Birding and Exercise – First Day

I told myself going into writing this blog it was to be more of an educational blog and not about me per say, but until I figure out how I am going to bird, I guess it will be somewhat about me.

I did my first long birding walk Saturday morning.  Went 6.2 miles in about 2h 40m. Saw 21 species.  My initial reaction?

I am in shape to go about 6 miles walking right now.  At least in the old hiking boots that I walked in.   The last couple of blocks were hard on my feet.  And I was starting to get tired.  So that was about right for walking in wet, melting ice conditions.  But first thing is to get new shoes/boots. And they need to be waterproof.

I overdressed and had to carry too many clothes.  At least for most of the walk.  But I had my “man purse” (as my daughter calls it) with me so I put them in there.  But a cold front passed through the last half hour and it started to get cold.  If I would have been out longer I would have needed to put the clothes back on.  So the second thing is a real backpack to carry lightweights clothes.  Just in case.

"Man Purse" - Actually a classic Messenger Bag
“Man Purse” – Actually a classic Messenger Bag

If I am to continue to do “urban” birding I need to plan to go by convenient stores or fast food restaurants to use the facilities.  I’m not out in the sticks anymore.

Carrying the camera is problematic.  But I can work on that.  How does Dorian Anderson carry a camera on his biking big year?

I only saw 21 species.  At first I was a little disappointed for the number versus distance covered, but after some thought, I am not sure I would have seen more if I would have traveled farther.  Maybe picked up some raptors.  It was just that kind of slow winter morning.

On a slow day even a Mallard looks good. Province Park 01/11/14
On a slow day even a Mallard looks good.
Province Park 01/11/14

But I did see a wren hopping around under a log in a boggy area.  About 80% sure it was my current nemesis – the Winter Wren – but it didn’t sing and I didn’t get a clear look.  Spent 20 minutes circling and walking that area to no avail.  It could have been a Carolina Wren….

Was there or was there not a Winter Wren in there? Perfect habitat. Franklin Greenway Trail 01/11/14
Was there or was there not a Winter Wren in there? Perfect habitat.
Franklin Greenway Trail 01/11/14

And now for the biggest problem.  Three hours on a Saturday morning without coffee.  Sure I drank plenty of coffee before the walk (thus the need to plan the bathroom stops better) but I could always use more. So the backpack really isn’t for extra clothes, it’s for the coffee.  And snacks of course.

A patriotic American Crow standing guard. Franklin 01/11/14
A patriotic American Crow standing guard.
Franklin 01/11/14



Birding and Exercise

I used to run.  A lot.  For about 5 years it averaged an hour a day.  Then I severely strained a muscle from too many consecutive 5K and 10K races and the running came to a screeching halt.  After a couple of years it was back to a point that I could run at a lower level.  But by that time I had switched from a casual birder/serious runner to serious birder/casual runner.  And I wasn’t ready to go back to being a serious runner.

But now it is more than a few years later and I have put on the pounds and miss the feeling one gets from regularly exercise.  And I really don’t have the extra time to do both to a level I find acceptable.  Plus something has always bothered me about driving to go birding.  So over the last couple of years as I decided the focus of my birding would be on my local area, I kept thinking I should combine the two activities.  But not being able to get very far out of town for the 4 winter months really kept me from pursuing the idea.  In Illinois I lived in the center of town and it was a two mile walk to the edge of town.  I always felt I would miss the winter diurnal raptors and longspurs/buntings without a big effort.  Plus when I was in Illinois that meant missing the uncommon gulls that would show up at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam. And my two favorite birding areas in the summer were about 18 miles from my house, in opposite directions.

But now in Indiana I live on the edge of town. I can be walking on a country road in 5 minutes.  There is no close river or lake to see gulls, so that doesn’t matter no matter what the weather.  Plus my favorite birding areas are only 8-10 miles away.  In basically the same direction.

So now I am proposing to myself instead of driving the usual 15-20 minutes to an area outside of town, to walk/slow jog 40-45 minutes to a similar habitat in or by town.  Then walk/slow jog to another site, etc.  This especially applies to the winter months.  The summer won’t be as tough since I can bike the 8-10 miles to Atterbury and Johnson County Park in an hour or so.  During the work week I will walk/jog more for exercise, at least until the days lengthen.  And on the weekends it will be more for birding.

I will still bird by car when going out with other people, driving to sites farther away like Goose Pond, and when the weather is bad.  But the plan for now is to do most of my birding by my own power.

So that’s the plan for now.  I will share my revised yearly goals on birding and losing weight, plus my thoughts on Green Birding at a later date.

But I need to get through this weekend when I have planned to take a couple of long walk/jogs.  Maybe I will say that this was a bad idea and be right back to driving.