Ah winter! Where I live it can bring a host of species we can’t see any other time of year like snowy owls and redpolls. There’s a famous birding destination in Minnesota called Sax Zim Bog. This top winter destination, which hosts a bird festival every February is popular because it’s easily accessible from airports and gets you a ton of boreal species you can only see in the United States in winter. Quite a bit of birding can be done from your vehicle with some residents purposely setting feeders (and a donation box) near the road. If you want to get photos, you’re generally going to have to exit your vehicle like I had to in order to get this snowy owl shot:
Note how I didn’t have to be as close to the owl to get the video like those other photographers are?
If you’ve ever tried taking pictures with your smart phone out in the cold, it can really eat up your battery, especially if you are taking photos and videos with location services on. I’ve had the phone be at 40% battery power and then suddenly just shut down mid-redpoll video because it couldn’t take the freezing temperatures. It can be really frustrating especially when it happens right when you have your shot lined up.So what can you do?
I have several tricks and PhoneSkope helps me with some of them. The first and easiest is that my phone is always plugged into the car charger while I’m driving. The second is that I always keep hand warmers in my pocket with my phone or keep my phone on an inside pocket of my coat so my body heat will keep it warm. That only goes so far when you’re filming in -3 degrees Fahrenheit and your phone is attached to your scope. At that point you need to have an external battery to keep the phone warm and charged.
PhoneSkope now offers two different batteries to help with this problem. One is the Electronic Power Bank and the other is the Dual USB and Solar Charger. Both are handy for keeping things charged. Both batteries can be charged ahead of time with a USB cable but the Dual version can also be clipped to your backpack or jacket to charge up for solar. Where I live, winters get dark early, sunset in November is around 4:30pm and more often than it’s cloudy. I may not get a full charge on the Dual battery walking around outside in winter, but I’ll get a little bit to help me out in an emergency.
Solar/USB Battery, regular USB Batter and cable for charging either an Android or iPhone.
The flat shape of each of these external batteries make them easy to keep in my winter coat pocket while I’m digiscoping. If you partner the Power Bank with the Bluetooth Remote Shutter, you can keep your hands warm in your pocket while you take photos to your heart’s content.
Also, if you want to be a hero among among your birding friends, check out this little charging cable that works for both Android and iPhone. When someone forgets their charging cable and you can offer this doo-hickey to your battery, you will not pay for lunch or drinks for the rest of the day.