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Safe travels and happy birding

PHOTO BY DAVID BROWN Members of the Lycoming County Audubon Society enjoy getting together and look for birds of different varieties. The group invites the public to join them on their bird walks.

By BRUCE BUCKLE

I have always enjoyed traveling. By myself, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect upon the world around me and my relationship to it. The camaraderie of traveling with family and friends is equally welcome. Spending time on the road with others deepens relationships, and sometimes tests them, as anyone who has spent long hours in a car with young children can attest to. No matter the circumstances a trip for me has always been an opportunity to see and experience something new, to meet and get to know new people, and to learn something new about myself and the world around me.

I’ve discovered that a trip does not have to be long or far to open up new worlds. In fact a walk I’ve taken many times becomes a completely new experience when taken with a new purpose in mind. That’s what an interest in birds can do. For me that interest has opened up new worlds, from my own backyard to the RiverWalk; to the trails at the Ag Center, the Water Authority, and Rider Park. Now as I walk familiar paths I listen more carefully to the sounds and I pause more frequently to look around me. In slowing down I see more of the world around me. And as I learn more about the birds I am hearing and seeing I have a greater appreciation for new worlds that these interesting creatures have opened up to me.

Like traveling alone a solitary bird walk provides endless opportunities for exploration. And like traveling with others one of the rewards of birding with a friend or two, or even 10-15 people on an Audubon bird walk, are new and stronger friendships. I’ve learned a lot about birds from the people I now call friends in Lycoming Audubon, but our conversations now range beyond birds to the happenings in our lives and community. It’s interesting to me that about the same time that John James Audubon published Birds of America, Alexis de Tocqueville, a prominent observer of American life, wrote approvingly of the role that “voluntary associations” play in American culture. For me Lycoming Audubon is proof positive that both the kinds of voluntary associations that Tocqueville viewed as vital to our culture and Audubon’s interest in birds are alive and well.

There is a song sparrow singing. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have recognized its trill. I might not even have heard it. Now I can’t ignore it. This morning I saw a diving duck on the RiverWalk. Now I wonder what it was and wish I’d run in to one of the better birders I’ve gotten to know through Lycoming Audubon, binoculars in hand, who could help me identify it. A cormorant perhaps? They are commonplace enough.

If you have an interest in birds, in traveling familiar paths with a new purpose in mind, consider joining one of Lycoming Audubon’s bird walks. You’ll find the group, both young and old, welcoming and friendly. Some are expert birders, but many of us participate to enjoy the sights and sounds, and to experience our familiar world in new and interesting ways. Google Lycoming Audubon to find our website and information about upcoming bird walks. Or the next time you are out for a walk and see someone with a pair of binoculars don’t hesitate to ask them about the birds they’re seeing. Safe travels and happy birding!

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Bruce Buckle is an educator and member of Lycoming Audubon living in Williamsport.

The Lycoming Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society with responsibility for members in Lycoming and Clinton counties. Information about the society and events can be found at http://lycomingaudubon. blogspot.com.

The public is invited to share local sightings and join discussions at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lycomingAudubon.

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