A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and my new scope!

I just bought a new scope and I highly recommend it. Ilya and I compared his Swarovski ATS 80 HD 20-60X Angled Spotting Scope with my new Kowa and the glass and views on some powers were actually clearer and brighter on my Kowa scope. The scope I bought is a top of the line Kowa TSN-883 88mm Angled Prominar Spotting Scope. You can buy it in Canada HERE. This scope does not come with the eyepiece. The Kowa 25-60x eyepiece for TNS-880 Series is a good chunk of change at just over 770$ Canadian. I bought the eyepiece HERE. You cannot put a cheaper eyepiece on because it won't be compatible and the quality of the eyepiece is essential to excellent viewing. The eyepiece has a locking mechanism with the scope, so there is no danger of it falling out.

The scope is made in Japan and has pure fluorite crystal which is the optimum optical material for reducing chromatic aberration, providing an amazing viewing experience. It is also waterproof and fog proof, since it is filled with nitrogen. The light gathering capability of this scope allows for great observations during dusk and dawn. I tested this out at about 7:20pm a few nights ago at Boundary Bay and was not disappointed with the crystal clear viewing. I have let several of my friends try the scope and all have loved it. 2 of them even said they are going to buy one. At the hawk watch I just did with the young birders, Guy Monty called it a "magic scope" and says the angled scope makes all the difference. I prefer angled versus a straight scope, since it gives you so much more flexibility in viewing options.

It has a dual focus mechanism, which is your quick and fine focusing. The quick focus has a large and easy to turn knob and it focuses from infinity to five meters in two revolutions. The fine focus, with smooth movements and perfect accuracy is extremely useful at high magnifications and for digiscoping. I also bought a digiscoping adapter from Phone Skope which you need to buy to match up with your phone ... you know to document all those rarities I'm going to find with it ;)! haha

The body is very light because it is made out of magnesium alloy. Kowa says "the rugged structure can tolerate the severest conditions and provides confidence and a sense of security for the user."

It has a "PROMINAR" convex Lens and as I said earlier, this is in place of an ordinary optical glass lens. The concave lens with the fluorite crystal lens is made of glass with special dispersion properties to reduce the chromatic aberration or colour blur. The combination of fluorite crystal and glass with special dispersion properties basically eliminates all chromatic aberration and enhances the colours by maintaining high contrast images.

All lenses are made from environmentally friendly Eco-Glass (Eco-Glass is an environmentally friendly glass that does not contain lead or other harmful substances).

The telephoto lens design of using 5 lens elements in 4 groups has shortened the overall length of the scope while keeping a large diameter objective lens, without sacrificing optical performance. 
The inner focusing system has made the prism box light and compact and at the same time decreases the amount of image movement. The highly achromatized objective lens makes the scope as compact as a 60mm class scope without sacrificing performance.

To watch a review of this scope you can click HERE.

Some specifications of the scope are:

 Length                                     13.5" or 343mm
 Minimum Focusing distance         5M (16.4 FT)
Close Focus (feet) 15
Field of View (feet at 1000 yards) 126-69 (with 25-60 eyepiece)
Eye Relief (mm) 17
Weight (g) 1520g or 3.35 lbs (Scope body only)
Waterproof Yes
Objective lens diameter 88 mm

I bought this fitted scope case for it that you can see HERE. I much preferred it for easier viewing in the field to the loose velcro snapping case which I returned.

I also bought this tripod kit and love it! It is called the Vanguard Abeo 243 Tripod Kit and you can purchase it HERE. The tripod is great because you can use it for your scope and camera, if you so choose. It is sturdy and light and allows for great spotting scope viewing. It has a very fluid head, that allows for tilting, panning and the lock holds the head in place. I like how quick I can set it up and use it in the field and how compact it can go when I fold it up. I love the snapping mechanism to the legs as well, the foam grips and multiple leg angle adjustments. The operation of the scope on this tripod kit is nice and smooth. You can watch a video review of this tripod kit HERE.

This scope was a major investment for me but one I haven't regretted for a moment. It is an amazing scope and one that will last me for years to come (I hope!) and I highly suggest it to anyone who wants a top of the line scope without breaking the budget.

Anyways, getting back to birding....I have been wanting a nice Sharp-tailed Sandpiper shot for the longest time. Even though they are annual in fall migration in the Vancouver area, I have failed to get a shot. I usually see them far out on the mudflats at Boundary Bay and occasionally in the middle of the West Field at Reifel. Well on Saturday, Quentin Brown found a juvenile in the NE inner pond at Iona in Richmond. The juvenile was so bright, beautiful and so close! Quentin said earlier he was out in the middle of the sewage pond and you needed a scope since he was in a flock of 200 pectoral sandpipers. When we got there he was in a flock of 115 pectoral sandpipers but he was on his lonesome walking along the edge of the pond in front of us.

Even in harsh light I was able to come away with this nice shot. I mean the bird is walking through a sewage lagoon, so the background isn't terrific. However, when you have a bird this beautiful, he steals the show and you forget what he's walking through!

A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Iona - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. Congrats on your new scope!! Also congrats on getting the SHAS!! That's one stunning shot you got there! I still have to get my lifer.

    1. Thanks Viktor! You should go get him as he is still there!

  2. Congrats on the new scope. Thank you for sharing this great information. I recently had a local birder recommend this or one of the Kowa scopes.

    1. Thanks jim you won't regret this scope purchase if you choose it.

  3. that's a dope scope mel and a sick shot of that piper congratulations on both counts!


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