Should I stay, or should I go? When I first started birding, I often asked myself that question. I could spend hours in the field, or block out a solid few hours a few times a week, or even squeeze some time in daily.
These days I bird every day, and despite my general rule of staying an extra 15 minutes longer during a birding outing, now I know when to quit. Here are a few of my tips.
#1. You Have to Use the Loo
Seriously. Everyone does it. Sometime when you’re out in the field, the situation is fine, you can go au naturale, butt that isn’t always the case. (See what I did there?)
For example, if I am on another person’s property, in a wide open field with roads on either side…I plan ahead. I stop at the last gas station on the way, and when it’s time to “go”, I leave.
Nothing beats being snuck up on by a property owner when your pants are at your ankles, or having someone show up 2 seconds after you relieve yourself, only to wonder Did they see me?
If you’re bolder than I am, good for you! Everyone does it, but me…I need privacy.
Nothing to see here. Move along!
I’m a gear geek. I like apps and gadgets that make my life easier and that are fun to integrate with my activities.
For example, my watch tells me the exact time the sun is supposed to set each day. It’s important to me because if I am birding in a new area, or somewhere that I’m not entirely familiar with, I would like to at least be at my car by dark. This is especially important if you are birding alone.
That being said, I always carry a headlamp in my pack.
#3. The Weather Turned
One of my favorite places to bird is a ridge just across from another ridge to the North. The clouds can roll over these hills in no time at all, so I always check the weather before leaving and I don’t meant the forecast, I mean the Doppler.
This particular area is prone to lightning strikes, so as soon as the weather turns, I head in. Safety first!
#4. You Got Hurt
Just like #3. Safety first!
If you hurt yourself in the field…no matter what kind of injury, head back in. You don’t know how bad something hurts, until it’s hurting pretty badly! I’m not a doctor, but I am a mom, so if you get hurt in the field, even if you’re 30 minutes in — head back and get yourself checked out.
If you’re in a situation where you cannot head back, call 911. I’ve seen several heli rescues on our mountain over the past few years, it’s a thing. Again. Call 911.
#5. You’re Late to be Somewhere Else
Unfortunately, unless you’re meeting other birders, “Sorry I’m late. I got caught up trying to find the Sandhill Crane behind Walmart,” is not a good excuse to be late somewhere.
Also — get ready for this — the person you’re speaking to might have no idea what you’re talking about. People look for Sandhill-what behind Walmart? Is she making this up? What? Exactly. Don’t be late!
In summary, quit if you’ve gotta “go”, it’s getting dark, you’re injured, or you’re late! Most importantly, be safe when birding. It’s a wild world out there!
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