Heaving waves lazily soak the smooth white skin of a mammoth whale, the boiling froth fluffy on the fringes of the oceans blood, like the frills on the edges of a handkerchief, responding to the sharp breeze as a horse responds to the reigns of a rider…I like to imagine that’s what would be glimpsed through the steamed up glass of a trusty telescope as the great whale Moby Dick is watched from afar – that’s more than me at any rate; exciting for me is the flash of gold off the tips of a red kites wings! (Still pretty good, if I do say so myself!).
So. My Celestron scope. I’ve had it for around a year now, and in the absence of binoculars (them falling prey to a rather nasty accident involving an attic and a small attention span) it serves as my main viewing passage of the natural world and its many wonders. The scope itself is a 40cm long tube, never complete without its other half the tripod – I’ve used it to observe a massive variety of wildlife, from blue tits to badgers, and it is actually with me on my little expeditions more than my camera, which is saying something.
The scope has three different eyepieces, enabling me to see my local badgers shuffling to and fro in the undergrowth with ease at a distance of around three metres – I remember only last week I was standing outside the sett in the evening, scanning my patch for signs of life…I suddenly was aware of a rustling in the bushes, and in a shuffling gait, out stumped a bulky female meles meles, her delicate snout poking around the dewy grass and snuffling the dead leaf matter. Eye pressed to the soft rubber of the lens eyepiece, I tilted the scope slightly to get a glimpse of the rough fur and the shiny black eyes. Beautiful. She disappeared and was gone.
Trips to College Lake Nature reserve often include the scope as part of the artillery, easy to close up and even easier to open (this is often true of devices that fold up – by that I mean they usefully just fall open…), sitting in the hide; the fresh breeze, clean and refreshing, buffeting my face, and the sunlight playing on the rippling water (these are memories of warmer times by the way, for anyone bewildered by my weather descriptions). Scoping a lapwing in flight is one of and probably the best moment I have ever had with the scope, such bliss is not usually achieved anywhere else (although early blue jays strutting about comes pretty close!). Swivelling to the right slightly I caught a glimpse of three Shovellers in the lake, floating as they swung their magnificent namesakes into the drink.
And as I stride off into the distance, my scope over my shoulder and a waxwing singing in the nearby bushes, the sun sets and glints off the lens…it was then that I realised I’d forgotten to put the lens cap on.