A first-timer shares her experiences from the annual Cape Cod Christmas Bird Count.
While I have grown up with a healthy love of nature, often spending childhood afternoons in the woods, in my backyard, or on the beaches down the street, I somehow never got into the world of birding. We had bird feeders at my house, and sure, I knew the usual suspects—the black-capped chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches. But beyond my cursory knowledge, I never paid much attention to them. That all changed after a morning spent tagging along with a small crew of birders involved in the Buzzards Bay Christmas Bird Count last December.
If you have never tried birding, here is why you should. First, the geography of our area—Cape Cod’s familiar hook-armed peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic—with our expanses of marshland, coastal inlets, and protected waters means that we are blessed with some of the best birding on the East Coast. Second, it is a new way to experience your surroundings, whether it be the forests, our backyard, or the beach—a place we have all been a zillion times but perhaps have never really seen (were there always that many birds in the water?). Third, you will discover hidden parts of the Cape you have never been to before.
The striking, wonderful thing about birding is that it is slow. You must move slowly. You must stop, wait, look around, and observe. It requires patience and time. Instead of bustling through the beach trails to work up a sweat and go as far as you can, birding asks instead that you stop and be quiet. In the process, you might find that you are examining the world in a much more detailed way—as you may never have before.