The thrill of birding: the game, the competition, the beauty and the art

My brother-in-law (the same one who gave me the Daktari DVDs) has lately been sending me spectacular images of birds from his friend Matthew Faughnan. I enjoyed these pictures so much that I wanted to share them with you (see below for gallery).

West Coast, East Coast

Since I am an East-Coaster, these birds from the West Coast are all new to me. It is particularly interesting to see the western counterparts of familiar birds such as the Blue Jay, Towhee and Goldfinch.

the big yearInspired by a movie

Matthew and his wife have only been birding since December of 2012 and have made remarkable progress. Their interest began after seeing the Steve Martin movie The Big Year about three men from different backgrounds who take a year off and travel together competing for the highest count of bird identifications. Equipped with binoculars and a bird guide, they began the fun of identification. The addition of a camera created something more. Check out the gallery at the end of this post.

Fun competition

As depicted in The Big Year, birding is indeed quite competitive, whether it’s against others or competing against yourself. It brings out the braggart in me, that’s for sure!  It’s a game and a thrilling one at that, with the bonus being that it is done in the most exquisite outdoor environment.

Spring migrations and fall outs


My sister now lives in Alabama and reported that the spring migration of warblers is passing through, soon to come northward. I live for the spring migration, something my mother was passionate about, passing it down to her children.

The dream of every birder is to experience a fall out and my first was last year right near my house (a fall out is when several species “fall out” of the sky and settle all in one place for several hours, a rare occurrence. In my fall out I saw 12 different species!).

Boston’s Grande Dame of birding

For two weeks in May I drop everything to go birding. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA is a favorite place, a gorgeous haven in the city where the migrants gather among breathtaking flowers and exotic budding trees, nestled between historic grave sites.

640 mt auburn chapel 05-2011-1

640 willow pond mt auburn 05-2011-4

Visiting the cemetery on Mother’s Day was a treasured family tradition. Mount Auburn is crawling with birders, many of them experts and we’ve often tagged along behind them to listen to help us identify what we’re seeing. Now that my parents are gone and my sister has moved away, I hope to carry on the tradition in their memory. Always competitive, I prefer now to strike out on my own to see what I can identify.

West Coast birding

Matthew has been able to do what I cannot – capture stunning closeups of birds, transforming his hobby into art. Shows what a little passion will do. Enjoy!

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