Despite the amount of time I’ve spent lately taking pictures of birds, I wouldn’t call myself a birder, nor do I think I will ever become one despite recently joining the Audubon society and Friends of Nisqually. When I read the titles of books at the Audubon store, I know I will always prefer reading poetry to reading books about birds, though I might well prefer to spend a day outside watching birds to spending a day inside reading poetry.
No, I am an addict, and, at least for the moment, birding is my addiction. I am so new at this game that no matter where or when I go I see something new, and the name of this game is finding something new. Yes, I understand that nothing I’ve seen so far is particularly unusual, but they are new to me and in my small world that is all that counts.
Adding photography to the game merely made it more addictive. Now I not only thrive on seeing new birds, I get a thrill when I get a better picture than one I’ve taken before, and, considering the quality of some of the pictures I’ve gotten, that’s really not too hard.
For instance, the highlight of this week’s Nisqually walk was seeing a pair of Bald Eagles, and, yes, my heart was suddenly pounding when I looked up in a tree I was passing and saw them staring down at me. Silly me, I was thrilled to get this rather bad picture proving just how close I got.
Of course, the fact that it was a typical, dark, gray fall day and I had to shoot straight up into the sky didn’t improve the quality of the picture. Still, the picture stands as a solid marker of my first encounter with eagles at close range. Best of all, any pictures I get in the future will have to be an improvement over these. What more could one ask?
If this new addiction didn’t tie in with past passions so smoothly, I would be a little worried about how excited I am by birding. Luckily, it merely seems an extension of my life-long passion for the outdoors. It also complements my artistic bent, part of my life since I was a child. I’ve loved photography since I bought my first Minolta SLR in Vietnam many, many years ago. So, despite the expense of a new lens specifically for birding, the addiction has been relatively inexpensive and relatively harmless. I can only wish all of my past, and future, addictions were this harmless.