I spend weeks down in Arizona, between Tucson and Mexico in a house we own but rent out to snowbirds in the wee hours of the winter. This 'October' was one of those week(s). While in October I was visiting my usual birding haunts in Madera Canyon, Patagonia, the Mt Lemon and Sweetwater Marsh....all within an hour of my place. Also in the Tucson area is the Tucson Nature Store, much like we have in Cape May. A beautiful spot to pick up books, information, maps....etc.
Now, while I work with technology all day, one of the last things I want to do in my free time is, what else?...."Play with Technology!!". So I have slowly moved from electronic bird lists to record my adventures to a booklet type, where I actually write in with pencil or pen my new sightings. I addition, I keep a bird journal 'on paper' where yes, the same holds true. No Technology.
It wasn't always this way, and while in the late 80's I was into paper and pen, I worked into creating a bird list using Excel.. I would record my findings and link an image to them etc...Then I moved to The Bird Journal which is a UK based electronic birding journal for the world. After that I progressed to ebird; as many have. But I am telling you...after awhile I felt like my main intent in birding came down to 'recording'....Either that or 'taking a picture' and linking it to my electronic journal.
The 'fun' of birding slowly migrated from 'birding' to 'recording'.... It hit me 4-5 years ago that something was wrong. While in the field there were times I could hardly get back to the computer so yes you guessed it, so I could 'record' the bird and the sighting. My penchant became increasingly apparent. In fact, did I even have to leave the car anymore? Could I just grab my camera with long lens and shoot, then rush back to the computer to record. Yes, I can do that....
Then, reality hit....a brick in the face....a V8, slammed into a wall.... It finally dawned on me that I was missing the aspect of birding that attracted me to it in the first place. The laziness of a day birding. A casual stroll...a stop to look and sit and ponder about a bird or a flower or grass or a bug. A wonderment that a child has as he sees a rock or tree bark etc.... To appreciate nature I found out I needed to be 'in nature' and by being 'in'...I meant that it goes beyond just being 'in nature' as in 'my body is physically" but my 'mind had to be in nature too'. I need to pulllllll away.....I needed to grasp the human/bird side of birding once more.
Hence.....and 'egads!", I 'dropped' all of my bird programs and lost the password for The Bird Journal. I sharpened a pencil and bought a ABA listing of North American birds in the New Jersey Nature Store. I bought a listing of New Jersey Field birds and one for Arizona and the NW, and any other haunt I travel to. And yes, I started to record my sighings with my hands, my pencils...my eyes. But more importantly, I started to bird once more.
I was no longer a 'camera burro' ...I didn't have to have one slung around my shoulder aiming to capture the the bird image on digital film. Rather, I captured the moment in my mind. Gone were the days where I would wish I could 'record the bird on ebird' so others would know of my adventures but now, I spend more time in the field and just watch nature and appreciate the bird itself. I quietly come home after birding and sit down with a glass of wine and 'write in my journal.. I write my notes and my thoughts.
The other day while in Madera Canyon I was hanging out with a guy who spends his retirement days in his tent moving up and down the SE area birding, and then to Florida. He was a retired airline engineer from Boeing. He and I talked about birding and witnessed something he and I never saw before. We saw an Acorn woodpecker spend hours sitting on a telephone pole and then swooshing out into the air like a flycatcher to catch a fly. Then it would yoyo back to the pole and sit. Then do this again...and again...and again. I have never seen that before and no, I have no picture...no image of positive proof. But who cares? For I have my memory and the time spent remembering this behavior.
While in Tucson...I purchased a new Checklist to North American birds....it has a listing of 941 species. Hmmmmmm...what? How many? ....ah.... I have a ways to go I see.
But not so fast..... You see, as evident by the image on the top of this blog, do you see all of the "E's" ...? They mean 'extinct. Yes, extinct. Now why....why..oh why would they have a listing of extinct birds to go along with the checklist of those one manages to view? Doesn't make sense. So just because it is a printed object now to record my list, it doesn't imply it is any more saner than the digital one that drove me nuts for years.... In case you are wondering, it had well over 100= extinct birds and many accidental but, at least with those you have a chance to view them!
Below...my lists of sorts...