Beginning Bird Watchers

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I always enjoy taking out beginning birdwatchers because it opens their eyes to a new world and helps them to appreciate nature. Of course, with a group of newbies I often confront issues with some participants. “Yes, it would be nice if you brought binoculars.” “No, your dog can’t come along.” “Maybe your two-year old is not up for a three mile walk and your five year old should not be running ahead screaming.” “Talking softly would be appropriate.” And so on. Eventually they get it. That said, all those instances are rare.

A few weeks ago I took a small group from the Marysville Swan Festival to a local waterfowl refuge for a few hours. One couple brought so much gear along – clothes, coolers, bags of what-not, that I thought they signed up for a week’s safari somewhere. It was 12:30 and they asked when we were going to have lunch. I said “It’s an hour-long drive, maybe you should eat along the way.” Nope, they sat in the car for an hour until we arrived and then spread their lunch out while the rest of us waited for them to eat.

As we began to birdwatch I noticed that the couple had no binoculars. They said their binoculars were not very good; I figured a mediocre pair would be better than nothing, however. To their credit, they did seem interested in the birds and paid attention to the waterfowl and what I had to say. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a Harpy Eagle for them that they asked me to point out. Harpies are rare in California this time of year.

On the two hour round trip to the refuge and back, they talked incessantly to each other, on their cell phones, and often at the same time. I tried to ignore what I gathered were the usual insipid cell phone conversations. (Please, airlines, DO NOT ALLOW cell phone use on airplanes; flying is less than pleasant as it is.)

But, as is almost always the case, all of these beginning birdwatchers, were pleasant, polite, enjoyed the day, and learned some birds. I’m ready for another group.

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