Birding with the bird dog

I spend a lot of time walking and birding in our woods with our Vizsla.  Today, things were relatively quiet until I “pished” up a Winter Wren, who sat on a branch and chattered at me, and the dog.  Being right on her level, it go her attention fast and she chased it around the brambles, staying just ahead of her.  It got me thinking about all the birds I missed as the dog flushes them as we move down the trails together.

Penny, the Vizsla

Can we go birding, Dad?

I recalled how Penny chased a Common Eider in the Merrimack River, going waist deep into the frigid waters, how she slipped the leash and charged in Alligator-laden water at Brazos State Park in Texas after Common Moorhens, and the many Ruffed Grouse and Wild Turkeys she’s flushed and chased through our woods.  I’ve missed a lot of photographs as she has strained on her leash to see what “Dad” was looking at.

Yet, I come back to a poignant blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Two-Fisted Birder.  I am including it in its entirety and recommend that you subscribe to his wonderful writing.

Lone trail.

Dogs can be lousy bird-watching companions.

I walked a trail this morning, alone. Because it was just me with no dog, I was able to go slow and use binoculars on birds I saw.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker. An out-of-season Belted Kingfisher over the unfrozen river. A Red-winged Blackbird with no red on its wings. Two kinds of nuthatches. All seen close up.

When I’d walked this same trail with my dog a while back, she set the pace, and I couldn’t stop to get my fists around binoculars.

(Two fists around binoculars…one reason behind this website’s name).

Yeah, the dog kept us moving fast, and we made noise, too. Speed and noise are the enemies of two-fisted bird watching.

Today, I was without the dog. And I had the birds.

Actually, that was small consolation. I’ve seen these birds before, and I’ve seen them a lot. I like seeing them, and want to keep seeing them on this or any trail for as long as I can.

But my dog wasn’t with me because she’s gone now.

And the thought occurred: On this winter morning, I’d rather have been with a lousy bird-watching companion.

Screw the birds. It would’ve been nice to be with the dog.

Winter Wren by Frank.Vassen

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