Thursday, June 18, 2009

Binoculars, Wal-Mart, and Lifelists

I have a confession to make. The binoculars I have been using are $15 camo rubber-cased Tasco ones you can find in the hunting section of Wal-mart. In fact, they're so cheap that the english section of the instructions is completely written in broken english! But I love them. I've seen many neat birds I otherwise would have never seen. I've dropped them so many times and they keep working like gold. They're apparently waterproof, although the problem I've had with them there is that they fog so easily in wet conditions.

I'm reading about buying quality birding bins, and trepidation has set in. $200-300 MINIMUM to not worry about the quality of glass?! Good god! I believe that's how much the guy at Moreau Lake paid for his (at least, they appeared to be fancy-pants bins) and he himself said they were crap. I got to play with them, and yes, they were absolute crap. They did not even remotely hold up next to my $15 Wal-mart ones. Sad.

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I did not go birding today. However, I did go to the Queensbury Wal-Mart to buy a mailing box and packing tape. Wooo. Upstate NY today got that cool steady rain we're more familiar with in April. I liked it, but a lot of people were making noises about it. I like it for birding too! As soon as I got out of my car, I heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing from a nearby wooded corridor. It was dead on to the mnemonic, so it was unmistakable. And it was so loud that a lady nearby looked up in the direction of song just as I was.

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I hit up Wild Birds Unlimited today. I love that place. I want to buy one of everything. Most notable was the book '25 Short Hikes and Interesting Walks in the Lake George, NY Region' by Roger Fulton & Michael Carpenter. Some of those walks were located in the Glens Falls region, and I somehow have not been on them yet! I have even spent quite a bit of time looking for these places online and Google never brought them up. That to me is so horribly frustrating, cities having all these little natural areas and nothing ever mentioning them. Although, the cool thing about that, is so few people know about them so they're quiet when I go.

Also notable was Thayer's software called 'Birds of My State' for both Windows and Mac. I want it! It's $50 and what I'd use it for requires an mp3 player, so first things first. I'm quite sure that's what they sometimes play in the store, and it's what I was looking for after my rant about the Peterson's CD guides.

Whoever I briefly talked to was very nice. I like the people who work in there. So what I'm about to say should not be taken personally should one of them happen across this blog. First, I understand that birders are often interested in rare birds. I don't know why, but I just don't give them that extra important space in my head. So when I'm asked if I've spotted any interesting low population or rare birds, I go blank. Oops.

There was also mention of lifelists. I have one, but it's nothing serious, I just wanted the number of species seen so far, and to be able to look back to see where I initially saw said species. To my utter annoyance, I keep finding birders who seem to care only about adding species to their lifelists. This aggravates me immensely. Not only do I care not about such competition between birders, but my motivation for birding has nothing to do with simply adding yet another species to the list. I bird because I like the birds, because I gain information every time I watch them, and they do somet interesting things. Plus I like comparing and contrasting field markings of species and individuals. I am not thinking, "Oh my god I get to add this to my lifelist! I'm so awesome and special!" It also doesn't help to keep meeting total lifelist nazis. I've heard all sorts of dumb crap regarding them, and the sheer pissiness and attempts to control how one uses ones own lifelist from other birders is ridiculous. I have recently been told that it doesn't count if I only heard the species. I disagree, plus it's not THEIR list, it's MINE. I like birding by ear, and sometimes I prefer it, and am not concerned about seeing the individual. I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I was to pick up Pete Dunne's 'Pete Dunne on Bird Watching' and see that he claims hearing them counts for the lifelist. Thanks Dunne. Thunne.

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