Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Event #11

This event was birding at Turkey Creek at the Emma Long Metropolitan Park. I have always enjoyed birding on a very limited, and amateurish way. One winter at the YO I even started a birding list, and carried around binoculars, but that didn't last very long. Birders in general though, have a bad reputation for being nature know it alls, with their only goal in life to check birds off their life lists, with no regard to the greater scheme of things, like the reason you saw that specific bird on it's migratory route was because it was blown off course and is now going to die. Hurray for you!

So I have the push/pull thing going on, where I'd like to know more, but I don't want to become one of the bad birders. And then there's the idea that this would be something I would like to do in 50 years when I'm too old to do the fun stuff I do now. I also have sea kayaking and RVing on that list.

I was a little hesitant, but game. HCO didn't even have a leader for this event, just tacked on to the Audubon Society's weekly birding hike series. There were only 3 people signed up, and I don't think anyone else showed up. Of course, birding is supposed to be a quiet activity, so I didn't do much socializing to find out who was HCO anyway. There were about 40 people total, with the median age about 60. We split into two groups, and the leader was a quiet, bearish man in his 50s, who could recognize all the birds by ear.

Right off the bat, we saw very briefly the Golden Cheeked Warbler, which is an endangered species and has been a contentious bird around central Texas because efforts to slow habitat destruction have come up against developers. Immediately, the serious birders got in a tizzy about whether the two second look could be counted or not. We walked up the road a bit, saw some cardinals and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher,
and heard a couple of other birds. But no other Golden Cheeked Warblers. With 20 people though, it's hard to be quiet enough, and to get close enough to hear what the leader was saying. And I had to pee! Really bad. And normally, I'd go find a tree. But there were 40 people in the woods. With binoculars. So when we went past the parking lot to go up the trail, I just got back in my car and drove off to find a quiet place to pee down the road.

This is another recurring event, but I haven't decided if I will go back. This was the first one, and everyone was surprised at the turnout, so maybe next week will be fewer people, which would be a lot better. And I will pee many times before, so it won't be a problem again! And I have only one more HCO event to get to 12- this hasn't been too bad at all, and looking ahead, when I've been a member for 6 months I can become an event leader and get free membership. That would be pretty cool!

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