Friday, December 7
I'd like to chat for just a quick second about us crazy birders . . . come on, you know who you are! I freely admit that I am a total birdnerd and sometimes (ok, most times) am a bit more obssessive with my birding and listing than I perhaps would like to be. But, that said, I have learned something lately that I find important and interesting that I'd like to impart.
First - it is certainly not a new concept. I've read about the same feelings in Ken Kaufmann's KINGBIRD HIGHWAY as well as in Mark Obamscik's THE BIG YEAR. And I thank both of those gentleman and all the other birders and birding experiences they introduced me to which has sparked my interest and my upcoming comments.
Second - for those of you who don't know - I have been doing what I'm calling a "Big Year (on a budget)." Several years ago, without trying too hard, I racked up a year list of birds numbering 340. I was surprised and thrilled. But, of course, it made me wonder..."Hmmm, what could I do if I really tried." I knew I wouldn't be able to do a really, truly serious Big Year. They are EXPENSIVE and EXHAUSTIVE...and i'm poor and feeling old. LOL But, why not do what I could. I knew I would be traveling for work and family reunions. I knew I worked on one of the best birding Refuge's around. And with a mild January 2012...I was quickly nearing 200 birds!
Well, it's 11 months later and my number has jumped to 387! I'm thrilled but also - so close to 400 - I'm scrambling to try to reach that benchmark. It's still possible with a holiday visit to my see my Parents in the Rio Grande Valley. But...now to the point.
The point, I have realized, isn't neccesarily the number or the amazing additions (like Sulpher-bellied flycatcher or Ancient Murrelet) to my Life List. The real reward has been that challenging myself - I have seen and done things I hadn't before. I have traveled to amazing places - both local and far afield in this amazing nation and seen sights, even when the birds did not appear, that were stunning and awe-inspiring. I've met fellow birders and nature-lovers, and enjoyed food and culture all along my travels. It is the searching for the bird that can be just or more exciting than actually seeing that elusive bird.
So I challenge all of you to try this. If not a Big Year....a Big month, day, or just try to find as many birds as you can in your backyard, local park or county. It will become much less about the actual list and number you achieve...and much more about enjoying time outside and experiencing something new and wonderful.
Happy Birding, Happy Holidays, and a Happy Birdy Holidays!