Thursday, February 17, 2011

new hobby time!

Even though my spare time is usually at a minimum, it seems that I am always looking for new hobbies to partake in. I suppose if I aspire to become a modern day martha stewart I need to be a woman of all trades - and this time I've decided to take on bird watching! It's not like I need to dedicate my entire life to tracking bird migration patterns, but I certainly do enjoy birds and biological identification so I figure I've got nothing to lose! Heck - I'm already not so secretly an old lady so I might as well roll with it! What triggered this new found love for aviary enjoyment you ask? Well two things really. The first has to do with my front yard. I shared this snowy picture of it with you a few days ago:

Looks like a plain old yard to you right? Well there is one thing you may have missed - my pathetic bird-less bird feeders (yes there are two there - a seed cone and suet brick):

I've had those feeders out there pretty much since we moved in this fall and I was yet to see a single hint of a bird coming to visit - that is until just the other day...I was so thrilled by the little flock of birds that stopped by that in all the excitement I only managed to snap one terrible picture:

See it? No? Well....there were birds there. I have no idea what kind of bird they were (little chubby brown ones? Mom? Any ideas?) so I thought to myself, "wouldn't it be cool if I could identify birds?" Poof! Reason 1 to start bird watching as a hobby!

The second thing that pushed me to move bird watching forward on my list of hobbies happened just the other day as well. You see, I have been trying to convince my friend jim that we should take up bird watching for years now. We would always go for walks in the spring down to the park and I'd tell him about all the bird species at the pond. They are all super easy to identify there (i.e. "that black bird with the red on its wing is a red winged black bird") and I only had to sort of recollect what I learned during that bird watching project in grade five. Well - the other day the sun decided to come out (thank goodness - I'm tired of winter!) and we both thought a walk downtown would be a great way to spend a friday morning! On the way there we both spotted a bird climbing up a tree fairly close to us and it reminded us of our failed bird watching endeavors. I told jim the bird we saw looked like some sort of woodpecker - maybe a flicker? Jim decided to prove me wrong by checking out the answer on his phone....and...I was right! Imagine that! So it was decided - we would officially take up bird watching.

I ended up spending the left overs of my xmas bookstore giftcards the following week on what seemed to be the best bird watching supplies:

Woo hoo! I liked the super in depth descriptions and multiple illustrations the larger national geographic book offered and figured the region specific smaller book (with actual photographs of the birds) would be great to tote around for further reference! Throw in a moleskin for documentation and I'm set! Bird watching is on! Oh and jim - in case you were interested that bird we saw was actually a male "northern red shafted flicker":

Hooray! I love new hobbies! Now I figure I just need to get my hands on some binoculars and I can get to identifying and appreciating nature! Does anyone out there bird watch? Or know anyone who does? Any tips on binocular buying?


  1. I picked up bird watching from my Mom and Dad. They used to go on bird watching holiday to areas with tons of birds. It is amazing what a kid sitting in the back seat of a car can pick up! My Dad also had some birding buddies and they would whisk off to Ontario (Point Pelee - you know I can't spell) and have a grand old time. ( They both worked for Air Canada so the price was right - FREE)! I still try to name all the birds that I see and yes it is fun. mom

  2. I only know birds from Grandma and Grandpa too - though I use my bird books fairly regularly. Oh, and I know all about binocular buying too - you ask Grandpa to get them for you for your birthday or Christmas! That's what I did - or maybe it was Mom and Dad? Either way, they're an awesome gift.

    And I still want to see a tufted puffin. Sigh.

  3. BRRRDS. Gonna throw them at pigs. Identification is just to determine their special power

  4. Funny that you mention this! I'm only okay at identifying birds, but I can usually tell if I've seen one before... but last week, I saw this black bird that looked almost like a tern, with a red beak, hanging out at the beach. Had no idea what it was, and came pretty close to taking up Bird Watching then and there.

    Anyways, my parents are into birdwatching, and I think they have that middle book you've got pictured, and it works amazingly well. There's also a really well-known field guide that you don't have... I can't remember the name, but next time I'm in Sooke I'll ask if I remember.

    As for binoculars - I think MEC is probably the way to go. Used binoculars almost always suck - if you're gonna get a pair, get a good pair!