It all started with a photographic North Carolina big year attempt in 2014 (NCbigyear2014.blogspot.com) and then another attempt in 2015 using the same blog. But why blog about my dirty habits you may ask? I think initially I was turned on after reading Neil Hayward's big year blog in 2013 where he beat the current record for the ABA region. I figured a North Carolina attempt would be a less ambitious way to repeat this feat without losing my job or marriage. I chose a photographic big year because to my knowledge no one has attempted one in NC and to be honest my identification skills could not be trusted. So photography was a way to validate my sightings and also hone my skills via feedback from my readers.
There was another catalyst.... 2013 was also the year a certain unnamed kid attempted a big year in NC and was caught fabricating birds. My photographic big year was an attempt to prove that a big year could be done without cause for doubt by documenting my exploits with pictures but also with narrative that would reveal how much effort was going into it. Once I began, I was hooked. Let me be clear that it was not fame and fortune I was seeking. The love and adoration of thousands of fans and lucrative endorsements that followed were only bonuses to the real prize. I was hooked because I found that writing the blog offered a way to relive the moments I was experiencing. Birding is a bit like surfing (hunting the barrel) or sex for that matter (both hobbies I also enjoy). There is a ton of preparation and effort to get to the prize and sometimes the prize is never even realized in the initial attempts. However persevere and eventually you will get your prize. Here is the rub (pardon the innuendo or is this a pun?).....although the prize is perfect in the moment, it happens way too fast and afterwards you are usually left feeling empty. Like it could have been better or at least lasted longer. And frequently there is guilt and other bothersome emotions. I remember on my honeymoon in Hawaii, I left Melissa on the beach while I surfed epic waves at Hanalei and stayed out way too long. It was amazing while it happened but on the paddle into the beach (half an hour in the almost dark) I was striken with a sense of guilt knowing I had been selfish. The same can be said for birding. You can spend hours and sometimes days looking for a certain bird only to get a quick glimpse and then despite a brief period of euphoria it does not take long to start feeling depressed. The only way to fill that void is to get another....then another.
But is it the only way? I have found that by writing about my addiction, I can relive the euphoria and bridge the gaps better between the birds. Also, my wife and kids don't want to hear about my birding adventures, so the next best thing is telling a bunch of strangers.
So that covers my addiction (birding) and my compulsion (blogging), but what about the listing component? Some folks shun listing as a vain and filthy habit. In fact there are many folks that are proud that they don't list their birds at all and only focus on enjoying the birds. But I argue that listing helps to enjoy the birds even more. If the only thing you get out of birding is the aesthetics, then I pity you. I get aesthetics AND competition. In my case the competition is with myself. I want to see that I am improving and what better way to do that than to quantify and measure your skills. Maybe once I achieve the skill level I am comfortable with I can compete against others but until
then I am happy to measure my yield against my previous year effort. However I have outgrown my old blog and now taking something a bit more ambitious on. In any case, the old address was outdated (I can't use a title with 2014 forever). So Photographicbirdlistomania.blogspot.com was born!
This format will allow me to post birds from my archives as well as new exploits so I will never have a shortage of fodder. I will track year lists and life lists. I will track regional lists (county and state), ABA lists and even global lists. I don't have any specific goals set.... Or maybe I do.....to see as many species of birds in my life as I can while keeping my family intact and my lifestyle comfortable. Now why would this be interesting to my readers who probably could care less about my lists? Well maybe the list part is not interesting, but the content will be if you love birds as much as I do. Think of the lists as a way to drive me to find you interesting material.
One more note....please participate in this blog. Send me comments on bird ID, send me encouragement and just send me a note so I know someone is reading.