By Landon Neumann
Have you ever birded without
binoculars? Well, two months ago I had
the experience of birding without binoculars.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t bring my binoculars when I went
birding. Well, it was actually on
accident. I had been gathering my gear
together for the morning before I was to meet up with a local birder to go
birding with and when we pulled into the first spot I realized I had forgotten
my binoculars. Being already eight
o’clock I didn’t want to go back even though the other birder said we could go
back, so I birded without binoculars.
Luckily, I had my scope and camera
with me, so I wasn’t entirely without optics.
At the spot we began at we had birds like White-throated and White-crowned
Sparrows; however, most of the birds were fairly close, so identifying these
birds was too hard of a challenge even without binoculars. After birding at our first stop, which was
France Park, we sent off for Georgetown Rd. Being late fall it was fairly quiet
until we came across a mixed flock that involved your basic woodland birds such
as: Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy
Woodpecker and so on. After
watching the flock for a few minutes I noticed a woodpecker
flying away from a tree about twenty feet from me, I yelled out, “ Yellow
Bellied Sapsucker.” After that I thought, “Did I really just identify that
woodpecker that was flying away from me from a distance without using binoculars?” Within five minutes we found the sapsucker
again, which turned out to be a nice adult.
The moral of the story is that
sometimes birding without binoculars can make you a better birder because it
can train you to recognize subtle field marks and behavior in birds that you
might otherwise take for granted when using binoculars. Hopefully you will try to bird without binoculars
sometime. It can be rewarding and fun,
but I still enjoy using binoculars when I go birding.