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Charlie Spencer

How do you prepare for a birding trip?

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I'll be traveling soon with birding as one of the goals.  I'll leave out the details since I'm a bit paranoid about revealing that kind of info in a public forum, but I don't think they're relevant.

Obviously you pack your gear - binos, camera, regional field guides (physical or electronic), etc.  I'm more interested in what kind of advance research or preparation people do.  I've printed out checklists from eBird for hotspots I'll be near.  Any other suggestions?

Thanks!

 

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If I’m going to a specific place, like a NWR or state park, I like to check the website before I go.  Especially if I have never been there before.  To get the lay of the land, so to speak, like trail options and seasonal info for example.  Sometimes there are online trail maps and they can describe exactly what to expect, like a boardwalk marsh trail or dirt paths or whether pets are allowed, etc etc.

I also like to check the local Audubon websites for the location I'm headed.  They often list their field trips, and they are usually to the hottest of hotspots.  They also usually give succinct directions and even specifically where within the location is the ideal place to park and bird.

Have a wonderful time!

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Also wanted to add... if my destination is somewhere general, like 'Cape May' or 'Orlando' or 'The White Mountains of NH', and I am trying to shoehorn birding into the trip, I always check out the official (and unofficial) travel websites for the locations.  They often mention birding and wildlife viewing options in the things to do section that are more 'touristy'.  This way everyone enjoys it and my travel companions are more easily convinced that it won't end up being a slogfest through the mud😄.

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Planning is one of my favorite aspects of a big trip. I think that I’ve found a pretty effective method. I usually do a trip in June, (2016 was Maine, 2017 Montana, 2018 Washington State). First thing is to make a comprehensive target list. I then join the listerv of whatever state I’m traveling to and ask for advice on those targets (local advice is always more valuable). But my main way of planning comes through the Species Maps function in eBird. I go to the map, put in the time of year I’ll be visiting their, and search each target. That will give you an excellent idea of what areas are reliable for each target. I form the itinerary based on that. But I almost never end up actually following that schedule perfectly. What happens most times is I’ll be in the general area of a target, and wil intentionally check the species map function again. I look for the little red check marks on the map, which indicate recent, specific sightings (often accompanied with exact coordinates). I follow those coordinates and that will often lead me to my target. 

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