Not just about birds

Oh, you watch birds. Yes, I do, but what is often the most difficult message to convey to the uninitiated skeptic about bird watching, that it is not all about the birds. In fact birds just offer a lens through which to see and study the world, be it natural, ecological, cultural, or even social. Looking for birds offers chances to see tons of things. Yesterday I spent the late afternoon at San Jacinto Monument, one of the birding hotspots frequented by birders, especially county listers. I was hoping for a Clapper Rail, but mainly enjoyed the quiet evening. As I was about to leave I spotted the head of a River Otter some distance up a channel. It was headed straight for the boardwalk. I froze, it dove. Seconds later it came up again, closer. After another interval under water its head popped up right next to the boardwalk, less than six feet from me. We looked at each other, it dove again and I walked home with the best look at an otter yet. You come for a rail you get and otter. I know we all have many stories like that.

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