No bird watcher is complete without a bird watching journal.
When I’m bird watching, I’ve been keeping a life list; a photographic record and journal of the birds I see. It’s not a paper journal but a digital one available to anyone on the Internet.
The Life List
As I become a more avid bird watching enthusiast, I’ve enjoyed keeping a record of the birds I capture with my camera. This is a running list of the various bird species I’ve seen and photographed.
My life list functions as a journal to document my sightings and provide additional information about the birds. Learning about all the various species has been really interesting. For most of my life I never paid much attention to the birds around me and this activity has really opened my eyes to another of God’s magnificent creations.
Many people keep a separate journal from their life list. Their journal might include things like where they were, whom they were with, the weather conditions, the lighting, time of day and their overall impressions from the sighting.
When keeping your journal and lists, you are going to have sightings of species you’ve seen previously. Most bird watchers will add such sightings to their journals, but not their life lists. The reason for this is there may be peculiar or significant factors in the sighting. Perhaps the bird is not typically found in the area in question or perhaps it is exhibiting some unique characteristic.
Since there are a zillion species, the life list can become quite long as I see new birds. Frankly, it will likely become a life long project that is very enjoyable.
It’s really exciting to sight a bird I have never seen before. Often called “life birds”, the sighting can be added to your life list and is a feather in your cap. As a beginner watching birds, I’ve obviously had a lot of new sightings. As time passes, however, they will become less frequent and I will come to enjoy and value them even more.
Bird watching is becoming an addictive hobby and a perfect adjunct to my photography hobby. Part of the thrill is watching my life list grow, capturing better photographs, and reading through my journal of sightings.