If you are looking for a new hobby that is not about the couch, all you have to do is go outside and open your eyes – in your local park, the nature trail, there are lots of animals and plants to watch or even in Your own garden. But if you really want to get the most out of your bird watcher or naturalist in your free time, you need basic equipment. From binoculars and cameras to field guides and notebooks, you will find some important information for employees here.
1. Leupold Acadia roof prism 8×42 binoculars; $ 239
As a long-time user of similar Leupold binoculars, I can vouch for the clear look, ease of use and durability of this brand. This waterproof 8
2. The naturalist's notebook ; $ 12
A notebook to record your backyard observations is an essential tool in a naturalist's equipment. This hardcover diary not only offers you a seasonal five-year calendar in which you can write a species list or sketch a wildflower. It also provides instructions on how to observe nature outdoors and inspires you with illustrations of birds, trees, butterflies, and more. Just take a pencil to get started. —K.L.
3. Kaufman Field Guide to the Nature of the Midwest and others; $ 18
One of the most exciting aspects of observing nature in the backyard is to identify the organisms you find and then learn more about them. There are hundreds of field guides dedicated to identifying birds, trees, rocks, shells, butterflies, mushrooms and more. The regional naturalist guides by naturalist Kenn Kaufman are a great place for beginners. In volumes covering the Northeastern United States and the Midwest, Kaufman illustrates and explains native mammals, reptiles, plants, fungi, and other members of the ecosystem. Readers in other parts of the country can read Kaufman's numerous guides to the flora and fauna of North America. —K.L.
4. Droll Yankee platform bird feeder; $ 44
Bird watchers might consider feeding birds a "scam", but I am in favor of bribing bird visitors with food in their line of sight. This good looking hanging platform feeder comes with an adjustable cover that can be lowered to keep large birds (such as crows or pigeons) away, or removed to allow an all-bird buffet. The food tray holds a pound of sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruit, or other tempting treats, and the spherical shape of the lid is guaranteed to confuse squirrels. —K.L.
5. Rear camera; $ 50
You can't keep your eyes on your garden around the clock. It is therefore helpful to have a camera shot of animals that you may miss. The motion-activated Meidase Trail camera has excellent night vision, so you can see which animals are crawling through your garden without having to sit all night. The camera is so sensitive that it even picks up a tiny mouse that scurries around in the dark. There are also no lightning or shutter sounds, so you don't have to worry about sudden lights or sounds that scare away wildlife. The camera captures both still images and videos, and you can play around with the settings to adjust how often footage is recorded or how long each video clip should be. You'll also need an SD card, eight AA batteries, and a stand. —Kerry Wolfe, Staff Editor
6. Smartphone telephoto lens attachment; $ 112
The integrated camera of a smartphone only takes your previous photos. The Moment 58mm telephoto lens snaps onto a Moment phone case to take your trusted mobile device to the next level. You get the double optical zoom when you put it over a camera with a lens. If you place it in front of the telephoto lens (portrait format) of the iPhone, you will get four times the optical zoom. Use the lens with the Moment Pro Camera app (available from the Apple Store and Google Play), and you can control your camera's settings like you would a DSLR. If you'd rather take close-up pictures of flowers, try their macro lens. —K.W.
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