Viking Optical News

Scoping Beginners – Advice and Tips

Scoping Beginners

While observing birds at a closer range, binoculars are a preferable option. But for distinguishing the specific features of a bird, a telescope provides a close up view. You’ll be amazed at the detail you can uncover, and even at a close range a telescope will help you unlock a whole new level of intricate details while out birdwatching. Are you considering a telescope for birding but are not sure what to look for? That’s ok, we’ve compiled a list of tips and advice for aspiring birdwatchers below:

  • New to Birding? Our advice if you are starting out your journey as a birder is to start with binoculars. Get comfortable with using these and if you continue to love the thrill of birding, which we are sure you will, a telescope is something you will need to take your spotting to the next level. If you feel you are a beginner to this hobby, we suggest reading our top binocular buying tips to get some advice on the best binoculars to start your journey. However, if you want to jump right in or are looking for an upgrade we have put together some useful tips for you to get started on your telescoping journey.
  • Astronomy Telescopes and Spotting Scopes. Firstly, we feel it is important to distinguish the difference between a spotting scope and an astronomy scope. These two types of scopes are often confused with beginners, if you use an astronomy scope for birding you won’t get the same experience you would with a spotting scope. Astronomy scope images are often shown in a mirror-image (upside down and reversed) which can make it confusing when trying to follow a bird’s flight path, as it will appear backwards. A spotting scope is designed specifically for spotting, they have a wider field of view so you can cover a larger area while searching for a bird. An astronomy scope will also often have too high of a magnification as they are commonly used for observing stars, which are at a far greater distance than the birds we are searching for. 
  • Decide on your level of commitment. This can change how much you will want to spend on a telescope. They can be expensive so it’s best to purchase one that suits the level of time you are going to use it for. 

You might just want to keep it casual, explore local areas and take one out every now and then. In this case it is best to go for a cheaper option. Perfect for observing wildlife in your garden, the Viking 12-36x 50mm Swallow Compact Telescope is a lightweight scope that can be kept at hand or packed away in everyday luggage for convenience if you ever decide to stop for a look while you’re out. 

Are you an accomplished bird watcher with experience using a scope and want to up your game to ID more birds? Then it may be time to upgrade your telescope for something with a longer range so you can discover more wildlife in new locations. For birding fanatics the Harrier 80mm ED telescope is high quality and features two focus wheels for a scope that can identify distinct attributes in Aves that you may not have discovered before. 

  • Birding Alone or With Friends? Many scopes come in straight or angled options, if you intend to share your scope with friends and family it may change the shape you go for. Angled scopes tend to be easier to share with others as they are simpler to line up to an individual’s sight by moving the tripod up or down. However with a straight scope it is a little more difficult as the angle of the eyepiece is harder to adjust. Testing the scope before buying can make sure that when you have spotted a bird, you know that all parties involved feel comfortable and get the best experience out of using the telescope. 

Your telescope needs a tripod to keep it steady, this is another add on you should consider when starting your birding journey. Browse our range of tripods to find the perfect partner for your telescope. 

  • Magnification/Eyepieces. Zoom eyepieces are a useful component to have while bird watching. They have a range of magnifications ranging from low to high. Using this while birding means that birders can use a lower magnification to scan a wider area for the birds. Once identified you should switch to a higher powered lens to one that can accentuate the spotting experience. 

Most eyepieces come with the option to change the eyepiece to fit what magnification, field of view and eye relief you need. However there are some spotting scopes that may not have interchangeable eyepieces, you will usually find this on waterproof scopes. So it is best to check what eyepieces you can use with the scope you are considering before you make your final decision. 

  • Eyeglass wearers. For birders that wear eyeglasses, telescopes can be offered with an eyecup that twists for the comfort of the user. Eye relief distance is something to consider when looking for a spotting scope, you will need one with long eye relief. You may find that with other telescopes your eyes will get tired sooner, this is due to the extra lens between your eye and the scope. An eye relief between 12-15 mm is average for most eyeglass wearers, these measurements can often be found in the description of the product. 

Here at Viking Optical Centres we strive to educate about the beauty of our environment and the animals that inhabit it. We have a wide range of telescopes for beginners to experts and encourage all out there considering bird watching to set up to your scope, relax and enjoy the view. Need some more advice on what scope is best for you? Give us a call on 01986 875315 or email us now at for more information.