your car:
and western meadowlarks...
then this is the place for you. Utah is lousy with both, and what great birds to be lousy with! Oh, and all the midges flying around make this a great place to watch for swallows. This flock was mostly full of tree and rough-winged swallows (this photo shows about a quarter of the entire flock that was buzzing around my car):
One of the things that I appreciate about other birders is the generosity. When I arrived at Bear River to set up the binocular booth, I met one of the volunteers named Jean. They weren't quite ready so I said that I would just go to lunch, Jean invited me to go with her, which I was grateful for. I'm such a social creature, I hate to eat lunch alone. She took me to a great local restaurant called Ricardo's with authentic Mexican cuisine. Turns out Jean is an artist and was leading one of the workshops at the grand opening.
I admired this hat when a gentleman walked by my booth. I asked, "Is that a Cooper's hawk on your head? I love Cooper's hawks! What a cool hat!" Then he gave me his hat right then and there. I ended up having dinner with his family and that's when I learned he was not only a rocket scientist, but an award winning rocket scientist as well. He's head of a project to help astronauts repair the shuttle while in orbit. He and his wife told me that periodically in this area of Utah, rockets are tested and that one night while watching a rocket being tested, the roar woke up the birds and they saw all the bird silhuettes against the lights from the firing rocket. His wife is on the board of directors for the local art museum and their kids are either writers, artists or bird researchers (one bands flammulated owls in Idaho). They were just a neat family and if I didn't have a really wonderful family myself, I would want to be adopted by them. That is one of the coolest perks of my job is that I get to meet people with such interesting lives.
As part of what I do for Birding Business, I stopped into a local Wild Bird Center in Layton, Utah. This man really knows how to run a bird store. I overheard the owner, Bill, talking to a customer and informing them about bird walks scheduled by the store. The customer asked, "Is there a cost for the bird walks?" And Bill simply answered, "The only cost is your enthusiasm." What a great way to get people interested! If you find yourself in Utah, I highly recommend you visit his store. Bill is kind of cute. He reminded me of the actor that played the voice of Kit in Knightrider and was on St. Elsewhere only dressed like a birder--complete with vest and Tilly Hat.
I have always wanted to visit a western bird store. I knew they would have some different mixes than we do out east. Check this out:
Birders in the eastern region are looking at this mix aghast. Why would anyne want to feed this to birds. Eastern birds would not care for this mix, too much millet and milo (FYI, if you are in the eastern region of the United States and you are not getting many birds at your feeder, compare this photo to your seed mix. Cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and finches do not care for this type of mix). However, this is Bill's Dove and Quail Mix. Out west this type of mix works well with the birds, chukars, quail and doves will eat this like there is no tomorrow.
As I was reviewing the store, I came across a paperback version of Raptors of the World. I was so excited to see this book I bought it on sight. I've wanted it for awhile but had purchased it. I was hoping Non Birding Bill would buy it for me for my birthday or our anniversary, but hardcover was $60 and I hadn't gotten yet. The paperback was only $30 so I picked it up. I like how this Wild Bird Center catered not only to the backyard birder but to the hardcore birder as well.
Okay, I think I almost have the Utah trip out of my system.
Grrr, blogger spell check isn't working again!!! What is a sloppy typer to do???? Sorry for the typos.