What makes birding enjoyable for you?
I think there's kind of a personal challenge to it. It's a challenge that isn't with anybody else, it's just with yourself. To me that's what's really rewarding about it. Learning to me, is really the motivating factor.
It's a lifestyle. A lot of different words come to mind, but it is a lifestyle, a mindset.
High in Madera Canyon, Arizona, the birders who made the uphill hike to Carrie Nation Mine were all optimistic that the Aztec Thrush who was conspicuously absent yesterday would return to the small trickle of water emerging from the rock face. After negative reports all day yesterday, the birders here were either crazy or were really just out to enjoy the day because they loved nature. I was a little of both.
I'd spent the better part of the last several days searching the dry canyons and brushy hillsides for the cryptic brown-and-white bird who outwitted me this time- the Aztec Thrush. After trying yet again for this bird, I couldn't look back and say I could've tried harder or should've hiked the trail again. The plus side of this stakeout was talking with other truly optimistic people- the birders who take a steep hike to a remote location not just to chase and see a bird but to get out and reconnect with nature, to learn and challenge oneself. Both Andrew and I found ourselves there for the same reasons. We discussed what makes birding important while we searched the skies for Zone-tailed hawk and talked about major life choices and birds. Spending quality time with others really is more valuable than a Code 4 bird, and this empty box on my list opens up a blank page, on which my next adventure will be penned in late July or early August, when I will return to the mountains of Arizona and search for my own Aztec Thrush.