Sunday, October 24, 2010

Birding with Beginning Birders (BIGBY Break)

Long-time birders sometimes talk about an obligation to bring new birders into birding or "giving back to birding", but the truth of the matter is that birding with beginners is fun!  Their excitement is renewing for jaded birders:  "Wow - a Double-crested Cormorant (photo left), what a cool bird!"  Starting birders regularly make such excited utterances about common species that I unfortunately often don't take a second look at, even though they really are pretty amazing. Surprises lurk around every corner on such an excursion and I can't help but get caught up in their enthusiasm.

It is even more fun when I can bird with a bunch of mostly beginning birders who are long-time friends (photo left). On September 25, I went out birding with a dozen friends who were all in Campbell for our Campbell High School reunion. This trip was obviously not part of my green year of birding since I drove the 200 miles to Campbell, but it did not have much of a carbon footprint since we were all in Campbell anyway. We birded at the Campbell Percolation Ponds (Los Gatos Creek Park - about 50 miles south of San Francisco), where I had fished as a child. I had not revisited since high school days and did not know what birds to expect. (I did take my bike around the ponds prior to meeting with the group so I would have a general feel for the place before leading the group.) These open aquifer recharging ponds are situated on either side of Los Gatos Creek and next to a freeway (Highway 17) in an urban area. There are walking/biking trails which get heavy use on weekends and fishermen still try their luck at the ponds. While we saw no other birders, it was quite birdy; we had 34 species including an Osprey, many Green Herons, 2 Common Morehens, and many more common birds like the cormorant above and the Great Blue Heron pictured below.

I really enjoyed the company and the birding. The ponds were a perfect place to catch up with friends and enjoy nature. We saw many of the birds with my spotting scope, including a Pied-billed Grebe with a chick on its back. Two and a half hours "flew by". So, thanks friends for a fun morning and for re-opening my eyes to common species of birds. Let's do it again, but not wait decades to do it this time!

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