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Brydon Thomason tested the SWAROVSKI OPTIK 115-mm objective moduleBrydon Thomason tested the SWAROVSKI OPTIK 115-mm objective moduleBrydon Thomason tested the SWAROVSKI OPTIK 115-mm objective module

Spring on the Shetland Isles

with the 115-mm objective module

After what always feels like a long winter, signs of spring here on Shetland are slow and subtle. As our wintering species begin to depart, and the first of our breeding birds start to return, the first stirrings of spring feel special. For me, one of the early inspirations to remind me of the wonderful, song filled days to come is when I first hear the beautiful voice of the Skylark, not to mention our hardy and endemic subspecies of Wren.

Wren by Brydon Thomason

Nature reawakens

The transformation of species and the landscape feels like it lasts an age but by April, having been all but deserted for months, our coastlines are raucous with the hustle and bustle of the seabirds’ courtship, whilst our uplands are alive with the song of the moorland breeders.
As a naturalist, studying the amazing diversity of breeding species as they claim their territory, strengthen their pair bonds, and prepare to raise their young is motivation to be out as long as the northern sun shines.

During long days in the field throughout spring, the prospect of bumping into an exciting, perhaps even exotic migrant adds something very special to days in the field.
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) by Brydon Thomason

Magic

migration


Be it a wader on the shore, a warbler in a garden or a raptor soaring overhead, on a remote archipelago like Shetland you know that the next bird you see could so easily be something completely out of the ordinary.

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Although there some amazing species that can reach us from as far as Asia or North America, it can be our breeding species that make the most epic of journeys, and impress me the most. Unlike the vagrants and rarities that can blow our minds with a surprise appearance, these masters of migration know where they are going, how and when. Arctic Terns for example undertake an incredible 22,000-mile round trip to spend their winter in Antarctica. Smaller still, our dainty Red-necked Phalarope, once thought to winter in the Arabian Sea, was recently discovered to winter in the Pacific Ocean!

!!!Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) by Brydon Thomason
!!!Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) by Brydon Thomason
!!!Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)diving by Brydon Thomason
Photography: Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus

The 115-mm objective module brings spring to life

Having been field testing this revolutionary new objective module since summer 2020, spring was probably the season I had looked forward to the most, because of the exciting diversity of wildlife already mentioned.

So, setting aside a day in May and with favourable weather systems to bring an arrival of migrants across the North Sea, I was excited and optimistic what I might discover and enjoy with the scope. I’d barely made it across our driveway when an unfamiliar song caught my attention- a glance across the road and there in the garden opposite, a striking male Red-backed Shrike!

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) by Brydon Thomason
Photography: Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Observing beautiful birds with the 115-mm objective module

With the scope quickly set up, and the shrike seemingly content to continue his repertoire I was able to enjoy details of this fascinating and beautiful shrike I had never been able to make out before. The light catching his eyes, set in the ink-black mask and the subtle movement of his throat and gape as his voice, although unlikely to attract a mate in these parts, continued uninterrupted.

A distraction to this special moment soon came with the louder, more tuneful song of an Icterine Warbler – in the same garden! Barely 30m away, perched in a Sycamore tree, my 10x42 NL Pure showcased the looks and character of this marvellous hippolais warbler. The sturdy blue/grey legs, broad-based yellowy orange bill and long wings, not to mention its distinct wing panel as well as bright yellow face – and all in detail.

Transforming every sighting into a spectacle

Observation, detail, and quality is everything for me when in the field. Whether I need identification detail of a distant duck or diver as a birder, monitor breeding behaviour as an ornithological surveyor or show clients on their wildlife holidays an Otter or offshore pod of Orca, I need my scope to bring every sighting into a spectacle, an experience that brings nature to life. This scope does more than this on every level.

I need my scope to bring every sighting into a spectacle, an experience that brings nature to life.
How to observe Shetland’s otters - About the author: Brydon Thomason

About the author:

Brydon Thomason


is naturalist consultant, photographer, guide and birder. With a lifetime of knowledge of his Shetland Islands homeland he owns and operates Shetland Nature, a wildlife tour company that celebrates the archipelagos rich natural and cultural heritage. He has worked as a media consultant, and appeared on numerous television productions about the islands wildlife, particularly the islands otters, his life’s passion. He co-authored the acclaimed book 'Otters in Shetland- the tale of the draatsi' sharing the lives, ecology and behaviour of one of Europe’s most charismatic mammals. He also works as an ornithological and ecological surveyor and consultant.

Swarovski Optik Spotting scope Objective module 115
115 objective moduleGreatness in the smallest detail
Swarovski Optik Binocular NL Pure 10x42
NL PureONE WITH THE MOMENT