Hairy binoculars

Eyeglasses are essential for observing wildlife, particularly birds. I really believe that these optical aids make the difference between a good and a bad wildlife experience and I am amazed when I see people visiting wildlife parks without them after having travelled many thousand kilometres to do so.

For a long time I used mediocre binoculars until one day my friend Roger -a reader of this blog- showed me his Leica binoculars and I realized what German optical quality meant. He also told me that once he had a problem with his binoculars and the company immediately came to the rescue and even upgraded his binoculars to compensate him for having had a problem.

So, following his example, as soon as I could, I proudly bought my own Leica Trinovid 10X32 BN 8×32, rubber-coated and waterproof down to five metres. To use them added a new dimension to my game watching and I enjoyed them from the first use as they were easy to calibrate and use. For a while until I noticed the flaw…

To my dismay, I realized that the unthinkable had happened with my marvelous piece of optics. Somewhere inside their rubber-shielded-sealed right ocular lens system there was a hair, more precisely an eyelash, presumably of German origin!


Bushsnob in Coroico, near La Paz, Bolivia. The hairy binoculars are round his neck…

You will not be able to fathom my disappointment! At Leica in Germany they were horrified when I reported the find and they offered immediate assistance. However, at the time we were living in La Paz, Bolivia and there was no official Leica representative that I could contact to mend the problem. The alternative of sending them to Germany meant being “binocularless” for a while, something far from ideal.

As the problem was manageable, I decided to continue using my hairy binoculars for a couple of years. Having spotted the intruder, now I saw it more often but it did not really interfere with my vision so I was able to use the instrument. Some time later, when transferred to Rome, I could send them via courier for a free fix, as per their lifelong guarantee with all expenses paid. So, as soon as I could, I sent them to Germany.

About a week later, I got an e-mail confirming that the now eyelash-free binoculars were ready and that they had been sent by courier back to me to arrive the next day. It was a very pleased me that went to the courier office at the FAO building as I was anxious to get them back.

I was so excited that I was there even before the courier office opened! When I managed to get in, the binoculars had not yet arrived and I was told to come back in the afternoon as the delivery was expected by late morning. Disappointed, I went back to my office until it was time to return.

I knew, by looking at the face of the courier employee, that there was a problem before she spoke. “Sir, we have a problem. Unfortunately our van carrying all parcels for today was robbed and your parcel is one of the ones lost”. My heart sunk and, although I heard that the Police was investigating the event , bla, bla, bla… I was sure of the final outcome so I thanked her and walked away, distraught.

Back in the office I called Germany and my technical contact went mute for a long while. Then I said that the parcel should have been insured but, surprisingly, he was quite cagey about it and I had the impression that it was not![1] In desperation I told him that I had an imminent bird watching trip to Uganda and that I needed them badly.

Luckily my plead worked and he offered to send me a replacement immediately, item that I got next day. I checked it and it was -luckily- hairless this time and I have enjoyed their great clean optics ever since.


Bushsnob with hairless binoculars. Of course the only visible difference is the ageing of the user!!!


[1] I still do not know if the parcel was insured or not!


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