After SFVAS had to cancel its group outings due to the pandemic some of us birders turned to solitary sojourns at a local park or trail. While it was peaceful and helped dull the sting of the day’s dismal news it was never as much fun as birding with a group.
I have been happy to be able to start leading birding trips in O’Melveny Park again. Searching for birds in a group adds different dynamics to the experience. With more eyeballs on the landscape the group is likely to spot more birds than a lone birder. That is good but the next step is getting everyone’s eyes on the spotted bird. That is a totally different challenge that can take some verbal gymnastics. One of my regular participants is a good spotter but is renowned for saying things like “It is right there”. Eventually, we will pin him down into describing where “there” is. Once everyone has an idea of where to look, we engage in deciding what kind of bird we are all looking at. Sometimes we all agree; sometimes we don’t. It is a bit like the parable of the blind men and the elephant. We all see the bird from a different prospective. Someone may get a better view of the tail while another got a good look at the eyes and the beak. The experienced birders in the group will know how to put the pieces together to come up with an identification — sometimes instantly, sometimes less so. Beginning birders will learn the key characteristics in deciding between two very similar species such as a Western Kingbird and a Cassin’s Kingbird.
With all this interaction going on, we are all getting to know each other and forming friendships. People are becoming birding buddies. You are invited to join in on one of our birding excursions if you would like to make some birding buddies. Check the events calendar for outings as they come back “on line.” And please note the accessibility information on the events calendar entry for O’Melveny. We welcome everyone!