Skagit County Birding - and birding by auto (long)

LMGodina at LMGodina at
Sun May 9 10:28:58 PDT 2004

This posting has lead me to wonder if the travel tendency of significant
numbers of birders might not be something of an unconscious flight-envy, where
our automobiles are as close as we can come to the freedom of wings? My own
fondness for this class of animals is certainly related to their amazing
ability to fly and some envy of what might be perceived as an ultimate form, or
at least symbol, of freedom. Perhaps our national symbol of late would be more
accurately portrayed by the automobile?

Nathan Coutsoubos was a fellow natural history student at The Evergreen State
College in Olympia, and I was pleased to see him (and many other folks) the
Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival last weekend. He had just become a resident
of Grays Harbor Co., and today's posting on his Skagit Co. sightings via Kurt
Ranta prompted my thoughts.

Now, lest I offend anyone with the thoughts in this final (long) paragraph,
please understand that this *is* an issue that is directly related to birding
-- it has nothing to do with partisan politics, lobbying or controlling anybody
else's behavior but our own; it is intended to encourage thought, not
debate: Sadly, we are just now realizing that we would do well to find a less
polluting and destructive form of freedom, and this will undoubtedly require
time. Like Aldo Leopold's mixed feelings about the masses descending on
natural areas, I have mixed feelings about birding trails for automobiles and
chasing birds (regular or frequent long-distance travels for the novel
experience of new birds/places/etc). We seldom appreciate, let alone cherish,
that which we do not experience; however, we risk loving the environment to
death by the habitat degredation that occurs over time from such journeys --
whether from crowded campgrounds, hiking trails or scenic auto tours. I say
this, as someone who believes in the cause of healthier transportation but who
is admittedly quite dependant on my truck, while being self-conscious of my
failure to incorporate public transportation and bicycling into my own life.
It has steadily been in the back of my mind as a "some day," but it only
recently hit home when I attended a local water quality summit this week, which

concluded that simply maintaining (let alone improving) water quality (or
meeting the needs of a growing population) would require most people to
undertake several moderate but significant daily lifestyle changes to reduce the
non-point pollution that has been determined as nearly all of the water quality
problem in my basin (WRIA). So, I promptly invested in a good used bicycle and
was pleased to take it on a four-mile maiden journey. Again, perhaps our
symbol of late would be more accurately portrayed by an automobile, rather than
an eagle?

I don't have the answers, only questions, thoughts and ideas.

Lisa M. Godina
mailto: LMGodina at
Lacey, WA

There are many unanswered questions,
and I'd really like to know why.
But to ask would only add to my collection
of questions with no reply.

(c) LM Godina, previsouly published in Hob-Nob, a PA literary publication
Title phrase taken from the text of a Robert Frost poem

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