As we headed down one of the paths into the woods, Bill (our other leader) spotted this cool deer skull laying on the ground.
I brought my iPod with the BirdJam and that proved to be pretty popular with junior birder Jay. A little farther into our walk he asked me if he could look at my iPod again after admitting to me that he "sometimes gets kinda bored on these walks." He had a good time playing the games. (I didn't even know there were games on this iPod!) Here brother Mikey wants his turn too.
It wasn't a really birdy day, although we did spot a few migrating warblers, a couple red-eyed vireos, and the usual goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, bluejays, and cardinals. The thing I was most excited about was when we spotted this tiny baby snapping turtle on the walking path. Isn't it cute?? We let Jay pick it up and move it to the edge of the pond.
We also spotted these 2 turtles sunbathing on a log in the pond.
So let me share my impression of this bird walk with you and then ask you a couple questions. Our local Audubon chapter has these bird walks the first Saturday of every month and everyone is invited. On the few I've been on, it's generally a good mix of people and birding skills and people are encouraged to bring children along, although the kids generally don't get a lot out of them. On this walk, Mikey was probably a little too young, but both of the boys were well-behaved and listened to their mom. They did sometimes run ahead and get excited (with loud verbal exclamations) when they saw a squirrel or chipmunk run across the path. Naturally this would scare the birds, but the one other adult woman in the group kept telling them to be quiet and not run because it would scare the birds. I was a little put off by this and I can't imagine what Mikey and Jay's mom must have thought. I didn't quite know what to make of the situation, but I didn't say anything.
Now what do you think? If you were going on a bird hike but found out there would be kids, would that change your mind about going? If you knew it was a bird hike advertised for the general public and birders of all skill levels were welcome, would it make a difference to you if you knew really novice birders would be participating? And that some people would be lagging behind and that we weren't out there trying specifically to get some new lifers for some hardcore birders in the group?
As a participant (not a leader) on these walks previously, I come expecting to see some birds and just spend a couple hours outside watching birds. The majority of the participants have been less experienced birders than I am, so I'm always happy to see some people who want to increase their birding and nature knowledge. If I wanted to do some hardcore birding, I know it usually can't be done with a group like this and would find an alternate birding event for the more intense birding experience.
I'm just thinking that the other lady in our group seemed somewhat annoyed by having the kids along. Maybe she just doesn't like kids or whatever. I know kids running and yelling would scare birds, but heck, you're outside and there's this nice path to run on, so what's the harm? I think even if the kids spent at least 10 minutes looking through their binoculars and seeing a bluejay or a squirrel, that's hopefully going to be a little thing that sticks in their mind and arouses their curiosity enough to make them want to come along for a future trip. I seem to remember when I was a youngster my mom dragging us kids outside for hikes, and sometimes yeah, it was "kinda boring" but I don't think any of us would have the interest in nature that we have today if Mom had just let us sit at home and watch TV all day.
Anyhoo, I guess I'm kinda rambling here, but I'm glad Mikey and Jay's mom brought them along this morning and I hope we'll get a chance to see them on future Saturday morning bird walks.