Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Various ways to go out birding

Walking a birding trail
Group birding
We often go birding by walking a trail in birds' natural habitats.  This could be the most classic way.  Maybe it defines a "birder" versus a "birdwatcher".  The latter watches birds in his backyard and enjoys the beautiful birds while the former goes out to visit birds, usually with more expensive bird viewing equipments. 

There are other forms of birding which I have recently noticed, prompting me to share this post with you. 
Birding in the Ozarks, Arkansas

Beside walking birding trails by yourself or with your significant other, you can also join a group of birders.  I've personally made the most progress in my birding activities by joining a birding group, a local Audubon chapter. 
It almost seems that more birds come out when you are with a group.  They're curious and some birds just like to be seen by groups of people, hoping to get photographed! 

I remember the first time I went out birding in a group...birds I usually don't see in the same area, came out to greet us.  Maybe these birds knew some of the folks in the group.  It's a fallacy to think that more birders will run off all the birds.

This form of birding (with a group) really helps a birder make fast progress.  You don't know what you don't know until you meet other birders, usually more experienced than yourself.  And more importantly, you see more birds.  More eyes looking out for birds, more experience in bird identification, more ideas on birding.

The third form of birding is birding while camping.  (1st form was hitting the trails solo, 2nd, with a group).  You may be smiling at this, but I'm suggesting this quite seriously...from first hand experience.

Think of it this way.  You find a great birding spot, a hundred miles or more from home.  If you're not camping, you'll get there and do some birding.  You know you left a lot of birds unseen.  You do your birding almost in a hurried fashion because you're limited by time.
Camping.  You don't have to camp in a tent if you don't want to. 

By camping while birding over a few days and nights, you really comb the area.  You'll get to hit multiple trails over the course of your stay.  You'll come back to the camp site for a nice meal and rest without having to drive.  You may hear owls and nighthawks at night and you can hit the trails at different times of the day.  The birds wake you up in the morning, bringing a smile to your face.

As a side benefit, you recharge your emotional and mental batteries while you're in nature for a more extended period of time versus just a few hours of active birding.
You can camp by a lake, in a forest, by the Ocean, in the name it, there are nice camping spots.
Biking and birding
 One more way of birding.  Have you ever tried biking and birding? You can cover a lot of territory by biking compared to walking.  A biker can be quieter than someone walking in the woods.  We tried this last month and saw a lot of birds.

A similar form of this kind of birding is driving and birding.  You simply drive through a Wildlife Management Area or a similar facility and you make stops as you notice birding activity.  You make sure you stop by the river crossings and ponds.  I believe most birders do this.  The Piedmont NWR is a great place for driving and birding in Middle Georgia.

Suwanee River at Okefenokee
 Now comes one of my most favorite form of birding.  Birding while canoeing or kayaking.  Another great way to sneak up on birds without disturbing them.  Sometimes the birds could even disturb you! A huge Barred Owl flew low right in front of our canoe one day.  He was so close I thought I could reach out and shake hands with this owl. 
I remember going down the Suwanee River with my wife and the Prothonotary Warblers were singing their hearts out.  It was so beautiful I lost my mind for a second and joined in for a second.  This warbler came out of nowhere and buzzed my wife by her hat with a clear message: you human better be quiet! I'll do the singing, you do the listening! I responded: Ok, birdie, we'll listen...and no more buzzing people in the head either, you hear!

Another nice and relaxing form of birding is simply to pack up a picnic or some snacks, set up chairs in a nice birding spot in nature or at the beach, and just enjoy the birds. 
I realize I'm leaving out some forms of birding such as going across country for the purpose of birding, or pelagic birding out in the ocean.  I haven't done those yet and can't write much about them. 

John S. Smith SP from a canoe
Please, share your various forms of birding experience in the comment section.  Thanks.

1 comment:

Andre Coquerel said...

Quick note on camping and birding.
For birders who may not be familiar with camping in SP (State Parks) do have water and electric outlets at the camp sites, and bathrooms with hot water.
Except for Cumberland Island campgrounds (which is not a SP), I have not seen in SP without hot water in the bathrooms.
Many SP campgrounds in Florida have their own beach areas usually without the crowds you'll see at expensive nearby hotels.