Thursday, July 5, 2012

Is this even a birding blog anymore?

It’s easy to see how the year after a birding big year might play out. For some, you’d do just about the same thing as the year before. Chase rare birds you need for your Ontario list, go birding in all your regular spots every weekend and take a few trips to super hot spots during migration. But if you deserted your family and all your major responsibilities for a measly 234 birds like I did, you don’t do any of those things the following year. Instead you do what you didn’t the previous year. You work hard at your job, you spend as much time with the family as you can and you do almost all of your birding by ear in the back yard (or wherever you happen to be). Here’s some of the shit I have done this year that isn't birding (but really, I was birding by ear every moment of these things too).

Expanded my vegetable garden:

Kid's sandbox so they can play nearby while I tend the garden.

The two expansions for this year.

The garden.

Our Broccoli.

Shep watering his beans after soccer practice.

Built a deck:

Bradleyboy scraping things level.


Raking 10 yards of limestone makes for sore stomach muscles.

Limestone levelled (Duster in the background).

Day one of the build (Yes, Shep has pants on in the window).

Day two of the build (stairs are a real pain in the ass to make).

Two monkeys enjoying the barn-beam step to the kitchen.

Day three of the build.

Live edge railing/drink bar.

Kind of done. Table I fixed with old barn wood.

Another live-edged railing.

The smoker we bought. Yum.

Buried my dog that died:

Sweet Lucy's last day lounging in the sun.

Lucy's special spot in our garden.

Went to a music festival with my family:

Stage design by my wife Rachel. BoneDevil live.

Beautiful Georgia.
Shep rocking to The Charming Ruins.

Shep punching himself in the head. So punk.

Made a crazy Subaru commercial:
Please share this video with everyone you know. 
It’s all about the number of Youtube views these days!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I see many of my birding friends, the older retired ones and the younger ones without twins are birding like mad. I’m insanely jealous. Jeremy and Mark have blown past my big year number easily. Josh is likely going to beat the Ontario record this year. I’m sure he is looking at that Magnificent Frigatebird that just showed up as I type this. Maybe next year I can get out birding more. If my plans (yes, secret plans) come to fruition, there’ll be much more birding next year.

I leave you with this message.


Paul Riss
Punk Rock Big Year


  1. Hey, the birds were a part of your life, and you focussed on them last year. This year you're focussing on other important (probably more important_ aspects of your life. Just think of it as building up capital, both for future birding expeditions and maybe nurturing a few burgeoning birders along the way.

    Since we've all based our lives on the examples set by The Big Year movie (not really, not even close, but that's what some of my non-birder friends assume far too frequently), we must remember the Bostick lesson (as in, don't be a Bostick). There will be cool birds and rare birds every year. They live in cycles. Family life is not so cyclical, and every day spent there is precious and irretrievable.

    Cheers to you for managing all of your priorities and even fitting in a few rock concerts too. It's so tough to be working when you read the listserv reports of all the rare sightings--I've got it pretty bad working 7am to 4pm Mon-Fri while the emails come in about all the amazing stuff turning up in southeast Arizona, just a few hours away.

    Nice set up in the back yard!

  2. Thanks for the nice words Laurence. True fact about banking time. I'm having a great year with the family. I do miss the trips and chasing. I didn't even go get that Frigatebird in Ontario this year. But as you say life is more than just birds. I'm working very subtly at making my kids into birders. Shep seems more interested as is typical of boys over girls (why is that?) but Georgia gets pretty excited when the robin comes looking for snacks in our vegetable garden so there's hope for her yet.

    I'm so disappointed in that film. It's not what birders are. I think it perpetuated the stereotypes of what we are as a community. I place blame squarely on the director. Mark's book was a fantastic look into our world but the film just felt so emotionless.

    Those lists are a killer. My writer partner has to listen to me groaning from behind my monitor every couple days when something really cool pops up. I really wish I had had the time for the Frigatebird. That is an amazingly good Ontario bird. Maybe, though severely unlikely, it'll head east before south and I can see it.

    Anyhow, thanks for following and especially commenting. It always helps a blogger keep going knowing people are reading.

    Paul Riss

  3. thanks for sharing.