My scope and I share some wonderful birding memories and have gone united through the rotten and the glory.
For this I love it dearly, yet it sometimes appears to be one of my most bizarre birding obstacles.
Because it keeps me from digiscoping.
You see, back in the late 1990s, my good old original scope - my first scope ever - broke down and died. I was a birder without a scope and thus as helpless as a fish on dry land without a bicycle.
Luckily, these were my days in Africa, and a friend from Germany came to visit me in Namibia for a little birding trip of 5 weeks, which was to take us from central Namibia (the Brandberg being our northern-most destination) all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope and back.
As we were going in my private, personal, wonderful Toyota Hilux, there was no need and cost for car rental, and to show his gratitude materialistically, he decided to help me out of my scopeless misery by bringing with him and giving me as a gift an old scope he got from a friend who didn't need it anymore, which will bring this awfully long sentence to an end and we can all take a moment to rest.
Okay. So he brought this scope along, which was an old Asiola that had been manufactured in the German Democratic Republic, likely sometime during the 1960s, making it older than even myself.
However, a free scope is a scope and is better than no scope.
I was very happy to receive it.
Here you can see the scope during a recent heavy duty mission, scanning the fields south of Leimen for anything that might (still) live.
Here is the proof of it being from the GDR (in German: DDR), and that means it's old. However, you can also see who made it:
Carl Zeiss Jena.
Yes, folks, I own a Zeiss scope.
And frankly, those lenses made by Carl Zeiss Jena (the East German branch during the times of there being two Germanies) were back then and still are today amazing!
Seriously, they still rival the best modern lenses. I have frequently compared the sharpness of my scope to other, more modern scopes and have found that only the high-end brands like Swarovski, modern Zeiss, and Leica can match the old Carl Zeiss Jena lenses. Other brands found in the middle section of the price and quality range - like Optolyth - don't stand a fraction of a chance.
Well, it is!
However, my trusty old Asiola has one major disadvantage: its teensy tiny diametre of the eye piece. Look at it, it is pathetic.
Not only does this mean I had to get used to (and train my eyes for) handling and looking through this scope.
[Whenever other birders with modern scopes look through it, they are downright appalled - until I will describe subtle features on a distant bird that they can't even see. I mean the bird, not to mention said features.]
It also means that it is nearly impossible to line up that eye piece with a digital camera for digiscoping. The field of view is just way too small.
This here is a rather fine example of the best I can do at middle range (the starling was around 50 m away). At long range, there is no reason for even bothering to consider digiscoping.
And you see, this is my dilemma, my scope bane:
As a birder, I long for a scope that will allow for digiscoping. I sometimes feel like being stuck and lost in the 20th century and would consider this - apart from a notorious lack of time - to be my biggest birding obstacle.
However, having such a nice and brilliant scope, I would not be able to settle for a medium-priced, medium-quality scope. I would only accept to swap my scope for a modern Swaro.
And as a family man, that's just way beyond my wildest financial dreams.
So I am stuck.
I really need to find next week's winning lottery ticket.
Maybe I'll scope it out?
The cast in alphabetical order
Starling - Sturnus vulgaris - Star [Starling - the German word "star" does not mean what it means in English, with a star as in "star dust" being called "Stern" in German, yet I suspect that possibly the German "Star" could have its origin in the bird's tiny white "stars" on a black, nightly sky (rest of the bird's plumage). However, I don't know.]