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Life List(s)

October 30, 2010

© - Reddish Egret

Every once in a while in my various blogs I will talk about adding a species to one of my life lists.  Life lists are, as the name would imply, lists of a particular type of creature that you have seen over the course of your life.  The vast majority of life lists are owned by bird watchers.  Their life list is a map of sorts of where they have been and where it is that they want to go.

I maintain three life lists.  The longest one is indeed birds.  I know that what I have seen versus what is listed in the list is incomplete–keeping such a list was not a really big deal to me until I got really heavy into bird photography during my time in Texas.  The list creeps forward each time I dig into my legacy library of film images from Iceland and Turkey and sometimes every once in a while when I am looking at some of my more recent images.  But I have also gone back and started life lists for Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and Butterflies.

Why bother with making a list?  Admittedly part of the equation is that through my photography I have become a beginning birder.  My priority is definitely still photography, but birding and being around birders has a unique pull that I would never have imagined when I started on my photographic journeys.

My life list is a road map for my photographic travels.  My view of building a good portfolio is centered around having a wide variety of subjects.  Too many images of the same species starts to kill that concept off.  So the quest on many trips is to expand that list of species out a little bit more, whether it be a bird or a dragonfly.  A discussion of portfolio construction undoubtedly is coming next, too…

The list also helps me when I am out in the field or if I’m selling my images when people ask, “Do you have an image of …?”   My life lists can help answer the question quickly rather than just guessing.

As of today the life lists for birds, butterflies, and odonates are at 86, 30, and 27 respectively, though again if I would take the time to go through all of my images I am sure that the numbers would be higher.  I am setting my goals for the end of next year to get those numbers up to 150, 75, and 60.  My anticipated return to Texas has allowed the mind to wander a little bit and I am all ready building a list of potential places to travel upon my return.

Did I mention I can’t wait to get back to Texas?

About the image: This image was made a shorebird photography workshop hosted by O.C. Garza in Port O’Connor, Texas.  I made a dozen or so images of this particular bird, but this one makes the cut for me because you can tell by his plumage and his trophy that he has been fishing and was successful.  O.C. is no longer doing nature workshops, which is sad because his skills an a teacher are outstanding, he’s a great photographer, and he’s an even better person.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2010 6:29 pm

    Great image of the Reddish Egret.

    As for your life list, only 86? Surely, you jest. Is that a typo??


    • November 1, 2010 9:08 pm

      Thanks for the compliment on the Egret, Bob.

      I have no doubt that by other standards my number is probably into triple digits. Once I make it all the way through my Iceland images and my older Texas images I am sure I’ll be there. Heck, just from that shorebird workshop I still have 3 or 4 left to identify.

      Remember I have not been birding for very long and seeing a bird for me is only half the equation. Getting it into a photographic frame is the other.

      And stop calling me Shirley 😉

  2. November 2, 2010 11:11 am

    I just had to give you a hard time. 🙂

    If you have trouble with some IDs later give me a holler and I’ll see if I can help. Actually, I am still a novice at birding, too.


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