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» Hand Lens
« Ontario Field Naturalist's Toolchest
For the serious birder, a spotting scope is a necessity. It helps to peer at distant birds on lakes, lagoons or across big fields. Having a spotting scope will make to easier to identify many different species of shorebirds and waterfowl. Spotting scopes with a larger aperature will do better in lower light. Make sure you have a good tripod. A windy day can render good optics useless without a sturdy tripod.
To identify many damselfly species you often have to look at their terminal appendages. These details are usually too small for most people to see without a hand lens. A hand lens is good for looking at the details of many groups of bugs. To see a tiny springtail as more than a speck a hand lens is required. It is handy to have a hand lens for lichens as well.
The design of a hand lens is important. I don't recommend the kind meant to be stuck on a flat surface. These can get scratched easily and don't focus well on uneven surfaces. Better are the folding ones. They are protected from dust by a metal covering which you hold. When not in use you can further protect with its carrying case.
One source of hand lens is Le Naturaliste in Quebec. Search under entomology then magnifers at www.lenaturaliste.ca. I personally have a Ruper 16X with a 25 mm diameter lens.
For more magnification, a pocket microscope can be used. These vary considerably in cost, quality and magnification. Some have added illumination. Field of view would be quite small with these things and make the resulting image less appealing. I have no experience with using pocket microscopes so I am unsure of how useful they would be.
Adventures with a hand lens
Depending on your interests a regular digital camera will not do. If you want to photograph birds a telephoto lens is necessary while photographing bugs or lichens you will need a good macro lens. If you want to photograph really distant birds, an attachment to your connect your camera to your spotting scope is also a consideration
Telescopes are usually used for astronomy but can also be used as a spotting scope.