After getting my golden ticket I was on cloud nine.  A free trip to Swarovski Optik North American Headquarters with a bunch of other bird bloggers, along with a all-day birding excursion to South Beach on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, is, well, a pretty exciting way to spend a couple of days.  It beats the heck out of work anyway.  The headquarters, located just outside of Providence, Rhode Island, is where all Swarovski optics in the United States come from and where all the binoculars that get broken one way or another go to get fixed.  I just never thought the trip would be so good…

Swarovski binoculars in for repairs

binoculars awaiting repair

The most exciting part of the visit to Swarovski headquarters was when we, and by we I mean me, Julie Zickefoose, Sharon Stiteler (aka Birdchick), John Riutta the Born Again Bird Watcher, Helena of Adventures of Bird Girl, Eddie of Birdfreak fame, and Ben of 600 Birds, first entered the facility and saw a vast landscape made entirely from candy with a chocolate river flowing right down the middle of it!  These weird little orange guys were looking at us through scopes and binoculars and singing a song that went something like this…

Oompa, loompa, doompadee doo
We have Swarovski optics it’s true.
Oompa, loompa, doompadee dee
They enable us to very clearly see…

Anyway, one by one, as we did the tour, the other bloggers suffered grievous harm and were forced to leave…John was sucked into a new gadget and actually posted himself to his blog somehow and we never saw him again, Eddie looked through so many pairs of binoculars that his eyes fell out of his head and he had to go the hospital for emergency eye-reattachment surgery, Sharon insisted on taking home for herself some rhinestone-encrusted binoculars until some burly Austrians threw her down a garbage chute, Helena was attacked and carried off by a Cooper’s Hawk when she was watching some European Starlings frequenting the feeders at Swarovski, Ben was burned horribly when he somehow managed to look at the sun through a scope turned backwards (it was truly gruesome), and Julie, well, her science chimp nature took hold of her when we were looking at a machine that uses lasers to test the alignment of binoculars and she was vaporized right in front of my eyes.

Swarovski scope cases

Swarovski scope cases

That left just me and Willy Swarovski who decided to make me heir to the Swarovski fortune and flew me to Austria in his magical elevator and gave me a castle.   So now I live in a Sound of Music-type setting, enjoying the antics of Alpine Choughs which I view through top-secret, not-yet-released-to-the-general-public, futuristic optics that would completely blow every birders’ minds if they knew that such equipment existed…

…and then I woke up.

More to come on the Swarovski bird blogger summit but for now, as you can probably tell from this post, I am a bit delirious and should probably stop writing.

Swarovski binoculars

more bins awaiting repair

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.