Monday, June 24, 2013
Bird Chasing or Twitching
Bird Chasing, or twitching, as the Brits call it, is when you hear of a bird that you haven’t seen before and you take a car, plane, boat or walk as fast as you can, in order to see it and maybe, with a little luck, photograph it.
I got into bird chasing when a vagrant Bare Throated Tiger Heron showed up at Bentsen State Park and people from all over were coming to see it.
From that point on I was hooked.
I’m lucky to live in such a birding mecca, where I have gotten most of my life birds. A life bird is a bird that you have seen for the first time and you add it to your life list. I have 168 life birds on my list so far.
When I’m out bird chasing, I tend to feel a little like Elmer Fudd.
“Be very,very quiet, I’m hunting (insert bird of choice here)”.
I belong to Texbirds, which is a listserv that keeps me up to date on birds in the area.
A good example is when I read that the Varied Bunting was over at Bentsen State Park.
I biked over and rode the tram to the path where the bird had been seen. It was hot, hot, hot, and it took me over an hour and a half to find it, but I finally did, with some help from another birder.
Another example is the Painted Bunting,that I got to see this week, thanks to another tip from one of our Villagers.
It’s kind of like being on a scavenger hunt.
Some people have asked me how I know the bird will still be there after being spotted by someone else. Well, the answer is, I don’t. Typically though, unless it is migrating season, if you see a bird that keeps returning to the same area, singing or carrying nesting material, there is a good chance it will be there for a few days, anyway.
I had read that there was a Red-Naped Sapsucker over at Bentsen State Park. Sure enough, it was right on the tree where it had been spotted previously, eating.
He only hung around for a few days. I don’t know why he was there or where he went, but I loved getting to see him.
I’ve also had some ask me how I got the birds to sit still while I photographed them. Tongue in cheek, I tell them that I thumbtack their little feet to the branches.
So there you have it,a brief description of bird chasing or twitching.
A fun movie to watch about chasing birds is The Big Year, with Steve Martin.