Birder's Guide

DEC 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Fig. 11. A variety of journal notebooks. I generally use a pen with permanent ink, except with the hardbound Rite in the Rain notebook, which requires graphite or a Space Pen. I have begun to opt for slightly larger sketchbooks, which allow me to create pages with multiple images. I really enjoy Holbein Multimedia Books, which are made in a variety of sizes. These are more expensive and run from $10 to $25 for about 30 pages. But the paper handles watercolor fairly well, and it is thick enough that the ring binding rarely tears. When on a long trip, I always have another sort of notebook with me. This is usually a nice hardbound journal into which I transfer the notes of the day from my pocket-sized notebook; I also include my daily bird list and keep a journal of any notable activities and events. When I am doing a lot of sketching, some of this information, such as behavioral and plumage notes, remains solely on the sketch. I suppose that for many people, some of the functions of this notebook could be flled by a tablet or laptop computer. Much of taking notes and sketching is personal preference, and we each fnd what works best for us. Because recording observations through writing and drawing assists in creating strong memories of what you have seen, it helps you to become a more skillful birder. Bird artist/illustrator Debby Kaspari uses a tiny watercolor box and a waterbrush to tint her lovely feld sketches, and Canadian painter/ naturalist Robert Bateman did fantastic sketches in Africa with a ballpoint pen. Steve Howell, one of the most observant people I know, is never without a small notebook and a ballpoint pen to use for his continuous note-taking and sketching. It is up to you to fnd whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Keeping good feld notes and a journal is not only useful as a future reference, but is also greatly enjoyable and satisfying. Even on a dreary day when you can't get out into the feld, fipping through a sketchbook is a virtual time machine, helping you to relive past experiences. Whether for utility or pleasure, sketching with a notebook in the feld is an essential activity for all birders and naturalists. The totality of what I bring with me into the feld for art: unpacked (Fig. 11a) and packed, plus small notebooks (Fig. 11b), along with binoculars, a spotting scope, and maybe even a travel chair (Fig. 11c). Fig. 11a Fig. 11b Fig. 11c December 2013 | Birder's Guide to Gear 29

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