There is another reason that I like to check these reports. Occasionally, there may be a particular birds that I may decide to chase (Brits call this twitching). If a bird that interests me shows up on the rare bird report, I may go out to the reported location to try to find it.
How I decide which birds are worth chasing?
- Probably the first thing that I look at is distance. If it is further than 40 miles away, I probably won't bother unless it is very rare
- That would be my second consideration- How rare is it? If it is very rare, then I might be willing to drive a little bit further.
- Another consideration is-How interested am I in seeing this particular bird? This one is hard to put my finger on. The idea of seeing some birds intrigue me more than seeing other birds-Is it colorful? unusual looking? Challenging to find or identify?-that sort of thing.
- Will I need a scope to see this bird? I don't have a very good scope. If the bird is at too great of a distance to get a decent view, I probably won't bother.
- Do I have enough free time on my hands. Some times, I just don't have the time to drive out of my way.
There are those who are very critical of people who chase birds. Some birders will travel long distances just to add one bird to a list. I'm not going to pass judgement on this practice, but you can if you so desire.
There are several reasons why I find this aspect of birding enjoyable.
- Some times several birders show up looking for a particular bird. It's kind of fun to run in to some of these birders and make conversation.
- At times, it can be a test of your birding ability to see if you can locate the particular bird.
- It is a way that you can learn about new birding locations. You may see other birds of interest while you are there as well.
- It can give you a particular purpose when you aren't sure what type of birding you would like to do on that day.
- You can see birds that you otherwise might never see.
- This can help you become a better birder, if you study the bird's field marks carefully.
I have seen several interesting birds this way including Townsend's Solitaire, Swallow-tailed Kite, Painted Bunting,White-winged Crossbill, Lazuli Bunting, Northern Wheatear, and a Rufous Hummingbird . I "dipped out"(failed to find the bird) on a Western Tanager, Blue Grosbeak (twice!), and a Sandhill Crane. The Kite was my favorite. It put on an hour long show as it fed on insects in mid-air flying directly over our (about 40 people) heads.
The other day, I took a short ride over to Rocky Hill Meadows to see if I could find a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that had been reported on B-mail. This was not a very rare bird, but it is very uncommon in CT. I had seen one at the same location the year before, but wanted to view it again so that I could identify it on my own.
When I arrived, a more experienced fellow birder by the name of Andrew was there. He put me on to the bird right away. This certainly takes away some of the challenge, but I don't mind. I would have had a tough time locating this particular Sandpiper. I had a clear but distant look through his scope. I noticed something that I hadn't the first time seeing one. It had a big, black, expressionless eye. To me, the side of the face reminded me of seeing a Mourning Dove. Adding that to other field marks, I felt much more confident that I might be able to identify one on my own.
Fifteen minutes later, another birder named Sarah showed up. I had run in to her once before, when we were both searching for a Painted Bunting. She found the Bunting first, and pointed it out to me. This time, I was able to relocate the Sandpiper so that she was able to see it. It all works out in the end.
If you are interested in checking rare bird reports, here is a link that should lead you to your state's birding hotline.
Have You Ever Went To See A Bird That Was Reported On The Rare Bird Report? If so, how do you decide which birds you are going after?
How far would you be willing to travel to see a particular rare bird?
If You never have, is this something that you might be interested in trying in the future? Why Or Why Not?