American Birding Podcast



Happy Holidays

I hope you all had a great holiday season and wish you a happy new year!


I have had a few recent emails about my last Geared for Birding column in Winging It.  Some regarded difficulty with some of the TinyURL links for some of the gear ideas I listed.  Here are the live links for your clicking convenience:

Kleen Kanteen widemouth stainless steel bottle

LockDown binocular harness

BinoBib protective cover

Liberty Graphics David Sibley fine printed bird designs T-shirts

Gitzo 2-way fluid birding tripod head

Snackworms live or roasted wax worms

Sheltered mealworm/waxworm bluebird feeder

RainCoat protective camera cover 

Peterson Birds of North America app

Sigma 50-500mm Super Telephoto Zoom lens

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm lens

Think Tank StreetWalker HardDrive 

I also had a few inquiries about 4-section tripods suitable for travel as I mentioned them in the column.  I’m a fan of Gitzo carbon tripod legs because of their construction quality, stability-to-weight ratio, solid locking mechanisms, and durability.  They aren’t cheap but neither are great optics, and I don’t like my tripod to be the limiting factor in my scoping & digiscoping activities.  Gitzo’s numbering system also is really easy to understand, with their Series 0 being the lightest-rated models (up to 11 lbs.) and Series 4 being the heaviest (but out of the realm of all but the most monstrous of monster camera rigs.)  For compact scopes or those wanting to squeeze every gram out of their system, Series 0 legs can work, though I think for full-sized scopes a Series 1 tripod (rated for up to 17 lbs.) will give more stability.  Typical models come with three leg sections but going to 4-section tripods allows the legs to collapse into a smaller package, handy for traveling.  The downside is a bit more cost (as each leg has an additional locking mechanism) and a bit more set-up time.

Here’s a nice 4-section Series 0 tripod, the GT-0541 Carbon Mountaineer.

And here’s the Series 1 equivalent, the GT-1541 Carbon Mountaineer.

Gitzo also has Safari Series tripods, geared towards birders and wildlife photographers with a low-profile green finish and dust, mud, grit & water-resistant locking mechanisms.  For example, see the GT-1540S Carbon Safari 4-section tripod.

Gitzo’s Basalt-composite tripods are a wee bit heavier but more affordable, and retain most of the brand’s advantages.  Take a peek at the GT-1840C 4-section Basalt tripod.

Many birders have used Bogen/Manfrotto legs, and there are also 4-section offerings in this line.  These are going to be a little heavier than their Gitzo cousins and in my opinion have balkier locking mechanisms, but are still very high quality and have a solid track record.  A lighter option, equivalent to Gitzo’s Series 0, is the Manfrotto 190CXPRO4  while the Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 has a load rating similar to Gitzo’s Series 1.

I’m sure there are other great options out there that I’m not familiar with- feel free to leave any suggestions you may have in the comments!!

Enjoy- Bill Schmoker