|Western Screech-Owl at Eagle Island State Park, Ada Co. Idaho, found with one of my birding buddies, Jason Talbot.|
Birding in pairs has a unique set of advantages...four eyes and four ears... and sometimes more optics and cameras...all of which can be aimed in multiple directions to better accomplish our daily birding mission of seeing/hearing and identifying as many birds as possible. Birding in pairs is still a small enough human contingent that relative quietude is maintained so as not to scare away the objects of our pursuit.
Because of my young family and work schedule, I am mostly a lone birder stalking the woods in quiet solitude. It can be nice to be alone. Birding solo certainly has its place in developing one's skills. Yet, birding with another person has always yielded more results both in the number of birds identified and in the sense of fulfillment while birding. There is also that element of sharing special bird sightings with another human being and celebrating cool findings and life birds that cannot be enjoyed at the same level alone. There is no question in my mind having a birding buddy makes birding more fun.
Below are direct results of having a birding buddy...(all close-up pictures in this post were digiscoped using a Swarovski ATX spotting scope and handheld iPhone 4s)
Jason saw movement in the fallen branches and brush that I did not see. He immediately suspected a screech-owl. We both started glassing the brush pile and surrounding trees. Knowing that Western Screech-Owls are cavity nesters/roosters I began inspecting every hole in every tree. BINGO! I saw a cute gray face filling a hole in a tree snag.
Closer view with the spotting scope...
Zoomed in on the spotting scope at Sixty Power!
Had we not been birding together, I likely would not have stopped, not having seen any movement. Jason may not have found the owl's roost. And we certainly would not have enjoyed the close-up views and photographs without the use of my spotting scope, and it sure was fun celebrating this really cool bird sighting together.
Just the day before, Jason had alerted me to the presence of a Northern Goshawk that he had seen while hiking with his daughters in the foothills above the city of Eagle, Idaho. He invited me to come see it and together we scampered across the hills and re-found it.
This was a particularly important sighting to me as I had only seen a Northern Goshawk on one previous occasion. I was a beginning birder then and my father-in-law and I were on our first trip to Patagonia, Arizona. We had this hawk in our scope for a good half hour. We studied it close. I remember being very confident in our determination that it was an adult Northern Goshawk. Yet, I still get eBird reviewer and eBird user questions about that sighting from several years ago. In conversations with Arizona birders, they too have questioned the likelihood of a Northern Goshawk being present there. So much doubt from others that I have begin to question the identification myself.
Well, now, because of Jason, I have finally had soul-satisfying views and photographs to prove this most recent sighting of an adult Northern Goshawk.
Do you have a birding buddy? Do you know of birding buddies that make you jealous like they do me? Do you find that you identify more birds while birding with a friend? Does birding with a buddy make birding more fulfilling for you?