Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nerdy Birdy: A Reality Check

There are moments when you pick up a new hobby. It could be anything in the world. At first it is super hard, you are constantly lost, confused all the time, you make so many mistakes, you try to read about it but things just don’t make sense, you do so many stupid things that could have been avoided if only you knew better. You don’t know better, that is the problem. Those mistakes however give you experience and that experience is priceless, its the journey of learning, the joy of the ride, for me it is what life is all about.

But after being mired in lost land there comes a time where you know what you are doing, you slowly get better, you learn, you kept trying and then you are not quite an expert but you can speak intelligently about the subject. You start not making those nubie mistakes anymore, in fact by this time you are impressing people with the amazingness of your knowledge. Even better is that you are truly loving your new hobby, you get it, you are having fun and you are getting better every day. It is a heady feeling.

And then just when you think ‘I am getting pretty good at this’ a reality check comes flying out of no-where and knocks you back into humble land. A few weeks ago I went on a pelagic birding trip, see here http://www.theroguewoman.com/2011/09/nerdy-birdy-audubon-pelagic-tour-out-of.html, and on that trip I met a fellow birding friend. It started with a few emails, his exclimations over my photos and then it meandered into how impressed he was with all the birds I had gotten to cross off my list. Which then transitioned into him offering to tell me which ones were incorrect. I jumped at the chance for an expert to let me know which I had mislabelled. I was nearly half done with my list but I am far from an expert. I even went so far as to ask, if he had time, would he mind not only telling me the corrections but point out as well why they were not correct.

I cannot help but be honest. When I got that list my throat closed up a bit and tears pricked the back of my eyes. He did say in his email to not get discouraged. That I had done really well so far but that identifying birds is very difficult. It just showed how much further I have to go, how I should research my birds MORE than I already do, because my nerdy birdy list had 38 mistakes. Out of the 275 birds that I thought I had 38 of them were wrong. That is an 86% in grade school land. And let me tell you a B is so not cool.

The good news is that he gave a very detailed description of why each one was wrong and from that list I was able to pinpoint exactly where I had gotten the wrong idea. Some were juvenile birds, which are extremely hard to match correctly, others I just didn’t see the main characteristic that made it the close cousin to the bird rather than the one I had labelled.

This just makes me want to work harder, to make absolutely sure before I put a label on a bird. Wish me luck!


paul peggy zeus said...

It is so hard with birds with their winter plumage, the immature birds, male and female differences and the oh so slight variances of each bird too. I wish I knew which ones were wrong, so I too could learn from it.

lilmansworld said...

aww, look at you two.....birds of a feather lol

lilmansworld said...

also, no one is perfect! Even perfectionists!

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