Friday, February 7, 2014

Never Alone

Northern Shoveler with a Red-eared Slider at Sweetwater, Tucson
The birding world doesn't have to be a lonely one.  Over the past two weekends, I've met some fantastic people while also saying good-bye to another.  And rediscovered a face from the trails from my bird past whom then hooked up with my birding bud up in Phoenix.  Talk about a small world!
The Hepatic Tanager at Kubo Lodge in Madera Canyon with the gang
The birds guide us.  They make us explore new areas alone or with others.  As my friend and birding buddy Kathie said good-bye, I was introduced to another group of birders.  On this weekend, I was more fascinated with the various birders than I was with the birds.

At Catalina State Park from left to right....Kathie, Donna, Dawn and me

 We had a great time birding, sharing in delicious meals and learning about/from each other.  The weekend happened so quickly.  And I wish we had more time to hang out!  But the birds guide us yonder!

Hooded Merganser at Dos Lagos Park in Glendale, AZ
I remember a time when I began wandering the desert alone looking for pics of....anything. I liked birds and photography.  And it was fun being unknown for awhile. However, the more I began to bird and submit data; the more I became involved with the birder community.  Then I kept running into others who also went chasing rare birds.  They had names.  Some were friendly while others were very standoffish. I was informally introduced to the world of birders. It is full of wondrous complexity.  Stuff I am writing about in my notes for a future book. 

On the tram in Sabino Canyon with my bud Kathie
In the world of birding, there is enough drama and excitement to make a TV soap opera look rather boring.  There is deep friendship, passion, love, betrayal, love triangles, deceit and wildlife mayhem. They should make a TV show based on the birder world.  Wouldn't that be fun?  And there is drinking.....lots and lots of wonderful drinking.   And not just beer.  Although that's okay too.  Birders are a unique crowd.  They travel and are aware of other delicious beverages beyond wine. I've become a social drinker birder again:) I think college was the last time I really enjoyed that activity:)

Sharing Pisco Sours(from Peru and Chile) and wine with the gang.  From left to right, me, Jeff, Kathie, Dawn, Cynthia, Donna, Roger, and Linda(she made the most delicious Piscos! Gracias!)
What am I trying to write here?  Well it's always a new experience when birders come together. And like any family, there is a bond which has been created by our love for all things birds and wild......and of course, there is always fun gossip from around the world:) 

Le Conte's Thrasher at the Thrasher Spot near Buckeye, AZ
I have a lot in the works right now.  There are several trips planned out to California and Mexico for photography and some more birding.  It can be a bit overwhelming while maintaining the full time job and home life. I have a passport to renew and some surprises ahead for the blog.  Sometimes I shut down and just close the curtains, burn a candle, listen to some great music and write:)

The rare Eurasian Wigeon at Dos Lagos Park in Glendale
I began alone but have found myself pulled into the Ebird crowd, photography crowd, guide/host for other birders, writer and teacher.  The social media has expanded not only my own world but it works as a collaborative machine for us all!  We share information and when this happens, we come together and it makes us stronger.....whole.  And I realize that I am not alone on this great quest.

Canadian Geese
Writing is about being honest. Telling my story while on this path.  When I was younger and living on my own, I asked my Dad ways in which I could meet new people.  He told me that he became a member of his church so that he could meet other people of the same faith in the community.  And my parents really have met a lot of wonderful people over the years who are still very close friends to our family.   But church is not my thing. I think I'd have to believe in god. So I tried to take my father's sincere advice and apply it to my own life.

A feral colony of Nanday Parakeets that were rather tricky to find. A good ear is needed here.
It took me over two decades of travel around the world to make sense of my gypsy life.  I always wanted to be a part of something and found myself alone for most of it. I'd date, party and marvel at all the amazing things happening around me.  I quickly realized that nothing lasts forever and that change is definitely a constant in this universe.  Along the way, I've made great friendships but my friends are very much like I am....gypsies....nomads....sand people(Star Wars reference:) There is an intense curiosity that burns inside of me. 

Sagebrush Sparrow at the Thrasher Spot near Buckeye
Today, I have found the answer to my question that I asked my father years ago.  "How do I make friends?"  "Who is my community?"  "Where do I belong?"  The answers were already there.  I just had to let time sort it all out. Instead of god, I found birds.  Around the birds, I found people.  People who also love birds as much as I do!  They also love travel, exploration, trying new things and most of all meeting other kindred spirits....or not:)  There are still some of those antisocial birders who are more bird than human:) And that's not necessarily a bad thing:)

A Sora out in the open!!!
Birders come from all beliefs and backgrounds.  There are single birders, married birders, young birders, retired birders, logical birders,  funny birders, serious competing birders, arrogant birders, demanding birders, sassy birders......well you get the idea.  It's a VERY complex world based on the love of birds and outdoors. The birder club is open to anyone interested and is not exclusive:) But like any human group, there is that social ranking:)

Dark-eyed Junco
 I am losing myself into this bird world. It's an escape many times from the stress I can't control outside of my little world. It scares me sometimes how easily I can turn the key in the ignition of my car and disappear into a wooded park rather quickly.

Hairy Woodpecker on Mt. Lemmon in the village of Summerhaven

Or find comfort in a cemetery searching for what would be a lifer for many of the gang. I watched them become excited and take long lingering looks at the flycatcher as he danced in circles catching bugs around his perch. 

Greater Pewee at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson, AZ
 Eventually I had to go it alone again and find more year birds(new birds for the 2014 year) but I know I'll be back birding with the group again.  So what's it all about? 

Cackling Goose at Dos Lagos Park, Glendale, AZ
This is what it's all about.......completing my Arizona Thrashers!  From Top to Bottom starting Left to Right.  Le Conte's Thrasher, Sage Thrasher(top); Curve-billed Thrasher(middle); Bendire's Thrasher, Crissal Thrasher(bottom)

No....wait.....this is what it's all about!!!!  The landscapes!!!!

I stand's really about the people....and birds....and landscapes....and adventures! And there are more adventures in store.....stay tuned:)

Amazing people, amazing birds.....and so much fun!


  1. I asked that same question in my 20s and got the same answer but am not a believer either. Well, I do believe in nature and people who like the same. Feels good to find your nitch.

  2. It's great to meet and associate with people who have the same passions and help each other. You showed today interesting birds. I like these with a curved beak. I recently did a walk picture of the bird's beak. Yours.

  3. I much enjoyed your post, Chris! Many incredible species you have featured here! Looks like all the best parts of birding have come together for you:)

  4. Chris, what a great post.. It seems we have much in common.. like the birds and more. Loved the photos! Happy birding and have a great weekend!

  5. Love your blog post, Chris. Love you. xoxox

  6. It's always special to meet with people who have the same interests. It makes for very lively conversation. I just love the first shot with the duck and the turtle.

  7. The photo of you all around the sign is the best. Happy faces!!!

  8. Hi Chris Great to hear your story and certainly being in this community of bloggers will bring you like minded friends. I love the first shots best but a wonderful series of bird shots throughout the post.

  9. The best thing about birding is the birds! No, it's the birders! No, it's the fun! Oh wait, it's all of those. :-)

  10. A great post Chris! I enjoyed the narrative and the photos are wonderful!

  11. It really is a wonderful world we have to wander in, and share, especially with other birders, and those who really share an interest - enjoy your wandering, and sharing, Chris!

  12. A beautifully written post Chris with some wonderful images :) And yes your exploits etc would make a great book :)

  13. More pure and beautiful poetry from you, Chris, in words and images.

    I hope that you finish the book whilst I'm still around!


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