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Patrick:

I've been using a Garmin III+ for about two years now (now replaced by GPS
V).

http://www.garmin.com/products/gps5/

I won't leave home without it.  A GPS receiver is an excellent tool for
traveling and birding.  It saved me time on numerous occasions while
birding in California last summer.  For example, I instantly knew when I'd
turned onto the wrong road (happened a lot).  I always know exactly how far
my destination is and the direction (as the crow flies).  I was able to
tell a friend exactly (within 30 feet) where I found the California
Gnatcatcher.

For birding, I've got locations of most places I regularly go stored as
waypoints.  This weekend, for example, while on a field trip to Carlyle
Lake in Illinois, I was able to say at one point that we were exactly 2.2
miles from a spot where we'd been an hour earlier and that we could see
across the lake.  That's trivial, but fun.  More importantly, using
directions (e.g., Snowy Owl on Mobirds) and a good map web site (MapQuest
or Topozone) or software (DeLorme), I've been able to program a waypoint
ahead of time and make my way to it easily while driving or
walking.  (There was an article about this kind of thing in Birding a year
or two ago.)  Any good GPS also leaves a breadcrumb trail that you can
track back, as long as you have the unit on while walking or
traveling.  That's been great fun on a pelagic trips because otherwise you
don't know where you are or have been.  There are numerous little
features.  For example, it will tell you exactly how fast you are walking,
driving, or flying (I've used it on airplanes, though some airlines
disallow it).  It tells you the exact time, and when local sunrise and
sunset is.

I bought a high end model ($370, 2 years ago) because I knew that I'd want
to Interface it to my PC.  For some extra bucks (~$100), I got software
(CD's), with lots of maps (Street Atlas).  The unit (and most GPS
receivers) comes with basic maps (federal and state highways) wired in, but
I can now upload detailed maps (all the roads) into the device for several
counties at a time.  So, before I go somewhere, I install the detail maps
for the area.  I couldn't resist also getting the 3 CDs of topographic
maps.  That was very handy on the Weldon Spring CBC when I decided to find
the Missouri River (and get back) by going cross country.  When I got home,
I downloaded my track to the PC and was able to see just where I'd been.  I
also knew that I'd walked exactly 9.7 miles, which was handy for reporting
"miles walked" to the compiler.

I think the $150 models are also very good, but harder to use.  I've been
very impressed at the design and ruggedness of the Garmin (made in Kansas),
but there are several other good brands.  The DeLorme receivers can be used
directly with their StreetAtlas and Topo USA software, which seems like a
good idea to me.  A cigarette lighter adapter for the car is a must; any
GPS eats alkaline batteries.

Here's the best part - Even my wife likes it and admits its a good thing to
travel with.

Randy Korotev


At 12:40 20-01-03 Monday, you wrote:
>I have seen a number of messages containing the coordinates to one
>location or another post here on mobirds...
>
>I am wondering, those of you who are actively using the systems, can you
>provide the uninitiated (my PC way of saying ignorant) with any details
>as to makes, models, cost, uses, etc.
>
>OR
>
>You could send the same info to me offlist, but I think there are a
>number of "curious" folk on the list too!
>
>Patrick
>
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