Fishing with the Birds

Since my last post, it became validated, birding from a kayak is pretty darn cool! I continue to work on improving my fishing skills and while I don’t get much better, I can think of a lot worse things to do with my day than spending it in a kayak casting and watching nature work it’s magic. This time, my plan was to fish but I also made it a point that when I came across any bird, I would take notes to later identify it.

The weather was perfect for what turned out to be a great day spent at Lake Bastrop here in central Texas. I took a Hobie Pro Angler 12 out on the water a little after 8am. The pedal drive function was great for quick turns and positioning. I was alternating between a weed less worm and a lipless crank bait trying to drum up some action when I spotted a large bird in the weeds!  I moved myself into position and stayed real quite taking notes.

  • Brown and white Egret looking bird
  • Long pointy beak, yellow tipped
  • Yellow bent legs and orange eyes

So exciting! The bird stayed so still completely unaware of what I was doing. I kept my distance and tried to get a picture. Without a lens it just looks like an out of focus picture of a tree. When I finally got to do my research on what it was, I discovered that I had witnessed an American Bittern.

Six hours into it, I’ve caught no fish, which is just mind boggling at Lake Bastrop. The fish practically caught themselves here when Jason Voorheis tormented everyone during the last Friday the 13th movie, which turns out to have been filmed right here on Lake Bastrop. So no fish, but I cataloged 5 new birds I had previously never seen or even noticed in my past pre-birding lifestyle. I also saw plenty of other wildlife including a snake. Instead of feeling like a failure I left feeling very successful and even more inspired than ever before! I can’t wait to hit the coast and look for birds there soon.

Chris @ACK

Grackle Watching

ACK’s Chris Hackerd, co-owner and VP of Store Operations, recently discovered a passion for bird watching. Follow him through a series of blogs documenting his adventures as he partakes in a series of trips to gratify his newfound hobby. In his first of many, Chris tells us all about how it all got started.

I recently watched a movie, that when it was in theaters, I thought looked like a poor attempt to revive the essence of Steve Martin in the great Three Amigos. It is called A Big Year and the cover reeked of poor slapstick comedy. But when I finally watched it I found myself completely involved in world of birding or bird watching. It was fascinating and I had to learn more.

I spent days learning about the sport, hobby, obsession or whatever you want to call it and now I am hooked. My friends and co-workers think I’m loony, but they’re used to ridiculous stories from me. Usually though, it’s stories that end with “…can’t believe I didn’t get [insert adjective here]” (maimed, dead, broken would be a few good examples). Birds, really? I see birds every day so how could this be exciting? Well it’s the identification of species and the investigation to what I’m looking at that inspires me. My first bird I successfully located was a Grackle. If you’re snickering at me, I get it. My wife was quick to dismiss my excitement at locating a bird that is literally found by the thousands in Austin. The fact of the matter was, I didn’t know what it was and my life never really required me to learn what it was.

I now have a life list I’ve created to catalog the birds I’ve seen. I need a camera with a lens because these dang birds will not sit still long enough for me to figure out what the heck they’re sometimes! Here is a setup that I am considering using. I’ve got the iPhone and I own a set of binoculars so I figured this would be all I need. I also got my son a set of binos as well so he can trail along with me and help! I have pamphlets and waterproof notebooks to keep notes in.

The next step is to incorporate my new passion and my job. I’ve got an opportunity coming up to get on the water in a pedal driven kayak for a few days and I plan to fully engage in my new hobby! Hands free bird watching on the water, I’m such a dork but I like it!

Do you bird watch from a kayak? Any advice or suggestions for a newbie?

Chris @ACK