Mary took Bill to a birding class back in 1996, and we've been birding ever since. We really enjoy the chance to be outside in nature together, meeting other birders and learning how to make those tough identifications. Our favorite birding guide (who led Bill on his first trip back in 1996) is Steve Shunk from Paradise Birding. Steve is a very gifted birder, an excellent teacher and naturalist, and a wonderful ambassador for birding.
Mary and Bill maintain a joint life list, meaning that both of us have to see a particular species before we put it on the life list. When one of us sees a bird the other doesn't see, we mark that sighting "excluded" so that it doesn't get added to the life list.
In the field, we use John Shipman's six letter code of bird abbreviations rather than the usual four letter bird banding codes. We find six letters much easier to remember.
If you have bird sightings that you'd like to report, please take a look at Cornell University's excellent eBird site.
If you are struggling with a particular bird identification, the Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter is an excellent reference for photos, range maps, and descriptions of field marks.
I use the Canon 600mm f/4L II super telephoto lens with the Canon 1D Mark IV camera body. For distant subjects, I use the Canon 1.4X III teleconverter. I use a Gitzo 1325 tripod with a Wimberley Tripod Head. I use the camera in Raw mode, writing to SanDisk Compact Flash cards.
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Big thanks for the kind words and encouragement I have gotten from Ashok Khosla, Beth Maynor Young, Arthur Morris, Pete LaTourette, Mark Bohrer, Tom Grey, John Cang, Kevin Smith, Rob Pavey, Terry Steele, Kris Falco, Cort Vaughn, Gary and Joy Aspenall, Steve Shunk, and Mike Danzenbaker.