Again, not an NS bird, just a header, a Common Potoo on its nest in coastal Brazil.
Every year birders up and down the land make New Year resolutions to see more birds, do a big year, find more, improve, although that last one should be something that happens all of the time, every day in every way you learn a little bit more – then you die. I have a number of suggestions.
If you are an active birder, that is you pick up your bins and go looking for/at birds but are not contributing your records anywhere, sign up with eBird and make a start. Unless you are already involved in long-term programmes beneficial to birds your best opportunity for contributing is to put your records where they can be used. All records are important, yes the cardinals that suddenly appeared in your yard, yes those Turkey Vultures that you now see regularly. Don’t assume that someone else is reporting them. The more we know about our bird populations, the more effective we can be in protecting them – electing political leaders who also feel it is important to protect over profit also helps.
Buy a field guide, a paper one and a good one. Sibley or National Geographic, the rest are makeweights, sorry but they are. Yes you can find information on-line but a field guide will serve you better and, by supporting the writing and production of field guides, you are guaranteeing the future production of better and more succinct versions. Once you have your guide read it, write in it, use coloured markers to flag local or provincial species, make it yours.
Join your local bird group. It never costs much and is run entirely on the goodwill of volunteers and you will benefit by receiving newsletters, having field trip options and being part of a group with a shared passion.
Travel and take your bins with you. Travel broadens the mind and stimulates the senses. If you can go exotic, do it, and if you can, hire local guides, spread the cash, support birding elsewhere is good for conservation and you see some great birds.
Be a mentor if you can. Lots of people have an interest in birds that goes no further than lurking on Facebook groups. Some will turn out to be good birders with encouragement and guidance. If you are one of these people who would like guidance then ask other birders if you can join them in the field. The best way to get a grounding in birds is to be with someone who knows what they are doing. There is no need to feel intimidated, just aspire. If anyone wants to bird CSI with me and I’m available, just let me know and we can fix something up.
Get out, don’t make excuses, just go birding. Be seen by non-birders in the field and, when their curiosity gets the better of them, talk birds to them, you’ll be surprised how interested people can be, and what they know.
I could go on but I’m probably preaching to the choir. So what are my New Year resolutions apart from be sure to wake up every day!
I want to add to my Yarmouth and Shelburne lists. That will me getting to places I don’t visit too often, looking harder for present but elusive species and just generally making more effort and this after doing a 365 year where I went birding every day in 2017, it just keeps getting better.
I want to do more odes and leps in 2018. I made mental notes of sites to look at throughout the year and intend to spend time in them in season. The Blackfly forecast is for a horrendous year so I’d better dig my face net out!
I need to focus more on my writing, my “birds of Cape Sable Island’ is not moving as fast as I’d like and I want to finish my novel. I have other bird related writing projects in mind and, so long as I can control the urge to be out there all of the time, I might get started with them too.
I need to travel. I hate flying and hate the hours spent waiting to be called for a flight but it is the price you pay and, hopefully, we’ll be able to do a bit.
I need to see more of Nova Scotia. We will.
I think that will keep me busy enough, obviously the big hope is that me and mine remain healthy, if not wealthy or wise. Have a great New Year everyone, make 2018 the year that works for you.