Ditto on Doug's comments. I use a similar tripod, a Manfrotto 190-B, purchased from Eagle Optics. I didn't like the head that came with it, so put the head from the previous tripod on it. One thing that is important to me is the leg locking mechanism style. I have arthritic thumbs, so a couple of the types are really painful for me to operate.
Most experienced birders will urge you to go out with other birders and do not be shy about asking to look at their equipment and ask them their opinions of the strong and weak points of what they have. With tripods, try setting up and taking down different models to see what you like (or what you can live with). Look at it from a stability in the wind perspective. A shaking scope is worthless. A good center post that can be extended to a comfortable position with legs in a partial extension often works well.
A solid tripod with a liquid head (heads are sold separately), and a quick release mechanism are essential for birding without excessive frustration at the wrong moment. Check your scope to see if a quick release is built in. If not, do get one or you'll spend a lot of time putting it on or off the tripod head.
I've bought binoculars, scopes and tripods from Eagle Optics and keep going back to them because when I phone them I get a knowledgeable salesperson who listens, makes suggestions, but never "hard sells". Also, you can try out a product and send it back if it doesn't work for you.
On Jun 15, 2011, at 3:38 PM, Doug Willis wrote:
Amy (and other interested mobirders):
As I listen to the wind howling around my house in Liberty, I am reminded of the importance of a sturdy tripod for birding. A good-quality tripod may, in some instances, be more important than the quality of the scope! A flimsy tripod renders even a good quality scope virtually unusable in even moderately windy conditions. A smooth panning action is desirable, as well. I do not believe these needs can be met with a $30.00 tripod. My best advice would be not to skimp on your tripod, if possible.
Having said that, economic realities dictate that I cannot afford a high-end carbon fiber tripod in the $400.00 and up range. I use a Manfrotto 3221 tripod with a 3130 head. This is the model I purchased from ABA sales about 12 years ago for around $200.00. I have no complaints whatsoever. This is a good fit for my Leica APO Televid scope, which would run around $2,000.00 now.
Perhaps shopping around online can turn up other ideas at a lower price for you. Eagle Optics, Amazon, etc. would all be worth checking.
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/