|Roseate Spoonbills are not challenging to identify, but they certainly brighten up a day of birding. Spoonbills can be found at all seasons in the region of Rockport/Fulton on the central Texas coast.|
In the early 1990s, Victor Emanuel and I started a series of birding workshops at Rockport, Texas. The first edition of my Field Guide to Advanced Birding had just been published, and we used the principles in that book to plan our activities in the field. These workshops turned out to be tremendously inspiring and fun: in a radical departure from the usual tour experience, we moved slowly in the field, studying birds in new ways, trying new approaches that would apply to the field identification of all birds. And although we weren't trying to run up big lists of species, we wound up seeing a lot of birds, simply because that area of the Texas coast is so rich in bird habitat.
These workshops were popular for several years, but eventually I had so many demands on my time that I couldn't continue doing them, so we let them lapse for a while. But after the brand-new edition of my Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding was published in April 2011, Victor and I decided to bring them back. Victor Emanuel Nature Tours is holding another Rockport Birding Workshop in March 2013, and I couldn't be more pleased and excited.
The Rockport Birding Workshop is scheduled for March 7 - 11, 2013, and more information can be found at this link. Kimberly and I will join Victor Emanuel and Barry Lyon in teaching the workshop. Our days in the field will have a relaxed pace but an intense focus; we will divide into small groups and rotate regularly, so that everyone has a chance to go birding with each leader. The daytime sessions in the field will be supplemented by evening programs focusing on specific groups of birds. If you join us, I guarantee that you will improve your skills at identifying birds.
|Just a plain brown duck? No, it's actually a Mottled Duck, a specialty of the Gulf Coast. During the Rockport Workshop, we'll talk about approaches for identifying ducks up close and at a distance.|
I've always felt that birding should be, first and foremost, enjoyable. It's more enjoyable when we can recognize more of the birds we're seeing - and when we understand why we can't recognize some of the others. Understanding is the key. We say that the workshop is focused on field identification, but "bird appreciation" might be an even better description.
|White-tailed Kites are uncommon but regular year-round residents of the coastal prairies near Rockport.|
|White Ibises (immature on left, adult on right) are among the many species of wading birds found in this region.|
In closing, I can't resist going back to the theme of "bird appreciation." Victor Emanuel and I have been friends for many years, and that's partly because we both appreciate birds in the same way. Since Victor runs one of the world's most successful nature tour companies, he has made many trips to every continent and has seen many of the rarest birds on the planet, but he still takes genuine delight in seeing everyday, backyard birds. If you've read our blog in the past, you know that Kimberly and I feel the same way about the most common birds - we love them all! And Barry Lyon, whom I've known since he was a teenager, is similarly committed to appreciating all of birds and nature. And we all love people, too! There are still some spaces open for our Rockport Birding Workshop, and we hope you'll consider joining us! Once again, more information can be found at this link.
|Not all birds in the Rockport area are as easy to identify as the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. But whether they are easy or challenging, common or rare, we will study them closely as part of our approach to field ID.|