This time of year we begin to understand why some dare not visit the Georgia coast in the summertime.
We residents build a tolerance to the heat, even enjoy it on occasion, but most summer vacationers seek cooler grounds. Winter…pleasant, spring and fall…gorgeous, however the heat and humidity of summer can dampen the spirits of the most adventurous outdoors person. Simply put, it’s just too darn miserable outside to be able to enjoy the things we love to do and this includes birding.
What can we do to beat birding boredom? There are a number of things that help me and hopefully they can help you as well. First and foremost, and this should go without saying, start at sunrise if your schedule allows. Sunrise is the coolest part of the day and your body will thank you for taking advantage of it. Birds are also more active at sunrise and sunset so besides being cooler your chances for sightings are increased.
Change your venue. We often become stuck birding our same old spots, seeing the same old birds. Try getting out to a new location, perhaps traveling a little further than you are you used to going. I know today’s gas prices don’t favor this, but maybe once and while it could be worked into the budget. Living here in Bryan County we get locked into woodland birds and those on the forest edge, a drive out to Tybee and Fort Pulaski could be a welcomed detour for some shorebird watching. Even a trip to one of our many coastal refuges could yield rewarding results.
The greater extreme of this idea is to take a birding vacation or implement a birding element into your next family get-a-way. Things may look bleak here; however the action may just be heating up somewhere else. Do your homework and find out when and where the birds will be.
Give yourself a birding project. This can be as simple as researching and learning about a new species or assigning yourself a target species to go and find. The list www.listserv.uga.edu/archives/gabo-l.html features a monthly rare bird report for Georgia. Just sign up for the list and get updates sent directly to your e-mail inbox. If a bird pops up on the radar near you, gather the appropriate information and go hunting. This is a great way to stay busy birding as well as possibly adding a new species to your life list.
We all have our own way of dealing with the summertime rut. These are just some of my ways of getting through the tough times. Whatever you do, do something. Stay in the groove. Your skills as a birder need practice and honing just like anything else. Come fall migration you will want to be at your best.
Last fall I was still busy trying to settle into a new house in a new state, this fall I will most definitely be out and about experiencing the Coastal Empire’s gifts of nature and wildlife. We may get bored now, but remember, it is only temporary.
Shawn Heifert is a Richmond Hill birder.