Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Biggest Week in American Birding - A fisherman has become a birder! I FEEL IT!

Caveat: Anyone who knows me also knows I tend to "ramble"! Yep! And here I give insight into my past as well as how my new overwhelming fascination  of things that tend to fly rather than submerge. Hey! Birds are just things from the skies rather than things from the depths, but it is all similar! And, birding is much more easily accessible! Bear with as I talk fishing and show similarities. I think you will enjoy!

Yeah. It is a long one, but cheaper than buying a new book! Right?! Hey print it out and bring to The Biggest Week In American Birding, and I ("Dr. Bob")  will autograph your copy! (Geez! If anyone did that it would really make my day!!!)

I gotta admit it. Winter depresses me! I am am an outdoors person, but as I age, I find it is increasingly more uncomfortable to get outdoors in winter.

Besides that, I get SAD. Yes, during holidays I become very sad thinking about all the relatives, friends and mentors who have passed away. I think everyone does. Yes, I treasure that fact I am still here (!), but being cooped up magnifies it. And, then there is SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a mental thing. Thinking tonight, I suspect it is like the "homeside" equivalent of PTSD, but nowhere near as tragic. I just cannot imagine what our returning vets must feel! (Please help them as you can!!!)

That said, my SAD funk has lifted! And I want to share some wonderful springtime optimism about birds and life in general.

This week I was energized! I had been feeling physically quite poorly (hey, I AM 70 years old ...), and various things were putting me down. Went to doc, and after a regimen of prednisone, I am happy to report all systems fired up quite fine! I caught up on lots of things on my "list". Judy and I got out and went birding. Did lotsa other things as well. And I still had energy to tackle (pun intended here) lotsa things at home.

Among the other things I did this week was putting back my displaced fishing tackle from when we cleared out the steps to the basement to have a new washer installed. I shot pics of redoing the replacement for my records.

This is where spring  birding and the Biggest Week  (finally!!!) come in! 

I have always thought that birding is quite like fishing! "You never know what you will catch!"  But, you gotta be in the right place at the right time!!!

As I post my fishing memories, I will equate them to the birding passion I now enjoy.

This is my "tournament bag". 
Geez! This dude weighs 24 pounds! I used to haul this plus eight rods to the boats where I was a non-boater "back deck" fisherman. As I age, weights become much heavier! But, in thinking about my birding now, I really cannot whine too much about the weight of a big lens camera around my neck as I go birding!

Gotta label the boxes. 

I had everything inside that I thought I might need for eight hours of fishing!  I will put a few pics of what is in the boxes below. But the main point for birders here is that instead of 24 pounds of specialized gear, all you need are a few ounces!!! A pocket with extra memory cards and maybe an extra battery! Big difference!!! You are "fishing" with binocs and cameras!

And while I think about it, the most huge difference between birding and fishing is that you can bird anywhere!!! No need for a boat! No need for water! You can even do it at home! (Yes, y'all with feeders knew that ...)

Goodies inside (more for me than you):


Rattling baits

Pretty stuff!!! In fact, so pretty we used to hang them as ornaments on our Christmas tree! (A great reason for us not to have cats!!!)

But you do not need pretty flashy things (at several dollars apiece!!!) to go birding!

I found a book of specialized maps in the bag. 
Great guide for fishing our area in Michigan! Best smallmouth bass fishing in the world!
A similar guide to birding hot spots in Ohio (published with Ohio DNR and Sea Grant funding) gives us birders the same advantage. I bought one last year at the Biggest Week, and it is great!
Great resource!

So many places to explore!!!

Here is  link from Ohio DNR to the lake Erie Birding Trail: When you go to the Biggest Week, you will soon realize it is about much more than just the Magee Marsh Boardwalk! There are tons of places to explore!

Also check out this great link to birding hotspots in nw Ohio the area of Magee Marsh:

Another cool thing about birding now is that you can get lots of great up to date info online for the Biggest Week  as Kenn Kaufman updates his Crane Creek blog during migration. Another great source is the Black Swamp Bird Observatory

So many places to go! I only wish finances allowed us more than the few days we will go this year!

But what will you likely get?

Pause a moment while I post a pic of my fishing days:

Yes! First place!!! "Lifer"
Yep! I got one , and also a second place (both with my buddy Terry Monaghan) in larger tournaments. Also took a few trophies in my Clinton Valley Bass Anglers club tournaments!

OK, I have no clue of how many "lifers" I shot at Magee Marsh and surrounds during the Biggest Week, but they far surpass even my most imaginative dreams during my fishing days! Here are but a few:

GHOWlets - I use the standard abbreviation for Great Horned Owls here (GHOW) and think it cute it add a suffix for "dinkys"in the nest. What great camo! What a "lifer pic"!!! Ottawa Auto Trail 2014.

Another "lifer pic"! Indeed, Scarlet (Tanager) I DO give a damn!

Chestnut-sided Warbler. SO many lifer warblers I really lost track sometimes!
Ruddy Turnstone. A bit far off, but amazing I saw one!

Geez! My memories go on and on, but my energy is becoming limited tonight ...  and I did not even start to tell y'all about the amazing woodcocks we see every year - with their chicks some times (!); or the nesting eagles;  or the remaining shorebirds; and I barely mentioned the warblers that are the "main show"! And I did not note that there are great presentations from world-class birders and field trips, and so on ...  And I might have missed the opportunity to thank the fantastic "yellow-hats" (volunteers from around the world who lead trips on the Boardwalk and share with all present) except I do it now ...! I also missed talking abut the great stuff at BSBO like banding demos and the optics tent where you can try out amazing scopes and binocs. And I missed just doing much more than just to give a hint of what you might expect at the Biggest Week! Sorry about that! It is just the most amazing week of birding you will ever experience!

And, especially, I neglected to even begin to start to tell y'all abut the amazing friends we meet there!!!

But ... I hope I did give y'all a hint about what turns a  fisherman into a birder!  And I say a "hint" knowing quite well I have much more to say for the analogy! Not done yet with the analogy, but done for tonight ...

Go bird! Go to the Biggest Week! Enjoy Spring!!!

"Dr. Bob" - honored this year as a Biggest Week Blogger!!!