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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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On 9/25/2018 at 3:45 PM, Bee_ keeper said:

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😄.

This was exactly the situation - adding a couple of birding stops into a trip that was otherwise non-birding, trying to keep the non-birding Darling Bride from getting too bored.  Parker River NWR in MA, Acadia NP, the general Plymouth, MA area.  Non-birders don't get that you often stand and wait for extended periods; the ones I know want to turn the outing into a hike.  For better or worse, the weather was lousy for the Parker River excursion and one of the days at Plymouth.  Good in that she didn't was content to sit in the comfortable car, bad in that it really cuts into the birds you'll see.

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On 11/2/2018 at 6:19 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

Non-birders don't get that you often stand and wait for extended periods; the ones I know want to turn the outing into a hike. 

That's so true!  They like to keep moving - and chatting.  Then they go on ahead laughing about how you're standing there listening to and looking at 'nothing' while they send every bird within 100 foot radius scattering.  LOL it's frustrating.

Hope you enjoyed the trip and got some good looks; Maine is beautiful.  Acadia NP is great.

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11 hours ago, Bee_ keeper said:

That's so true!  They like to keep moving - and chatting.  Then they go on ahead laughing about how you're standing there listening to and looking at 'nothing' while they send every bird within 100 foot radius scattering.  LOL it's frustrating.

Hope you enjoyed the trip and got some good looks; Maine is beautiful.  Acadia NP is great.

When they go with me, my family members will usually stay quiet.  They just get restless and want to get some aerobic movement going.

My father isn't a serious birder but he's an old outdoorsman who enjoys observing wildlife.  He's now limited to a walker so he doesn't mind moving limited distances and sitting for a while.  Like me, he's delighted to be out regardless of the reason.  For all that my Darling Bride laments her mediocre vision, she often spots things I didn't see.  I've offered her my backup binos several times but she'd rather keep moving.

We won't discuss my attempts to bird with the terrier.  :classic_ohmy:

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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Charlie if you use eBird you can use the Target Species tool to give you a list of birds for locations that you don’t have for year or life lists.  You can do this down to a county level.  It provides this list in descending order of likelihood to see.  You can tweak it down to the specific  onto, or a custom timeframe.  Example of you are going in early January you could include December in the output.  

Also sign up for rare bird alerts for that county on eBird.  

Along with that sign up for the local listservs for sightings in that state, or region.  http://birding.aba.org/

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12 minutes ago, chipperatl said:

Along with that sign up for the local listservs for sightings in that state, or region.  http://birding.aba.org/

Thanks.  Before the site crash, I had posted a semi-rant about why I avoid alert lists.  The short version is that birding is my relaxation.  Lists and chasing rarities introduces stressful, competitive factors I prefer to avoid at this time.

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I am taking a cruise ship to Cozumel in the summer.  I doubt that I will have many hours on the ground.  I will have camera gear.  Do you have any advice for me, aside from AVOID HURRICANES!  

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