As stated in an earlier post, my birding is based mainly on one principle – “All birds that should appear in an area do appear in that area. They just haven’t been discovered yet.” I am pretty sure I started to form that opinion after the second of my only three chases outside my home county.
In 2009, my first year birding, I was living in LaSalle County, Illinois. A Brant and Surf Scoter were being reported in Peoria. Thinking that they would be cool birds to see, as well as something I could add to my newly started life list, I headed down on a cold December morning. Making the 70 mile drive in an hour and 20 minutes, I pulled up to the Illinois River, and immediately scoped the scoter. I followed him for several minutes until my fingers and toes begin to freeze.
I then turned to scoping Canada Geese which the Brant had been reported hanging out with. No luck. So I drove a few minutes north, met another birder, and we had the Brant in minutes. Then the runners of a local race came along and away flew the birds.
So I spent about an hour in Peoria, quickly saw the two birds, and now what? Bird the local area? Go home? I wasn’t sure. But I knew something was missing. I just didn’t feel any satisfaction from the morning events. So I headed home.
I think on the drive home was the first time it dawned on me I receive the greatest satisfaction looking for birds in my local area. I could have spent the time the three-hour trip took walking my local patch or scanning local gulls instead of looking at two lone birds. Two birds who were obviously far from where they should be! So that was the beginning of my birding style. Over the next year or so, I would start to put together a plan for birding which I basically follow to this day.