On Birding

I have always considered myself to be a fan of birds. I keep a bird feeder and a bird bath in my yard, I am delighted if I happen to see a nest when I’m out for a walk, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never grumbled about the sounds of chirping birds waking me up in the morning. However, I have never really done any “birding” until very recently. I’m still very much a novice birder with so much to learn, but I can already see the appeal.

I have learned that early morning is a good time to go birding and since I’m a bit of an early riser anyhow, it hasn’t been too difficult to head out for a birding walk before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. There is something really peaceful about going for a walk at that time of day, and the possibility of spotting bird activity is an added bonus.

Paying attention to the birds has taught me to slow down and to see things in a different way. Before I used to walk for walking’s sake, for exercise. When we head out on a birding walk, we go a lot slower. Sometimes it takes hours to cover a path that we’d normally cover in 30 minutes. I’m not normally a patient person (once during a yoga class I actually thought “we could speed things up if we didn’t hold these poses for so damn long.” Clearly I have a lot to learn about yoga too.), but the slow pace we’ve adopted on birding walks has a wonderfully soothing quality to it.

I’m on Vancouver Island this week, taking part in the ASLE conference (affectionately known as the “Friendly Greens” by some of my blogging friends). Before the conference began we spent some time outside of Victoria. Our adventures have included some birding, and it has been so much fun! At Buttertubs Marsh in Nanaimo we saw several American Wood Ducks, a few Spotted Towhees and an Osprey. We saw a Kingfisher on Gabriola Island, many Stellar’s Jays during our jaunt to the Pacific Rim National Park and some California Quails just outside of Nanaimo. While I was sunbathing on the beach on Newcastle Island, Laurie went for a walk and saw a Black Oystercatcher. I’m sorry I missed that one, although I did enjoy my snooze in the sun.

I’ve also discovered that birds generally don’t hold still and pose for pictures and, since I’m still figuring out all the bells and whistles on my new camera, I’m not the quickest photographer in the world. Still, I did manage to get a few shots of some of the birds we’ve encountered on this trip.

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UPDATED: I finally did see a Black Oystercatcher! Yeah!

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