I’ll never forget my first encounter with a birding group during a science trip to Wallops Island during my freshman year of college. We were exploring the marshes and taking water samples when we happened upon a dozen ‘birders’ fully outfitted with scopes, binoculars, sunhats, and bird guides. It was the iconic birder photo op as we rounded the corner and spotted the group binoculars up and focused on a distant bird. We spent time chatting with them and learned a bit about some of the birds we had been seeing and a bit about birding in general. While somewhat intrigued by the activity my friends and I also found it to be quite humorous. We found these seemingly old folks with their funny clothes and binoculars getting worked up over a few birds a bit odd. Little did I know all these years later I would join the birding ranks and eventually start an eco-tourism business catering to birders and wildlife enthusiasts of all types.
While I have always loved the outdoors and nature I wasn’t particularly concerned with identifying the flora and fauna I encountered during my forays into the woods, fields, marshes, and streams. However the more I explored and studied the more I understood the importance of each individual species. I began to learn how each species interacted to support the entire ecosystem as well as the impact of invasive and exotic species. As I learned these concepts I also became much more aware of individual species, including birds. I began putting out feeders and doing some backyard bird watching. I was pleased with my ability to identify a dozen or so common birds in our area.
It wasn’t until I got to know Dave Wilson and Jim Rapp of Conservation Community Consultanting that I really started to appreciate birding. After a few trips with Jim and Dave I learned a little more and fully caught the birding bug. I’m still very much a novice, but I do enjoy both the common sightings as well as the opportunity to spot something a little unexpected. So yes, I am now proudly a bird nerd and can only aspire to be as knowledgeable as the group of birders I encountered all those years ago. I’m looking forward to the spring DelMarVa Birding Weekend and can’t wait to see what new birds I can add to my list. There is still time to join in on some of the tours this coming weekend. Visit DelMarVaBirding.com to sign up. Be sure to include a stop at Ayers Creek Adventures when birding on DelMarVa, there is always plenty to see on the creek.