Dec 14, 2009

Solitary Birding

This Saturday will be yet another Christmas Bird Count. I don't know how many of these I have done - a dozen, maybe? These are always a bit of a crap shoot; we usually see quite a lot of birds, but few good ones (although supposedly any bird is a "good bird" on CBC day).

That said, all birds are not equal. Like everyone else wandering around out there, we always get a lot of crows and chickadees, and in the warmer years we can pound out an impressive number of Canada geese as well. The best birds are the ones that seem to only come in single servings. We have seen Long-eared owls, snow buntings, Barred owls, Northern shrikes, and one year a Glaucus gull (although the GG was outside our CBC area) over the years, and those are the ones you remember for a long time afterward.

The CBC is one of the relatively few times per year when I venture afield with others. I have been doing most of my birding solo after losing partners to moves, family responsibilities and in one case, an untimely death. I used to joke that I had planned to go birding with a friend last weekend but he got married and had a family so he couldn't make it (in every jest there is a grain of truth).

At first solo birding seemed a bit odd; like going to the move theatre or eating in a restaurant alone. I've come around to it, though. I enjoy the operational flexibility of setting my own schedule, working as hard as I want to at it, and hitting the spots I want to explore. What I do miss, however, is sharing the experience with someone else. Unless you've been on the excursion, you can't really appreciate it fully, so that makes the war stories all that much more difficult to convey (and probably all that more tedious to my listeners as well).

I've toyed with the idea of seeking out a new partner once or twice, but it's kind of an important relationship and I am not sure a premeditated match would work all that well. I've ventured afield with some out-of-towners, or people that are new to the area before, and it's almost always a challenge. If we kept at it, we might both find the groove and work it out, but personality seems to count more than persistence for this sort of thing. I don't see my CBC partner but once or twice a year, it's like old times when we get together because we've had the same area for years now and he's one of these friends that you can not see for a year and just pick where you left off.

I am planning to participate in a few MOU trips this year, so perhaps I'll find a decent match through that little series of adventures. Until the right partner comes along, however, I will be very content to continue wandering off into the brush with my binoculars and me, myself and I.


  1. It is a fun time. I too usually bird alone. Well not exactly, my GSD Baron, comes along on birding hike running ahead to flush the little critters out where I can see them. Now this is not your usual birding technique but its works for us as we have a great time. :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Troutbirder (and for reading my post). I enjoy your blog quite a bit (both of 'em) and have added a link to Troutbirder in the bird links section. You must be somewhere in Southeastern MN or the WI Coulee country. That's beautiful down there. If ever didn't work I would probably find a place somewhere around there and pass my time exploring the backwaters and bluffs.

    Take care and again, thanks for the comment.