Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Every year in November, birders from around the world celebrate the return of sandhill cranes and snow geese to the Bosque del Apache Refuge in New Mexico. The Festival of the Cranes is the oldest birding festival in the U.S.

ZEISS has been an integral part for the Festival of the Cranes for many years and will continue their support in the future. Stephen Ingraham tells you about the fascinating scenery and the stunning wildlife around the Rio Grande Valley.

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Review by Ben Lizdas

As a keen birder Ben Lizdas knows many situations where a good spotting scope is indispensable for ambitious nature observation. For his review Ben put our Conquest Gavia spotting scope through his paces and tested it in various situations outdoors.

Although the Gavia spotting scope has a lower price than other premium optics, it's definitely a piece of high quality. Besides the optical performance, Ben will also tell you more about the name and the different features of the Conquest Gavia.

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Discover India's versatility

Home to over 1.2 billion people and reflecting the world’s richest cultural kaleidoscope, India is also justifiably famous for its rich avifauna and charismatic mammalian megafauna. Discover the breathtaking wildlife of different regions in India – one of the world's most attractive birding hotspot.

Our partner Rockjumper Birding Tours is known for top-quality birdwatching holidays and wildlife safaris throughout the world, guided by passionate and experienced professional tour leaders. Take your chance to observe the mythical bengal tiger as well as lots of rare bird species up close.

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Review by David Fisher

Nature observers love our premium binocular Victory SF for many reasons. In his review, the professional birder David Fisher tells you about his personal experiences with our top line bino.

Join our passionate birding expert on his little discovery tour and learn how the Victory SF performs in different situations outside in nature. You will see: The ZEISS Victory SF is always a reliable companion.

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A Saturday morning with the Young Birders Club at the Carl Zeiss Bird Station

4:45 a.m.: The alarm clock went off. Thinking of sleeping in on a Saturday morning? Not when you're going to watch migratory birds with the Young Birders Club! We began counting all migratory birds even before the sun rose. So we met at the Wedel Marina at 7:30. We've headed to the marina because this is where the river Elbe is at its most narrow, causing the migrating birds to gather so that they can spend as little time over the water as possible as they fly south. This Saturday started out gray with a strong wind from the southwest – not exactly great conditions for migrating because birds generally don't fly when there are headwinds. Despite the weather, a small group of Young Birders met at the marina.

And it paid off! In spite of the wind, large groups of birds were out and flocks of them flew across the Elbe heading south every couple of seconds. Today the record went to the common chaffinch: in three hours, more than 21,500 of them flew across the river. Yet you have to look sharp when there are swarms of finches, because in between the common chaffinches is the odd brambling and hawfinch. Picking out individual species when bird watching requires a special kind of skill. Species that look quite different on the ground can appear almost exactly the same when flying overhead. You can only distinguish between them by their call and flying silhouette.

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An interview with Sören Rust

Sören, what got you interested in nature and birdwatching?

My family has always been very connected to nature. Both my parents are biologists, so I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child and I just grew up with nature, really.

I soon developed an interest in birds when I discovered just how many you can spot in your own back yard and how little I even knew about them. No sooner had I begun did I feel an overwhelming curiosity and I came across ever more species in and around the garden. During one of my various forays, I met another birdwatcher, who was also on the hunt for a kingfisher. He taught me about the Carl Zeiss Bird Station, and that’s when my passion for the pursuit came into its own.

Where does the Carl Zeiss Bird Station come into play?

The Carl Zeiss Bird Station is a fantastic place for ornithologists in and around Hamburg to meet. The Bird Station is situated in a key breeding and resting area for many birds and is equipped with excellent optics, which make it a great place to experience our feathered friends up close. The volunteers there immediately welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to take an active role myself. Not a month has gone by since my first visit that I haven’t been at least once – in fact, I usually stop by every week. I also very much enjoy showing interested visitors the Wedel Marsh and its birds, and I love watching the birds and capturing shots of them myself. As a volunteer, my duties include station service and assignments designed to ensure the birds always have a place to breed and rest.

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They focus on two successful birding activities

Signed on the dotted line: On 9 October 2017, Deputy Executive Director of NABU Angelika Richter and Head of Consumer Optics at Carl Zeiss AG Jörg Schmitz concluded an agreement in Wetzlar regarding a long-term collaboration between NABU and Carl Zeiss Sports Optics.

ZEISS will sponsor the two NABU hands-on activities: Hour of the Garden Birds and Hour of the Winter Birds. The goal of the partnership is for the signatories to provide new impetus for enjoying the beauty of nature and for birdwatching topics. That’s why ZEISS is also supporting a video series on all aspects of birdwatching.

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Fascinating giants of our seas

Whales fascinate with their size and their elegant moves despite their sometimes clumsy appearing body. Different to birds you may recognize whales with the naked eye though you may need binoculars first for observing their details. Talking about optics it is an advantage to have a large field of view and stable image when panning with them in order not to get motion sickness. Nearly everywhere in the sea you will discover one of the world’s 90 whale species, many only from a boat on the sea. In Europe we show the spots where to watch whales from the beach.

On Germany’s exclusive Sylt island many tourists meet the world’s smallest whale and ask amazed why Flipper is in the North Sea. What many experience as a dolphin at first sight is a porpoise, Phocoena phocoena. The longest specimen measures two and a half meters from nose to fluke. Jumping behavior like that of dolphins is not common as the porpoise has a more calm temper. It is his survival strategy to be as physically small as it lives mainly in the shallow coastal regions of the North and Baltic Sea.

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Birding as a challenge

Some feel a little bit unmasked, others just get amused about well-known habits and a few think the portrayal is too exaggerated: In the film „The Big Year“ David Frankel shows partly realistic and partly overdrawn how three US Americans run a Big Year. The Big Year of birding originated in the Anglo-Saxon countries and nowadays has different new variations across the world. For exactly one year, more specifically from 0 o’clock at the 1st of January local time until 31st of December 24 o’clock, you have to see or hear as many different species of birds as possible. It could become high performance sport, but in the original positive sense it is a sabbatical in nature or enough leisure time for a favorite activity. We show some variants and facts about a Big Year.

2016 was a record year worldwide as well as in North America. The Dutch Arjan Dwarshuis set the world record with 6,833 bird species in one year. The most well-known competition for a Big Year certainly is the one in the ABA-area of North America that is defined by the American Birding Association. Thanks to “El Niño“ 2016 was a perfect year to see rare species in Northern America you usually do not see. Besides the meteorological phenomena John Weigel’s success is also due to some few new splits in species taxonomy, which enabled him additional listings. John Weigel surpassed all his predecessors with 783 species as well as his competitor for the year, Olaf Danielson.

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The name given for our new spotting scope

In Greek mythology they pictured a harpy as a mixture between a raptor and a woman. The creature was the personification of the evil, especially of greed. As a kind of an embodied storm wind she was very fast and thereby invulnerable. On behalf of Zeus she killed human beings or just nabbed their soul. Even in Astrid Lindgren’s famous children’s book “Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter” the author took up the harpies that regularly attack Ronia and her friend Birk.

What is so special about this bird that is named after such creepy mythical creatures? First of all it is one of the largest birds of prey, and in fact it is even the strongest raptor. Its wingspan measures up to two meters and the female birds, which are heavier than the male, may weigh nine kilos. There are few photos of them, but in most of the existing ones you see prey under their impressive, strong talons. The back part of a harpy eagle’s talon grows up to seven centimeters.

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