|Laughing Gull in Grayton Beach, Fl.|
What does a "better birder" mean to you? Seeing more birds or enjoying the birding experience more?
I've been thinking about how to make the birding experience a more pleasant and fulfilling activity in 2012 and I came up with these ideas:
1. Go birding more often and at different locations.
Maybe you have a favorite birding spot and it has become a habit for you to go to that same place most of the time. Birding at different locations means to cover coastal areas, rivers and lakes, forests, mountain areas...
Suppose you're in Georgia and you already go to the Georgia coastal areas. Maybe you need to go to the Georgia Mountains too. Once you've covered Georgia, then check out some of the hotspots in Arizona, Coastal Alabama, Texas, Michigan, California...? You've done all that too? Then go to England, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Africa... Birding at different locations means just that. Not the same locations every year. (I'm still working on Georgia).
2. Go birding with a better birder than you. And ask questions. You'll learn a lot that way. People will be happy to help you. Some may not admit it, but we all are still learning.
If you think you are the best birder in town, then find someone out of town or even out of State, someone who wrote one of the good bird books. Maybe you want to go birding with a different person with comparable skill. That will sharpen your skills too.
3. Learn more about birds. The more you know about birds behavior (breeding, courting, nesting...), migrating patterns (which birds, when, where), the better birder you'll become. Read bird books. You've already read them? Hum...the new ones too? Just read them again then. You'll pick up new ideas you missed the first three times. Especially with your experience, things will make more sense to you now.
4. Improve the birding skills where you feel weak. Do you have problems identifying birds by ear, get audio Aps and learn bird songs and calls. Do you have problems identifying Sparrows or Ducks in flight, or fall warblers, work on it. (I'm still working on all those skills).
You think you're already a "black belt" in birding? You can now work on your second degree, or third degree. Do you know about the Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Antpittas and Bowerbirds? Have you seen any of them? You can always open new worlds for yourself in birding as you're improving your skills and knowledge.
5. Receive alerts for rare birds in your area. You can set this up with eBird or GABO (links are on this blog top right corner). Then try to see some of these birds.
6. Help someone to become a better birder. By helping someone get interested in birding or sharing your good spots with another birder, you'll be sharpening up your own skills and becoming a better birder yourself.
7. Participate in more than one CBC-Christmas Bird Count this year. Or participate in your first CBC this year if you haven't done one before.
Well, I've shared some of the ideas that I thought will help me become a better birder this year. If you picked up a couple of ideas here, then please share one or two of your own tips in the comment section. I'm sure everyone will appreciate it.
by Andre Coquerel