Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We're going to do what?!

Holly and I have only been birding since February 2011. It was a dormant passion for me for years, since I was a kid. I remember walking up and down the Southeast Houston street where I grew up, with pad and pencil in hand, logging the different birds I saw. Some I knew... Cardinal, Blue Jay, etc... Some I didn't... brown one, little guy, etc... When I decided late last year that I needed to get a hobby that got me away from the computer and outside with nature, birding came up again. 
We took a trip to the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center. Seemed like the right thing to do, but it really wasn't the season for it. I think we saw more deer than birds. That may have slowed us down a bit, but the outlet was still there, waiting for us to reconnect... and in the winter of this year, we did.
Holly and I attended a Katy Prairie Covey gathering at the newly-opened Warren Lake viewing platform in Hockley, TX. We met some nice people, saw some nice birds... and within 24-hours had dropped a few hundred bucks on a pair of binoculars. Not long after that, a few thousand dollars landed us a new camera rig. We were hooked.

Checking out Warren Lake. That's us on the left!
Every weekend we could get away we made it a point to go birding. We tended to favor Katy Prairie because it was near the house, but we made our way to many other spots as well... including High Island in April for spring migration. We've taken drives to Quintana, Dos Vacas Muertas, Brazos Bend, Choke Canyon, etc... and we've seen some great birds.
After seeing the movie, The Big Year, and later reading the book... and Kenn Kaufman's Kingbird Highway, I started to think about a Big Year. Due to work commitments, it would be next to impossible to pursue any ABA records, but what we could do is have a little fun and raise a little money for bird conservation. That is when I came up with the 'Our Big Year' plan. We have a few rules. 
First, we have to get photographic evidence of the bird. That's right... pictures are mandatory. No picture... no tick on the count sheet. Second, one of us has to take the picture. We can't 'borrow' the photo from someone else who was there, even if we see the bird. If we miss it with the shutter... we miss it. Third... we have to stick to the Lower 48. No Alaska or Canada this time around. Most of the excursions outside of Texas will be planned around pre-existing vacations, business trips, etc... but we'll likely make a handful of out-of-state jaunts just for birds.
We've started the pledging at $2 per bird. So, if our year-end count is 500 birds, Holly and I will be chipping in $1,000 to be split between the Houston Audubon and the Katy Prairie Conservancy. 
We'll be accepting pledges as low as $0.05 per bird. For the same 500 birds, that'd be $25. We hope you will be able to contribute. To pledge, just click the e-mail link at the top, left of this page, give us the pledge amount per bird and a way to contact you. Then sit back and enjoy the updates as we set out starting 1 January on 'Our Big Year 2012'!

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