Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2 Years

An anniversary of sorts today, my two year mark of keeping a bird list. I started off trying to get more use out of my digital camera, and wanting to spend more hours outdoors. I had also just had a fire lit for me when a low flying flock of Sandhill Cranes buzzed my home. (I have still to relocate them in Colorado, although the reports of their flocks moving through keep rolling in). I have been incredibly humbled in those years by the diversity that is out there to be seen, and by the skill it takes to definitively identify birds in the field.

My progress in birding has been slow. While I like keeping a list, and enjoy adding life birds to it over time, I am still very willing to dismiss those birds that I was unable to identify. Periodically I will scroll back through old entries and find a mistake, I correct the entry with an update, attempting to leave the mistake there for my future reference or to help anyone else who may stumble through the entries. Mostly though, I prefer to remain conservative in my identifications, and use my uncertainty in the field as a fuel to learn more and keep the incorrect assumptions to myself.

It is fun to look back now using Ebird and see the birds that I was able to identify on my first birding specific walk:

The birding highlight of that trip was the Northern Flicker. I had so little experience in the field that it was an unexpected shock to catch a bird that showed lots of red when it flew, but disappeared against a brown background when perching. Now, of course I see and hear them all the time, but it is a great memory - one that reminds me to always keep my eyes open in the common areas, and of how much I had been missing until I began to actually look.
Two years in and I am glad to have found a pair of hobbies that suit one another and can be rewarding whether I am by myself an hour before work, or with a group of friends on a hike. Birding may not be for all, but if it isn't for you I hope that something out there the words of ski and snowboard movie legend Warren Miller:
"If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do."
So to anyone out there reading, take a chance and try your something - you may look back years later and wonder what took so long in the first place.

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