Note: If you choose to attend a Bird Club meeting, it’s a good idea to bring your own binoculars. While the leaders usually bring an extra one or two, sometimes that might not be enough for everybody.
On September 23rd, at the beginning of Parents’ Weekend, I was supposed to be meeting my parents in the Sunken Gardens, however after a few minutes of talking to them, I got hungry and headed over to Sadler to get food. On my way, I noticed a bunch of people with binoculars crowding around what used to be the Sadler Amphitheater. I figured this was the birdwatching club that I’d heard about, and luckily I had been keeping binoculars in my rolling backpack just in case I saw them!
As I walked away from Sadler, I pulled out my binoculars from my bag, and circled the group for a few moments to make sure they were actually the Bird Club. While confirming, I heard a few of them mentioning how they were grad students. This intrigued me, as there generally isn’t much mixing between undergrad and grad students in the clubs I’ve been to so far. It turned out that at the meeting I attended, there were 3 grad students, 2 professors, and about 8 undergrads, which is the highest ratio of non-undergrads to undergrads at any primarily undergrad club I’ve attended so far. So, if you’re an undergrad interested in networking with older students, or a grad student trying to find your peers in extracurriculars, Bird Club seems to be a great place for that.
Anyway, back to the main storyline: after about 12 people had arrived, we started walking on the trail between Sadler and Randolph/Dupont. Soon after we exited the trail, we saw a lot of vultures circling near us, which I believe were the first birds we had seen in the first 20 minutes or so. We kept walking through Botetourt on our way to a trail around Matoaka, and we only saw more vultures. We spent about 20 minutes walking along the Matoaka trail, but it was only on our way back that we began to see a bunch of birds. While I don’t remember the exact names anymore, we saw a yellow/gold bird (goldfinch?) as well as two other birds in quick succession. They move fairly fast for an untrained eye, but that only makes it more exhilarating when you finally spot one through the binoculars!
Overall, even though we didn’t see as many birds are they normally see, it was still an exciting yet super chill club. I went in the fall, during the migration period, so it was a bit of a surprise to see so few, but I think the people more than made up for the lack of birds.
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