Reading about birding isn’t as fine as birding

The concept of a Big Year comes from birding (or birdwatching, if you prefer), and at age 60 my plan was for Pam and me to do an actual Birding Big Year. You start on January 1 and try to see as many species as you can by December 31. Done seriously, such a big year involves both meticulous planning and obsessive activity, and while we would never aspire to compete with the most extravagant big years of the experts, we’d want to tackle something ambitious but also fun.

When to do this? Is the notion still attractive? During this splendiferous holiday, I’ve managed some reflection. Our first week was a guided birding tour in Spain (Steve West of Birding in Spain is a tremendous guide!), which reinforced the joy in birding. I read  “Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear: 200 Birds, 12 Months, 1 Lapsed Birdwatcher,” by Lev Parikian, an entertaining combination of a big year memoir and the tale of a less-than-expert birder (something that resonates with me). I also read Victor Emanuel’s “One More Warbler: A Life with Birds,” an autobiography from the other end of the birding spectrum, Emanuel having seen 6000+ bird species in his life. On our Way of St Francis one-month-long walk, I’ve had binoculars round my neck each day but seen few birds (the pictured Jay is probably my highlight, they’re common but hard to see, and a delight when you see them).

All of which tells me: yes, I yearn to do a Birding Big Year. When? My best guess is 2022 but who knows, who knows indeed.

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