Intentional Birding

Audubon Swamp outside of Charleston is home to a variety of waterfowl, such as herons, egret. (Photo by Ronnie Jowers)

For the first time, we are planning trips for 2021 to give us opportunities to see new birds (“lifers”) and to see again the birds we discovered during 2020. So far, we have four trips already planned, and each will give us a chance to explore a different type of birds.

Edisto Island, South Carolina

First, in mid-spring, we’ll be headed to Edisto Island, South Carolina. We’ve actually made this trip once before, but I wasn’t that excited about seeing birds. I blew it. Edisto Island is home to Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve. Botany Bay is one of the few places to see a Painted Bunting, which is one of the most amazingly colored birds around. We’ve actually already seen it once there, but I’m not counting it yet because I wasn’t significantly awed at the first sighting.

Apparently, I’ve already seen an Anhinga on our earlier trip to Edisto Island and Charleston, but it was lost on me. (Photo by Craig Taylor)

Nearby is Magnolia Plantation and Audubon Swamp Garden, located near Charleston, South Carolina. We anticipate seeing heron, egrets, and other waterfowl. High on the list for us would be several “lifers”: Anhingas, Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons. We might also see a plethora of other “lifers” for us. For example, we could see Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Blue-headed Vireos, Norther Parulas, and Prothonotary Warblers. That’s a lot to hope for and a tremendous amount of study in preparation of recognizing what we see there.

Finally, we’ll have some time on the beach and will be able to see shore birds. We’ve seen many before–pelicans, gulls, terns–but this will be a chance to watch them over time.

Rocky Mountains, Colorado

In late spring, just after school gets out, we’re headed with family to Estes Park, Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain National Park. There are so many birds in the west that they need their own guidebook (I’ve already ordered two.). There’s lots of planning and reading to do before we go to be prepared for what we see there. We’ll have the younger grandchildren with us so I’m ordering junior birding guidebooks for them on western birds.

The Rocky Mountains are home to hundreds of species of birds, like this Western Tanager, that are unique to that area.

Rocky Mountain National Park has 270 different species of birds. A few that I hope to see are the White-tailed Ptarmigan, the Three-toed Woodpecker, the Western Tanager, the Dusky Grouse, and the Pine Grosbeak.

Prairie chickens are found in the Great Plains area and have become extremely rare.

We’ll also spend time in Colorado Springs and Pike’s Peak, and will be looking for raptors. On the way to Colorado and back, we’ll be driving through Oklahoma and Kansas. I really want to see a Prairie Chicken!

West Point Lake, Georgia

We’re headed back to West Point Lake in August. As we did this past year, we’ll sit at the edge of the lake and watch the Osprey, the Great Blue Heron, the Green Heron, and the Great Egret. This trip is planned to go see birds that we fell in love with this year.

We daily saw Great Blue Herons at West Point Lake in west Georgia. (Photo by Craig Taylor)

Blairsville, Georgia

In September, we’ll meet my aunt and uncle again in Blairsville. During September, the warblers and the finches are moving through Blairsville. This year, I hope we’ll have an easier time of telling the warblers apart.

Intentional Plans

Why am I sharing all this with you? It occurs to me that we get the best results–in anything we do–when we plan to succeed. I’d like to double the number of birds we see this year. That means we’d see about 200 birds, and over half of them would be new birds or “lifers” for us. That’s a huge goal, but I think what we’ve planned makes that possible.

Birding for me often seems like a microcosmic look at life. We are planning intentionally to be successful as birders. I’m wondering what else I should be planning intentionally to achieve this year. Is this the year that I take up painting? Write another book? Take ballroom dance lessons? None of those things will come about if I don’t plan it out and take action.

What about you? Is there something you want to start planning intentionally to achieve this year? Now’s the time to make it happen!

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