Before becoming such an avid birder and taking up photography, I disliked winter. The cold and snow were two things I had little appreciation for, but now that birding and photography have become such passions of mine, I absolutely love and look forward to winter.
The snow provides a beautiful setting in which to photograph birds. In addition, several species also migrate to our area from the north to overwinter, bringing an influx of new birds, many of which have been absent for many months. Waterfowl, songbirds, and birds of prey are among the many species that begin to arrive in our area in late fall and stay throughout the winter months.
The key to enjoying winter birding is staying warm. My hands are one area of my body that I struggled for many years to keep warm. Over the years, I’ve tried a wide variety of gloves in an effort to keep my hands warm while birding and photographing birds throughout the winter months.
Thick, bulky gloves were plenty warm enough, but limited the dexterity in my fingers. As such, these gloves made it extremely difficult for me to operate the switches and buttons on my camera required to adjust my settings to the constantly changing light conditions. These same thick, bulky gloves also made it virtually impossible to rotate the focus ring or adjust the eye cups on my binoculars, resulting in having to take them off to perform these tasks. Taking the gloves off meant my skin was exposed, which caused my hands to get cold rather quickly. Once cold, it is nearly impossible for your hands to warm up without going indoors – which takes the outdoors out of enjoying the great outdoors!
Conversely, I tried several pairs of thin gloves that made operating the controls on my camera and binoculars easy, but lacked the key component of a good winter glove – warmth. As a result of this trial and error method of searching for the perfect glove, I have amassed a large collection of gloves while spending a lot of money in the process.
Finally after years of searching I have found the perfect glove for winter biding and photography. A glove that not only provides plenty of warmth, but is thin enough to allow me to operate all the buttons and switches on my camera and lens and rotate the focus ring on my binoculars without taking them off.
For the past five winters I have been using the Manzella Bruin glove that I purchased from my local TSC Store. Not only are these gloves incredibly warm, they are also waterproof and breathable making them very comfortable to wear. These gloves are so thin and comfortable, I often do not even realize I am wearing gloves at all.
Southwestern Ontario experienced two incredibly cold winters in 2014 and 2015. Daytime high temperatures only reached -20 Celsius, with wind chills making it feel like -30 to -40 Celsius most days. Ice coverage on the Great Lakes exceeded 90% and large quantities of waterfowl moved inland to the Thames River in search of open water. These were not only two of the coldest winters I can remember, they were also two of my favourites for birding. Bird’s eye views of so many incredible waterfowl species were achieved, including rarities for our area like White-winged Scoters, Harlequin Ducks, and Red-throated Loons. In fact, the Red-thoated Loons I observed on the Thames River on February 14, 2014 were the first reported winter sightings in Middlesex County since 1898.
During these frigid winters I would spend hours down at the river every day observing and photographing these beautiful birds and can honestly say my hands never once were cold. These gloves may seem a bit pricey, but I have just replaced my first pair after five seasons of near daily winter use, a pretty good value in my opinion.
If you enjoy winter birding, but struggle to keep your hands warm, grab a pair of Manzella Bruin gloves and give them a try. I think you will soon agree that these are not only incredibly warm, waterproof gloves, they are thin enough to make camera and binocular operation possible without having to take them off. With warm, dry hands, embracing winter and appreciating all the wonderful birds that come with it will be something that you too will come to look forward to each year.
For the record, I am in no way affiliated with Manzella, or TSC Stores (although I would graciously accept a free pair of gloves if they read this). I know what a challenge finding the best gloves for me was and wanted to share my experience so you too can keep your hands warm while enjoying winter birding.