One of the things I plan to do when we finally do move to our farm is to look for, keep track of, record, and identify the plants, animals, and insects that are living there. I have a long way to go in being proficient at this. I can’t seem to even remember the names of common flowers and bugs could be a challenge to actually look at long enough to study, but I’m going to give it a try.
Last night, I watched a documentary about birders in New York City’s Central Park. It was fascinating and daunting. At least one question I had about birding was answered. I could never figure out how bird counts worked–how do you count all the birds, do some birds get counted twice? Things like that. So…they don’t actually expect to get an accurate count, they are just looking for trends through the years. At any rate, this excellent film is Birders: The Central Park Effect, filmed in 2012. One of the birders, Chris Cooper, had an interesting list titled, The Seven Pleasures of Birding, and I think his list is perfect:
1. The beauty of the birds
2. The joy of being in a natural setting
3. The joy of scientific discovery
4. The joy of hunting without the bloodshed
5. The joy of puzzle solving, e.g., what kind of bird is it?
6. The joy of collecting, e.g., lists of birds found
7. The Unicorn Effect–you finally see a live bird that you have previously only seen in books and pictures.
So whenever I wonder why I am tramping out in the fields, risking the chance of getting ticks and who knows what else, I can refer back to Chris’ list and remember that it is supposed to be FUN! Now if I could find a list for why my highly technical plant field guide is a joy, I’ll have it made.
For now, where I live in the suburbs, I have the joy of hearing the geese fly overhead every morning honking the whole way, and the lovely mockingbird singing his heart out with a huge repertoire of songs. There are also the gorgeous jewel-like hummingbirds darting around the yard chattering at us when we get in their way and the sweet cooing of the soft-gray mourning doves. On the opposite spectrum there are the annoying bluejays screeching at everything in sight and being the bullies of the yard and the screams of the predator hawks sending chills down my spine. Even the House Finch surprised me when I looked out the window one day in spring and found a troop of them eating the blossoms off the plum tree! I am hoping that in Oregon there will be this rich variety and I will find something fascinating about each one of them.