Close up views of wildlife are especially
rewarding and binoculars and telephoto lenses allow good viewing
with minimal disturbance to the animal. The most important feature
of a decent pair of binoculars is its ability to magnify and
"gather" light. All binoculars are described by a pair of numbers,
such as "7 x 35" or "8 x 40" etc. The first number refers to
magnification. A "7 x 35" pair of glasses will make objects appear
as if they are seven times as close as they actually are. Pick
binoculars that are at least seven power. Binoculars with very high
power (over nine-power) are sometimes difficult to hold steady. The
second number describes the diameter of the large lens that faces
the animal. A larger number indicates that more light can enter the
lens, giving you a brighter image in dim light.
Field guides are an essential part of wildlife
identification. Field guides can be very general, such as "Birds of
North America" or "A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies"
or they may focus just on a particular type of bird, such as
"Seabirds" or focus on a particular state or region. In addition to
field guides on birds, you'll find guides to butterflies, reptiles
and amphibians, fish, shells, and even animal tracks. Coupled with
a list of species commonly observed (often available for the asking
at many parks and refuges), a good field guide will help you narrow
the list of species you may encounter at a site and also provide
you with more in-depth life history information.
You may want to keep a flashlight handy for viewing
the eyeshine of animals at night. Eyeshine is light that is
reflected off of a mirror-like layer in the back of the animal's
eye. If you go out at night, hold a flashlight to your forehead and
look down the beam of light. You may see the bright yellow eyeshine
of a raccoon or the greenish reflection from a frog.
Visitors to the outdoors should always consider
their need for year-round protection from the Florida sun and
mosquitoes, flies, ticks and chiggers. Summer heat and humidity are
especially taxing on the uninitiated. Always carry along a hat,
water, insect repellent and polarized sunglasses. The latter will
reduce the glare from water surfaces and enhance the viewing of
manatees, fish and other aquatic animals. Preparation is especially
important for visits to sites that lack restrooms, water fountains
and other basic visitor amenities.