Tuesday 26 March 2024

End of an Era/Car-roof Binocular Disaster!

A couple of visits to the LDV over the weekend yielded my first Sand Martin of the year, a single bird flying over the ings at Wheldrake. An impressive herd of 190 Iceland-bound Whooper Swans were at Wheldrake Ings yesterday, having a rest before continuing northwest. The flock of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits has grown to a collosal and record-breaking 865; the site has clearly become a very important stop-over for them. 

My biggest news, however, was the disaster that befell my trusty Zeiss FL binoculars. These were the first 'top of the range' bins I had managed to afford, once I started earning, back in 2004, and they have been used pretty much daily ever since. They've had a few bumps and bruises along the way, and have the eyepieces replaced at least twice thanks to the Zeiss maintenance crew at Birdfair, but have been round my neck or glued to my eyes for many of my most memorable wildlife encounters over the last two decades.

So, on Sunday, when the unexpectedly warm spring sunshine at Thorganby caused me to put my bins on top of the car while I took my coat off, I wasn't expecting to end an era of Ziess-powered birding. 

I arrived at Wheldrake a few minutes later, and after donning my scope, I headed over the bridge and paused to scan the Low Grounds. Wait! No bins. I dashed back to the car assuming I'd left them on the passenger seat - apparently not. I then remembered what I had done. I assumed they would have dropped off in the car park back at Thorganby, and I began to panic thinking that somebody may have found them and I would never see them again. I sped back there and leapt out of my car. They were nowhere to be seen. A voice from the orchard 'are you looking for your binoculars?' My heart leapt - 'have you found them?' I enquired desperately, to which the dismaying answer came: 'no, we saw you driving through the village with them on the roof of your car five minutes ago'. My heart sank.

Back I went to Wheldrake, scouring the sides of the road. After a surprising distance - given how the road twists and turns through Thorganby - I spotted a crumpled shiny black heap in the gutter. It was my bins, and they were totally smashed. I was absolutely gutted, this really was the end of an era; my most prized possession obliterated by a momentary lapse of concentration. I was so upset, that despite having my scope with me, which would have been fine for some birding at Wheldrake, I went home. 

 My beloved FLs...RIP. 



Having shared this image of disaster on Twitter/X, I got a lot of lovely comments and shared stories of similar bins-related mishaps. This made me feel a bit better; at least I am not the only accident-prone birder around. In the meantime, I have borrowed my wife's bins, which are not bad at all. I am now hoping I will get a call from Zeiss, offering me a free replacement pair, although I suspect that call will never come!

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