I’ve been in Ontario for a few days already, visiting my aunt before heading to Long Point on the 14th, and before I left I made sure I had everything I needed for my trip. I had to keep in mind that I will probably be at The Tip banding station, and we won’t be able to do laundry or take showers/baths regularly — but at least Lake Erie is close by!
Here are some tips that I hope might be helpful on your next longer birding trip, since birding is a great hobby/sport that can take you anywhere in the world.
One of the most important things to do when it comes to packing your optics is to keep them with you in your carry-on luggage. Don’t take the chance of your cameras, binoculars, and scope getting damaged, stolen, or lost in your checked luggage. Last year when I went to Long Point for the workshop and again this year, I packed my scope, cameras, binoculars, and new iPad in my backpack. There’s just not enough room in my backpack for my tripod, and it’s pretty sturdy and not as desirable to thieves, so I packed it in my suitcase with my clothes.
Bring a regional field guide that can help you learn what species are present in the area, and bring some local checklists for birding walks. For the first part of my trip, in Toronto with my aunt, I found a web page for Tommy Thompson Park with some great checklists and reports.
Look up and join listservs or Facebook bird groups for the area, check eBird to see if someone has submitted a list with a species you haven’t seen yet, and if you have a target species that is difficult find, get some help from local experts. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can get a lot of your favorite field guides as apps which is a very lightweight and portable option.
My mother bought a new iPad 2 for me to use (it will be the family iPad when I return) and a water resistant case (Griffin Survivor); my mother found the best price for the case in Canada was at Newegg.ca. Some of the apps I put on the new iPad before I left are: Bird Codes, BirdLog North America, Peterson Birds, and Audubon Birds. And because the electricity supply isn’t steady at The Tip, my mother bought an Instapark 10 Watt Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger when we were in NYC last month.
I knew I wouldn’t have much of a chance to buy bug spray or sunscreen after arriving in Ontario, so I packed enough for the trip. Also extra plastic bags, both Ziploc bags and a couple of clear garbage bags. If you’re caught in the rain unprepared and are worried about your equipment, a plastic bag can help save your things; a clear garbage bag is good for a scope and for your backpack. And don’t forget to bring lots of batteries and extra memory cards.
A field notebook, some pens, pencils and a sharpener (or pocket knife), are essential if you want to take field notes and list the species you saw. If you enjoy sketching or drawing birds, bring a few choice colored pencils and extra erasers.
It’s hard not to pack to many too many clothes for a trip, but they have to be the right clothes. Besides a light rain jacket with a hood and pockets, I’m also bringing t-shirts and tank tops to layer, easy to wash and quick-drying underwear, socks, long pants (ticks are a problem in Ontario), shorts, some warm layers just in case (fleece top, gloves, winter hat), ball cap for the sun, and comfortable (preferably waterproof) shoes.
What essentials do you pack on a birding trip?
My iPad, Swarovski scope, binoculars, and cameras all fit in my backpack,