Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Blame the Internet

Sometimes I think obsessive types shouldn't be allowed a DSL connection. Last winter a librarian friend of mine (I have several!) turned me on to a web site where you can list and tag the books in your personal library. "Cool!" I thought and dutifully entered the books I own as well as a good number of ones I hope to read before too long. Following that, some random conversation with some random person led to me wondering if there were similar sites where one could post their "life list" of birdwatching sightings. I've enjoyed watching for and identifying birds casually over the last several years and would never consider myself a Birder with a capital B.

So, I found a couple of sites where one could record their bird observations. I chose one where the data was private since my sightings weren't of any scientific value as they lack date and location information. One bored December afternoon I went through the checklist in the back of my field guide and transcribed my list to the site. I had 179 sightings on my life list! Do you know what that meant? 179 is almost 200! Suddenly for no good reason whatsoever it became a goal to have 200 birds on my life list by the end of 2008.

(Insert rolling eyes and pitying look here.)

Next thing I know I'm looking at maps, taking walks over my lunch hour and looking at the posts from a list-serve for birders. The sobering, revelatory post was from one guy who reported what he'd seen that day and how at two-hundred-thirty-some birds he was almost to his halfway point for the year. For the year! I'm assuming he's expecting 500 species this year.

Frankly, I'm encouraged and a little relieved. The encouragement is that if there are that many species in my area, I should be hitting 200 easily! Right? (I'm at 188 as of this moment.) The relief is that however I try this year, I won't be "the best" with "the most."

Still, I keep looking at everything that moves in the trees. During my last yoga class I foolishly positioned myself near the window. While lying on my back, gently stretching a troublesome hamstring, a flash of feathers in the birches caught my eye. The twinge down my neck as I turned my head a bit too quickly reminded me: Balance. Don't hurry. Enjoy.

Here's one of the crows that was in the oak above while I was reading in the fading light last evening. Crows are remarkably soft-spoken near sunset.

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