Rob Wilton explain why he never leaves his binoculars at home…
There’s something magical about walking on Anglesey. To me, the light and atmosphere just seems different, with its rugged coastal cliff paths, expansive woodland, salt marshes and unspoilt beaches lines with ancient sand dunes.
Sometimes I can walk for miles and not see another soul- the only reminder of civilisation being an ancient burial chamber or monolith which has stood on the landscape for thousands of years- a landscape that you can imagine as you stand there, hasn’t changed much over the centuries.
These expansive panoramas are usually enhances with the stunning backdrop of the mountains that make up the Snowdonia National Park on the Welsh mainland. Depending on what time of the day you see them, their appearance can look remarkably different, sometimes dark and forboding and at other times, soft hues of pink and purple fading away into the distance.
It’s why I spend most of my free time there, why I’m prepared to leave my snug warm bed at 6.00 a.m and why I’ll walk for miles until my legs ache with Dougal my Springer Spaniel- we just can’t get enough of the place! when you walk through the wide range of natural habitats on the Isle of Anglesey you can’t help but be the surrounded by the diverse range of wildlife that it supports. From vast seabird colonies to the many species of whales and dolphins that populate the coast line. It’s this amazing array of animals that always has me reaching for my binoculars before setting off on a trek. My binoculars are as important to me as my bottle of water, map and compass. They enhance every walk, help me to engage deeper with my surroundings and fill me with lasting memories. Memories which I might have missed without them.
I’ll take you back to a walk I experienced a few weeks ago on one of my favourite stretches of Anglesey coastal path, which I know just wouldn’t have been the same without my binoculars. The amount of wildlife I witnessed was breathtaking. I stopped for a well earned rest and sat on a rock viewing Grey Seals on the bay. Observed a Kestrel feeding her young inside hole in a rock on a distant cliff face and saw a silhouette of a bird of prey perched on a boulder. It was only after sighting it through my binoculars that I realised it was a stunning Peregrine Falcon.
As a walker you don’t want to be burdened with a large binocular weighing you down, use a heavy bulky set and it will probably mean you decide to leave them behind more often than not. That’s why I’m loving my new Kowa BD XD binocular. Kowa have managed to create a really compact model without compromising on optical quality. In Simple terms, it means I’m getting the superior light gathering power and resolution that a much larger binocular would normally offer, but in a far more compact and lightweight body. They sit over my shoulder and I don’t know they are there- perfect for walking.
They are stunningly sharp which makes viewing wildlife an absolute pleasure.
I love Orchids and Anglesey has lots of species, so I always look for a binocular which close focus capabilities- the new Kowa BD XD model focuses down to 1.5 meters! I can look at every petal in glorious detail just from standing on the path- no need to get into uncomfortable positions to see their beauty, plus I don’t risk trampling in amongst the flowers and treading on them- something I feel strongly about. Train them on a butterfly and you’ll get a detailed glimpse in to mother nature’s world of vibrant colours, patterns and symmetry on a miniature scale.
Over the years, walking in bad weather has never been an issue, and believe me, I’ve experienced my fair share of it on Anglesey. In fact for me walking in blustery wind and rain has a life enhancing effect- it heightens the senses and makes me feel alive- maybe it’s just me? But if you share this way of thinking or simply get caught out by a passing storm, make sure your binoculars are up to the job. my Kowa BD XD are magnesium allow and fully waterproof. I don’t have to worry about how they will perform, even in the most severe weather conditions.
One last thing I think is the icing on the cake. Kowa have developed an adapter for the iPhone and Galaxy4S which simply pushes over one of the eyecaps on the Kowa BD XD binoculars. So now, not only I can get amazing views of the wildlife, I can take a magnified picture of it too! It’s so easy- and the results can be truly amazing. No need to carry an extra camera kit- my phone is always with me, but now it’s a phone that doubles up as a camera with a telephoto lens sitting in my back pocket. What better way to spend an evening down the local pub with a real ale, reflecting on the highlights of the day’s walk and thumbing through the images I captured along the way?
If you love walks amongst our wildlife- you’ll love Anglesey. It has something for everyone, old and young, for the relaxed as well as the more adventurous- just don’t forget your binoculars, you never know what you might see along the way.
Watch Kowa’s video on the new BD XD