” On The Road “

Birding Optics and Gear Expo

The inaugural “Birding Optics and Gear Expo” is being held this weekend in Columbus Ohio at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. So when I heard about this I naturally registered despite being a free event. By registering you were eligible for free giveaways, which never hurts. Also according to their web site Vortex Optics was going to be represented at the expo. And since I’m a big fan I thought it would be fun to talk with them. I’m not in the market for any new optics but being able to compare what I’m presently using with the competition will be something I’ve never done before.

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After leaving the house and filling up the bird-mobile I was on my way by 9:05 for what I thought would be a 90 minute drive up to Columbus. Located in the bend of the Scioto River the Audubon Center is one beautiful building with such a great location. If only Cincinnati had something as nice as this.

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What impressed me the most about the actual building was how environmentally friendly it is. How rain water is captured and funneled under the sidewalk into a small wetland area next to the building. Even the bathrooms are constructed to conserve water along the same lines as Fernald Preserve. And the inside was equally nice with a gift shop and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the outdoors, with loads of bird feeders with easy viewing. And the library was particularly nice with a large window overlooking the city with feeders set up and rigged with a microphone so you can hear the birds on the inside through a speaker. And with everyone looking at all the new toys the room was very peaceful.

Well all the big companies were here. Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, Kowa, Celestron, Manfrotto, Gitzo, but no Vortex. Eagle Optics which a dealer in everything optical was there selling Vortex products, but no one from the company.

IMG_2427The Swarovski booth that I visited once. I wanted to check out a pair of a comparable 10×42 bins, like my own. Very nice, however my Vortex pair I think can compare optically, not price. The same could be said about their spotting scopes if I could get close enough to look through any. They just came out with a new line and they had it set up near the back window. A good many people wanted to take a look through it.

IMG_2425Bird Watchers Digest was there with a booth and Bill Thompson was there as well signing any of his books that were sold. He’s taller than I imagined.

IMG_2424As you can see by this photo this was the extent of the expo. The window along the back wall was lined up with spotting scopes of different size and brands. This was a great opportunity for anyone who might be confused as to what to purchase. Here you can look through a Vortex, then step to the next one and it might be a Leica. That’s what I enjoyed about the show the most. Also the free literature and sales brochures from all the companies.

I’m not sure what the future is for this expo for next year. I hope it succeeds and continues at this great location. I’m proud of myself that I didn’t spend one thin dime, even though I was ready if I found any kind of pack where one could carry your spotting scope and tripod on your back much like a backpack without all the bells and whistles. Overall it was a good time and I would recommend it to anyone who might be undecided as to what kind of binoculars or spotting scope they want to buy.

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