It seems that you can only have so much theoretical knowledge about birding and at some point have to actually get out there and look for a bird preferably with someone experienced--so after months of reading nature blogs and books on birding, FINALLY my schedule allowed me to participate in a field trip with the Stanton Bird Club
The club is in the Lewiston/Auburn area--about an hour to the southeast and the date has been marked on my calendar for months. At 3:30 a.m., I was wide awake and worried that the alarm would fail to go off at 5--so decided to head on down the road. In Western Maine the only ones on the road at dawn are the logging trucks and when I stopped at the Corner Store for coffee I had to navigate through a crowd of loggers getting their morning infusion of caffeine and gossip. As it was, I ended up being the first one in the parking lot at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary close to an hour before the scheduled meeting time. A little excited, maybe?
Over dinner the night before I had confided to Charlie that I was nervous about meeting new people and participating in a new activity--"Do you think they will laugh at me?" "Do you think birders are very judgmental?" He assuaged my fears and assured me that I would have a wonderful time but no, he didn't want to come along.
So, the folks were really nice and not judgmental at all--they didn't laugh at my shiny new copy of Birds of Eastern and Central North America nor did they roll their eyes when I struggled with my binoculars. They helped me learn how to use my binoculars and patiently helped me locate the birds. Most of the birding was done by ear and they assured me that birding by ear was a skill that should be acquired slowly. So I listened and learned. The birds weren't all just sounds in the forest, though. We spotted two pileated woodpeckers high up in a dead tree. I could have stood and watched them all day.
We also saw a common yellow throat warbler, a eastern phoebe, a brilliant indigo bunting, a tree swallow, a brown creeper and a black and white warbler. There were a few more that I didn't see or didn't see well so I'm not counting them. I decided I would only count them if I would recognize them again.
As I was driving home at 10 a.m. after four hours in the woods (how does that work?) my mom called and asked me to stop by and take a picture of a beautiful poppy blooming in her garden. It was indeed spectacular. What a beautiful morning!