"There's No Patch Like Home"
5 x 7 inches
India ink on Bristol board.
Like any hobby, birdwatching can get out of hand.
Gobs of money can be spent on scopes, cameras, and above all, travel. I know of birders who’ve dropped the cash equivalent of a new car to visit a cold, wind-bitten Alaskan island in order to snag a bird on their life list.
Myself, I’m more of what they call a “patch birder.”
All patch birding requires is access to a local park or neighborhood. That’s it. You don’t even need a pair of binoculars, if you can identify by ear. You try to visit it as often as you’re able, say, once a week. This area becomes your “patch”, your little microcosm of the world. You get to know the birds, and they get to know you.
Over the years, I’ve sighted oodles of species in my patch: a reservoir in an otherwise dry stretch of prairie. Countless ducks and gulls are regulars. Egrets and herons gracefully perch in the cottonwood trees. Occasionally a Northern harrier or bald eagle will swing past, gliding without effort as they search for prey. In the spring, warblers flit in and out of the underbrush; in the fall, gaggles of geese congregate on the water.
Of course it’s nice to travel to exotic locales from time to time; but when in a pinch, there’s no patch like Home.