This is a short post today, with just one photo: Last Saturday, I participated in my first Christmas Bird Count in Portland, and really enjoyed the experience. I spent most of the day in lower Forest Park, hiking on frozen, then mud-covered, steep trails with people I had never met before that morning. It was a very different birding experience for me, as our goal was to document as many species within our assigned area as possible; my personal goal usually involves my camera and capturing images.
Although I did have my camera with me the entire day, I never took a single bird image. The conditions were just not right; the fog was dense, the light was poor, and we were moving too fast. I would have had to ask the group to wait for me to set up the shot, and that was if we’d found anything to photograph! The birds were quiet and uncooperative for most of the day. Six of us spent a good ten minutes just to get a positive ID on a song sparrow at one point.
In the end, my group trekked over a total of 8.5 miles and found a total of 16 species with nothing necessarily outstanding. That said, what I got out of the day was priceless. It really forced me to spend more time focused on fleeting impressions and bird calls, while talking with the others about their own thoughts on what we were hearing or seeing. It gave me confidence that I was actually “seeing” a lot more than I probably would have given myself credit for on outings where I rely on captured still images to confirm an ID. It reinforced one of my goals for this year, to learn more about birding by ear. It got me out onto trails I have been hesitant about in the past to try alone. I did not think my birding year would start practically pictureless, but it was a fantastic experience and a great beginning to 2015 nonetheless.
The one photo I took for the day (above) was taken with my iPhone; it’s mid-afternoon in the shot, the brightest point of the day, and a full-color photograph with no filters. It makes me anxious to take more scenic shots in the fog with my Nikon.
For images from my birding last year, be sure to visit my Flickr site. I’ll be back to snapping pictures again soon. Comments are always welcome!