At the beginning of the week, we had a small group of journalists at Swarovski Optik to present the new EL42 Swarovision binoculars. On Tuesday morning, a few of them went out birding around the hotel where they were staying and found a good few cool birds including Brambling (Bergfink, Fringilla montifringilla) and Hawfinch (Kernbeißer, Coccothraustes coccothraustes) - the latter a rather unusual bird species for Tirol. I wanted to get out there earlier in the week to try and pick up some of these birds (I have yet to see a Hawfinch in Tirol) and whatever else was about, but ended up working from dark to dark. This afternoon our server crashed mid-afternoon so I was kinda limited in what I could effectively do, so I dashed out of the office armed with a compact camera and a pair of binoculars.
Getting out to Gnadenwald, there really was tons of action about - great big flocks of Goldfinch (Stieglitz, Carduelis carduelis), joined by various tit species, Greenfinch (Grünfink).
Looking up in to the brightly backlit trees, all the birds were massively and disturbingly purple fringed. The thing is, I was not using a Swarovski Optik binocular but had taken out a pair of binoculars in the premier segment from another company (a binocular I usually really enjoy using). What I quickly found out is that if you hold the binoculars incorrectly then Chromatic Aberration is very very pronounced, but hold the binoculars correctly, and I could not find any Chromatic Aberration no matter where I looked.
Chromatic Aberration (purple fringing) has been a favorite complaints theme amongst birders over the last couple of years and it has gotten me thinking; if I position the binoculars better then I get no disturbing chromatic aberration so why would I demand optics manufacturers to use substantially more expensive glass (which I need to pay for) so that I can hold my binoculars badly?
Boggles me. But then again, if that is what the customer wants, then it makes sense that optics company's will provide it.
Besides finding decent numbers of Brambling (don't think I have ever seen them this early in the winter before), I also found at least 20 Citril Finches (Zitronenzeisig, Carduelis citrinella). I have never seen such a large and varied bird party here in Austria - a good 400 small finch-sized birds about; what a lovely sight.