Let’s start with the easy one. When you’re looking at a bird that you can’t quite see the distinguishing factors on, what do you use? A spotting scope, or more often, binoculars.
Binoculars magnify what you’re seeing at different levels, depending on what focus they’re set on. Most birders use binos because they’re light and hang around your neck nicely. Scopes, on the other hand, have far more powerful magnification, but as a result are large, heavy and sometimes even awkward. More serious birders use scopes as well as binoculars because different tools are useful at different times. For example, if you go out on a hike with lots of trees and many Warblers, Finches, Sparows, etc. you aren’t going to use your scope. But, at a big, spreading lake, the scope will come in handy, using it’s higher magnification power to help you ID that Dunlin, while the binoculars won’t be as much use.
The #2 most important thing is actually a three way tie between camera, notebook and birdbook. Tell me your thoughts in the comments for the next post.