I first wrote of my interest in geocaching, and its compatibilty with birding and dog walking, back in February of 2012. Since then, I’ve gone in spells where I am actively seeking caches and months when I hardly think of the activity. It’s very much a nice “do it when you want to” hobby.
Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.
I soon learned that there is more to geocaching than just finding and logging caches — there is a whole system of “trackables” which, with the help of people like me, make their way around the country, and the world — being moved from cache to cache by participants. So of course, I felt I had to have a few of these of my own and in 2012, launched four of them.
Simply put, a Travel Bug is a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online.
It’s really up to the owner of the bug to give it whatever task they desire. Or no task at all. The fun of a Travel Bug is inventing new goals for the Travel Bug to achieve. One Bug’s goal may be to reach a specific country, or travel to 10 countries.
In the case of Wandering Birder, the goal is to log a bird seen in 50 US states and 5 countries — and note what birds you see when you have the bug in your possession. (Results are so-so but the item is certainly wandering.) Here’s what the most recent finders said:
While we had this travel bug we saw birds that are common in northern NJ: robins, crows, turkeys, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks, flickers, downy woodpeckers, various sparrows, jays, cardinals, ring necked ducks, mallard ducks, blue heron, wrens, finches, orioles, black birds.
I launched this in Texas in March of 2012. Since then, it has traveled 2299.7 miles. (One of the geeky aspects of geocaching is that you can see every move and view a map — but I seldom bother to do it.) Here’s the trek so far for this one:
As we prepare for our upcoming trip, I am bringing a few new trackballs to launch along the way. For me, it has been a nice “give it a try” activity. When birds are resting, it is a chance to get out the iPhone and see where the closest geocache might be. And perhaps, there’s a new bird waiting there as well.