Pursuing a hobby as we travel

We keep looking and listening for birds. In the sky, perched in a bush, hopping on the ground. Our enjoyment doesn’t mean we are particularly good at any of it. Still we love to search for birds. Our philosophy goes something like this: pursue what you enjoy; every activity doesn’t require mastery.

San Diego is a wonderful place if you like to see birds, and we do. Fortunately, many birds seem to enjoy being out in the open where we can easily find them.

Our AirBnB hosts, Stevie and David, couldn’t wait to tell us about the burrowing owl who lives just a few minutes’ walk away on the rock jetty. These owls are only about 9.5” (24 cm) tall so, despite being out in the open, it took us awhile to find the little owl amidst the big rocks.

We sat on a park bench when Joe noticed a black-and-white warbler walking upside down on a tree. We put our binoculars up and noticed the fine detail: a bug in his mouth. Beth snapped its portrait.

A small bird flew over the water and landed on a sailboat. That’s how we spotted this belted kingfisher.

We each had hobbies before we started our nonstop, traveling life. Life on the road and living out of a suitcase shifted all of that. Joe sadly had to give up his daily bike rides. Beth discontinued her art projects for now. Someday, when our travels end, we’ll return to those pastimes. Meanwhile, an excellent hobby to pursue is watching birds.

Before we started to travel full time, we had seen 205 species of birds. Now, 4+ years later, we have spotted 1,507 different species all around the world. Birds are (almost) everywhere, and we enjoy the challenge of discovering them wherever we go.

We saw black swans a few years ago in their native Australia and New Zealand. They don’t live in the US, but somehow, there they were in a bay in San Diego! Again, Stevie and David sprang into action when a pair of black swans had been seen nearby. They picked us up, and we raced to the bay to discover them drifting in the water and not particularly bothered by those who gathered to watch. We’re not sure where this pair came from – possibly escapees from a zoo?

Shore birds are plentiful in San Diego, and we find them (and gulls) difficult to identify. We think there are sanderlings, dowitchers, and one snowy plover in this group.

Black phoebes are easy to identify probably because they are often seen perched somewhere low near water, and we’ve seen them often, all over California and even in Ecuador.

We heard last year that one of the best birding festivals in the US was in San Diego.

How many more birds could we see with experienced guides? Stay tuned for our next post….


February 2017

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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9 Responses to Pursuing a hobby as we travel

  1. Love to see fellow birders. Been loving the florida borrowing owl while I’m traveling this winter – didn’t know they were also in San Deigo! Also, wonder if you heard the noise the black swans make..so funny!

  2. plaidcamper says:

    Wonderful pictures and stories! Looking forward to reading more on your bird/travel adventures…(San Diego looks very pleasant – minus 18C without the windchill here!)

  3. leggypeggy says:

    I’m a sucker for birds too. Great pics. Thanks.

  4. Love the off-set heart made by those black swans!

  5. Rob Settlage says:

    Hi! Did you get a chance to see the burrowing owl? When I was in the Air Force I had a severe reaction to a bee sting & had to be desensitized. My regimen began with daily injections, tapering to every other day, thrice weekly, &c. Very early in these journeys from my office to the clinic, I discovered a burrowing owl. Originally it scurried into its burrow on sight, but over time stayed out as if to greet me.

    ‘One of the happiest memories of my military service (1969-71) at Travis AFB, near Fairfield, CA.

    Thank you for stirring up that memory!

    • Yes, that photo of the Burrowing owl is one that we took; saw that owl several times on our walks. Like yours, this owl appeared to enjoy visitors. We did take care not to disturb it. Glad our owl reminded you of yours!

  6. Which one of you is publishing a book on your efforts?

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