- I generally see more species on a group trip versus going it alone.
- Social contact with people of similar interest can be enjoyable.
- I usually learn a little something on each trip.
- It is a good way to learn new areas.
- Many times I've seen new species on these trips with the added benefit of having an experienced birder point out the field marks.
- Someone often brings along a scope, and is willing to share a view-(which is nice).
There are some drawbacks to group birding. Here are a few that I've encountered.
- A trip with too many birders can be very distracting. It's difficult to stay focused when there's too much going on.
- When I'm with a group, I don't feel the same connection with nature as I do when I'm alone.
- If someone finds a bird for me, I haven't had to make use of whatever birding skills I have. Sometimes, it feels like I'm turning in to a mindless birding zombie.
- If top notch birders are on the trip, it's hard to spot any birds before they do.
- Some times you want to take extra time to track down a particular bird and you may not be able to do this when you're with a group. You have to keep up with the group.
- Seeing a new species found by a group is nice, but there's nothing like finding your own.
That's just a few of my thoughts about group birding. Despite the drawbacks, birding with a group is usually an enjoyable experience for me. It's really a nice benefit to have access to these trips. Birding with one or two other birders can be another nice option. You can enjoy some of the social aspects with fewer distractions than that of a large group.
I do prefer to go it alone most of the time. Birding, for me, is all about feeling a connection with the natural world. I love the feeling of being isolated, deep in the heart of a forest or field. Varying between the three choices helps to keep things interesting.
What are your thoughts on this topic?