Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Recovering Alcoholics Guide to The Birds of Central Florida

A Limpkin.


I got drunk for the last time on January 10, 2016. I had been drinking since I was a teenager, and at 34 I had already spent almost 20 years as an alcoholic of varying intensity. Getting sober sucks, it requires admitting to your personal shitty-ness, a commitment to gradually getting slightly better every day, and a shifting of identity (because being the cool/funny/hard partying drunk guy starts to get sad after about age 25, and then you have to start letting people interact with your actual, probably less-fun, personality). Getting sober sucks, I don’t know of anything that can make it not suck. There are, however, some things that can make it suck a little bit less.

Probably the weirdest thing about sobriety is that it’s impossible to know just who you’re going to be when you come out the other side. After my first sober year, which I mostly spent learning to feel emotions again, and crying over episodes of Star Trek TNG (Dammit, Data…), new and unexpected aspects of my personality started to emerge.

Namely, I learned that I may be becoming a birder. I like birds, I like birds a lot. I think birds are really, really neat; I like to talk about birds, identify birds, walk around and look at birds, photograph birds, and learn new things about birds. I have favorite birds. I especially like the wading birds of my local wetlands, and I get confused and annoyed when someone is not as excited as I am about seeing those birds. I know places to go to see specific birds, and when I see an owl or a woodpecker, I feel the need to tell everyone I know about it. I regularly sit up at night on my phone studying the Audobon society’s bird identification app, and I started tweeting my bird photos under the name @BirdBirdington.

While I regularly go out to places like Lettuce Lake Park (an amazing spot to see wading birds like Limpkins and Herons) and Honeymoon Island (for seabirds like Ospreys and Black Skimmers) to view and photograph birds, I’m not sure if I have the cred yet to actually call myself a ‘Birder.’ I feel like, any moment, someone is going to accuse me of being a Birder poseur. Is that even a thing? Can I just call myself a Birder and be one? Is there some sort of arcane initiation ritual that I don’t know about? How many times does someone have to go birding before they get to call themselves a Birder? Is there such a thing as Birder impostor syndrome?


2 comments:

  1. Hey Cole, I love birds too! You should check out this really cool place in Apopka Florida. It's an 11 mile drive with water on both sides and tons of amazing birds. It's only open Friday through Sunday. Lake Apopka wildlife drive, Google it! Btw this is pamela

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  2. Hey Cole, I love birds too! You should check out this really cool place in Apopka Florida. It's an 11 mile drive with water on both sides and tons of amazing birds. It's only open Friday through Sunday. Lake Apopka wildlife drive, Google it! Btw this is pamela

    ReplyDelete