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  • Writer's pictureKS O

Connecting with Birds and Birders

Welcome to the first blog! I'm not really a writer and I am even less of a reader but I like to share my experiences in hopes that it may connect with others so I hope it's not too painful to read.

I had a bit of a rough last week, a full day spent in bed, a lot of fears and failures and feeling very insecure. Now that I read that back I had a BAD week. I made the last minute decision to bird locally not knowing what I'd find or see or if I would even feel like being there. I drove to a beach on Lake Ontario and snuck down to the water's edge where there were some Dunlin and a Willet sleeping, eating and bathing on a little tiny island. By island I mean a clump of rocks about 7-8 feet from the beach. I plopped myself down on the newly raked sand and it was quite wet but I didn't really notice until hours later when I stood up soaked with sand stuck to me. Normally I would have walked up, counted the Dunlin, had a quick look... there were also some Caspian Terns, Ring-Billed Gulls, Herring Gulls and a Killdeer there, e-birded them and gone on to another locations. But this year I made it my mindful birding year so I anchored myself to the spot and just watched the birds go about their day. If I hadn't sat down I would have missed the Willet because asleep it looked just like a gray rock. As I mindfully birded the Willet woke up and started to forage in the water pretty close by, I'm glad I waited.

Another birder showed up and we ended up having a long conversation about families, mental health and more. It's funny how a random person shows up and we end up having quite a bit in common. After a while we both concluded it was time to go home to make dinner, realizing how uncomfortably wet and sandy we were and figuring we had seen all there was to see. So we walked to the parking lot together and another birder showed up, this time someone I know, then 2 more! So of course like any good birder exit I decided to stay a bit longer. I was happy I made that choice because shortly after I spotted a Whimbrel fly by! The Whimbrel landed in the distance and stayed there to sleep for the rest of my visit.

As I went to the parking lot to leave for real (sort of because I really just crossed the harbour to walk the pier to see the Whimbrel a bit better, it was still far off there as well so I did not disturb it) there were seeds blowing through the parking lot like snow. Myself and another birder thoroughly enjoyed following the seeds around taking videos and laughing to ourselves. I guess I don't just connect to birds, I can connect to seeds flying from a tree too! What a way to be present. I can't explain why it was so fun but it was.

I hope to share simple experiences like this with everyone. I hope to share your stories too! Please do reach out, that's why I started this project. I hope you will all try mindful birding. It's a nice break from the listing and competition that birding can bring. I am reconnecting with the reason I started birding in the first place and in doing that I am connecting with more people and more birds in the process.

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