Picture this….it is cold, rainy and the wind is blowing at gale force making it feel even colder. Not ideal birding weather for people for sure. Perhaps so, but I am still driven to try to see as many birds as possible since I am probably in one of my favorite birding towns. My solution is a simple one. Jump into the car with binocs and camera and slowly drive my favorite haunts, hoping to spy some of my special friends and every now and then a new one I haven’t seen before. It never gets old, even if I have seen the same bird species repeatedly….another blue heron, great egret, spoonbill, sandhill crane, canada goose, reddish egret….it still stirs something within me as I admire their beauty. It doesn’t matter that the weather is horrific. Inside the car it is warm, I have something to drink or eat and if I happen to spot a bird, I can capture their picture with my trusty zoom lens.
BBC, or Birding by Car, can be quite satisfying when nature doesn’t cooperate to give us ideal bird watching conditions. Many times I am not sure what I am seeing, but if I can get a photo, then once I am back in the comfort of my hotel room, I can examine my books and apps to try to identify my subject.
One of my BBC ventures led me to one of the smaller communities on the West end of Galveston Island. There weren’t many houses in this subdivision and it wasn’t on the ocean side, but driving slowly around, I spotted a bird that I knew was just different. I stopped my car and watched him, snapping pictures repeatedly. He sat on one of the power lines, was pretty good size, had the raptor beak and had distinctive coloring. As I watched, he flew over a grassy field and helicoptered in place scouting the ground below for his supper. He fired toward the ground but missed his target and then flew back to the power line. His behavior, along with his distinctive coloration helped me to identify him as a beautiful American Kestrel. That same day I was also treated to two Crested CaraCara’s hanging out together on some fence posts.
So, my message here…..don’t let the inclement weather keep you from having a positive birding experience. One never knows what might be found just out the window of your mobile bird blind.
Happy bird searching…..