I am becoming obsessed with birds! They are quickly turning out to be my favorite thing to find and photograph, make lists of and stare at for hours. The interest began during last year's very snowy spring when I found several fragile yet artistically built bird nests among a thick patch of alders and skinny birch trees along the Cabot Trail. I had also been caring for chickens for several months at this point and had formed a close bond with them, keeping the weasels out at night in exchange for a few of their delicious amber eggs. It was also the "chickens of the forest" (otherwise known as Ruffed Grouse) that I saw on a regular basis that peaked my curiosity in birds. Their technique when it comes to predators is to either stand still or erupt out of the bushes where they were once well hidden and fly clumsily to a bough 3 feet away.
Other birds I began to identify using a technique a great friend taught me called Pishing. Once I learned this I was able to call in more common birds that I was hearing around me and see them close up. It was not long after that I was participating in my first province-wide bird count and had a lot of fun doing so. Since then, I keep a list of the birds I see and where, and go on hikes specifically to watch or photograph birds.
I have also just started using an app and website called www.eBird.org where you can keep track of your lists, locations, GPS map your sightings and counting data, and see where other birders are spotting what species. I love this app and website because it is informative and easy to use, and the birding hot spots make it easy to plan your next excursion. For calls and songs, I appreciate my Bird Song ID app.
Another excellent experience that triggered a new interest in birds was going on Donelda's Puffin Boat Tour out of Englishtown on Cape Breton. Not only did I learn a lot about puffins and other ocean life relevant to the small communities on the Cabot Trail, I saw bird species in abundance. It was exhilarating! It is particularly a great adventure for birders, photographers or even those interested in our local history of St. Ann's Bay and Englishtown. There is no tour I know of that is more informative or gets more up close and personal with the Bird Islands than Donelda's.
My interest in the tour at first lied solely in the amazing Bird Island which I have enjoyed a view and growing curiosity of every day. This official bird sanctuary has an incredible history and is included in the many Mi'kmaq legends that correlate to different sites all over Cape Breton.