Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Lens, New Looks

Every time I try out new optics for birding, I'm amazed at how much of the avian world I've been missing. Last year I purchased a new pair of binoculars, and recently I purchased an upgraded camera. Instead of my pocket point-and-shoot, now I'm capturing birds with a Canon PowerShot SX20 IS. Granted, I couldn't tell you what all those numbers and letters mean, nor have I deciphered all the camera's settings and buttons, but I do know the optical zoom is much better, the shutter speed is faster, and the photos I'm taking now are much clearer. A few weeks ago, I'd never have gotten such a nice shot of a bullock's oriole along the Skipper Bay Trail, for example.

The right equipment is so critical when birding. Not only do you need optics to see the birds well, but higher quality sight will make identification easier and less frustrating. An updated field guide will show regional variations of plumages as well as different ages and genders, and a good field bag can hold all your equipment in easy reach. Good outdoor clothing will keep you comfortable for hours in the field, and good records will let you savor all your birding experiences for years.

Of course, getting started is simple and you only need the basics. As you get more into birding, however, you'll start to crave better equipment, and when you do upgrade you'll find this hobby truly taking flight. Let's soar!

Friday, May 7, 2010

An April Fool

All last month I was an April fool -- a birding fool, that is. In the past few weeks (and I'm including the first week of May in the update), I've taken two birding press trips to review outstanding field locations, purchased a new and better digital camera for better birding photos, welcomed at one new yard bird, added at least 48 birds to my life list, and been in more airports than I can care to count. On the home front, I've also started working with our landscapers again to put plants and trees into the empty flowerbeds this year, choosing native species that are highly bird-friendly.

As if that all isn't birding foolish enough, I've also hit different trails, renewed my National Audubon Society membership, and upped the frequency of my feeder refills to accommodate the growing backyard flock. Hopefully, however, this frantic place will slow a bit in the next few weeks, so I don't have to be quite so foolish and frustrated. Work-wise, I'd dropped some of my most aggravating, non-bird-related work, and I can already feel the difference.

More updates and details are to come, including life list updates, trip reports, and more. For now, I'll leave you with one of the most memorable lifers of my recent travels - the Jamaican tody. Yes, Jamaica... And that's just the start of the birding adventures.