Thursday, March 1, 2007

Things To Take When Bird Watching

Once you get hooked on bird watching, you will start getting up early and heading out on field trips. You will see have some tremendous sightings, but you need to take some things will you.

In most cases, the best birding happens at the crack of dawn when feeding and such is occurring. This, of course, means you must get up and drive at the crack of dawn. If you do not prepare the day before, you can rush off without some vital things. Here are a couple you should make sure to take with you.

Pens and Pencils – I can’t tell you how many times I have driven off with out the old writing utensils! Of course, I only discover this after I hike out to wherever I am going. This requires me to hike back and try to find a convenience store that has them. It takes time, is frustrating and often leads to me missing prime sighting time. Take them with you. In fact, take a couple of each so you don’t have any problems.

Driver’s License and Registration – Most people head into the field on weekends. Driving somewhere on a Saturday morning at 6:00 am is generally not normal. Police are inherently suspicious of such people, so you can plan on being pulled over at some point. Basically, they assume you have been drinking or doing something illegal. Have your license and registration ready. I also keep my binoculars on the seat and make sure to tell them what I am doing. Once they realize I am not drunk or a coke dealer, they let me go without a ticket. Make sure you handle such situations delicately.

Foooood! – You will never take enough. Every birder knows this. You could pack three backpacks full and it still would not be enough. Nonetheless, try to take plenty and always make sure you have plenty of water. Yes, water is heavy, but thirst and dehydration are worse.

Passport – If you are at some exotic destination outside of your country, make sure you have the old passport with you. Tourists are expected to get up around the crack of noon, not be driving around at 5 am. Bring along a book with pictures of birds. The police are going to assume you are up to something fishy, and many have never heard of bird watching. You need to explain the concept to them, show them the book and preferably have your binoculars hanging around your neck. This is particularly true in South America. Trust me on this one.

Birding in the morning is both serene and a good time to add to your life list. Just make sure you are prepared for all eventualities!