A great day’s birding

I saw the Aleutian Terns at Old Bar on Friday. It was a great day’s birding,
more so because it was my 600th bird, 17 years in the making; the first 500
in 9 years and 8 years to go from 500 to 600. It took a little skill, a deal
of persistence, and a modicum of luck.

Above all, it was done with the help of a lot of people, starting with the
people who run the sightings websites, and the people who generously provide
information to them. There are the birders who give directions on site, and
those who take time out to point out to sight-challenged birders like me,
just where in the tree the subject bird is hiding. Thanks to the birders who
invite us to look into their scope to see the rare bird that is in its
sights. (They never ask me why don’t I have my own scope.) Thanks to the
people who run pelagics (well done Roger) and are patient with those of us
who stagger across the deck and are pleased to simply get a bird in our
binns, let alone ID it. Thanks to the professional guides who share their
knowledge with such enthusiasm and go beyond the call of duty to help find
the bird (Chook C).

Back to Old Bar on Friday. It was a fun day in a picturesque setting – the
weather was kind, cool but no rain. Everyone had a smile. We were all
conspirators doing something out of the ordinary, something that we
understood, but many would not: taking a day off work to see a bird; driving
1500 km overnight, or simply walking fully dressed with cameras, binoculars,
telescope, and tripods for 1 km along a secluded beach.

Finally the views of the terns were great. I even saw terns in flight. I
can’t promise to in future always tell the difference between a common tern
and an Aleutian, but I will know not to jump to conclusions.

Carl Weber

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