Birding with Experts (+ Hooded Merganser)

This week I dared to join a group of bird watchers at the local nature conservancy on a hike called “birding with the experts”. The experts were clearly experts, identifying the presence of birds I had no perception of and pointing out their specific spacial locations. I also realized that they identify birds that I can barely see in far away distances “look there’s a yellow bellied sapsucker”. I take a while to figure out which distant tree they are pointing at and find a moving shape on a branch. I point my camera and take a photo. I zoom in to the blurry bird and think to myself “that looks like a sapsucker alright” and keep following the crowd. There’s a great deal to learn from experts.

However there were also a few things I did not enjoy;

  1. People talking, so I felt distracted and disoriented
  2. People being pedantic over bird facts
  3. A person making sounds at the birds to attract them. Does that even work?

I’ve always thought of birding as a solitary pursuit requiring a great deal of mental calm, attention and patience. Birding with a group is noisy, and likely you will chase some birds away. Perhaps as a result, I could not make any share-worthy bird photos from my birding with the experts adventure.

Here comes the best part of the day:

Coming back home from the event, I stopped by at the small pond to observe a pair of Canada Geese resting in the middle of the pond, their perfect reflections on the pond water. Then I noticed these two female Hooded Mergansers which I formerly, from far away, dismissed as mallards.

This was clearly the bird highlight of the day as it was my first time seeing a Hooded Merganser:

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This nameless pond is a treasure trove.

Peace and love!

Timali